Webster

The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)


Thursday, October 1, 2020

The 3rd Worlding of America

 I shamelessly nicked this off my Facebook Friend Matt Bracken's Post.  I thought it was depressing but accurate telling what is going on in America.  I was getting my coffee and ruminating between the redoing of the American Immigration system in 1965 which changed who could come over here "from over there" and the incessant hatred of America and the West taught by the American educational system, the transformation was inevitable.  I believe this was the endgame by the shadowy marxists cabals  from the Frankfurt School that set this in motion generations ago, and I don't know what can can stop the decline. It would require a radical transformation of our present culture and many people don't have the "stones" to do it, they have had the will to fight either bred out of them or the incessant drumbeat of racial hatred toward a certain segment of the population has cowed a huge part of the majority population and they hate themselves and identify with their accusers and don't want to save their own civilization and believe that we "deserve everything bad that happens to us because we are racist".  What can be done.? The ones that believe in this country are the older Americans that remember the America that was and want to fight for her but we are getting fewer and fewer as old age and other things remove us from the equation and the new Generation is coming out of school and they don't believe like we do.  I don't know, I don't know mean for this to be a depressing post, I don't like writing those, but I am at a loss for words and solutions,  Do we have to spend 40 years in exile like the Israelites did so the new generations coming out of bondage know only freedom?  


The Third Worlding of America

Whether it is forest fires caused by decrepit infrastructure, the use of intelligence agencies to target domestic political opponents, growing inequality, or a rejection of our political traditions, America more and more feels like a third world country.

First, consider what it meant to be a first world country. This has always been a small club: the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Japan, and, more recently, Singapore and South Korea made the cut. 

The former Soviet Union and its satellites were part of the so-called Second World. In both material and moral terms, they were decidedly inferior: little political or social freedom, shoddy consumer goods, and a malfunctioning economic system. 

The Third World was everyone else.  

Our First World Past

First world status comes from various political, social, and economic achievements. One of the more salient is low corruption. The classic symbol of third world corruption is the shakedown for bribes by border officials and police officers. For the most part, this has been absent from American public life. There is a reason Norman Rockwell painted police officers as heroic and non-threatening, and that Americans living in the most American parts of our country still talk about leaving their doors unlocked at night. 

Low levels of corruption foster another distinct feature of America’s first world status: the dominance of the private sector and high degrees of entrepreneurialism. 

While all first world countries enjoy low corruption, Europe’s governments were always more involved in it. In the United States, the government sector was historically small, competent, and responsive. Most people made their living privately. 

To the extent anyone worked for the government, it was either true public service among those who achieved their success elsewhere, or a tradeoff of more modest wages for higher job security within the civil service. Increasingly, the government sector is both higher paying and more secure, with access controlled by nepotism and racial classifications. In other words, the private sector—other than the top echelons—is for suckers. 

Another feature of American life has been low levels of crime and disorder. 

You don’t need to be a historian to see this; you merely need a set of eyes. When you see the decaying, boarded-up facades of yesteryear—the modest and orderly row homes of Baltimore, the grandiose public works of Detroit—these are the ruins of a prosperous and orderly society. They could not have been built so sturdily or well by the current denizens of these communities. They are a window into a disappearing America of prosperous small towns and orderly and civilized cities, where a middle class could live and work. Such “normalcy” exists now, if at all, in the rings of suburbs around our cities, usually more shoddily and less beautifully built than the original cities themselves.

Political normality, compromise, and restraint are other features of first world societies. These habits of self-limitation are the products of a common culture, where the goal of preserving and strengthening an existing society is taken for granted. This is the inheritance of George Washington, who stepped down after two terms. It is reflected in Richard Nixon taking advice from LBJ, and the whole country mourning the murder of JFK. Further back, it is seen in the high degrees of trust among voters for the government and its institutions, which has been falling for decades.

Many commenters like to say the country’s historical stability and wealth are the product of its ideas and creed. That’s certainly part of it, but it’s also because of the people. 

