America in Decline

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There are tipping points in people’s lives and in the life
of a nation. More and more I am inclined to believe that America
has hit a tipping point and that its decline has been in progress
now since the end of World War II. How can that be? We were and
are a superpower.

While it is true that we have the greatest military power in the
world, it is equally true that many of the planes being flown were
brought on line in the 1950s, despite the extraordinary aircraft
such as the stealth bombers. When Russia can put in a $40 billion
bid to build refueling tankers after a major U.S. aircraft firm
dropped out of the process, you have to ask yourself whether something
is terribly wrong.

Militarily, we have worn out our forces, many of which are National
Guard units, with six years of conflict in Iraq and renewed conflict
in Afghanistan. All the hardware needed to maintain our troops in
conflict zones need replacing. And the President of the United States
wants to sign a treaty to reduce our nuclear arsenal.

It goes even deeper, however, than the capacity to wage war, let
alone the will to face off with our enemies. Since around the 1960s
the nation’s education system has grown steadily more costly
and steadily worse in its capacity to produce students with fundamental
skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. American students consistently
score behind students in other nations. An educated workforce is
essential to maintain excellence, let alone parity with other nations.

At the heart of the Medicare reform battle was a very simple fact.
The current Medicare program is broke. The current Social Security
program is broke. Most of the States in the nation are broke. America
must borrow a billion dollars a day to maintain its huge entitlement
programs. The interest on treasury notes alone is daunting. Expanding
Medicare under such conditions is sheer folly.

The nation and the States have become slaves of civil service unions
and their government employees now make more than those in comparable
private sector positions. The American Federation of State, County,
and Municipal Employees now represent 1.6 million workers. There
are two million federal workers. The benefits that have been negotiated
for these workers are extraordinary, particularly in the area of
pensions. Many of the services they provide, other than police and
fire, could be contracted to the private sector.

Unemployment continues to rise and the billions in “stimulus”
programs are having no effect. The Federal Reserve continues to
print money that will invariably have less value.

The exodus from States now famed for heavy taxation, California,
New York, New Jersey, continues apace. The value of the nation’s
housing stock continues to decline. Other States are becoming manufacturing
wastelands as this essential factor of prosperity leaves the nation
for others with less taxation and friendlier regulatory environments.

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23, 2010

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