America in the Age of Descent

Thursday, April 05, 2012

In Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of DescentEdward Luce argues that America is sliding into an economic and geopolitical free fall. Luce is Financial Time's chief U.S. columnist and former speechwriter for Larry Summers, who served as treasury secretary during the Clinton administration.

Comments [36]

Stephen Schweter from Brentwood Ny

Americans should revisit the Constitution ,Bill of rights and the federalist papers. Under BUSH we got the PATROIT ACT ,which I call the repeal of the 4th,5,6th Amendments of out rule of law. Under Obama we got NDAA 1021 signed
on 12/31/12 what a New Year gift. Only LIBERTY may bring people since it deals with each persons rights. Not seperateing us putting into seperate groups. Only Dr.Ron Paul has a solution for are large DEBT which in itself will destroy out great nation. He brings all types of people together.
Peace,Liberty, Freedom and Honesty as his record proves,He never voted to take any of our rights away.
Peace to all
Stephen Schweter

Apr. 11 2012 11:22 AM
anna from new york

I don't know ... some comments needs a translation from Orwellian to normal.
Can someone please translate Jennifer and Jamie P.?

Apr. 06 2012 03:40 AM

America's 2 centuries plus history has seen ups and downs, highs and lows, booms and depressions. People who pick lent out of their navels while moaning about the decline of America are not helpful. The United States is one nation state among 192 (?). We should be glad that we are moving through a century that will see multipolar centers of power. Talking in terms of "enemies" is really the worst sort of world view for moving our nation forward. (And by a Brit, no less!) We should not be the world's police, nor mercenary army.

I'm a huge fan of the Financial Times, but Luce is focusing on issues that are really beside the point. There's a lot of very interesting stuff being invented and interesting minds applying themselves to imagining a social and political structure beyond what we have right now. They're not necessarily walking the halls of power right now, but they are out there.

Btw: Waiting for Superman was neither beautiful nor popular. It was DOA because people saw it as the propaganda it was.

People on the ground continue to work, raise their children, participate in their communities.

"We" may not be used to this decline, but our grandparents and great-grandparents certainly were.

Apr. 05 2012 11:42 PM
Jamie P from originally from WV and living in NYC

As an Arts Education Advocate, Artist and Arts Educator, active for over twelve years in various capacities including: Foster Care Arts Instructor, Museum Educator, After School Teacher, Arts Administrator, Assistant Professor, Graduate Instructor, and now Visiting Instructor – I’ve had the honor to encounter people of all walks of life. Over the last few years I have noticed that students are quite entitled. So entitled, that they have little respect for the classroom and for their teachers. I’ve encountered this recently as an Instructor and as a Working Artist. I fear that the youth of this country are losing perspective and respect for elders. Why has this happened? Well, I ask this question to myself daily – perhaps it is the growth of Social Media, IPhones (dare I say they have made the youth selfish) or I presume a much larger systemic problem. That is all I have for the moment. I have many things to take care of – moving apartments, studios, and the parceling out of an estate. And if anyone cares – I’ve read many books and the thing that I have spent the most money on is my Higher Education. And the things that I am most grateful for are the following: meeting people from all walks of life, my Dear Mother who pushed me to be the person that I have become to be, and my husband who I cherish beyond what the eyes can see. I have no intention of ever filing any lawsuits. I’d much rather earn my money through what I know best, honest hard work. Forgiving is hard I think, but necessary. No one is perfect. To quote Barack Obama, “We must come together to save this planet”. I think it is better to do it face to face, not on Facebook.

I love the BIG Apple and our President.

Apr. 05 2012 02:14 PM
anna from new york

America was number one in education? When, Brian, when? America did have some good fiction writers and always, always, always great salesmen.

Apr. 05 2012 12:20 PM
anna from new york

Good program. I am sure that to many foreign born individuals this nonsensical bar owner seems to be a typical American, poorly educated, brainwashed, ignorant, functioning on the level of platitudes and cliches.
Sorry to inform you, Scott, but labor camps are not efficient (I would say inhumane but he doesn't care/understand) and people are entitled to their lunch breaks and can do whatever they want during lunch. I always say that Arbeit macht frei came from this country. Can you imagine working for him. Poor chap, he even doesn't know that postal service isn't exactly government.

Apr. 05 2012 12:15 PM

I visited Europe right after Obama was elected. I cannot express to you all how amazingly welcoming and thrilled so many europeans I met were about the elections. In a bar in Dublin the whole bar toasted Obama - because we were there and they were happy for us! I just came back from India and there was terrible acceptance of corruption and living conditions of filth and supreme pollution-- any American would be shocked at seeing this level of dismal despair, why? we have no analagous poverty in our country. Just our infrastructure lends a level of cleanliness...