These habits developed over a long time. Our countrymen’s common background, religion, and language limited the range of domestic political disagreement. The American people were not just an assembly of economic units with nothing in common. They were a people.  

Everything fit together. The combination of austere Christian morality, a lack of formal class system, and a predictable legal regime led to dynamism, ingenuity, and growth. America went from a colonial backwater to a world power in 200 years. Unlike France, which is on its fifth constitution, or the Soviet Union, which broke apart after 70 years, the United States and its legal order have proven to be remarkably durable. 

Even so, things feel different. In the passing of a generation or two, the features outlined above feel less prominent. Politics, morality, economics, and demographics have all undergone a substantial, engineered change. Old commitments, whether to free speech or respect for religion, are in decline. New images, new habits, and new human types have emerged following the multi-faceted social revolution since the 1960s. 

It feels, for lack of a better word, more and more like we are living in a third world country. 

Our Third World Future

What is the Third World? What are its features? It is not just grinding poverty. Some of the richest people in the world and their opulent palaces can be found in the Third World. But even as the Third World has gotten comparatively wealthier, it retains many features that make it unpleasant, particularly for the common man. This is why millions of people from that part of the world risk life and limb to come to the United States and Europe. 

One feature is a lack of public spiritedness. The public space and the commons are literally trashed. In the Third World, political office is a means to enrich oneself and one’s family. This is as true for presidents as it is for mayors and lower-level officials. The endemic corruption of the Third World both reflects and reinforces an extreme tribalism, which elevates the extended family above the public as a whole. Elections and parties reflect these ethnic divisions, and a winner-take-all spirit prevails. This is as true in India as Iran, in Mexico as in Mauritania. In parts of the United States heavily populated with immigrant groups from the Third World, the local politics reflects the same values. Old habits die hard. 

To the extent there is a private sector in the Third World, it is intertwined with and dependent on the political one. Bribes are a necessary cost of doing business. But the real money is in public corruption, whether in the form of official or unofficial monopoly, government contracts, or the like. This is increasingly true at home, where whole sectors of the economy—health care, green jobs, aerospace, and e-commerce—are dependent on a combination of regulatory assistance, government contracts, or outright subsidies.  

As the Hunter Biden episode reminds us—along with the dozens of other well-paid relatives of politicians—self-enrichment among the political class is becoming an unremarkable feature of American life. One cannot imagine today a president ending up, like Harry Truman, near-broke at the end of a presidency. 

A related feature of the Third World is failing infrastructure. While gleaming homes, sports cars, and private affluence are well-known, public investments are often shoddy, decrepit, and obsolete. You can’t drink the water. There is little incentive to fix these things, as politics chiefly consists of individually rewarding one’s close associates, rather than benefiting the public as a whole. Complex problems remain unsolved and persistent. 

Along these lines, here at home, we see increasing evidence of both organizational and technological decline. A nation that once built skyscrapers, world-class universities, beautiful highways, and railroads from coast to coast, now finds much of it is in disrepair, with repair projects often exceeding the cost of the original construction

This does not mean money is not spent. In 2009, Obama enacted a $1 trillion stimulus. In response to COVID-19, President Trump authorized $2 trillion in spending. But what do we have to show for either? Where is the Golden Gate Bridge or Hoover Dam? For that matter, where’s our wall?Yet another notable feature of the Third World is poverty, lawlessness, and disorder. The most jarring symbol of third world inequality and chaos are the shantytowns that surround their urban centers. 

Here at home, we now find armies of homeless and tent dwellers in our most prosperous cities. San Francisco and New York now have to deal with a public defecation crisis. There is little serious discussion of these problems. No one in power has the will to end them. At the same time, private security and gated communities are becoming the symbols of the age. 

A final feature of the Third World, now familiar at home, is high stakes politics. While democracy exists in some measure in many third world nations, it is what Fareed Zakaria has called “illiberal democracy.” Everything is on the table. Political opponents are often targeted for punishment if they lose power. Thus, every election becomes a referendum on the freedom and safety of large sectors of the populace, and thus they are often marred by fraud and violence. 

