OCALA, Fla., July 4, 2014 — America declared independence from Great Britain 238 years ago. We’re middle-aged as a nation, and middle-age is a time to think about where you’ve been and how you’re doing. This Independence Day, what is the state of our nation? Does it give us much to celebrate?
Our country is faced with many and complex problems, but if we want to identify a common root for most of them, a good candidate would be division.
People are divided on many issues. Taxation, same-sex marriage, gun ownership, illegal immigration, race relations, the social role of religion, and abortion rights are prominent among them. The problem is, we don’t just disagree on how to deal with these issues — that’s just the stuff of politics, which we’ve been doing since the beginning. We are divided into hostile, warring camps over them.
To understand how and why this divisiveness has appeared and may bring down our country is the stuff of a dissertation, not an article. But economist, dancer, and fossil-hunter Aaron Clarey has devoted much of his time to studying America’s troubles. Last year, he published an ebook on the subject, curiously titled Enjoy the Decline. It found a large audience, which lends credence to the idea that many people are concerned about the United States’s immediate future.
How does Clarey describe America’s decline?
“Specifically, a decreasing or stagnation in GDP or income per capita,” he says. “However, overall, a general decay and decline in the quality of life. This can range from anything from lousy movies to poorer quality in men/women when it comes to dating and marriage to inferior writing to education turning into indoctrination to minimalist architecture.
“The basic unit of society (humans) are decaying and becoming lower quality individuals and we all get to suffer for it.”
Clarey concludes that “(i)gnorance and human’s natural default tendency towards laziness” has caused the decline.
“People, going back to FDR, Woodrow Wilson, and more recently the Baby Boomer, Gen X and Gen Y Generations actually believe they don’t have to work,” he explained. “The concept of Keynesian economics where we just ‘shuffle money around and POOF’ economic growth occurs, not to mention it’s mainstream economics is proof as to just how stupid, naive, and gullible the average American is.
“But for a specific ‘cause’ it was the booming 40’s and 50’s, as well as the U.S. dollar’s reserve status that has misled us to think we can live beyond our means and avoid working for what we consume.”
It is easy, even trendy, to predict doom and gloom, but it might also be the reasonable outlook. The facts do not lead Clarey to believe that our country’s decline can be turned around. “Every empire in history declines and collapses,” he says. “There are instances where a strongman or benevolent tyrant takes over and forces reality upon his people, but that is rare.”
If America’s economy could be brought back to an era of strong productivity, how would Clarey suggest going about it?
“Eliminate all income taxes and replace them with a single sales tax at state, federal and local levels and make a constitutional amendment limiting the total amount to less than 20 percent of GDP,” he says. “This would assure productive people and businesses their labor would not be confiscated as well as send a signal to the parasitic classes that they will have to work.”
In the event that our country’s decline continues without pause, Clarey opined that there will be “(h)igher prices, lower standards of living, lower supply of goods. You will also see a more tyrannical government, voted in by the dolts that constitute the American electorate to ‘solve the problem.’
“However, ‘more government’ won’t solve the problem and the decline will continue until there is a ‘come to Jesus meeting’ for the people and the economy as it and society collapses.”
A sobering picture, so why has Clarey encouraged people to enjoy America’s decline?
“What else are they supposed to do?” he asks. “If they try to stop it, they’ll waste their lives on a problem that cannot be fixed. Instead I’m much more practical. I recommend people take inventory of their lives and find out how to benefit the most from it, regardless of what’s happening in the public sector.”
Beyond economics, Clarey claims that “Kim Kardashian and the fact rap is more popular than jazz,” leading him to believe American social values are crumbling.
He elaborated on what he thinks has caused these values to deteriorate: “The Baby Boomer Generation. Without a doubt. When you go from Frank Sinatra to Jim Morrison in eight years, that’s not a slow transition from musical tastes of society, that is an immediate change purposely forced by a generation determined to ignore wisdom, taste, culture and value just for the sake of doing so.
“But music is only one aspect. Fashion turned hideous, divorce became an Olympic event, the idea of outsourcing your children to daycare became standard, nearly every aspect of work, effort, and ethic was thrown out the door and every non-economic aspect of society shows it.”
All of this might bring one to the conclusion that America has seen its best days. Does Clarey hold this view?
“Absolutely,” he says. “It was the 1940’s-1950’s and we will never see that again. The reason why is because not only are all the new Americans (immigrants) against adopting and pursuing traditional American values (excellence, individualism, capitalism, freedom, etc.), but the native Americans (not Indians, but non-immigrant Americans) are also becoming more and more against traditional American values.
“We mock classical American culture, we ridicule ‘hard work,’ we villainize success, we reward inferior performance and mediocrity, and we spend more time finding ways to feel sorry for ourselves and be ‘victims’ than we do finding ways to produce and succeed. Again, it won’t be until this unsustainable system collapses will ‘America,’ if it’s even around, will see a resurgence.”
It is easy to dismiss Clarey as a facile pessimist who looks back at the “good old days” and harbors irrational fears about the present and future. Too easy. There’s the problem.
We might want to bury our heads in the sand and convince ourselves that things will be better tomorrow, but on what basis? Will the skies brighten simply because we want them to?
The future offers not a sunrise, but a sunset. The American Way has been lost amid too many crises to count — from mortgages that allow people to buy homes they cannot afford to free trade agreements to destructive tax loopholes to a culture which emphasizes style over substance to political extremism, and on it goes.
The American Dream must persist for the sake of civilized society. The question is whether most people have even a fleeting concept of what this dream means. The dream cannot be recaptured if we can’t understand why we should want to.