The Sad Tale of History

Discussion in 'Economy' started by PoliticalChic, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    1. The period between the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War saw the American economic colossus take form, and momentum. Part of the Republican war effort, aimed to keep California, and California gold in the Union, was the underwriting of national railroads.

    2. With the railroads, the consumer base for manufacturers went from local to national, and the United States became the largest national market on earth. And, at some point, the increased capacity of the manufacturing base outstripped the consumer base. The American economy could produce more than Americans needed, with the result that we saw an industrial recession. Agrarian economies generally saw the opposite: needs were greater than production. The experience of the 1890’s suggested a need for foreign markets and colonies. Thus, the Spanish-American War.

    3. Since 1900, the fortunes of this nation has allowed the United States to got to war without first accounting for the costs of war. This may, in fact, have changed since 2008, and we may have seen the end of elective wars. But the American economy throughout the 20th century has never demonstrated an ability to thrive in the absence of high military spending, largely based on the need for global markets. In recent decades, the strategy used to co-opt foreign markets, an alternative to war, is ‘free trade. Of course, free trade ultimately results in weaker economies being brought up...but ours down, to some extent.

    4. A significant historical anomaly is the period 1945 through 1965, a golden age in many ways. This was the period after the war, when any of our potential competitors were rebuilding from the devastation, making it impossible for the United States economy not to thrive. Beneficiaries included the unions and blue collar high school graduates…who were assured of high paying jobs. Hence the sense that we will always be pre-eminent, and success is a birthright.

    That is no longer true, and probably won’t be again, short of a third World War. Yet, that mindset is resistant to change.

    5. Without a national commitment to education, and a rededication to the values and work ethic that produced the ‘American colossus,’ and the understanding that there is no longer an entitlement to upward mobility, the glory days of the republic are over.

    The ideas above are largely based on those of Professor H.W. Brands, his book “American Colossus: The Triumph of American Capitalism, 1865-1900.”
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2011
  2. Pepe
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    Pepe Senior Member

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    When the next great Edward Gibbons comes along and writes "The Decline and Fall of the Amerikan Empire" these points in your post will be seen as prophetic.
     
  3. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    Pepe, to paraphrase the great man, my heart tells me it isn't so, but my head says it is.

    I've seen the degregation of ethics, and of the education system...
     
  4. william the wie
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    william the wie Gold Member

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    I think you two are using the wrong section of the timeline in your analogy. Treating the first and second Punic Wars as WWI and WWII we could well be headed towards the wind up of the third Punic and fourth Macedonian wars but they ended in 146BC. Given that the Eastern, Byzantine, Empire died in 1453 we've got about 1600 years to go.
     
  5. Flopper
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    Flopper Gold Member

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    People don't just change their values and work ethics because of politically movements or government programs. These types of changes come out of personal experiences. The toughing of the national fiber that resulted from the Great Depression and WWII was responsible for much of the growth in the last half of the 20th century. Work ethics are not something you learn out of a book. It comes from the experiences of you and your family. I really don't know where that is going to come from today.
     
  6. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    I think you are taking far too superficial view of the last 50 years...

    "The breakup of this 300-year-old consensus on the work ethic began with the cultural protests of the 1960s, which questioned and discarded many traditional American virtues. The roots of this breakup lay in what Daniel Bell described in The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism as the rejection of traditional bourgeois qualities by late-nineteenth-century European artists and intellectuals who sought “to substitute for religion or morality an aesthetic justification of life.” By the 1960s, that modernist tendency had evolved into a credo of self-fulfillment in which “nothing is forbidden, all is to be explored,” Bell wrote. Out went the Protestant ethic’s prudence, thrift, temperance, self-discipline, and deferral of gratification. Weakened along with all these virtues that made up the American work ethic was Americans’ belief in the value of work itself. Along with “turning on” and “tuning in,” the sixties protesters also “dropped out.” As the editor of the 1973 American Work Ethic noted, “affluence, hedonism and radicalism” were turning many Americans away from work and the pursuit of career advancement…

