This past week’s Watcher’s Council forum asked Council members and honored guests to discuss whether America is in decline. I actually chimed in on this one, although if you have limited time, you will learn much more from reading the other contributions, not mine:
Every week on Monday morning , the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question: Is America In Decline? Why Or Why Not?
Wolf Howling : It is beyond question that our nation is in decline. We stand mired in historic levels of debt, yet massive deficit spending by Congress continues unabated. Regulations are being pumped out by unelected bureaucrats at record pace, working fundamental changes to our nation that could never pass Congress. Yet Congress sits by and the odd Congress critter only occasionally complains in speeches. Medicare and Social Security threaten to bankrupt our nation in the foreseeable future unless reformed, yet Congress does not just nothing, but manages to compound the problems with Obamacare. We have a tyrannical President who unconstitutionally threatens our country’s make up by unilaterally legislating the legalization of millions of illegal aliens, while an utterly supine Congress with the sole Constitutional authority to legislate is allowing this to happen. It appears that elections for either party no longer matter to change our national trajectory. Our Supreme Court today sits as a sort of unelected Politburo deciding that the Constitution means whatever five of them want it to mean based on their whim of the day. What was supposed to be the least dangerous of our co-equal branches of government is now arguably the most dangerous. The left is using our military as a laboratory for insane social experiments, the worst being to allow women into front line combat units, something that can only be accomplished in any number by lowering the physical standards. And that does not even begin to consider the impact on unit cohesion.Space exploration as well as virtually everything to do with space is without doubt of incredible importance to our future. Moreover, it is vital that we continue to develop space defense technology to protect our many satellites upon which modern life is dependent. Space technology is an area where we have still a distinct advantage, yet Obama has killed our nation’s space program. Lastly, our national security posture hasn’t been this bad since the 1930’s.
I think it would be fair to say we are not merely in decline, but rapidly approaching key tests during our descent that will determine our future. It is hard to say which will be the first key test, whether it will come in the form of severe economic stress as the interest rates rise on our outrageous national debt, or whether it will come in the choking of our economy by ever more far reaching regulations by the EPA and FCC, or whether it will come from foreign countries energized by our growing weakness. The only sure lesson of history is that the tests will come.
Our nation has proven resilient in the past, but in the past, we’ve been much better positioned to respond to challenges. In the past hundred years, we’ve faced the Depression and come through. But that was at a time when our massive excess industrial capacity sat untapped and we started from a point with no major deficits. We faced WWII and came through. But that was at a time when the other allied nations had strong militaries of their own, not the empty shells that they now have. We faced down the Soviet Union, but that was at a time when our military was at the pinnacle of its strength, not now when Obama has starved our military for funding, going so far as to change our national security posture from being able to fight two simultaneous wars to one. That was a change not based on any threat assessment, but rather a desire to divert the savings to his various welfare programs. And he has likewise overseen the devolution of our nuclear capacity — something that has maintained the peace in Europe for 75 years — because of his insane, utopian vision of a world without nuclear weapons. Somebody, please inform the North Koreans, the Iranians, and the other Middle Eastern nations now initiating their own nuclear weapons programs.
It is hard for me to believe that America will retain a dominant position in the world beyond another decade or so. Perhaps this would not matter if America was intrinsically evil as the left seems to think, or those who would replace us would be benign. The reality is that no nation is strong enough to take our place at the moment, and those who will vie for influence do not have a history of rule by law or democracy. Nor do I believe there is any leader we could elect in 2016 that could restore the Constitutional systems that have allowed us to flourish for much of the past two centuries.
That said, perhaps in response to the key tests and trials foreseeable on our national horizon, things might change. My pessimism is moderated by the reality that history has few straight lines, and great nations have rarely gone gentle into that good night. But my pessimism is made worse by the knowledge that, with key tests and trials come great costs in gold and in blood. The question is not whether America is in decline, but how low we must fall before we even begin to recover, and at what cost?
Bookworm Room : Guest blogger Wolf Howling was kind enough to give me a preview of his response to this week’s forum question. I don’t want to repeat what he said; I will just add to it:
I agree with him. Indeed, it’s part of why, even though my real-world work has slackened off, I’ve still been too demoralized to blog. The one thing I’d add to Wolf Howling’s list of reasons why we are not positioned to withstand tests as we once were is that we are not the same people we once were. Our immigrants once came for the freedom to seek wealth. Our immigrants now come for handouts that they then wire to the tyrannies back home. Our young people once thought that we brought freedom to the world. After fifty years of academic indoctrination, our young people now believe that we are evil.
It’s that last point that explains why I’m so deeply pessimistic. When a nation’s young people think that they and their country are unworthy, the ink is on the suicide pact. And when they’ve also been trained to think of themselves as fragile victims, you can bet that the first drop of blood spilled will seal that pact.
