There are tipping points in peoples 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.
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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 nations 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.
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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 nations 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.
March 23, 2010