The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

America: A Failing State

When stuff that should work just gets worse and worse, you know your state is failing.

Then we have the overdose rates…(pdf)

People who are happy and have hope for the future rarely become drug addicts.

Adam Smith wrote that “…there is a great deal of ruin in a nation.”

That amount is not infinite.

The US is not keeping up its infrastructure. It is not building important new infrastructure, as anyone who has seen high-speed trains overseas (or good airline terminals) knows.

The US is losing wars. It is losing in Afghanistan. When it left Iraq it had to pay local militias not to attack as it left. It arguably won in Libya, if you call contributing to a refugee crisis destabilizing its main strategic partner, the EU, winning, which anyone sane wouldn’t.

The US has turned, in large part, against the World Trade Organization, which it created. Even before turning against it, the WTO failed in its latest round of trade negotiation.

The prices of basic medicines in the US are soaring (the price of insulin has tripled) and there is an actual decline in life expectancy–the first since the Spanish Flu.

The US is alienating its most important allies, like the EU. Increasingly, it uses financial sanctions to punish nations, which has led to talk of creating a financial network without the US at its center.

Core manufacturing (for example, of computer chips) has moved offshore, and the US is no longer the key manufacturer of electronic goods, nor are any of its allies (Japan controlling this wouldn’t matter much, China doing so, does). The most advanced 5G technology was created by China. The most important technological city in the world is in China.

China now manufactures more than the US, and in purchasing power parity terms, has a larger economy.

Core nations like Italy (a member of the G7) are beginning to look to Beijing. Italy has signed up for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is, among other things, a rival to the WTO and the US-led trade order. Non-core nations are increasingly turning to China for loans and development, for which China is willing to lend them the money, often at better rates than the IMF and WTO with less demands for internal controls.

The US military is showing signs of being unable to create effective, advanced military equipment: Take for example, the F-35, which basically can’t fly. It is showing signs of intense incompetence, as when it let multiple planes be destroyed on the ground by a hurricane rather than, uh, fly them out or get them under effective cover.

The US is led by Donald Trump, a reality TV star, who was made to look like an effective billionaire mogul by clever editing. While Trump is not without his competencies (he did spend his life shitting into a gold toilet and screwing models), he’s clearly a few screws loose and a flaming narcissist.

Meanwhile the opposition party, faced with an extremely unpopular president, mutters about “working together” and how they would never impeach a weak President.

The US is a gold-flecked garbage heap slowly rolling towards the ocean. On fire.

There is a lot of ruin in a nation, but for almost 40 years now, US elites have treated the US as something to loot, and assumed that the good times would keep rolling. They were uninterested in actually governing. They were happy to move much of the US’s core manufacturing overseas, to the most likely nation to replace America as a hegemon, because the Chinese were smart enough to make American elites rich.

And so, today, large parts of the US are shitholes, which the residents hate so much they are consuming record amounts of drugs and committing suicide, because who the fuck wants to live in a nation with no hope, shitty bosses, and no hope.

Oh, of course, there are people doing well. There were people doing well in 400AD as the Roman Empire collapsed. There are always some people doing well.

But the number of people doing well keeps getting less and less, and the decline keeps getting worse and worse.

But the top is doing fine, so they see no reason to do anything.

Heck, Trump just gave them another tax cut. Everyone they know is doing great.

And so the decline goes on, because until the elites are made to feel the pain of the majority, they will not change.

And so far, no one is willing or able to make the elites pay.

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – April 7, 2019


The Ongoing Libyan Catastrophe


  1. Aaron Armitage

    Just because a state is failing doesn’t mean the only trajectory is down. Rome was also in a pretty bad way in the first century BCE. France in the 1780s was falling to pieces, and 20 years later they conquered most of Europe. Russia was in total collapse at the end of WWI, and a few decades later they sent the first person to orbit. Look on the bright side.

  2. The US became an open-air market for global corruption. Everyone with money can purchase influence and shape political outcomes. Trump is only a symptom of how the elites in the US, corporations and external actors like the Gulf monarchies influence politics. In history, there are numerous examples of once powerful nations and empires which fell apart because they were taken apart by greedy elites and outside powers.

