Is the American empire in decline?

Email Print

Carlo Cipolla has a volume of readings about different empires — not America — dating from 1970. The sole Amazon reviewer mentions several factors: “Foreign invasions or debilitating foreign wars, failure to adapt to new times, failure to innovate, social patterns that encourage uneconomic attitudes, over-taxation, wages and industry spiralling downwards, the collapse of agriculture and waste of resources—all these and more play some part in the economic decline of empires.”

My take – pure seat of the pants judgment:

1. We have the debilitating foreign wars, but no invasion from foreigners.
2. We still have adaptation and innovation, but it is increasingly diverted and controlled by government.
3. We have uneconomic attitudes in government and spreading through the population.
4. We have over-taxation.
5. The real wage growth has slowed considerably or stalled altogether for the average person.
6. A good many industries have spiralled down, but not all.
7. Agriculture has not collapsed, but some of it is being diverted to ethanol.
8. There is definitely waste and misallocation of resources.

I’d say we are somewhere around the 5th or 6th, maybe even nearing the 7th inning. Pure guesswork.

3:14 am on November 14, 2008