Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bye American

We can all clearly see that things are not going well for the American nation right now, but if we are to extrapolate any wisdom from the lessons of history, the question is: what does the future hold for us? If Alfred McCoy is correct in some of his projections, it is not pretty.
All of these scenarios extrapolate existing trends into the future on the assumption that Americans, blinded by the arrogance of decades of historically unparalleled power, cannot or will not take steps to manage the unchecked erosion of their global position.
If America's decline is in fact on a 22-year trajectory from 2003 to 2025, then we have already frittered away most of the first decade of that decline with wars that distracted us from long-term problems and, like water tossed onto desert sands, wasted trillions of desperately needed dollars.
If only 15 years remain, the odds of frittering them all away still remain high.  Congress and the president are now in gridlock; the American system is flooded with corporate money meant to jam up the works; and there is little suggestion that any issues of significance, including our wars, our bloated national security state, our starved education system, and our antiquated energy supplies, will be addressed with sufficient seriousness to assure the sort of soft landing that might maximize our country's role and prosperity in a changing world. 
 My hope is that we can stay this dismal demise by learning from our mistakes and changing course. Sadly, I can find absolutely no evidence anywhere that anything like that will take place. The chest-beating patriotism, outlandish political circus acts we call campaigning, and perpetuated beliefs in myths all point to problems far too great to be overcome by education. 
Cultural stupidity might not be so bad, were it not self-reproducing and viral, and prone to place stupid people in charge. All of us have, at some point, looked at a boss and asked ourselves how such a numb-nuts could end up in charge of the joint. 
In my own field, the book biz, the top hucksters in sales and marketing, car salesman with degrees, are put in charge of publishing the national literature. Similarly, ex-Pentagon generals segue from killing brown babies in Iraq into university presidents and CEOs. Conversely, business leaders such as Donald Rumsfeld who fancy themselves as battlefield commanders and imagine their employees as troops to be "deployed," find themselves happily farting behind Pentagon desks. On the strength of having mistaken Sun Tzu's The Art of War as a business text, they get selected by equally delusional national leaders to make actual war on behalf of the rest of us.  
But the most widespread damage is done at more mundane operational levels of the American empire, by clones of the over promoted asshole in the corner office where you work. At least one study demonstrated that random selection for corporate promotions offset the effect significantly. Research again confirms what is common knowledge around every workplace water cooler in the country.
Full article: Amercia: Why R Your Peeps So Dum?, by Joe Bageant

'Tis the season for Peace on Earth and a Happy New Year. I just beg for someone to give me a reason to be positive about where this nation and world is headed. 

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