America’s traditions of a peaceful transfer of power and political decorum are disappearing. Open talk of “burning it down” and changing the rules to guarantee victories are now becoming common. There is no restraint, because the stakes are higher and the visions of America’s future come from entirely different traditions. The Left’s view is a foreign import with totalitarian implications; it is alien to the principles of due process and restraint embedded in America’s constitutional order. 

It Pays to Be a Winner

It’s all rather depressing. But the change is also undeniable. Conservatives like to talk about American exceptionalism and a silent majority, but this seems to be, especially now, mere nostalgia. America, like every nation, can undergo revolutionary change or slow decay. It’s legal forms can become devoid of substance as its people change.

The talk of tiny homes, the gig economy, and vibrancy are the coping mechanisms of a nation where a middle-class existence cannot be had for more and more people, who are weighed down by low wages, rising real estate costs, debt, and the insecurity of urban life. From rolling blackouts in California and millionaire “private-sector” jobs for ousted politicians in D.C., to draconian enforcement of mask mandates while arsonists shut down our streets, this is not Norman Rockwell’s America. Indeed, it’s not even the America one might remember growing up in the 1980s and ’90s. It’s changed for the worse. 

More important, the rules required to survive and thrive are quite different from those of the recent past. As in Venezuela or Iraq, politics and life are becoming “winner take all.” It’s important to know when compromise is not possible. And, under these circumstances, it pays to be a winner. 

13 comments:

  1. Lord that is one depressing but possibly a Cassandra like warning that will be ignored! I just hope that the Adults show up soon and clean the mess up that we have created!

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  2. Right now the people my age group that are retiring are all government workers. Or have worked in health care.

    I blame unions. Once the unionized public workers it was not longer about the job but the pension.

    And they have all but killed anything for workers in the private square

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    1. So true, Paul. As has been observed (here?), there existed, for decades, a wage and benefit trade-off between private and public sector employment. Lower salary but with job security and benefits, or an opportunity for high income and more freedom and latitude in your work life, but no benefits you didn't fund yourself and little job security because of competition (a good thing, right?) Yet, several of my peers (in their early-60s through mid-70s) made very good, secure salaries in various county/state agencies AND received great benefits continuing into their early retirement AND continuing salaries of sorts via pensions and the like. They lived a life that was an exception to the phrase, "You can't have your cake and eat it too." I feel it's been a result of government at all levels becoming, over the past 30+ years, bloated and unjustifiably outsized.

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    2. Paul and Flat - right as rain - I went into private industry with lots of up front cost and education and no guaranties- my public sector friends all retired 5-10 years before me with no stress (boring) jobs - public service unions with no incentive to control pay or benefits worked well for them as those voting on their contracts received support during elections - an odd system with predictable results - best to our kids

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    3. Paul and Flat - right as rain - I went into private industry with lots of up front cost and education and no guaranties- my public sector friends all retired 5-10 years before me with no stress (boring) jobs - public service unions with no incentive to control pay or benefits worked well for them as those voting on their contracts received support during elections - an odd system with predictable results - best to our kids

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  3. Dude! You're moving up in the world. Another repost by wirecutter.

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  4. What you're describing is laid out pretty neatly in Sir John Glubb's The Fate of Empires. Every empire is built by "We the people". There is this bond between countrymen. Over a few generations this turns to greed, milking the country and ripping off your fellow citizen. And so decay begins.

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  5. America endured 8 years of Obama's criminal political assault and his failed coup called (RussiaGate) to overthrow President Trump. RussiaGate was a conspiracy to overthrow a sitting president (Impeachment Sham) carried out by a coordinated effort of high-ranking government employees across many agencies, who knew exactly what they were doing.

