As I reflected about what I wanted to accomplish in legislature in the upcoming year, my 10th in public office, I came across a very negative poll by the AP on the federal government. Unfavorable attitudes toward federal government spill over the state and local government. According to the poll, half of those surveyed said the nation’s system of democracy needs either a lot of changes or a complete overhaul. In addition, a whopping 70% lacked confidence in the government’s ability to make progress on important issues.
Should this really come as any surprise in the wake of federal government shutdowns, endless partisan bickering, and running the country on a patchwork of legislative gimmicks such as sequester, et. al. as opposed to decisive leadership?
This lack of leadership clearly has citizens worried, including me. How many of the following conditions would you agree currently plague the United States:
• Splintered ineffective central government that is unable to govern.
• Crumbling moral standards sabotaging the character and creating a general malaise of its citizens.
• Excessive taxation to pay for foreign wars, hoarding of resources by the top 1%, fiscal problems.
• Deterioration of the military, infrastructure and technological advantages.
One of them … two of them … all of them. Do they sound a bit familiar? Maybe for you history buffs, it’s because these were the conditions that historians attribute to the fall of the Roman empire in 470 AD.
Rome had split into the eastern and western empire, each run by a different emperor. The eastern empire (the Byzantine empire) had its capital at Constantinople (Istanbul), while the western empire was centered in Italy.
The federal government is also divided, but instead of geographically, it is split between the two major political parties, which are effectively at war with each other. The parties are so intent on destroying the other that government is virtually paralyzed and unable to address immediate issues and problems, much less provide an effective long term strategy and vision for America. This political chasm is dividing the country culturally as well, causing its citizens to be less concerned about their country.
Another cause of the Roman empire’s demise was its lack of morality; rampant indulgences and personal excesses of an undisciplined population that could no longer balance work and play. Today’s digital distractions are helping to fuel epic immorality and unhealthy preoccupations. By the time many young men reach the age of 21, they will have immersed themselves in 10,000 hours of video games, the time it takes to earn two bachelor degrees. In addition, the potency of Internet pornography which has the potential to rewire brains into a perpetual state of arousal, is virtually unregulated. Over 50% of young people are exposed to internet pornography, with one quarter of those becoming addicted.
The Roman empire was also hobbled by the high taxes, primarily to pay for foreign wars. While the tax rate was low, the Roman empire flourished economically, but started to decline as tax rates rose. In addition, the economic decline was exacerbated by the hoarding of resources by the upper class.
The United States is also stretched by foreign wars and is imposing confiscatory taxes on its citizens. With the most recent tax hike at the end of last year and the hidden taxes in The Affordable Care Act, the United States is approaching the highest tax rates in its history. While the middle class has continued to disappear, the amount of wealth controlled by the top 1% continues to increase, with the very rich hoarding the bulk of the economic resources.
The final cause of the decline of Rome was the deterioration of its military, infrastructure and innovation. It allowed its highways to crumble and lost its creative edge in the world. Its military was neglected as well as scattered on several foreign fronts defending its empire, setting themselves up to be defeated by the barbarians in 476.
The United States also has a military that is overextended and neglected. The country has lost its educational edge and is in the middle of the pack of industrialized nations. Our infrastructure is also crumbling and outdated.
I certainly don’t think the US is going to be conquered any time soon, bit I am concerned about the long term prospects of the US given that its citizens are so negative on the federal government. I had hoped to start the New Year on a better note.