Oh, and of course there’s president Obama. First, read Michael Goodwin’s article about Obama, what he’s done to America and her allies, and what his goals are for Israel. Once you’ve read that article, then proceed to my last paragraph, immediately below:
Those who think Obama is a bad, incompetent president are completely wrong. He has proven himself to be incredibly smart and amazingly competent. We just misunderstood his goals.
The Right Planet :The first thing that comes to my mind: what is meant by “decline?” If we’re talking economically, I would have to say, how can anyone come to the conclusion we are not in a serious and precipitous decline? It is projected by the end of Barack Obama’s second term the national debt will have climbed to around $20 trillion. This is an utterly astonishing number! This represents a literal doubling of the national debt, which was around $10 trillion when he took office–more federal spending than all previous presidents combined. And, as far as I can see, the president and his ardent supporters could care less. Why? Such a crushing debt will fall on future generations, regardless of their political affiliations. I find that utterly unconscionable.
If I look at the current state of our military, which has been engaged in continuous combat operations for years, I see a purge of top-brass, officers and senior NCOs. Our Navy is at pre-WWI levels. The US Army has been slashed back to a mere 60,000 troops. And yet there are very serious threats looming on the horizon–such as ISIS, and Russia and China rattling their sabres. As Trevor Loudon, author of the book Barack Obama and the Enemies Within, has pointed out on numerous occasions our “allies are freaking out.” They wonder what has happened to America, and whether or not the United States will be in their corner should things on the world stage take an ugly turn.
And then there’s the culture. Instead of a “post-racial” America, which Barack Obama promised to bring about if he were elected president, I see a disturbing increase in racial animus, often times exacerbated by the president and the DOJ. Instead of attempting to deescalate tensions, more gas is poured on the proverbial fire. Why? To whose benefit? I also see a very disturbing trend in education–a literal dumbing down. I was unable to come to any other conclusion after having spent several months researching the Common Core curriculum. Learning is now being replaced with training. No longer is the primary function of public education to assist students to become independent thinkers, but rather compliant “workers” taught to dutifully follow along in the footsteps of the collective. Emotion trumps logic now. The goal is to replace learning with changing attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors. C.S. Lewis once said (paraphrase), when education is supplanted by training, civilization dies. Unfortunately, I could probably write a book on the topic of America’s “decline.” But I never give up on all of the American people. I know too many Americans who are doing everything they can to push back against the decline. I should also state that I don’t pin all blame on Barack Obama. These disturbing patterns and trends go way back.
Sadly, I believe the decline is purposeful–a “managed decline” fostered and encouraged by nefarious forces. Once again, I must ask, to whose benefit?
Laura Rambeau Lee, Right Reason : If you do not believe America is in decline, you must be one of the millions of illegal immigrants receiving free housing, clothes, schooling for your children, and medical care thanks to the benevolence of President Barack Hussein Obama. You know to whom I am referring… Those who left the hell hole of whatever failed socialist or communist country of their birth because their government could no longer provide even the most meager items needed to survive. They find the promise of abundance in America to be worth every sacrifice, knowing just being able to cross our border undetected is all they need to do to reap benefits truly needy American citizens can only dream about.
Yes, America is in decline. There is going to have to be a massive shift in the American population and their understanding of what is really going on if we are to have any hope of reversing the fundamental transformation of America. There has been ongoing and relentless indoctrination of our youth into believing all of the evils of the world are a result of the policies and actions of America. Education, particularly American History, has been perverted to fixate on the negative events as if isolated from the rest of the world and human civilization.
When I returned to college, a professor in one of my classes, The Cold War and After, explained that what is holding us back is nationalism. A proud self-proclaimed socialist, the class was taught by her along with a visiting professor from Moscow University.
It was interesting to hear them proclaim that American nationalism was standing in the way of achieving a global communist government. Historically, nationalism and nationalist propaganda were used to instill pride of one’s nationality and country, a “fatherland” if you will, in order to expand a country’s power. Today however, nationalism of any kind presents a challenge to those intent on establishing global governance. One nation cannot be favored over another and cultural, religious, and ethnically diverse populations must all learn to coexist in peace and harmony. Moral ambivalence is key to achieving this utopia.
The progressive left, along with a complicit media, engage in public humiliation and vilification of those who understand the exceptionalism of America and our Constitution. This is why the Tea Party is attacked. They are standing in the way of those intent on destroying the one truly free Republic in the world, the “last best hope of man on earth,” as President Reagan so eloquently affirmed. Public humiliation is a useful tool in the early stages of methodically planned coercion and destruction. It worked very well for Hitler until his power was established, at which point no one dare speak out against him under threat of imprisonment or death.