    Attitudes toward businessmen changed, too. While film and television had formerly offered a balanced portrait of work and employers, notes film critic Michael Medved in Hollywood vs. America, from the mid-1960s onward, movies and TV portrayed business executives almost exclusively as villains or buffoons…portrayals both reflected and strengthened the baby-boom generation’s attitudes. One 1969 Fortune poll, for instance, found that 92 percent of college students thought business executives were too profit-minded…in the mid-1960s, [many] abandoned the notion of rewarding traditional bourgeois virtues like completing an education or marrying…[instead] political correctness: in the new version, recycling trash and contributing to save an endangered species were virtuous actions…[and] tolerance and sensitivity, expanded like a gas to fill the vacuum where the Protestant ethic used to be.

    The cultural upheavals of the era spurred deep changes in institutions that traditionally transmitted the work ethic—especially the schools. University education departments began to tell future grammar school teachers that they should replace the traditional teacher-centered curriculum, aimed at producing educated citizens who embraced a common American ethic, with a new, child-centered approach that treats every pupil’s “personal development” as different and special. During the 1960s, when intellectuals and college students dismissed traditional American values as oppressive barriers to fulfillment, grammar schools generally jettisoned the traditional curriculum. “Education professors eagerly joined New Left professors to promote the idea that any top-down imposition of any curriculum would be a right-wing plot designed to perpetuate the dominant white, male, bourgeois power structure,” writes education reformer E. D. Hirsch, Jr., in his forthcoming The Making of Americans: Democracy and Our Schools."
    Whatever Happened to the Work Ethic? by Steven Malanga, City Journal Summer 2009
     
  7. saveliberty
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    saveliberty Diamond Member

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    At this point, "progress" without a corresponding responsibility on the consumer and producer to pay the real costs means social and economic collapse.
     
  8. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    I'm going to make believe that you are serious about this, Willie...so let's consider some alterations that history has provided.

    1. War is a human enterprise; the essence of war is human nature.

    2. The “West” is the culture that originated in Greece, spread to Rome, permeated Northern Europe, was incorporated by the Anglo-Saxon tradition, spread through British expansionism, and is associated today primarily with Europe, the United States, and the former commonwealth countries of Britain- as well as, to some extent, nations like Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, which have incorporated some Western ideas.

    3. Let us consider some changes that have occured to Western thinking since the wars to which you refer: a commitment to constitutional or limited government, freedom of the individual, religious freedom in a sense that precluded religious tyranny, respect for property rights, faith in free markets, capitalism, and an openness to rationalism or to the explanation of natural phenomena through reason. Combined in various ways, these ideas, and the resultant system creates more prosperity and affluence than any other.

    a. Applying reason, and capitalism to the battlefield, powerful innovations come about, from flints, to rifle barrels to mini balls, etc. The application of capitalism to military affairs, the marriage of private self-interest and patriotism, provide armies with food, supplies, and munitions in a manner far more efficient than state-run command-and-control alternatives.

    4. But, in comparison to similarly matched armies meeting on an hypothetical battlefield, today we see a new factor or condition of warfare: "asymmetry." Western culture creates citizens who are affluent, leisured, free, and protected. Human nature being what it is, we citizens of the West often want to enjoy our bounty and retreat into private lives—to go home, eat pizza, and watch television. This is nothing new. I would refer you to Petronius's Satyricon, a banquet scene written around 60 A.D. about affluent Romans who make fun of the soldiers who are up on the Rhine protecting them. This is what Rome had become. And it's not easy to convince someone who has the good life to fight against someone who doesn't, and, in fact, someone who yearns for death rather than life.

    The newest weapon is the so-difficult-to-detect, 'homicide bomber.'
    The last time these two combatants faced each other, King John Sobieski didn't face same.

    See Victor Davis Hanson @https://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2009&month=11
     
  9. william the wie
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    william the wie Gold Member

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    All true PC but the key component is a lack of ME food production. The Gulf has nothing Russia needs so there is likely to be less of a problem with Muslim fundamentalists in the near future.
     
  10. saveliberty
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    saveliberty Diamond Member

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    The essence of war is pain, suffering, loss and waste.
     

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