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1 jvic  Sat, Jan 4, 2014 12:15:44pm

The millennium seemed to dawn on the Second American Century. Instead, the USA seems to have made a collective decision to self-destruct or, at best, stagnate. Has any nation in history fallen so far, so fast, from so high?

The Roman Republic was followed by centuries of relative prosperity via the Roman Empire. I doubt that America will be so fortunate.

After the first Bush term I had a rough notion of what needed to be done to get the country back on track. After the second Bush term and subsequently, I have no idea.

My hope—-really not hope, just unwillingness to despair—-lies in something out of the blue, some unforeseen development, be it social, economic, or technological. That seems increasingly less likely as our elites aggregate power and wealth to themselves, to the detriment of an open society.

Maybe articles like Goodman’s will lead us to draw back from the precipice quicksand. Presumably the late Roman Republic had citizens who understood the pernicious process that was underway. Maybe it’ll be different this time. Maybe, despite examples to the contrary, technology and mass communications will tip the balance to the forces of enlightenment.

2 Romantic Heretic  Sat, Jan 4, 2014 6:12:22pm

Sorry, but once he mentioned ‘the debt’ in that snippet, he lost me.

Debt is a useful tool for a nation, as it is for a business or an individual. The only problem is there isn’t a method for nations to divest themselves of excessive burdens of debt as there is for businesses and individuals.

But ‘debt’ is a handy weapon to show that ‘DOOOOOOOM!’ is coming.

Anyway, Heinlein noted why the Republic fell.

Roman mothers used to say to their sons, “Come back with your shield or on it. Later this habit declined. So did Rome.

That is why nations fail, and coincidentally why so many nations carry large burdens of debt. We don’t have a debt crisis. We have a taxation crisis. Too many people aren’t willing to pay the price of civilization.

3 The Ghost of a Flea  Sat, Jan 4, 2014 8:22:30pm

At the tail of the piece:

In all, it has become the background drone of our politics, the dull hum of impending doom. Let’s understand why this thinking appeals. Envisioning decline is addictive. It offers us the chance to imagine our times as extraordinary and to cast ourselves in heroic roles to meet them. And the thrill demands a higher dose of doom each year.

But let’s also understand what this thinking does. If our republic is at stake, then it’s reasonable to treat an elected president as illegitimate. If our republic is at stake, then it’s fair to nullify laws that offend us. If our republic is really at stake, then defaulting on our debts to save it—paying any price at all—is a bargain.

4 nines09  Sun, Jan 5, 2014 12:11:51am

re: #3 The Ghost of a Flea

Justification. So who’s doing the Demonizing now and how is it the same as it was, oh, a few years back. Knowing how that shitty coat of paint looked on Rome, I’d say Obama is trying to not incite. I would hope that the historians realize just what Mr. Obama has experienced and been up against and still has managed to show his class and enact with his hand what I think is the third pillar in American Society that we lacked for far too long. The ACA is not perfect but if the GOP would act and work with Democrats and the POTUS, it could be a healthy first step nationwide to single payer. Why the Greatest Nation On The Face Of The Earth Doesn’t Want To Become Greater is a GOP/TP secret memo.

5 Dark_Falcon  Sun, Jan 5, 2014 2:32:16pm

re: #4 nines09

But George W. Bush didn’t incite either (though his winning a disputed election ensured he’d be hated by many Democrats). The problem is that there are people on both sides of the aisle who are actively looking to go after the other party. Those people do quiet down somewhat when their party holds the White House, but they never really stop.

But even more, the constant crisis theme is also part of the problem. Politicians have to scream about a crisis in order to get voters to notice them or a particular problem. People need to motivate themselves to pay attention to issues before they become crises. That, however, may prove impossible.

6 jayjaybear  Sun, Jan 5, 2014 4:15:54pm

re: #5 Dark_Falcon

Really? Both sides do it, again? When that’s demonstrably untrue? Good lord…

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