America The Economic Cannibal

 Our National Debt

               At this stage in America’s economic crisis it would be hard to believe a resident of this country has no concern for the path we are on.  Looking at the history of our countries debt, it is unfathomable that educated people have been managing the budget, and yet their ability to do so has rarely met any significant consideration.  We need to always be aware of what is happening in our country, and we must always speak freely, as it is not only our right, but our duty as Americans to influence change if necessary.  I say this as our military is involved in yet another overseas conflict, and Millions of dollars worth of equipment are being used like Fourth of July fireworks, for our humble taxpayers to enjoy via Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. 

                I do want to clear one thing up.  When a tomahawk is sent soaring into the dessert air and blasts a pile of sand we don’t have some sudden debit come out of the defense budget.  Those weapons are bought and paid for, but you can assume they will be replaced, which will then cost us money.  We aren’t seeing a jump in spending yet because, well, we aren’t really spending, were consuming already purchased product.  Still, that doesn’t change the fact that it will cost us millions, billions, or even trillions before this conflict is over.  Could this lead us to our bitter end?  Is America destined to pop like a zit before a world audience?  How much of our debt can we sell before we can’t even claim to be Americans anymore?  They say “that’s not possible”, but how could they be so sure?  Hawaii was absorbed rather than annexed for a number of reasons, but you could say it was mainly due to become a welfare nation dependent on American money and support to keep them afloat.  France at one time sold off huge chunks of the globe in order to pull out of an economic crisis. 

                Let me give you a little history, (you knew that was coming didn’t you), as history has lessons to teach us, and some more than just lessons, but I would argue warnings. 

                 Many people think the Roman Empire fell around the 5th century BCE, and that is actually half correct.  The empire did have a gradual decline in the western portion, but the eastern portion thrived arguably for another thousand years. 

                  What caused the Western empire to decline?  I have my own speculation along with what historians deem accepted knowledge of the fall, but first I want you to imagine this great empire.   Rome encompassed at one time all of the Mediterranean, completing a giant geographical U shape around the ocean.  Think about the colossal borders which had to be policed, and then think about how to protect the ports from pirates or other nations.  Roma not only had to protect the inland borders, but the ocean borders too, and for hundreds of years they were successful.

                Today in America we have a hard enough time keeping non-militant illegal immigrants from crossing our southern border.  We spend billions on policing that rather short stretch of land in comparison to that of ancient Rome.  Western Roma had to deal with hoards of barbarian invasions, and eventually those very same barbarians would be invited into the empire and conscripted to protect the border from emerging threats.  Roma in the West became much like America is today, a huge melting pot, and these other cultures had a rather profound impact on Roman society.  Eventually the Western empire declined to such a degree that the city of Rome ruled over by the pope was all that remained.  A slow decline could be indicative of an economic collapse, which historians do give a fair amount of credit to the idea.  I believe it was constant spending on controlling the borders which caused the collapse.  Allowing the barbarians to reside within the borders was a last ditch effort by the Western emperor, it was an attempt to save a sinking ship. 

                Our government has taken it upon themselves to use tax payer money to help other nations.  While we are trying to liberate an unknown rebel force in Libya, Americans are out of work, and their families are starving.  While 1 million dollar missiles are blasting craters in the sand, millions of Americans can’t afford antibiotics to cure simple ailments.  Working class Americans don’t have healthcare as we speak because it is too expensive. 

                  I have a proposal; I call it the ten year retreat.  We stop accepting new officers or enlistees; we bring all our troops home right away.  No, gradual withdraw garbage.  Make an announcement to the world that we need to fix our problems before we go sticking our noses in other problems.  Then we make a mandate, that every able bodied man who wishes to be put on inactive reserve status, for the next ten years, will be called into action only if we are attacked on our soil, period.  Then spend the next ten years cleaning up this disgusting mess we have made, and after that time is up perhaps we will have a better foreign policy, and perhaps we will have put a dent in the national debt.

                    Think about the conditions of our day.  Americans are happy to just forget about all that is wrong with our government in times of economic prowess.  Adversely, when times are hard, you tend to hear much more critical analysis. Hardships are reflected in art too.  We continue reading books written during the Great depression, and I have no doubt fifty years from now, books being written right now will be in the curriculum.  Why aren’t high school students taught global awareness classes?  Why don’t we learn anything about our government until senior year?  The tax code alone could encompass an entire 12 years of school, and that may not be enough. 

                 Rome fell because of overzealous spending and a stubborn ego.  I wish I could make a good comparison to ancient Rome, but let’s not forget the western part of Ancient Rome lasted nearly 1000 years.  We haven’t even hit 300 yet, and I see reason for concern in how we have over expanded our realm of control, and we run the risk of a gradual decline. 

                  Unlike the American foreign policy I’m not worried about the communist nations; democracy has proven to be a mess at times too.   We need to stop worrying so much about our labeling communism as evil, and focus more on leading by example.  Democratic revolutions have always occurred in times of greatness. 

(Take about 30 minutes and watch this documentary about the budget.)

(I.O.U.S.A.

© 2010 Peter G. Peterson Foundation, All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy Terms of Use Policy Copyright Policy)

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