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Dec 05 2012

The decline of the US?

Via reader Norm, I obtained a link to a long and interesting article on the state of the US by the staff of the German news magazine Der Spiegel, titled Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation.

The article takes as its starting point the chaos wreaked by Hurricane Sandy and how it revealed the lack of proper planning and foresight. Other symptoms pointed to that are most glaring is the neglect and decay of basic infrastructure and essential services because rather than pay for these collective goods, the money is being diverted into individual pockets, with most of the wealth going into just a few of them. We are essentially living off the investments made in the 1950s and 1960s.

The article says that what little reinvestment that was attempted was thwarted by Republicans and Tea Party activists seemingly determined to bring the country grinding to a halt in order to prevent Obama winning a second term, coupled with an obstinate determination to view any assertions of decline as borderline treasonous, since it goes against the solemn creed that America is the greatest nation on Earth, always has been, and always will be.

One has to be wary of sweeping generalizations about nations. The US has tremendous human and material resources that it can call upon if needed to reverse the trend. But the warning signs are clearly there that the political decision-making system in the US has become dysfunctional and that something needs to done to arrest the decline.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    raven

    The article takes as its starting point the chaos wreaked by Hurricane Sandy and how it revealed the lack of proper planning and foresight.

    Actually, what happened to NYC was predicted in a 2011 report by the US army corp of engineers among others.

    It happened almost exactly like they said it did, a year later.

    There are plans floating around to set up Dutch style storm protection infrastructure around NYC. Estimates are around $20 billion.

    OTOH, Sandy cost the city $30 billion.

    So where is the money going to come from? Oh that is right, the Invisible Hand of the Free Market will do it. Just like it did in New Orleans, where the feds just spent $14 billion fixing the levees after the fact of Katrina.

  2. 2
    raven

    But the warning signs are clearly there that the political decision-making system in the US has become dysfunctional and that something needs to done to arrest the decline.

    Don’t worry, the Tea Party is on it.

    North Carolina has a sinking coastline. Sea levels are rising, storms are getting larger. What could go wrong here?

    The legislators outlawed planning for rising sea levels and potential coastal submergence. That will fix everything.

    Of course, a series of large hurricanes in the 1950′s more or less erased anything on that coastline.

  3. 3
    sunny

    God won’t allow it to happen. If it does, we deserve because God is angry with us.

  4. 4
    Kimbeaux

    Actually, it will happen to *you* because Gawd is angry with *me* and has lousy aim.

  5. 5
    Riptide

    The Outer Banks are a lost-cause waiting to happen, and should be evacuated now, before they become a humanitarian disaster. But it does not surprise me that my home state has *outlawed* planning around the coastline. Sickens me, but it does not surprise me.

    Add that to the list of reasons I’m glad I left that place.

  6. 6
    kraut

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/NL05Aa01.html

    “For the first time in American history, the life expectancy of white people, men and women, has actually dropped. Life spans for the least educated, in particular, have fallen by about four years since 1990. The steepest decline: white women lacking a high school diploma. They, on average, lost five years of life, while white men lacking a diploma lost three years.

    Unprecedented for the United States, these numbers come close to the catastrophic decline Russian men experienced in the desperate years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Similarly, between 1985 and 2010, American women fell from 14th to 41st place in the United Nation’s ranking of international life expectancy. (Among developed countries, American women now rank last.) Whatever combination of factors produced this social statistic, it may be the rawest measure of a society in the throes of economic anorexia.”

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