In INdia I stayed at wonderful hotels... but nonetheless, when I arrived in Newark - of all places! _ I felt I landed in Heaven!

Maybe we are in decline. I am not the expert. But man, travel the world. We still have an amazing, strong and beautiful country. And plenty of people wanted to engage me in our politics. Because we are still a very exciting place for ideas and discoveries.

Apr. 05 2012 12:02 PM

The problem is the mentality of most Americans is stuck in the 1950-60s. Many are ignornant about the global economy that we presently live in.

Apr. 05 2012 12:00 PM

Latinamericanization? Is that even a word? Oligarchic...That I can understand.

We are all being robbed because we spent too much time being seduced by crock of trickle down economics.

Apr. 05 2012 11:58 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The TRUE "American Dream" is FREEDOM! FREEDOM! FREEDOM! As for the opportunity to have a bigger house, or a tiny apartment, or many cars or no cars, that should be PERIPHERAL and secondary. If you came from a refugee camp or from a totalitarian system, you understand what is freedom! But if you just came here for the bigger house and the bigger cars, then you've missed the whole point.

Apr. 05 2012 11:55 AM
Barbara Himber from Flemington, NJ

Of course Romney and Obama have very different views on what it is to be an American. One is a privileged,wealthy, white man who sees only the world he was part of and the other, Obama, although privileged and wealthy is part of a still struggling minority facing bigotry and even hatred today.
As long as companies like Chase continue to salary their CEO at 23 million dollars last year (see headlines today), and millions are barely getting by, then the outlook for America is bleak indeed. Turning around this situation is akin to trying to reverse the QM2 in the Panama Canal.

Apr. 05 2012 11:55 AM
RMC from NYC

I agree with the older woman who has lived in many countries and thinks we're being laughed at. I have European friends and colleagues who think that Americans are out of their mind -- meaning the far right -- not smart -- meaning the far right -- and not well-educated. They're also shocked that we don't have a national health care system.

We believe in the American dream, but around the world we're thought of as ignorant, violent and delusional. After the health care oral argument last week, and Santorum/Romney, I am wondering whether I can ask for political asylum in Canada.

Apr. 05 2012 11:54 AM

Note to "Scott" (last caller):

The thing the private sector is supremely good at is...telling everyone how great they are.
But hey, don't let me stop you from tooting your own horn.

Apr. 05 2012 11:53 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Hey Scott -is my cable company or bank run by the government? Go open a bar in New Jersey......

Apr. 05 2012 11:52 AM
john from nyc

i went to lousy restaurants and bars

Privatly owned

Apr. 05 2012 11:51 AM

Half of the income going to 10% of the population. The system is rigged to take it easy on these 'wealth accumulators'. In my eutopia, we tax these leeches out of existence. We restore a healthy S&L sector and let the middle class supply invest-able capital by raising their wages so they actually have some savings.

Apr. 05 2012 11:48 AM
Phil Kay from Manhattan

I think Romney was speaking in coded language about Obama's very legitimacy as an American. For me what it means to be an American--after the separation of church and state--is to subscribe to a framework of laws and procedures regardless of out disagreements. The people who hold up signs telling out duly elected leader to go back to Kenya are violating something essential about that, and Romney is winking at them.

Apr. 05 2012 11:48 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Ironically, the guys with the British accents come to this country FOR that "dream" of being able to live in a big house instead a cramped flat back in Merry Ole England, and to be able to drive BIG cars, unlike those minis back home.

Apr. 05 2012 11:44 AM
john from nyc

Brian, Great shows today

God save the Rich and well to do...

They are the only ones capable of hiring any one to do anything..

Let's give them tax cuts and legal preference at any cost..

Apr. 05 2012 11:44 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Amen - Dark.

Apr. 05 2012 11:44 AM
John A.

America today: Unsustainable Health Care, taxation, oil use, military, obesity epidemic, recreation mentality. Pick one. Or more.
And solve the problem.

Apr. 05 2012 11:42 AM
Amy from Manhattan

So nothing about the environment & how not protecting it will lead to decline through nearly all the other aspects mentioned?

Apr. 05 2012 11:41 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The "American Dream" was a post-WWII hoax played on the American people, which lasted about 30 years, and then shifted to the credit card and heavy borrowing "dream" and finally the bubble burst becoming the American Nightmare: Debt with no place to live.

Apr. 05 2012 11:41 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

Money and lobbyists in politics are destroying our political system as well as the Ayn Randian worship of the almighty market and corporations has turned us into a democracy with a lower case "d" and an oligarchy with a capital "O".

