More on Declinism

Foot-stomping and caterwauling are so much easier than actually accomplishing something.

America On The Rise

For much of the past decade, “declinism”–the notion that America is heading toward a deadly denouement–has largely been a philosophy of the left. But more recently, particularly in the wake of Barack Obama’s election, conservatives have begun joining the chorus, albeit singing a somewhat different variation on the same tune.

In a recent column in TheWashington Post George Will illustrates this conservative change of heart. Looking over the next few decades Will sees an aging, obsolescent America in retreat to a young and aggressive China. “America’s destiny is demographic, and therefore is inexorable and predictable,” he suggests, pointing to predictions by Nobel Prize economist Robert Fogel that China’s economy will be three times larger than that of the U.S. by 2040.

Rarely mentioned in such analyses is China’s own aging problem. The population of the People’s Republic will be considerably older than the U.S.’ by 2050. It also has far more boys than girls–a rather insidious problem. Among the younger generation there are already an estimated 24 million more men of marrying age than women. This is not going to end well–except perhaps for investors in prostitution and pornography.

In the longer term demographic trends actually place the U.S. in a relatively strong position. By the end of the first half of the 21st century, the American population aged 15 to 64–essentially your economically active cohort–are projected to grow by 42%; China’s will shrink by 10%. Comparisons with other competitors are even larger, with the E.U. shrinking by 25%, Korea by 30% and Japan by a remarkable 44%.

People are the only real resource on earth folks. Please try to understand that.

Something Goldbugs and Nationalists can’t understand

The Germans, the Russians, and the Japanese, all once struck military or economic fear in our hearts. Now, a bunch lefty and righty whack jobs are trying to tell us the Chinese are going to eat our lunch.

….Not gonna happen.

HOLMES: When China rules the world? Sorry, not likely

China is indeed on the rise. Its economy grew at an 8.7 percent rate last year. It is modernizing its military with a vengeance, thanks to double-digit growth in defense spending each year since the early 1990s. And its official holdings of around $800 billion in U.S. Treasuries lead some to fear that China has become America’s banker.

Nor should we fear China’s ownership of U.S. debt. As my colleague, Derek Scissors, explains, there is little danger that China will be able to control America’s economy. Official Chinese holdings of Treasuries amount to less than 7 percent of U.S. Treasury debt. That’s a lot of money, unfortunately, but it’s hardly enough to exercise control.

Not only that, China’s ownership of our debt is actually a sign of dependence on us, rather than the other way around. The Chinese have no choice but to buy U.S. bonds, because ours is the only market sound enough and big enough to park their excess funds. Since China’s currency is tightly controlled, they can’t spend those dollars on their own economy. They invest even more in the U.S. economy, thus funneling billions of dollars we spend on Chinese goods right back to us.

Much of the lack of faith in our own economy and ideals are media-driven. The left/media complex needs us to believe that the experiment in freedom has failed so that we are driven to believe that we need government to protect us. It’s a lie.

All we need to do is cut government spending and individualize the welfare state through scholarships for education, personal accounts for Social Security, and Health Savings Accounts for health care.

China is an afterthought that will soon (20 years) be a toothless Dragon unable to fund its rapidly aging population.

Stop buying gold and invest in a business idea.

Alexis de Tocqueville predicted this…

As the de Tocqueville quotes below show, he was more prescient than most of us want to admit…

As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?

In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.

Let’s break those three quotes down for you.

The first quote speaks to our nation’s commerce/property/wealth oriented ideology. Tempered by a nation of self-regulating individuals of character, there isn’t much of a downside to that ideology.

However, the untrammeled greed of corporations, people, unions, and government, unfettered by a self-regulating people, can be dangerous, as we are now seeing.

The second quote might as well be called a broad definition of “political correctness,” which has narrowed in the last few decades. This conformity makes it harder to critique bad policy, as well as bad people. On the blogs we have unfettered flame wars, but in serious policy discussions, we can’t discuss solutions that break the cycle of greed and corruption. The powerful financial interests won’t have it.

That last quote, combined with the first two, indicates just how much danger we are in. This great nation has been engaged in the extreme moral hazard of rent-seeking, and has become morally flabby in the process. Congress and the President (not to mention EVERYBODY in Springfield) are engaged in financial debauchery, and everyone wants in for the ride, given that they no longer feel they can tame the beast.