    As Ian says, no one is willing to make the elites pay. Chances of that are very little, indeed, as the elites would have to be really stupid to let that happen, especially when they have piles of money. Anyone remember when the Panama Papers came out and revealed that all the rich people in the world are part of an enormous criminal conspiracy to dodge taxes and hoard stolen wealth offshore and literally nothing happened?

    The poor will not come to eat the rich.

    The US will continue their decline. It will be a drawn-out process like what happened with Constantinople. I believe that at some point we will even see the US splitting up, with some of the very blue states on the one end and some hardcore red states on the other end banding together and building new countries.

  3. Joan

    Certainly, I think people wish they could make the elites pay, or at least level the inequality out. Instead of the guillotine, I’m for FDR-style taxes of 90% on the rich, or something like that. The problem with physically/manually making them pay is that things destabilize as a result. A “Let them eat cake” igniting moment in America would mean I lose what relative safety I had walking around as a woman.

    I know revolution is not the same as decline, but a slow and steady decline means more people will see the writing on the wall and be able to make changes in their communities in preparation. From what I’ve read, a small city or large town is the best unit to live in, wherein the community can provide its own goods and services, and be more defensible than an isolated farm. Anyway, yes, this is what decline looks like. I’ve had two acquaintances take their life by overdosing, and both were in their late thirties.

  4. Hugh

    The US is a kleptocracy but so is China. So is the EU. So is the rest of the world.

    The 737 Max is another example of the crapification of everything. And yes, all those jobs were sent to China, and that represents an immense betrayal of our country and its people. But it is important to remember that so many of the products that are being shipped back to us from China are crap. The crapification of everything isn’t just here. It’s everywhere.

    The truth is that you either stay ahead of the curve or get run over by it. China is no exception. It is vastly polluted. It has huge real estate and bank bubbles. It keeps a million Uighurs in concentration camps and treats Tibet as a third-rate colony.

    I look at the political leadership around the world: Trump, Trudeau, Macron, May, Merckel, Abe, Xi, and Putin, and I see a bunch of washed up hacks who haven’t had a new idea in years, in fact ever.

    And against this spectacle of elite betrayal and kleptocratic rule, we have the near term arrival of irreversible, catastrophic climate and the slightly further out effects of unsustainable overpopulation. Xi and China are as far behind the curve on these as the rest of us. And they will be run over by it just like the rest of us. This will happen long before they can realize their imperial and hegemonic dreams.

  5. John

    I read over the weekend that there is more CO2 in the atmosphere than in 300,000,000 years.
    Don’t worry, the elites will get theirs. Everyone else will too. When Dr. Chaos come to town gonna be no place to run to, no place to hide.

  6. Eureka Springs

    They promised a “Blue Wave” and as expected, all I hear is a toilet flush. I mean, someone out there is trying to award Pelosi some sort of Profile in Courage gimmick. J.C. on a stick! I suppose there is some amount of courage in raising your value from the 40 million range to the 140 million range within ten years of becoming Speaker and getting another facelift. The most powerful “Progressive” in decades. Corruption and crapification with abject disdain for anything close to democracy or basic human decency is systemic.

  7. Gunther Behn

    @Aaron Armitage:

    Rome lost its government by Republic, and ended in rule by dictators who led the march to an Empire which lasted (more or less) four hundred years.

    Oh, France did conquer most of Europe — but after suffering through a decade of revolution, fear and the Terror; starvation; capped by increasing Nationalism and the apotheosis of a dictator, followed by fifteen years of war: more death, more repression.

    Russia did put an astronaut in orbit — but the price was roughly 34 million dead between 1914 and 1954. Gagarin’s ride was paid for in revolution, civil war; pain and terror, starvation, the Gulags; and the human cost of living day by day in a repressive political system — all of which only served another dictator.

    Order created by strong-man rule is not freedom, Just because the flowers growing above mass graves are beautiful isn’t an argument in favor of filling the ditches with the bodies of whomever those strong men tell us is the enemy.

