Do Not Go Gentle into the Post-American Era

When the U.S. was a developing nation, we expended our efforts and capital in developing the infrastructure for industry. Our government provided incentives for the development and extraction of natural resources to be used as raw materials to build, not just products, but a thriving national economy. — And that’s exactly what China and other developing nations are doing today.

But, today, the U.S. is doing the opposite. Increasingly, over the past several decades, our government has been restricting the extraction of natural resources and dismantling the infrastructure for industry. Overregulation, combined with exorbitant and ever-increasing union demands, has succeeded in driving much of our industry offshore. If we want to recover our economy, we need to reverse that trend.

The recently published White House Plan to Revitalize Manufacturing, which focuses on federal funding for “green” technology R&D, is not likely to have a significant impact on our national productivity. This administration is thoroughly beholden to the unions and environmental lobbies. In true Chicago style, this administration has used the stimulus package to pay off political debts and, from every indication, will continue the trend of dismantling the economy in favor of political correctness and payback.

Every nation has a historical trajectory. This nation has apparently passed its apogee, and is now in decline. We no longer have the drive to overcome. We’ve become complacent and, instead of striving for ever greater industrial innovation and economic strength, we are focused myopically on the niceties that developing nations cannot afford to consider.

The problem is, there’s no such thing as stasis. A nation, a corporation, a species, an individual, must either advance or decline. That’s nature. And, as we sink into complacency, whining effetely about our declining economy, there will be others advancing to take our place as the dominant world power, industrially, economically, and (eventually) militarily. That’s a historical inevitability. The same pattern can be observed throughout nature and the history of civilizations. The only question is when.

At this point, we could still reverse that trend by, once again, becoming a developing nation ourselves — one can always develop further, if one is motivated to keep striving — but we, as a nation, lack that motivation. We’re apparently content to rest on our laurels as we sink into national senescence while other countries, like China, rise up on the international horizon. The world is always changing. It’s the nature of all things. The only question is, will we, as a nation, go gentle into that good night? Or will we rage, rage against the dying of the light?   (Apologies to Dylan Thomas.)

Unfortunately, I believe I know the answer to that rhetorical question. History is being written even as we go about our daily lives. You can see it in our relations with other nations, as we make concessions that cede our sovereignty in so many minor ways. Stepping back and observing from a historical perspective, we see a once-great nation, that no longer has the will to sustain its rank as the leader of the free world, stepping aside and leaving the field open to whoever will step up and take its place. Sadly, there’s no way to choose our successor. Once we step aside, we can only watch and hope for the best. And if we don’t like the way the world is shaping up in the post-American era, we will just have to suffer the consequences.

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What Have Progressives Got Against Progress?

Liberals don’t want to be called liberal anymore. They prefer to be referred to as “progressive.”

Conservatives don’t mind being called conservative. In fact, most conservatives are proud to be conservative (and equally proud to be American). And why not? Starting with the vision of our founding fathers, the traditional conservative values of independence, individualism, and self-determination motivated the early settlers and pioneers and, later, the industrialists and entrepreneurs who built this country into the greatest and most powerful nation on earth.

But why are liberals suddenly ashamed of the word liberal? Why do they feel the need to redefine themselves as something else? And why have they chosen the singularly inappropriate term “progressive” to describe themselves? It almost seems as if they’re begging the question. After all, what is progress? Reviewing the history of civilization, progress has traditionally been marked by significant advances that made the cultures that developed them more efficient and productive, enabling them to prosper and to expand their territory and culture.

More advanced civilizations often used their technological sophistication to conquer less advanced civilizations and, historically, it was largely as a result of war that progress spread from culture to culture. The conquering armies have not always been the aggressors. It was Japan that attacked the U.S. in WWII. But Japan would not be the major economic power it is today if the U.S. had not defeated it, and rebuilt it as a modern industrial/technological nation.

There have been episodes in history when more advanced civilizations have been overrun by less advanced civilizations that were more focused on military progress. That’s one reason why a nation should never allow itself to become weak militarily, no matter how advanced it may be in other areas. Mr. Obama recently promised to “cut investments in unproven missile defense systems,” “slow our development of future combat systems,” and make “deep cuts in our nuclear arsenal.” Conservatives cringed, but liberals loved it.

All types of progress entail tradeoffs. As vast tracts of land are cultivated, the native species on those lands must either find new environments, adapt, or die. The extraction of raw materials from the earth causes disruption of habitats. The production of metals, plastics, paper, and the manufacture of goods all cause various forms of pollution. But without these trade-offs, civilization as we know it would not be possible.

Liberals don’t believe in trade-offs. They continually seek to enact regulations to curtail any kind of progress that impacts the environment. They want to sequester vast extents of land into national wilderness areas, preventing the extraction of natural resources like minerals, timber, or oil. They want to enact cap and trade regulations that will jack up the costs of the energy we require to live our daily lives, and which is also required to fuel all types of industrial and technological progress.

Progress is always a result of trial and error. Significant advances require significant investments in time, effort, and money, and entail enormous risks because there is no guarantee of success. Who has the kind of money to invest in making progress possible? Capitalists. Why would they be willing to take those enormous risks? Because there’s a possibility of an enormous payoff. They calculate the risk/benefit ratio and, only if the potential rewards significantly outweigh the risks, does it make sense to invest. Yet liberals don’t think anyone deserves such enormous rewards, and would tax their profits to the point where it’s no longer worth the risk to invest. Without capital investment, progress cannot occur.

Liberals like to point out that the income gap between rich and poor is getting greater all the time. But they ignore the fact that the standard of living of the poor gets greater all the time, too. The poorest people today have a higher standard of living than the vast majority of people had a hundred years ago. And the reason they do is all the industrial and technological advances made possible by capitalism. That is true progress. And it benefits the poor as well as the wealthy.

Despite what liberals believe, capitalism is not a zero sum game. When new industries evolve, new opportunities are created. The fact that some people get very rich doesn’t mean other people have to get poor. But those who don’t have the motivation to work hard, better themselves, and pursue opportunities, will always be poor. And the easier the government makes it to be poor, by subsidizing poverty, the more people will take the easy way out.

Liberal ideology is consistently opposed to progress. They continually demand regulations that stymie progress, and they want the government to take more money away from those who fuel the scientific, industrial, and technological advances that define progress. They believe that money should be redistributed to those who don’t contribute to progress, but are its beneficiaries.

Since liberals are so opposed to progress, why is it they want to be known as “progressives?”

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