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