    Americans are starting to understand how the Obama administration weaponized the DOJ, FBI, CIA and IRS to go after his political opponents, and in doing so, he trampled the Constitution and fueled the violent overthrow of cultural norms. America, in her glorious history, has never experienced anything in politics as corrupt as Obama's RussiaGate. Nixon's WaterGate political crimes look like an overdue library book by comparison.

    Read "The Permanent Coup", by: Lee Smith to fully understand the depth of Obama's RussiaGate crimes.

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  6. The core constituency has been lazy about education since the sixties.

    Comparison of small effective government to other countries is a dead end. Americans need to confront how ineffective their government sector has been for a long time: metropolitan areas spread over scores of jurisdictions, lack of integration between local and national political culture and goals, lack of industrial and strategic policy, endless money going to the military, and incapability to reform any part of the electoral/institutional culture. Americans would rather praise the system as sacred and the best ever.

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  7. As one of the older Americans who can very well remember what was, I can also clearly remember the discussions of what was coming. In many ways I feel like the perfect person to discuss this. I was not privileged. A high school dropout who joined the army in 1969 at 17 and completely self supporting since then. I was, by the threat and fear of a most second rate future, driven to understand my prospects. Without money I could do a couple of things. I could buy a pair of running shoes. I could buy used books. I ran, and I read. I read philosophy but was discouraged with that until I found a book called 'The Fountainhead'. For me, Ayn Rand gave understanding and compelling knowledge. I began to fully grasp the notion of how things "ought to be". I was enabled by my new understanding to practice and improve my critical thinking skills. At the time it was the most uplifting, positive, optimistic intellectual tool I'd ever found. I was enabled to lift my life without any help from anyone. A most freeing reality. All of America's problems CAN be solved. Every one of them. Of that, I'm extremely confident. I have learned how. But then again, few have learned to navigate life's challenges as I have. America is merely reaping what was sown many decades ago. Look what fiat currency has wrought. Measure the distance we are now from God against that distance 50 years ago. How far will we permit our critical thinking judgement delve into the propaganda of our media? What is the measure of our high school graduates' ability to critically think, ask probing questions, and what level of self discipline exists within each of us? We can repair our nation but we ought to take a sincere critical look at how we got here.

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    1. Thomas: I read "The Fountainhead" an "Atlas Shrugged" in my early adulthood. While I found Rand's vision of heroic individualism inspiring, I felt it was only one half of the story -- individualism/capitalism good, government bad. She tends to gloss over the role of limited government in prudent oversight, stewardship, and looking after the public welfare; as well as ignoring completely the tendency of successful capitalists to use their wealth to buy influence and otherwise tilt the tables toward their own pockets.

      Excess is the real enemy, either in the private or the public sectors. We have long recognized in America that small government is better than big government, as enshrined in Thoreau's statement "that government is best which governs least." But since Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman, we have lost sight of the fact that capitalists are every bit as capable of overreach as are government officials.

      One would hope that the private and public sectors function to provide checks and balances on one another. Unfortunately, this seems to be a tough tightrope to walk. Capitalists and the wealthy regularly use their considerable financial clout to buy politicians through campaign contributons, lobbying, and control of the media, thus forming an unhealthy alliance between government and commercial interests. Conspicuously absent from the table is the general public, whose interests the government is ostensibly there to serve.

      In the article above, the comments about lack of public spiritedness resonated with me. I believe this is an unfortunate legacy of the 1960s and of the Vietnam war in particular. Whatever your feelings about that war, there is no doubt that it created a bitter divide in our society that persists to this day. It also soured many capable people on public service. In my view, it's been all downhill since then.

      And so now we are where we are. IMO, we now have overreach in both public and private sectors. So what to do?

      I think the place to start is with a balanced budget amendment. Allowing the Federal government to borrow money to cover normal operations removes an important element of accountability to the general public. A government the has to live on the taxes that the population is willing to remit is forced to be lean and mean, and ineffective programs simply have to be abandoned. Furthermore, that government can no longer lavish newly minted money on its friends and acolytes, thus relaying that constraint onto the private sector.

      Without this fundamental constraint, I see no hope of reversing this decline.

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