  8. taunger

    I agree with the premise of the article, but the graph regarding dam failures at the top is a bit out of context. It is Texas dam failures, not US, and the accompagnying article regards small dam maintenance, which is not part of government function. Certainly, there are knock on questions, like, \”Why not?\”, and \”Well, we are allowing development without regulation, so same syndrome\”, but also far more nuanced than the overall article.

  9. S Brennan

    “America’s elites have treated the US as something to loot…moved much of America’s core manufacturing overseas…to [China who will] replace America as [the world’s] hegemon.”

    Revolution..Guillotines…dunno, but this is for sure..

    Of all the richest and most powerful families of Roman times, the richest for a millennium in either direction of time, those families that looked down upon plebeians from the Palatine hill, not a trace of one of those families remain.

    Only those who killed Palatine hill’s occupants, those who raped their daughters and sold their sons into slavery have any linkage to those once famed, now forgotten families. None of Rome’s wealthiest have survived to pass on their name…not one.

    And yet, the wealthiest, with the full knowledge of past tragedy eagerly scramble down the same path as their ill fated predecessors…sure in the knowledge that, this time it will be different*.

    *Perhaps the wealthiest are right, perhaps 24/7/365 surveillance by Google/FBook/Twitter & whatever can stop societal dissolution from incompetent leadership just as the Gestapo/Stasi/KGB did…………………..for a brief moment in time.

  10. Dan

    Dams are like a canary in the Gemeinschaft. 😎

  11. johnm33

    One of the major problems of being the worlds trading currency is that the real cost of goods from abroad, to the elite, is the 12c it costs to print $100 dollar bills, and they simply can’t resist the opportunity this offers. The only goods they need to keep in-house are those to do with armaments for the enforcement arm of their tyranny and the only jobs they need hoi poloi for are using the products of that industry. With a world to loot who’s going to waste time on building a society and a life worth living for it’s citizens?

  12. StewartM

    I will also say, for any capitalist advocates here, that the dearth in public infrastructure investment is accompanied by a dearth in private infrastructure investment. Companies that still do make things in the US, like mine, feel compelled to funnel as much as possible to Wall Street for them to gamble with it in their paper ponzi schemes. I could rant on, but should stop on that. Only companies like Google and Apple and Micro$oft in gamed markets or companies on the public dole can that result in huge, unearned, profits can “invest” so.

    You mentioned incompetence and Trump. Why should we be surprised, as (the latest scandal has shown) that our system of education is corrupted by money (it was always bad, but it’s worse now). When I was a college student, I recall serving the hoi poloi, of my city–and I soon surmised that these were the stupidest group of a$$holes I’d ever met, who knew very little about anything, but a$$holes who thought they were brilliant because they had lots of money. There is a meme in US culture, my mother used to have a sign reflecting it hung in the house, that equates “smarts” with “rich”; and I’d say Trumps has great appeal is to this demographic.

    Even with people who aren’t obviously incompetent (as in stupid incompetent) who have gotten through “elite education” there is the flip side—our system of standardized testing awarding those who get “the right answer” to gain access, instead of rewarding questioning and thinking, means that the Obamas and Larry Summers and their ilk come out with an almost ‘medieval’ mindset where they blindly apply the neoliberal dogma they learned in school. Recall Obama defending horrible policies like the “the Teacher Tax Cadillac tax” in the ACA prefacing it with “all economists say…”?

  13. someofparts

    The business with Boeing shocked me. I didn’t think they would play fast and loose with airline safety.

    I started a list, because so many things are broken I’m starting to lose track.

    * the FAA, we learn from the Boeing story
    * medical digital networking systems – supposed to streamline hospital operations, currently huge mess
    * courts – currently being stocked with young monsters at a breakneck pace

    In my work life, companies have been taken over by financial outfits. It always changes the way a company works and never for the better. People who only know the money make bad operational decisions. Experienced people who know how an industry works get pushed out or marginalized. That’s why Letterman used to make jokes about GE. They were the Money that owned NBC.

  14. Bill Hicks

    I think America is very close to the tipping point, any when it goes over the crash is going to be epic. When the economy collapses this time, their will be no turning back, and the glue holding the country together–already in bad shape–will quickly dissolve. It looks like the 2020 election might be like the second one in 1932 Germany, the last one in which even the facade of “democracy”breathes its last.

