End of Empire

It’s over.

The Ottoman Empire lasted some 300 years. The British Empire managed 200. The United States? 90 or so. Welcome to the Asian century.

End of Empire. Crown Graphic 4×5, Verichrome. 135mm Xenar.

Empires come and go. Nothing new in that. What is totally mystifying is how our politicians are trying to recreate an over-retailed, over-banked, over-leveraged, nation of sloths rather than letting the invisible hand of economics do its thing. We need $20 an hour plumbers and car mechanics a lot more than we need another mall. Sure, some will starve in the process. No bad thing. Have you checked American waistlines recently? They can be put to work making new roads. It may take years to learn the intricacies of mortgage backed securities, but you can learn to use a shovel in 2 minutes.

Whereas the French and British monarchies were the cause of their own demise, it’s the spread of unrealistic expectations by Americans, fueled by weak politicians, which has destroyed our empire. No one questions the decoupling of education, intelligence and success any more. The illusion of hard work is lauded as the be all and end all. Forget grey matter. You make cars in Detroit? You deserve upward mobility and success though your skill set took all of one week to acquire. By contrast, spend ten to fifteen years learning and applying a challenging profession – be it medicine or engineering – and you are automatically prey to the worst elements in our society. The same blue collar worker who steals at every opportunity thinks little of retaining a class action thief, posing as a lawyer, to get his share from you. The era of the barrow boy masquerading as capitalist has arrived.

In days past I would have been optimistic about the prospects of another Bastille Day, this time in the USA, whereby the corridors of political power are stormed and a few legislators and their legal cronies lose a head or two. There’s nothing like decapitation to focus the mind, if you get my drift. But once government consumes one half of the country’s GDP, and has one half of voters beholden to it, prospects of such curative surgery fall to zero.

America, I weep for you. It was good while it lasted.