How empires die
March 20, 2014
If you're like most Americans, you believe the country is now solidly on the road to economic recovery, the greatest struggles behind us. The worst of the 2008 debt crisis, and the Great Recession that followed, are over.
The reality is America's fate may have already been sealed. It has been sacrificed on the altar of power and greed by those elected officials who swore an oath to defend her. It pains me to say it, but an objective look at the facts indicate that America is on the decline, perhaps destined to go the way of the many great empires that came before us like Rome, Byzantium, France, Spain and Great Britain.
The United States won't disappear, but we will slip to No. 2, and eventually to No. 3 in the world behind China and Southeast Asia. It will happen simply because we are losing our competitive edge.
Our elected officials continue to spend us into oblivion by using our tax dollars as their campaign fund. Remember when your senator or congressman campaigned based on how much "help" he or she brought to our state?
Here are the results. People receiving government aid are at an all-time high. The war on poverty has seen no change in numbers after an "investment" of several trillion dollars. The labor participation rate is the lowest since the Carter years. Our public schools produce graduates that rank in knowledge behind nearly every other industrialized country.
Nearly all of our hard goods are imported. We don't make much of anything here anymore. Aside from mining, construction, oil and gas production, and agriculture there are very few whose occupation produces an actual good or product.
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History shows that a government or empire started to decline when its attention moved from productive work and business to self-indulgence, catering to "feelings", and increased reliance on government.
History also tells us that when governments and empires start to decline, they regularly unravel with terrifying speed — for example, 17 years for the British Empire, 11 years for the Ottomans, eight years for France, and a surprising two years for the Soviet Union.
In every case the people ignored the writing on the wall, thinking it couldn't happen to them. The government feigned ignorance, swearing that the worst was over. In every case the majority failed to prepare for what was coming, suffering hardship and deprivation as a result.
Just look at Europe if you don't believe me. Rioting, civil unrest, and depression-like conditions are now a way of life. No jobs exist of any kind. Personal income is falling. Social services are deteriorating. Crime is soaring.
But that can't happen here, can it? Of course it can. Our government has slowly been moving to a European style of governance for years, intentionally or not. After all, aren't we supposed to be civilized like Europe? The current administration has greatly accelerated this move.
The United States is losing its superpower status. This is due to a number of factors. Leaders of both political parties engage in self-interest instead of statesmanship. With few exceptions, their main goal is re-election rather than what is the right thing to do. The current administration seems bent on gutting the military in favor of social programs, while ramping up domestic enforcement to encroach on everyone's freedoms.
You can't be a superpower when your debt equals most of your gross domestic product. You can't be a superpower when you are a net importer of goods. You can't be a superpower if you have a pacifist foreign policy. And you certainly can't maintain a superpower status when your workforce is not educated in the right fields, is self-indulgent, and can't work with their hands as well as their minds.
Enough of the sour grapes, I believe it is not yet too late to reverse our course. That is why the upcoming 2014 election is extremely important. It is imperative to our country's survival that Senators and Congressmen elected in this cycle be fiscally conservative and supporters of limited government. Party affiliation shouldn't matter as long as those elected will stand on principle rather than party position.
If we don't immediately reduce our spending, start to reduce our debt, increase business and consequently employment, and get the government out of our lives, we will be too late. Some very smart people believe it is already too late. Those of us too dumb to give in to that fate need to prove them wrong.
Tom Riggins is an LVN columnist.