  15. ricardo2000

    Please read Andrew Bacevich: An impressive list of political ills in the US.

    Trump is among the last acts of the US Imperium:
    oligarchs that can’t tell trusted friend from odious enemy because the enemy looks and acts so much like the US;
    an immense military incapable of winning the smallest wars;
    an economy used like a casino to enrich the unworthy;
    children used to punish immigrant families fleeing US imperial cruelty in their own countries;
    the worst educated generation since 1776 as science, schools, libraries, an independent press, and dissenting voices are crushed by corporate design;
    resurgent bigotry aided by brutally stupid, corrupt police cruelty;
    ruthless violence blessed by empty prayers and Hollywood blockbusters;
    and, vapid indifference for anything that doesn’t touch their own families, or their favourite sport.
    These are all signs of a society about to collapse with only a minor environmental disaster needed to start the landslide, out of the ecosystem armageddon certain to come.

    H.L. Mencken: ‘Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.’
    Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

  16. ConcernedMan

    I’m not sure many of the readers here are gun people. I am, both as a collector and as a pretty hardcore hobbyist. Is 1% of what I hear in every day conversation at the range is more than just hot air, the USA is deeply deeply fucked.

    Several companies have been offering 55 gallon drums of ammunition and retailers can’t keep it in stock…because there is a LOT of ammo hoarding going on. It’s not as bad as the great Obama ammo drought, but certain calibers are going fast and more plants making it keep going up. I don’t know where it’s going, but I’ve heard militia types talking about caches and stockpiles. I have predictions, but they’re also just wasted effort: no one is going to listen.

    My recommendation, just as friendly, sound advice: make sure your passport is good, and your family’s too.

  17. bruce wilder

    I talk to people i know personally about these issues of elite failure to serve the good of the larger society and most of them are completely surprised that i would hold anyone collectively responsible for any outcome. Accountability for performance is something most people have no fixed idea of.

    I try to go for the big ones, the ones i regard as most unambiguous: win a war, I say; wars fought for purpose end in four or five years with a resolution of conflict; 18 years in Afganistan! Declining life expectancy, I say; that is a broad measure of social functioning and responsibility. Usury laws — simple straightforward prohibition on financial predation — what stops enactment of usury laws?

    I really wonder how people think the society around them works. How it can possibly work. Not in a hopeful, idealistic way, but simple survival. How do you survive if everyone above you is trying to eat you alive? Seriously, if we don’t act as Ian says to constrain elites, punish bad behavior, how do we survive?

    These conversations mostly leave me wondering if anyone thinks.

  18. Hugh

    For national (multi state) banks, state usury laws were removed in a 1978 unanimous decision in Marquette Nat. Bank of Minneapolis v. First of Omaha Service Corp affirming the 1863 National Banking Act.

    In 1980 at a time of high Fed rates, the Congress passed the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act which exempted most other banks and lending institutions from state usury laws.

    Neither of these actions were reversed and usury laws re-instituted after this period and in the ensuing 40 years or so.

  19. The reason America is a failing state is the same as the UK is – we are both deficit countries. All the most successful states since WW2 such as Germany, Japan, China, South Korea, HK or Singapore have been surplus states. It stands to reason: a surplus on current account is the same as a profit; they are not only benefiting from new investment, they are also benefiting from a transfer of wealth from the deficit nations. Donald Trump gets this. Not many do.

    You mentioned the WTO. The reason the Doha GATT round failed is because of the massive trade imbalances that have developed around the world since the onset of globalisation. The US deficit with China and that between the UK and EU are just two cases in point. Yet the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures contains clauses which provide a stability function. The only trouble is nobody understands them – including the WTO itself!

    Article 2 of this agreement defines a prohibited subsidy as a “payment to a specific entity within the jurisdiction of the granting authority”. Thus payments to foreign importers of your exports to refund them the import tariffs they have to pay to their own governments are outside your own jurisdiction and therefore legal. A deficit country would therefore be collecting more in import tariff revenues than it would have to pay out in refunds, so the cash flow works. Conversely a surplus country would be out of pocket.

