The Great American Experiment

I’ve said in the past that sometimes, in my darker moments, I wonder if I’ll live to see the end of the Great American Experiment. What I mean by that is – will our imperial overreaching and unparalleled overspending precipitate an internal socioeconomic collapse, thus causing America’s economic and military power to fade dramatically from the global stage, and America herself devolve into some kind of fractured dystopia? I think these questions are especially relevant in light of the unfolding market meltdown and currency craziness we’ve seen this week. The only surprise here is that it took so long. The parallels to Rome before its fall are hard to miss.

That kind of talk was, not long ago, reserved for those holed up in log cabins with ten years worth of ammo and canned goods. Until very recently, one of my favorite doomsayers, James Howard Kunstler, was marginalized and ridiculed for his repeated warnings about this mess. Now that the proverbial shit is hitting the fan, JHK is unsurprised and not looking so kooky after all. I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said, “all great truths begin as blasphemies.”

But it ought to serve as a wake-up call to the many still asleep when the US Comptroller General starts talking that way. In an interview with Financial Times this week, the Comptroller offered up some choice sound bites that followed his report to Congress:

Drawing parallels with the end of the Roman empire, Mr Walker warned there were “striking similarities” between America’s current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including “declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government”.

“Sound familiar?” Mr Walker [asked]. “In my view, it’s time to learn from history and take steps to ensure the American Republic is the first to stand the test of time.”

Well, well. Too bad our elected officials don’t have the testicular fortitude to talk like this. Eh, that’d be asking too much. All that thoughtfulness and sacrifice and stuff – makes for shitty stump speeches.

If it happens – and I do hope it doesn’t – there’ll be tons and tons of blame to go around. But in a people’s republic, you-know-who ultimately bears the responsibility.

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