I’m not an American “declinist.” I think we can turn it around. But it won’t be easy. We look more like like Rome than I’m comfortable with.

We can only defeat ourselves…

America is always in some form of decline, and our strength is derived from our ability to address those areas of decline in a dynamic and positive fashion. I’m not as optimistic as Mr. Kotkin is in the article below, but the American Declinists on the left and the right are probably wrong, as they always have been.

Don’t Give Up On The U.S.

If the U.S. were a stock, it would be trading at historic lows. The budget deficit is out of control, the economy is anemic and the political system is controlled by academic ideologues and Chicago hacks. Opposing them is a force largely comprised of know-nothings–to call them Neanderthals would be too complimentary.

Not surprisingly, many Americans have become pessimistic. Two in three adults now fear their children will be worse off than they are. Nearly 40% think China will become the world’s dominant power in the next 20 years, as indicated by a recent survey.

Yet, in spite of everything, I would still place my long-term bets on the U.S. Here’s why:

Read the article. Demography is Destiny.

You say you want a Devolution…

Submitted for your perusal…

What if our freedom was dependent upon shrinking the US and its over-weening federal power?

Divided We Stand

Devolved America is a vision faithful both to certain postindustrial realities as well as to the pluralistic heart of the American political tradition—a tradition that has been betrayed by the creeping centralization of power in Washington over the decades but may yet reassert itself as an animating spirit for the future. Consider this proposition: America of the 21st century, propelled by currents of modernity that tend to favor the little over the big, may trace a long circle back to the original small-government ideas of the American experiment. The present-day American Goliath may turn out to be a freak of a waning age of politics and economics as conducted on a super-sized scale—too large to make any rational sense in an emerging age of personal empowerment that harks back to the era of the yeoman farmer of America’s early days. The society may find blessed new life, as paradoxical as this may sound, in a return to a smaller form.

If you think the above hypothesis is far fetched, consider that this is EXACTLY what happened to the British Empire, pretty much to their (and the rest of the world’s) benefit.

Europe: No Longer A Role Model For America

For decades many in the American political and policy establishment–including close supporters of President Obama–have looked enviously at the bureaucratic powerhouse of the European Union. In everything from climate change to civil liberties to land use regulation, Europe long has charmed those visionaries, particularly on the left, who wish to remake America in its image.

“There is much to be said for being a Denmark or Sweden, even a Great Britain, France or Italy,” wrote political scientist Andrew Hacker in his 1971 book The End of the American Era .This refrain has been picked up again more recently by the likes of Washington Post reporter T.R. Reid and economist Jeremy Rifkin. Just last year, international relations scholar Parag Khanna shared his vision of a “shrunken” America lucky to eke out a meager existence between a “triumphant China” and a “retooled Europe.”

But the tendency to borrow from the European toolbox may be somewhat questionable, particularly given that a growing number of Europeans are either uninterested–barely 40% bothered to vote in E.U. Parliament elections last week–or in open revolt against their own system of government. In the elections, for example, parties generally opposed to expanding E.U. power gained ground in countries as diverse as Hungary, Slovakia and the Netherlands. In Britain, the relatively small U.K. Independence Party, which even opposed membership in the U.N., out-polled the Labour Party and trailed only the Conservatives, who announced their own shift toward a more euro-skeptic point of view.

The biggest source of divergence between the U.S. and the E.U. lies in demographic trends. For the most part, Europe is aging far more rapidly, and its workforce is shrinking. As demographer Ali Modarres notes, America’s population over the second half of the 20th century grew by 130 million, essentially doubling, while the populations of France, Germany and Britain together increased by 40 million, or 25%.

As a result, there is virtually no European equivalent for cities like Houston, Phoenix, Las Vegas or Atlanta. American cities sprawl–and will likely continue to do so–because they are newer and because they are growing much faster in a country that is much vaster. Even with 100 million more people, the country will still be one-sixth as crowded as Germany.

These differences will only become more stark. Opposition to immigration–from both Muslim countries and the E.U.’s own eastern periphery–is growing even in historically tolerant places like Great Britain, Denmark and Holland. Over time, migration into Europe is destined to slow. In Barack Obama’s wildly multicultural America, strong restrictionist sentiments have not gained much political ground, and, at most, efforts are directed not at reducing legal immigration but rather shifting it toward a more meritocratic model.

