As the most dominant empire since Roman times, America has helped to bring great wealth and prosperity to the world..--Pat RobertsonAmid Robertson's 'celebration' of American empire, his death threats against Hugo Chavez or Americans daring to oppose his idiocy, Robertson forgot the rest of the story: Rome fell.
The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful.--Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter 2Rome fell for the same reasons the US will have lost empire and world influence. Like Rome, the US has despoiled the land, waged war upon both the small farmer and the laborer, outsourced it's industry, devalued the dollar and subverted the products of labor --the sole source of 'value' in any economy. That the US 'current account balance' --as officially recorded by the CIA --is the highest in the world proves that US is bankrupt and has been for years. It also proves that GOP economics have made the US less productive vis a vis the rest of the world.
Indeed, it is the rest of the world which keeps the US afloat. As long as the rest of the world can extend us credit, it can continue to sell to the US consumer. When the plug is pulled, China and Japan will vie for second place down the chute. Like short sellers on Wall Street, 'last man out' loses! As Gibbon reminds us, Rome --like the United States of late --was full of 'Pat Robertson' types eager to invoke the power of 'God' on their side, eager to bring down God's wrath on those daring to dissent.
It was the fashion of the times to attribute every remarkable event to the particular will of the Deity; the alterations of nature were connected, by an invisible chain, with the moral and metaphysical opinions of the human mind; and the most sagacious divines could distinguish, according to the colour of their respective prejudices, that the establishment of heresy tended to produce an earthquake, or that a deluge was the inevitable consequence of the progress of sin and error. --Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter 26Gibbon is famous for attributing Rome's fall to a 'loss of civil virtue' and, elsewhere states that, under the Empire of Rome, the 'labour of an industrious and ingenious people was variously, but incessantly employed in the service of the rich'. Gibbon correctly states that agriculture was for Rome, as it is for every culture today, the foundation of manufacturing. Elsewhere, Gibbon described what we would call 'supply side economics' but fails to hold it responsible for Rome's fall.
But in the present imperfect condition of society, luxury, though it may proceed from vice or folly, seems to be the only means that can correct the unequal distribution of property. The diligent mechanic, and the skilful artist, who have obtained no share in the division of the earth, receive a voluntary tax from the possessors of land; and the latter are prompted, by a sense of interest, to improve those estates, with whose produce they may purchase additional pleasures. This operation, the particular effects of which are felt in every society, acted with much more diffusive energy in the Roman world.Gibbon, op citThus, Gibbon avoids the issue of how the wealthy obtained wealth initially that they might employ the 'diligent mechanic and the skilful artist'. In other passages, however, Gibbon clearly traces the origins of all wealth to 'land' and the human 'labor' expended making it fruitful. This is consistent with the 'Labor Theory of Value', espoused by almost every major economist from the conservative Adam Smith to the 'left leaning' Karl Marx. Rome's fall, therefore, may be traced to the rise of 'supply-side economics' or, as it is often called, 'trickle down theory'. Rome fell because it became economically impossible. Wars of conquest ravaged the class of 'freeborn farmers' whose lands were seized whilst they were away at war. Slaves brought back to Rome permanently depressed, perhaps destroyed, the job market.
Eventually, the free-born farmer was forced by policy and circumstance to compete with slaves for jobs. Rome had forgotten or never knew the source of wealth itself: labor! It is among the many 'evils' of slavery that in addition to being cruel, it subverts the very value of labor and deprives society of it.
A slave was but a machine in which the 'elite' had made an investment. The elite landowners literally worked their slaves to death and replaced them with 'new models'. A 'slave', however, is an economic dead end.
Many free-born farmers tried to compete in the contracting market --sowing, planting, harvesting, taking crops to market. Because the large landowners (what we might call the corporate farmer today) worked their lands with slaves, they were able to underbid the free-born farmer. Many abandoned their farms when they became unprofitable. They swelled the ranks of the permanently unemployed in Rome. Slaves, arguably, were better off. There were, at least, employed.
