Monday, March 22, 2010

America in Decline

By Alan Caruba

There are tipping points in people’s lives and in the life of a nation. More and more I am inclined to believe that America has hit a tipping point and that its decline has been in progress now since the end of World War II. How can that be? We were and are a superpower.

While it is true that we have the greatest military power in the world, it is equally true that many of the planes being flown were brought on line in the 1950s, despite the extraordinary aircraft such as the stealth bombers. When Russia can put in a $40 billion bid to build refueling tankers after a major U.S. aircraft firm dropped out of the process, you have to ask yourself whether something is terribly wrong.

Militarily, we have worn out our forces, many of which are National Guard units, with six years of conflict in Iraq and renewed conflict in Afghanistan. All the hardware needed to maintain our troops in conflict zones need replacing. And the President of the United States wants to sign a treaty to reduce our nuclear arsenal.

It goes even deeper, however, than the capacity to wage war, let alone the will to face off with our enemies. Since around the 1960s the nation’s education system has grown steadily more costly and steadily worse in its capacity to produce students with fundamental skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. American students consistently score behind students in other nations. An educated workforce is essential to maintain excellence, let alone parity with other nations.

At the heart of the Medicare reform battle was a very simple fact. The current Medicare program is broke. The current Social Security program is broke. Most of the States in the nation are broke. America must borrow a billion dollars a day to maintain its huge entitlement programs. The interest on treasury notes alone is daunting. Expanding Medicare under such conditions is sheer folly.

The nation and the States have become slaves of civil service unions and their government employees now make more than those in comparable private sector positions. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees now represent 1.6 million workers. There are two million federal workers. The benefits that have been negotiated for these workers are extraordinary, particularly in the area of pensions. Many of the services they provide, other than police and fire, could be contracted to the private sector.

Unemployment continues to rise and the billions in “stimulus” programs are having no effect. The Federal Reserve continues to print money that will invariably have less value.

The exodus from States now famed for heavy taxation, California, New York, New Jersey, continues apace. The value of the nation’s housing stock continues to decline. Other States are becoming manufacturing wastelands as this essential factor of prosperity leaves the nation for others with less taxation and friendlier regulatory environments.

The other problem America has not addressed or solved is that of illegal aliens. There are differing estimates of how many reside in the nation ranging from twelve to over fifteen million. They represent a drain on education systems, medical facilities, receive a variety of social services, and crowd our prisons. Previous amnesties have only served to swell the numbers of those crossing illegally into the nation in hopes of more amnesties. The Obama administration is known to want yet another amnesty enacted.

Increasingly, parts of the nation’s economy have been absorbed into the government, the most outstanding example being the takeover of General Motors and Chrysler, and control of the financial sector through bailouts.

Huge tracts of land, often with significant natural resources, continue to fall under the control of the federal government while others ban any extraction of oil, coal or natural gas. In the energy sector, more than nine million jobs exist and millions more could if the government would permit further exploration and extraction. Meanwhile, offshore of Florida in Cuba, Russians and Chinese are beginning to develop oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Obama administration is totally devoted to the global warming fraud and the baseless assertion that human beings are influencing climate change through the generation of “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide. The next major legislative initiation it proposes is the passage of Cap-and-Trade, a measure to impose the largest tax on the use of energy in the history of the nation.

At the same time, the electrical grid that is responsible for the distribution of energy has been aging and is in need of expansion. No new nuclear plants have been built since the 1970s and several are scheduled to be decommissioned. Nuclear represents twenty percent of the electricity used daily in the nation. The site in Nevada for the deposit of nuclear waste, built at the cost of billions, is still not open though it is ready to provide this necessary service.

The nation’s infrastructure of highways and bridges is in near desperate need of upgrade and continues to be neglected.

Nor should we ignore clear signs of moral decline as well. The abortion issue reflects the murder of millions of unborn babies. The push for same-sex marriage is a rejection of the ancient recognition that social stability depends on the marriage of a man and a woman. Pornography and violence permeate entertainment venues. Reality TV reflects the worst excesses of behavior. Illegal drugs are available anywhere in the nation.

The list of the indicators of decline is longer, but those cited are sufficient to suggest that an implosion is only a matter of time.

The truth that there is no free lunch remains in effect.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


Ronbo said...

You're a Gloomy Gus this morning, Alan!

I agree our current situation is serious, but when you consider the major problems faced by Russia, China, India and the various nations in Europe, ours don't look impossible to solve.

As the song goes, "There will be better times than these, just you wait and see..."

Alan Caruba said...

You're whistling past the graveyard, Ronbo.

Ronbo said...

Maybe so...

But if these are "end days" for our Republic, I want to go down like those Romans in that movie, "The Last Legion."

It appeals to the romantic in me.

R. de Haan said...

Alan is right, Obama is paying 3.5 points more now than Warren Buffet!
This means that Buffet has a better credit rating than "we the American People"!
That's decline!

Libertarians said...

I agree. Our government has been silently overthrown over the last three decades.

We are headed in the direction of Haiti. An almost non-existent government (Haiti can't even enforce building codes). So-called Free trade is running rampant. We know what has happened in Haiti. Why do we want that for America.

Ronbo said...

"Dear Libertarian:

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. - America"

Wouldn't you say that in December 1776, the game was nearly over for America? Only one battle from defeat at the hands of the British Empire.

Then came the attack at Trenton and the victory over some of Europe's best professional soldiers by a bunch of badly equipped and poorly trained troops who could be tracked in the snow by their bloody feet because they lacked boots.

It ain't over until it's over.

Ronbo said...

