Hell, I wanted to believe it.
Unlike the Abrahamic faiths for instance, American Exceptionalism and pure Capitalism aren't savage, sinister, exclusionary myths; they are beautiful, deeply satisfying myths. We love the notion of the plucky Individual overcoming the faceless State. We love even more the notion of the "Overcoming Individual" sharing his beneficence on the common people. We're enthused by the exponential wealth-creating potential of pure Capitalism, unfettered by all-too-real taxation and regulation. We hold dear the notion of our greatness, built upon the sober canniness of American Ingenuity. -For decades, the myth of our Exceptionalism was reflected in reality. - 50 years ago China and India were agrarian backwaters, and we were free to pursue our wildest expansionist fantasies with seeming impunity.
For more than 30 years, we have accepted as mainstream wisdom, the notion that Americans can somehow sustain ourselves with a pass-through, service-based economy. -Ship the whole sweaty, messy manufacturing mess to the brown countries, we were in essence told by Reagan, Bush and Clinton. -In the "new" era, Americans will be "information workers" and "service professionals".
We were bamboozled by freshly empowered fundamentalists, warmongers, union-busters, trickle-down economists, and N.A.F.T.A. After 30+ years, conservatives no longer use the discredited "trickle-down" moniker, but without question, the underlying belief remains firmly entrenched. -One needs look no further than the current tax cut showdown in Congress for the proof.
We're going to keep giving tax breaks to mega-churches and multi-billionaires, and subsidies to farmers to grow crops we don't need. We're going to continue corporate welfare, even as impoverished working people are physically removed en masse from their homes. We're gonna spend $1.35 Trillion on world-wide defense next year. -And more the year after that. -And the year after that, and the year after that.
The rot comes from the inside out, and even the wealthiest won't be able to gate themselves forever. I've visited utopian havens of the rich: Aspen and Greenwich and Newport Beach. -In these fantasy lands, service-based economies really did work, -if only for a little while. -But no longer. -The shaggy landscapes and shuttered storefronts that embody our Foreclosed Nation are now evident even in these capitalist paradises. The enrichment of the super wealthy at the expense of a struggling, failing workforce (in concurrence with interminable engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan and Korea), are ending our country as we know it. -We just are not yet fully aware of it.
It took the British Empire almost 20 years to "wind down". I predict it will take the American Empire about 25. -Interestingly, 2026 (exactly 25 years post 9-11) is when China is predicted to overtake us economically. -India will surpass us by 2050.