That public virtue which among the ancients was denominated patriotism, is derived from a strong sense of our own interest in the preservation and prosperity of the free government of which we are members. Such a sentiment, which had rendered the legions of the republic almost invincible, could make but a very feeble impression on the mercenary servants of a despotic prince; and it became necessary to supply that defect by other motives, of a different, but not less forcible nature; honour and religion.--Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter 1It is fashionable but flat wrong to say that Democrats are equally guilty. Trouble was in evidence even before World War I, the era of robber barons. The Great Depression resulted from a 'fever' --the idea that speculative riches were easy. It was thought that the bubble would last forever. The 'bubble' burst and a great depression ensued.
World War II put people back to work but it was also --as a result of fair, progressive taxation --the most egalitarian period in American history. As GOP policies eventually dominated following WWII, the rich were taxed less and less, and as a result, productivity fell.
Income disparities increased exponentially. In other words, the rich got rich and the poor, much, much poorer. Until Bush Jr, the most dramatic demonstration of those facts had been the administration of Ronald Reagan which doubled the Federal Bureaucracy and tripled the national deficit. Federal spending under Reagan was completely out of control; the budget ballooned. If any net wealth had been created, none of it trickled down: productivity declined, unemployment rose, job growth declined well below the Carter levels. [See: Bureau of Labor Statistics]As recently as 2006, many blogs, newspapers and electronic media were reporting a 'global economic boom'. Bands might well have played 'The Charleston' or 'Varsity Drag', the newsreel soundtrack to heady days of fast bucks and faster women, rowdy days in which the belief that anyone could get rich was encouraged by the GOP. What was in it for them? Votes! The GOP was living in a past best remembered for the Stutz Bearcat and Racoon Coats soon to be followed by "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?". [See video below]A scheme in which the rest of the world would keep the US afloat so that it might buy their products might have worked, for a while, but for the ruinous, the disastrous effects of the US war of aggression against Iraq. America's 'unquenchable materialistic appetite' drove the world economy. The economies of several nations, including Japan, possibly China, will collapse when the US consumer is not employed sufficiently to buy their product. When the US consumer goes belly up, so too will the nations that depend upon those billions of US dollars. The parallels with the crash of 1929 are as valid as are analogies to Rome. US debt now tops the total debts of all the nations of the world at about 4.3 trillion dollars. Another nation might be bailed out by a bigger, richer nation. In this case, however, the entire world is not rich enough to bail out America. In 1929, the debt ratio in relation to the Gross National Product stood at a healthy 16%. In 1990, at the end of the ruinous and disastrous Reagan administration, the national debt had increased to 60% of the GDP. Insatiable America ran up a tab that is now due but there is no nation on earth capable or willing to pick up the tab. Wherever and whenever Rome 'pulled out' its legions because it could no longer support them in situ the Dark Age would begin.
The Republican Great Depression began in 1929, not 1932, and it was the direct result of 9 years of unrelenting trickle-down economics delivered under three Republican Presidents (Harding, Coolidge and Hoover) and their treasury Secretary, the anti-tax, anti-regulation corporate titan, Andrew Mellon.As I write in the introduction of my new book, Yeah, Right: "This Economy Is Strong and Other Tall Tales:I blame the GOP for this debacle, specifically the incompetent and venal administrations of Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr and, most recently, that of George W. Bush, the lesser idiot. Let's take a look at the history before it gets re-written:Hoover came to the presidency in March 1929 after a campaign in which he insisted that a "continuation of the policies of the Republican party is fundamentally necessary to the future advancement of this progress and to the further building up of this prosperity."When the market crashed in October 1929, the true cost of the Republicans' get-rich-today-and-don't-worry-about-tomorrow policies became all too apparent. Years of corporate deregulation, Wall Street manipulation, rampant speculation, cuts in taxation for the wealthy, and easy-credit expansion for consumers had fueled an unsustainable bubble of artificial wealth that popped with devastating effect.But Hoover refused to acknowledge the collapse. The "fundamental business of the country," he insisted, was "on a sound and prosperous basis."Compare those pre- and post- crash Hoover statements to these pre- and post-crash McCain statements:Based on that record, there are few people in America who could more rightly claim to be the heir of Herbert Hoover than John McCain (if you're thinking Bush, you're close, but he's actually Calvin Coolidge's heir).--Jim Oleske, Memo to McCain: Hoover was a REPUBLICAN, Daily Kos
He should be judged very, very well as far as the economy is concerned. We're in a long sustained period of economic growth.
- John McCain on George W. Bush, March 5, 2007
I still believe the fundamentals of our economy are strong.