    Furthermore Article 4, which specifies the remedies available to complaining countries, specifies the only remedy as ‘countervailing measures’ by the complaining country itself. The WTO has no powers to take action against a country that has broken the rules directly. A surplus country could not start any sort of trade war against the deficit country, even if authorized to do so, since it has no negotiating leverage!

    At least he UK has a way out through Brexit, not that our MPs understand the economics of it. The US faces a more difficult situation.

  20. Ché Pasa

    The Roman analogy I’ve been using is that the US is in the “End of the Republic” phase, has been for a couple of decades now. There’s been an ongoing and deliberate effort to deconstruct much of the republican ethos and structure leaving a dysfunctional or nonfunctional empty husk to eventually be replaced by a functioning, authoritarian, possibly totalitarian, imperial structure — after a nasty, brutal, but (hopefully) short civil war.

    In other words, I would argue this not by any means the “End of Empire” wrt the USA. Far from it. In the Roman analogy, the Empire has not yet begun. It won’t begin under would be Clown Emperor Trump, but quite possibly will under a successor after a catalyzing event (like a civil war) which allows and requires the intervention of one who might claim (as Octavian did) that s/he is “restoring” the Republic while actually sweeping it away.

    Of course history does not repeat, but as the US republic is based in part on the Roman one, and its failure is becoming undeniable, we’d do well to recognize the rhyme.


  21. anon y'mouse

    the unstated assumption that appears to underwrite this post is that we need elites to function, in order to make us function.

    i would question that kind of assumption. it is past time to do away with the idea that we have “betters” who need to rule over us for our own benefit. didn’t we toss this monarchistic bs (in theory, anyway) over 200 years ago?

    that has simply been replaced with a “meritocratic” view of Who Should Rule. it doesn’t matter that they prove some kind of ability. they have no ability. there is no “suppressing one’s own desires for the public good” in a system like ours (CRAPitalism). neither should you rely upon ANY individual’s “benevolence”, as it is likely to fail at many critical junctures.

  22. Robert Callaghan

    Will Bernie Sanders save earth in 10 years? He sponsored a bill to take 40% of any eventual private carbon tax dividends. 100% private carbon tax dividends means 0% for governments, NGOs and corporations. All we have to do is tax wealth to get rid of greed as private citizens, without corporations NGOs and governments.

    *Males are becoming bio-feminized, infertile, sick and depressed because of health and education corruption.* The corruption of healthcare and education is 100 years old, which is the same age as socialism, feminism, and the private bank capture of public credit.

    The arrogance of collusion delusion is that the narrative doesn’t even have to make sense anymore. Elites get off on how ridiculous their exploits look. The Smollet case is a big fuck you to us. Just like we say fuck you to the world via one or two identitarian self-interests.

    The only way to stop the madness is to tax the rich with 100% private taxes so no government, NGO or corporation gets any of it, period. Ideas divide, money unites.

    The corruption of health and education has destroyed our planet. It is feminizing all American/European men making them infertile, stupid and crazy.

    Drugged waters – how modern medicine is turning into an environmental curse

    Pesticides and antibiotics polluting streams across Europe

    Assumed safety of pesticide use is false, says top government scientist

    Air pollution causes ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence, study reveals

    Drugged waters – how modern medicine is turning into an environmental curse

    Growing up in dirty air ‘quadruples chances of developing depression’

    Wide Range of Diseases Linked to Pesticides

    Pesticide residue on fruits and veggies tied to infertility | Reuters

    High Rates of Suicide, Depression Linked to Farmers’ Use of Pesticides

    Neurological Disorders from Ambient (Urban) Air Pollution

    Glyphosate linked to liver disease, birth defects and reproductive problems; may kill beneficial gut bacteria and damage DNA in human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells.

    Side Effects of Herbicides |

    CO2 Affects our Thinking

    Depression in girls linked to higher use of social media

    Pervasive Fluorochemical Exposures Continue

    The Harmful Effects of Electromagnetic Fields

    Do kitchen items shed antimicrobial nanoparticles after use?