" R. de Haan said...

Alan is right, Obama is paying 3.5 points more now than Warren Buffet!
This means that Buffet has a better credit rating than "we the American People"!

That's decline!"

It's not good news, but not necessarily decline. There have been periods in our history when our money was almost worthless. In the Revolution, Washington faced a mutiny when he couldn't pay his troops.

Yes, we have some major problems in this country, terrible problems, problems ever bit as serious as the day when our army was routed by the British on Long Island in 1776, and if the socialists win, America will most certainly collapse.

But on the other hand, if the Left is given the bum's rush to the door, the USA will recover and rise to even greater heights.

The potential of America is still intact - the people, natural resources and the devotion to liberty is alive and well.

All we need do is a litle house cleaning and all will be well.

radiospu said...

Can somebody tell an ignorant Irishman and a European, why American Christians are against he new Healthcare Bill in the US?! We have had what we call National Health insurance since I was about 10 years of age. I am now 68.

Alan Caruba said...

Radiospu: It's a long story, but Americans treasure their privacy and freedom, and believe in capitalism (competition) over the prospect of a Nanny State that takes care of them from birth to death.

Hope that proves helpful.

LoneRider said...

radiospu, being a Canadian living in Texas, all I knew was "free" health care until I moved to Texas about 11 years ago.

Over my conscious lifetime of about 30 odd years, I've seen the Ontario medical system go into decline. Actually today a good friend of mine accepted a position to recover from the issues eHealth saw a year or so ago.

It went from a system that could do no wrong, and was a leader in many areas of research, and was proudly in the shadow of Banting and Best. To a system where my Dad had to travel 100 miles to cut the wait for a MRI down from 1/2 year+ to only months. Surgery weight times exceeding months.

As with everything, the perception that something is free, ensures that something winds up having no value.

The sad part about this 'bill', is it actually does nothing to control costs, nothing to actually improve anything. All it will do in effect, is make people who take care of themselves pay the same as people who don't, will eventually replace several profitable going concerns that actually compete against each other, with a single behemoth that has proven time and time again to be ineffective. (Postal service, SS, Medicare etc.)

There where very simple ways to achieve meaningful reform

1) Remove vertical integration, that is a Dr. can't prescribe an external treatment or test where he owns the clinic, ie. Orthopedic surgeon owning a radiology center.

2) Tort reform with limited loser pays

3) Remove cross state boundaries for insurance

4) Stop covering illegals

And I am sure there are more.

As far as the "Green" movement, blech. I agree with them, we do not want to bury the used nuclear fuel. It should be reprocessed and recycled. With technology that should already be in use, it is possible to consume all of the long half life very hot waste into moderate or light waste, all while producing electricity.

They do not want to make our lifestyle sustainable, we have the technology to do that, and profitable at that, for some reason it would seem they want our standard of living to resemble that of the third world. Instead of bringing the third world closure to ours.

The ironic thing is, if their ultimate goal is to reduce the population of the world, increasing the worlds standard of living, allowing the rest of the world to engross themselves into movies, social networks and video games,

shootist66 said...

You've got it pretty well covered, Lone Rider. Especially the reprocessing of nuclear 'waste.' Current federal law only allows processing of 5% and the rest (95% of reprocessable uranium)goes into the waste barrels. This can be reversed through reprocessing down to 5%, resulting in a 90% reduction in that 'waste.' We can thank Jimmy Carter and the 400+ nuclear physicists comprising the congress of that time. Now we have 400+ new nuclear physicists in the legislative branch who are either too ignorant or too Chickens__t to repeal that really stupid, self defeating law. Carter was frightened of creating too much plutonium by reprocessing further. A moot point now.

Nick Jesch said...

LoneRider sez:

There where very simple ways to achieve meaningful reform

1) Remove vertical integration, that is a Dr. can't prescribe an external treatment or test where he owns the clinic, ie. Orthopedic surgeon owning a radiology center.

I strongly disagree. I've been under treatment by an ortho clinic doc which clinic owns their own inhouse MRI, and a separate facility for surgeries. The quality and convenience of the MRI's produced is outstanding, and the same or less than any other MRI abailable in town...AND it is my own ortho who READS the images. I've been the victim of incompetent readings by huge uncaring clinic "radiologists" in the past. These guys care about proper diagnosis and treatment. They have no problem with my using another facility, either. As to the surgical clinic... amazingly efficient, friendly, no waiting, same staff week to week, teamwork that is second to none... and cheaper. Less overhead, savings passed on to the patients. No interruptions, no delays.... and friendly. And you want to outlaw this? Oh, I can also request the surgery be done in the local hospital..... I've been in both of them before, thanks, but I'll take the private clinic hands down. Oh, did I mention it is cheaper? Free enterprise doing what it does best.. and you want to make it illegal?

aligak said...

You write at the headline of your blog that you write from an independent point of view. Well, your homophobic and pro-life. Confirms my experience of meeting many so-called libertarians or contrarians or "independents" who espouse constantly about freedom, but deep down are social conservatives in disguise. Freedom, as long as it's THEIR version of freedom.

Alan Caruba said...

No one is compelling you to read MY point of view. You are FREE to not return and therefore be upset by it.

aligak said...

Golly that's a very original response! You probably see that I have a valid point, yet simply give me the "turn it off if you don't like it" answer. It's not that I'm upset. It takes quite a lot for me to be upset. I'm simply pointing out that your ideas about freedom are hypocritical and selfish. I will now exercise my freedom and not read your blog again. Have a nice day.

Alan Caruba said...

On MY blog, I always get the last word, so GOODBYE and...