Americans who truly value saving our country from destruction must heed the admonition of Roman philosopher, politician, and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero: “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.”
Americans must realize we have traitors and enemies residing in the highest levels of government undermining the very foundation of our republic if we are to have any hope of saving our country.
The Glittering Eye: I think the answer to the question depends somewhat on the context. If military power is meant, the answer is obviously that we are not in decline. Not only does the United States have the greatest ability to project force of any country on the planet, our military is the most tested and experienced. There is no other country in the world that can even match our military power in any real way.
I believe that those who think that our military power is in decline want to accomplish chores that can’t be achieved with military power. Our military can obliterate any enemy. It can’t ensure that we have no enemies.
If what is meant is more along the lines of is the United States changing in the right ways, on the right track, I’m afraid the answer is that it isn’t but that depends on the track you think we should be on. I would much rather see a confident, optimistic United States in which most people believe their lives will be better than those of their parents but that doesn’t seem to be how most of us feel.
Ask Marion: America is absolutely in decline! And we are definite a long way from being the country our Founding Fathers had envisioned and left us the tools to build.
In 2012 The Economic Collapse pointed to 34 signs that America is in decline… most of which have worsened since then!
#1 According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001. That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011. That is not just a decline – that is a freefall. Just check out the chart in this article.
#2 According to The Economist, the United States was the best place in the world to be born into back in 1988. Today, the United States is only tied for 16th place.
#3 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.
#4 According to the Wall Street Journal, of the 40 biggest publicly traded corporate spenders, half of them plan to reduce capital expenditures in coming months.
#5 More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.
#6 America once had the greatest manufacturing cities on the face of the earth. Now many of our formerly great manufacturing cities have degenerated into festering hellholes. For example, the city of Detroit is on the verge of financial collapse, and one state lawmaker is now saying that “dissolving Detroit” should be looked at as an option.
#7 In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent. Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.
#8 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.
#9 If you can believe it, approximately one out of every four American workers makes 10 dollars an hour or less.
#10 Sadly, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.
#11 Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years. Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.
#12 The U.S. trade deficit with China during 2011 was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990.
#13 Incredibly, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United Stateshave been shut down since 2001. During 2010, manufacturing facilities were shutting down at the rate of 23 per day. How can anyone say that “things are getting better” when our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted?
#14 Back in early 2005, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was less than 2 dollars a gallon. During 2012, the average price of a gallon of gasoline has been $3.63.
#15 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance. Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.
#16 As I have written about previously, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971 according to the Pew Research Center. Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are “middle income”.
#17 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing. That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.
#18 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for children living in the United States is about 22 percent.
#19 Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners in the United States had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned. By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.
#20 Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.
#21 Total credit card debt in the United States is now more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.
#22 The value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.
#23 According to one survey, 29 percent of all Americans in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket are still living with their parents.
#24 Back in 1950, 78 percent of all households in the United States contained a married couple. Today, that number has declined to 48 percent.
#25 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that receives direct monetary benefits from the federal government. Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.
#26 In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7 percent of all income. Today, government transfer payments account for more than 18 percent of all income.
#27 In November 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps. Today, 47.1 million Americans are on food stamps.
#28 Right now, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
#29 According to one calculation the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”
#30 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid, and things are about to get a whole lot worse. It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
#31 In 2001, the U.S. national debt was less than 6 trillion dollars. Today, it is over 16 trillion dollars and it is increasing by more than 100 million dollars every single hour.
#32 The U.S. national debt in 2012 more than 23 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president… and it keeps growing
#33 According to a PBS report in 2012, U.S. households that make $13,000 or less per year spend 9 percent of their incomes on lottery tickets. Could that possibly be accurate? Are people really that foolish?
#34 As the U.S. economy has declined, the American people have been downing more antidepressants and other prescription drugs than ever before. In fact, the American people spent 60 billion dollars more on prescription drugs in 2010 than they did in 2005.
Read or listen to almost every economic expert and they warn America is virtually moments from falling over the edge… They advise investing overseas; buying gold and silver; storing food, water, and ammunition; taking off the blinders and getting involved; and praying!
#35 America has now become a laughing stock around the world and considered weak.
#36 In 2013 a health study report showed the U.S. is:
· The highest rate of death by violence, by a stunning margin
· The highest rate of death by car accident, also dramatically so
· The highest chance that a child will die before age 5
· The second-highest rate of death by coronary heart disease
· The second-highest rate of death by lung disease
· The highest teen pregnancy rate
· The highest rate of women dying due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth
And this will certainly not get better under ObamaCare in the Nanny State we now live in!!
Well, there you have it!
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