So we can expect America’s population to continue growing at close to the highest rate in the advanced industrial world while Europe remains among the most rapidly aging places on earth. America’s fertility rate is 50% higher than Russia’s, Germany’s and Italy’s. By 2040, for example, the U.S. could have a greater population than the first 15 member nations of the European Union. Compare that prediction to 1950, when America had only half the population of Western Europe.

As the EU becomes an increasingly unmanageable bureaucratic state, the US stands a greater chance of shucking off the Obama Administration’s attempt to drag us into that abyss. One way to do that is to remain a confederation of “Anglo” states that go their separate ways in some fashion, while remaining tethered to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

This would be good thing, not a bad thing. Just some food for thought.

More Declinism

It’s hard not to buy into the “America in decline” mantra with our financial system imploding around us. But rumors of our demise are STILL greatly exaggerated. Here is one of the latest articles cataloging our fall from power.

Is America’s new declinism for real?

But last week the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M hosted a conference designed to discuss the latest, markedly gloomy world view issued by America’s intelligence establishment. Every four years the National Intelligence Council – which oversees America’s baroque collection of intelligence agencies – releases a global trends report, which is given to the new president.

The latest report, published on November 20, has made headlines around the world. The front page of Britain’s Guardian newspaper shouted “2025: the end of US dominance”. For once, the headline is broadly accurate. As the NIC frankly notes, “the most dramatic difference” between the new report and the one issued four years ago is that it now foresees “a world in which the US plays a prominent role in global events, but the US is seen as one among many global actors”. The report issued four years ago had projected “continuing US dominance”.

The NIC report has made people sit up because it comes from the heart of the US security establishment. But it is part of a broader intellectual trend in America: a “new declinism”. This mood marks a complete break with the aggressive confidence of the Bush years and the “unipolar moment”. Its starting assumption is that America, while still the most powerful country in the world, is in relative decline.

In the middle of all of this financial meltdown, it is hard not to agree. OTOH, if America isn’t the world leader, then who is? China?

China fears job riots

China is most concerned about the growing labor unrest, the human resources minister, Yin Weimin, said at a news conference. The increase in unrest has paralleled the increase of business and factory closings and job losses.

Yin noted that in the past two months, some businesses, mainly smaller ones, have been forced to close or suspend production.

Several hundred taxi drivers went on strike Wednesday in Chongqing, in southwestern China, after the government said it planned to put more cabs on the district’s roads, thereby increasing competition, the Gansu Daily newspaper said.

The beginnings of a disintegrating China – Part I

With all of this positive news, who should be worried? My answer: anyone that understands the ripple effect, that’s who! The leaders say one thing to pacify the people while on the streets another world exists. I want to delve into the beginnings of a disintegrating China.

I sat in disbelief reading a recent Shenzhen local paper stating that “Some 9,000 of the 45,000 factories in the cities of Guangzhou, Dongguan and Shenzhen are expected to close down in the next three months according to the Dongguan City Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment estimates. Those closures would see up to 2.7 million jobs cut as overseas demand for consumer goods and clothes fades.” That’s more than 50,000 a day if you believe official figures, which I do not, and I believe the number is actually higher.

The association says that, by end of January, demand will shrink by 30 per cent, and these are just mainland factories. The Federation of Hong Kong Industries said that about 25 per cent of the 70,000 Hong Kong-owned companies in southern China “could go to the wall by the end of January”. Yet on the very next page I read an article quoting the Ministry of Commerce as stating, “Although it is likely to cause a decline in China’s external demand, our stock market and financial system will not be fundamentally affected”.

I can understand the flip-flopping stories as a means to keep a population from panicking; after all the Shanghai A-shares have declined more than 60 per cent from their bubbly peak at the beginning of the year. The Hang Sang in Hong Kong and the Shenzhen indices are not doing much better. Real estate prices have slipped 20 per cent in the last six months, all of the recent factory closings with many more to come and this is just the beginning of a prolonged feedback loop.

The central government’s plan to reverse a foreign trade decline is to increase domestic consumption, restructure industry and boost innovation to change its economic development mode; that’s fine but first you need to have an expanding domestic economy to do that.

I worry about the moral degradation of our people as much as the next person. The public sector screws the worker out of their future with their obscene pensions and payroll bloat while the rich MBA skanks screw us out of our futures with their opaque debt instruments.

It isn’t pretty.

But at the end of the day, do you really want to bet against America?