    Impact of Nanoparticles on Brain Health

    Nanoparticles in food can alter the behavior of gut bacteria

  23. Anon

    I am American, born and raised in Los Angeles, and I can tell you with no uncertainty that this country is one really bad day away from a swift, ugly collapse (and the current shenanigans coming out of the White House don\’t count as \’bad days,\’ since this poorly-scripted U.S. remake of \”The Goon Show\” is a feature, not a bug). They let the mongoloids run the joint, and now, hilarity will ensue.

  24. Rob Adams

    Which is why i can\’t imagine the Chinese who, unlike Americans, know their history, are full to the brim with smiling schadnfreude.

  25. Anon

    Of course we have opioid addiction among white people.

    Besides the over prescription of painkillers there is the media and our so called education system.

    From \”Roots\” first showing on TV till now, a whole generation of whites have been taught, lectured, shown on media and in public schools, only self loathing, guilt and complicity in everything bad.

    (Except the noble exercise of fighting Nazism). Funny, they never mention defeating the Japanese Empire?

    Parents, kill your TV and only expose your young children to high quality things. There\’s enough classical music on Youtube to play all day. Good literature, even some older TV shows if you must give them screen time. A boy that\’s taught self reliance and kept away from cultural garbage like hip hop, pro-sports, junk culture and other civic decay will probably by the time he\’s an adolescent, be immune to it.

  26. bruce wilder

    anon y’mouse:

    the unstated assumption that appears to underwrite this post is that we need elites to function, in order to make us function.

    i would question that kind of assumption. it is past time to do away with the idea that we have “betters” who need to rule over us for our own benefit. didn’t we toss this monarchistic bs (in theory, anyway) over 200 years ago?

    We did largely deprecate the concept of rank and associated hereditary class and deference, with the demise of feudalism and the rise of bourgeois modernity. It took 300 years to work thru and there are still people with hereditary titles, but it is treated culturally as ornamental.

    We have emphatically not abolished the functional use of hierarchy to organize the political economy. Since the 1880s, we have expanded the use of hierarchy to organize society and its systems of production and governance by orders of magnitude. The modern, global business corporation had a few precedents going back to the 17th century or before, but it took off circa 1880 with expanding networks of increasingly rapid communication and transportation. Mainstream economics ignores it, the better to pursue a neoliberal agenda that enhances the private power of financialized global business corporations at every turn.

    Wishing away the human dependence on hierarchy is not a political program. It is how we are organized and its pathologies are going to do us in unless we master it. I am not hopeful, as ignoring it and then wishing it away seems to be favored default approach.

  27. James Wheeler

    Hi John

    You left out that successive administrations have turned a blind eye to mass illegal immigration into the country, allowing these folks to be brutally exploited in slave labour conditions and was a major factor in preventing real wage rises for lower skilled average Americans.

    Trump is turning the screws through trade tariffs and making it harder for illegal migration which is helping the revival of manufacturing in the Rust Belt states.

    He’s also, slowly getting the troops out of the Middle East (despite the opposition of the Deep State), and clearly would like to do the same in Europe, South Korea and Japan. That will probably be a second term job which is looking increasingly likely given the poor state of the identity politics obsessed Democrats.

    Summary: Trump is a deeply flawed leader but is doing some good in changing a failed neo-liberal status quo which is why John Greer, who forecast Trump winning in early 2016 is saying that Trump is likely to win again in 2020.

  28. Tomonthebeach

    The US is too big to fail, but…

    Ian, your essay has obviously been well-received by iconoclasts.

    Your observations are a great summary of everything wrong in the world. It is definitely a keeper going in my library.

    There is little debate that economies today are more complex and poorly understood than ever during a time in which implosion seems imminent. However, we all suffer from what psychology calls recency effects. I refer here to the 2007 GR. It is unlikely to repeat soon, but there is surely change in the offing because the oligarchs and kleptocrats thwarted legislation to protect the world from their evil and self-destructive designs.

