Archive for May, 2014

Combating bullshit about America’s decline.

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Here are two excellent articles explaining why people are mistaken when they doubt America’s future.

If “America, the Has-Been” were a TV series, it would now be in its fifth season. The first, Decline 1.0, opened in the 1950s, after the Soviets launched their Sputnik. Weren’t they growing and arming faster? The myth of the “missile gap” gripped the land. Yet a generation later, the Soviet Union was no more, dying peacefully on Christmas Day 1991 and leaving behind 15 orphan republics.

Decline 2.0 swept the nation during the Vietnam War, and once more the U.S.’s best days were over, intoned a chorus of pundits and politicos. But it remained far and away No. 1 economically and strategically, making up for the loss of South Vietnam by eventually corralling Hanoi as a quasi-ally against China.

Decline 3.0 was initiated in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter when he moaned in his so-called malaise speech that the U.S. was beset by “a crisis of confidence,” one “that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our nation.” The depression ended with Ronald Reagan who proceeded to out-arm the Soviet Union. By 1984, it was “morning again in America.”

Decline 4.0 cast Japan as the next No. 1. Having failed in Pearl Harbor with their bombers, these super-samurais would now triumph with their Toyotas and Sonys. Like China, Japan had been growing at double-digit speed, but after 1988 it was downhill, and it isn’t the end yet. Four years later, the U.S.’s longest expansion began. It lasted essentially until the recession of 2007-10.

Now it is Decline 5.0, starring China as the master of the universe. The World Bank should have looked at history. As early as 1984, China’s growth peaked at 15 percent. Now, the rate is down to one-half that. The sluggish world economy plays a part, but the underlying reasons are structural.