As an aghast world — from China to Chicago and Chihuahua — watches, the circus-like U.S. political system seems to be declining into near chaos. Through it all, stock and financial markets are paralyzed. The more the policy regime does, the worse the outlook gets. The multi-ringed spectacle raises a disturbing question in many minds: Is this the end of America?
Cue REM. Really, I’ve been getting the feeling that we are at a pivotal moment in world history. I do think that the America that everyone is used to is ending or has ended. The question is what will replace it.
The Roman Empire fueled its economic growth with military conquest and expansion, and when it reached the natural limits of that expansion it began to decline, because the influx of money and slaves had been compensating for an idle or semi-idle class of people who were consumers more than producers. America too is consuming more than producing <real</i> goods and services, and this has been financed with borrowing. Now that credit is drying up we are contracting. We can’t afford everything that people are used to, so the political class that maintained its position through doling out political goodies is now throwing out bread and providing political circus. It’s not sustainable.
Obama campaigned on “Change We Can Believe In.” The catch was that change in general is neither good nor bad; <i>specific</i> changes can be good or bad. Things started changing before the election as the bill collectors started showing up. Now we will see what sort of change we get.