Continue to crap all over the worker in favor of corporations and make education too expensive for many, putting them in massive debt after college, resist universal healthcare, religion in opposition to science and we will continue to be a society in decline.

Our system favors the rich at the expense of the many and is sinking the whole ship. In short money corrupting politics, right-wing extremist economics, exploitation of the worker, extremist religion and the destruction of the education sytem has doomed this country. And the Republican party in particular wants to continue down that path.

Apr. 05 2012 11:39 AM

Decline? Military spending has been higher than it has ever been. In real dollars and percentage of GDP, even including WWII years. There will be no decline, because the military can just muscle out any decent.

Apr. 05 2012 11:35 AM
mark from USA

Misery luvs company, eh, Guv'nor?
Think you chaps across the pond have a thing or two to tell us about how to sort out our national dotage? Please.
Really, it's such a shame about the dissolution of your own once-mighty British Empire (huzzah, huzzah) but don't try to drag us down with you.

Apr. 05 2012 11:35 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

America will still be more dynamic and technologically more advanced than than any other country for years but structural problems that cause a disparity in wealth - mainly, the lack of investing in her people, via training and education and in infrastructure, may be the end of her.

Apr. 05 2012 11:34 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I've got somewhat tired of people with British accents coming here and taking our best jobs and then telling us what is right or wrong with America.

Having said that. The decline in the overall "standard of living" became inevitable when we started borrowing heavily, both as consumers and as a nation government to sustain an inflated, unsustainable standard of living. Once Americans start living in smaller apartments and more energy efficient homes, and start driving energy efficient cars, we will level off at the standard of living of pre-suburbanize (1959) America,which wasn't all that bad.

WE are not going to stop the rise of Asia or Latin America or other competitors. WE are just going have to live somewhat more like them.

Apr. 05 2012 11:34 AM
brian from Manhattan

I listen to the BBC. I read the Guardian. Though there may be something to Mr. Luce's thesis, it is clear that British
perspectives on American decline are self-interested. Misary loves company.

Apr. 05 2012 11:33 AM
john from office

In the 80s the Japanese were going to destroy us, now the Chinese. Lets wait and see, the US is highly adaptable. The answer maybe immigration of the highly educated.

China may implode in to an new cultural revolution.

Apr. 05 2012 11:32 AM

We attacked a country that did not have WMD. No country will every look up to us again. That's all that needs to be understood.

Apr. 05 2012 11:32 AM
Emmanuel from westchester

If almost everyone believes our way of life(social,political,economical) is broken, and doesn't work, why can't we create a new system? Everything from the Invasion of Iraq/Afghanistan to Obama bailing out the banks were discussed and sold as decisions that were made because there was no alternative.. Yet, those things happened nonetheless! Maybe if we stopped doing things we know won't work, we might open a new way of doing things.

Apr. 05 2012 11:05 AM

@Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

I completely disagree. Decline is never a choice, but a consequence of bad policies.

In case of this country in can be traced to corruption in the government. Thus, the pursuit of short term profits, globalisation of the economy, and, thus, decline of local economic power. On the political front it was the ideology of "spreading the democracy" even if it was in a conflict with the country's direct interests.

Hopefully, the US is dynamic enough to recognise the trend and reverse these policies.

Apr. 05 2012 11:05 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Decline is a choice, not an inevitability. We will become poorer and weaker only if we allow ourselves to become so.

But, sadly, the young among us ..... tricked by Obama and the nihilists on the Left into engineering their own decline ..... may never know the prosperity of their parents and grandparents.

As Edgar says in the last lines of KING LEAR-

"We that are young shall never see so much."

Apr. 05 2012 10:08 AM

@Ed -

Is that seriously your take on the decline of the country? Access to save and legal Abortion? Really?

How about the decline in unions and a tax code that favors wealth over income leading to the fruits of the national economy going to the upper quintiles rather than spread throughout the middle.

In 1962, when US GDP was $612B, the average wage was $5,000. If wages had grown with the general economy, average wage would now be close to $120,000. It's barely one-third that amount which shows where the American Dream has gone.

Mr. Romney speechifies on restoring prosperity to America but I haven't heard a word from his mouth that makes me believe he really means it.

End the Bush Tax cuts.
Promote public campaign financing.
Eliminate ALL tax loopholes, credits and deductions.

Apr. 05 2012 09:28 AM
Ed from Larchmont

When (if) the history of the U.S. is written years from now, it will say that it faced to deadly challenges to its union. The first was slavery, which it (barely) overcame through a terrible war. The second was abortion, which did it in. And that's what we're seeing now, an aging population, not enough young people to start businesses, etc.

Apr. 05 2012 06:11 AM

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