- August 2008
- Any Democratic President has presided over greater economic growth and job creation than any Republican President since World War II.
- When Bush Jr took office, job creation was worst under a Republican, Bush Sr, at 0.6% per year and best under a Democrat, Johnson, at 3.8% per year.
- Economic growth under President Carter was far greater than under Reagan or Bush Sr. In fact, economic growth in general was greater under Johnson, Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton than under Reagan or Bush. Democrats always outperform a failed party: the GOP!
- The job creation rate under Clinton was 2.4% significantly higher than Ronald Reagan's 2.1% per year.
- The "top performing Presidents" by this standard, in order from best down, were Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and Kennedy. The "worst" (in descending order) were Nixon, Reagan, Bush.
- Half of jobs created under Reagan were in the public sector--some 2 million jobs added to the Federal Bureaucracy. Hadn't he promised to reduce that bureaucracy?
- Reagan, though promising to reduce government and spending, tripled the national debt and left huge deficits to his successor. Bush Jr's record will be even worse.
- By contrast, most of the jobs created on Clinton's watch were in the private sector.
- Put another way: any Democratic President beats any Republican President since World War II.
- Total and humiliating defeat for the US in Iraq
- The utter collapse of the US economy
- The export of American jobs to China and anywhere BUT the US.
- Selling out the American consumer to Wal- Mart; most Americans no longer earn enough to shop anywhere else. Wal-Mart depresses local economies, has forced employees to work 'off the clock', in other words, 'work for free'. Wal-Mart has destroyed the 'downtown' areas of small towns. You can still see them. But only in Norman Rockwell prints.
- Dividing the US into those who have and those who have not where those who have not make up over 90 percent of the population and those have are but a about one percent and own MORE than 90 percent combined.
- The dumbing down of America with 'faith-based' initiatives'; what had been needed was fact-based initiatives that encouraged intelligence --rather than gullibility and the belief in economic voodoo. Like 'trickle down theory' and other GOP 'economic voodoo', 'faith-based inititives' was a callous fraud exemplified by the "Houston Miracle" often attributed to Bush protoge Rod Paige. It was a fraud. The test scores were phony baloney. Like Enron, they cooked the books.
- The destruction of New Orleans because black folk dared to live there. Recently it has been learned that residents of the white suburb of Algiers Point murdered black residents trying to escape rising flood waters in New Orleans. As New Orleans tried to recover, Bush infamously said: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job"
- The subversion of American jurisprudence by packing SCOTUS with ideologues and idiots who clearly thought that it was their job to re-write the Constitution --not apply it. Clue: Antonin Scallia cannot carry James Madison's shit! Scalia had all but admitted his bias even before the debacle in Florida was taken to the high court. Scalia himself admitted that his aim was to prevent Bush from falling behind in the recount. He would try to undo the laws of common-sense and logic to do it: "Count first and rule upon the legality afterward is not a recipe for producing election results that have the public acceptance that democratic stability requires!" Excuse me, Antonin! The guy getting the fewer number of votes is SUPPOSED to lose, you idiot! Fact is, Antonin never had a stupid idea that he could not intellectualize with big words and bullshit! But --as Scallia himself opined: "I'm too smart for this court!" Of late, that may be true. And that is enough to give one night terrors.
- The destruction of the US environment.
- Presiding over US descent into third world, possibly fourth world status.
- Turning American cities into sprawling out-of-control carbuncles the purpose of which was to inspire car sales and increased oil consumption. This is especially stupid as 'car making' was essemtially 'outsourced' to Japanese plants paying MUCH LOWER wages inside the US. Toyata was allowed to build cars in the US and pay much less than autoworkers would have made in Detroit. Workers who make less money, spend less mony --unless they are extended credit. Credit seems like FREE MONEY UNTIL THE BILL COMES DUE!
- Gerrymandering congressional districts such that the GOP might get majorities in both houses of Congress.
- Openly deriding the Constitution --as George W. Bush had done numerous times in various ways.
- Encouraging stupidity, rewarding incompetence, elevating ideology above intelligence.
- Turning American cities into ugly carbuncles in which robber baron corporations brainwash a captive audience in Potemkin villages called 'suburbs' or --worse --'planned communities' which come with an implicit guarantee that you will not see a 'negro'.
- Becoming a blood-sucking parasite that killed its host.