    Accountability seems to be at the root of your concern, and it is damned hard to deny its centrality in corrupting US capitalism and its capitalist economy. The USA is too big to fail, but it is capable of creating harmful fallout of one type or other on a global scale. Maybe that is why the Flat Earth society is in resurgence. 🙂

  29. Oregoncharles

    “And so far, no one is willing or able to make the elites pay:” torches and pitchforks. Welsh is increasingly radical. Personally, I hope we can reverse course electorally, before we reach that stage, but I’m less and less optimistic.

  30. anon y'mouse

    bruce wilder,

    we don’t “need” heirarchy.

    we just believe that we do.

    something that powerful can’t be “wished” away. but we don’t have to reinforce it in our thoughts and assumptions, either. i believe this piece comes close to the mark, without openly stating so.

    i guess some prefer storming the Bastille, then taking their positions in the ranks of the New BAstille Guards.

  31. Hugh

    Elites need to be understood in terms of privilege and class. We need knowledge and organization to produce and manage the kind of society we would like to live in. Not only do elites not lead to such a society, they preclude it.

    If Chinese leaders know their history, they should be looking over their shoulder and getting scared.

    James Wheeler, Fed policy since the late 70s, the destruction of unions, and the outsourcing of jobs to China and elsewhere are also important reasons for the loss of jobs and suppression of wages. As for immigration, it is about both legal and illegal immigration. 17% of the US workforce is foreign born (as of 2016). I do not know of a single manufacturing job created due to Trump’s border policies. As for Trump, he is a racist crook, a fascist, a pathological liar, and a narcissist with onset of dementia. Want any oranges with that covfefe, bro? This is a guy who couldn’t be trusted to run a lemonade stand. That he is President shows there is something fatally wrong with our country.

  32. Arioch

    What about degradation of Western world – it was outlined by one BBC operative in one lesser known novel right after WW2

    How the West can only sustain their educational-technological-civilizational level if being help on the verge oif destruciton by a peer enemy. And how it all would be reverted once the threat of military defeat be removed off the table.

    1949 – 2019. In 70 years the process he described surfaced so visibly, that even Paul Craig the Captain Obvious Roberts is now writing about the seeds of it

    Maybe in few years he in his analysis would reach good old Orwell\’s insight. But maybe not: Western civilization is in continuous regression afterall.

  33. Aarond

    \”Failing\” state implies that the U.S wasn\’t always like this, which I disagree with. Everything is broken and tossed after 50 years in America, for better or for worse. Highway washouts of today are no different than railroad washouts of the 1960s and 70s, just as the intense subsidization of aircraft R&D is no different to US foreign policy. Drug overdoses are comparable to DUIs. A century ago private companies (RRs especially) conspired to make sure most roads were impassible due to bad conditions so they could profit, meanwhile even more people were dying from alcohol overdoses.

    As for manufacturing, all America did was dump off it\’s retail consumer base onto China a model which allows American firms to jocket between countries playing subcontractors against each other. This turns the entire planet into a shithole, not just America.

    Really, you\’re implying the U.S wasn\’t a shithole in the first place which many, many, many, many Europeans would strongly disagree with in any age.

  34. bruce wilder

    I enjoyed this comment (from a post about the Brexit debacle) from Yves Smith [emphasis added]:

    “. . . the rise of a global elite meant that not enough well placed people cared about curbing the rise in inequality; it’s obvious virtually all of them greatly enjoy it.

  35. alan2102

    When I have to hit control-+ FOUR times (enlarge x4) just to make a page somewhat readable, I know there is something wrong with the page, not me, because my vision may be poor, but not THAT poor.
    Other than that: good content!

  36. steeleweed

    Empires die messy and broke. Sometimes slowly but even those who collapse abruptly do so because the underlying political/social infrastructure has decayed.l And “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” certainly applies to our global position.

  37. I was living in Moscow when the Soviet Union fell apart. The direct cause was the collapse of the distribution system. People were very angry – to the point that even the security services and the military refused to intervene in the collapse.

    If collapse happens here you will begin to see actual changes in general mood.

  38. terrorist lieberal

    @ Bruce Wilder, doesn\’t Yves Smith comment just about say it all about the elite that think they owe nothing to humanity, we surely are doomed if we continue to give them a pass and of course more and more tax cuts !!!

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