November 14, 2008
Reasons for the death watch: Too many problems at once!
Below I will identify eight areas of concern. These are all long term trends that have slowly built up to become a combined crisis. It is my belief that while each one by itself won’t be fatal to the USA for 20 years, if left unaddressed their combination will prove to be a fatal blow, and they are all happening simultaneously. They are ranked in order of importance:
1. Economic - Record public & private debt, massive bank & mortgage bailouts, growing wealth gap between rich & poor, Baby Boomers retirement costs (unfunded liabilities). The key is government's reluctance to pay for expenses now, via increased taxation, but by borrowing.
But make no mistake about this - borrowing is nothing more than a tax on the future, a future that isn't here in person to complain about it. It is unsustainable and in the end, there will be no future.
2. Cultural - Liberal Multiculturalism, mass 3rd world immigration (legal & illegal), morality gap between the blue & the red states, political correctness, loss of our European white majority, all resulting in an increasingly bitter tribalism. Inability to communicate with others (multilingualism). Voluntary re-segregation of America racially. Loss of a shared, unifying culture.
3. Political - Inability and outright refusal of elected leaders to see more that four years ahead. Excessive influence and power of special interest groups, (the new "fourth branch" of government).The suppression of debate by the Left, along with their increased viciousness. Citizens lack of trust and confidence with their government. (The Productive class wants less government, but the Dependent class needs it, yet government, really just a big over sized bureaucracy, can’t deliver.)
4. Burden of Empire/Military - Cost of military over extension. Too many foreign commitments. Belief that only we can solve all the world’s problems. Pax Americana! We have practiced a benevolent but expensive style of Imperialism - we have taxed ourselves so that other countries won’t have to tax themselves for their own military! Lately we have switched to borrowing from them in order to continue to do the same thing. This cannot continue indefinitely.
5. Overdependence - Becoming overdependent on the rest of the world not only for durable goods, but increasingly for agriculture (food), energy (oil), labor (immigration) , and finance (borrowing). In the beginning the USA (post 1776) was a nation of self-reliant farmers, tradesmen & pioneers. With the Industrial Revolution it still was a self-reliant producer of goods, thanks to an abundance of raw material. Now, it’s increasingly a nation of paper shufflers and salespeople, with false wealth produced by over leveraged credit.
6. Intellectual - A college degree is now so common, (despite the cost), that it’s really just a rubber stamp to certify you are eligible for middle-class employment. Many college degrees are watered down with useless areas of study and courses, particularly in the Humanities and Social Sciences. How are programs like queer & women’s studies going to produce future leaders with the knowledge to tackle the above problems?
7. Spiritual - Growing gap between the liberalism of the Clergy vs. the traditionalism of the Congregation. There are two very striking things about religion in America. One is the large number of intensely religious people; the other is the number of intensely, angrily irreligious people. American faith has generated its mirror opposite: a growing number of fierce God-haters.
8. Overpopulation - Not a serious problem yet but it will be in 20-30 years, or as we approach 400 million total population. By then it will be impossible to handle without a repressive central government. I wouldn't rule out an attempt to limit family size as China does now. Also don't forget the increasing cost of building new schools and roads, infrastructure repair, waste management, and stress on the environment.
(Numbers 6 and 7 stem from number 2, culture, but I felt they were important enough to list separately.
The problem here for the Federal Government is that it will be increasingly called upon to manage items #2 through 5, and perhaps even #6 & 7, but item #1 will put way to much stress on it. It won't be able to solve these problems while the interest on the Debt, now 8% of the budget, grows and grows. It MUST pay that interest every year, (more & more of it going overseas), or it defaults. It is my belief that this stress will eventually prove fatal, and as the Federal Government goes, so goes America. For a more in-depth analysis of the problem, see this column by John Derbyshire here.
Posted by AndyK at 9:18 PM