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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Libertarian at Home, Conservative Abroad

I have always been, and will always be, at core, a libertarian. I used to be an idealistic libertarian. The first time I ever voted was in 1980, for Ed Clarke. (Anybody remember Ed Clarke?) I was a purist then, in favor of non-intervention and no foreign entanglements. But that was before we were attacked on our own soil, killing thousands of civilians, in a clear and compelling act of War. Now I’m a pragmatic libertarian.

I understand the standard Libertarian argument that, if we just leave everybody alone, they’ll leave us alone too. It’s very nice and neat and rational. The problem is, it assumes everybody else in the world is nice and neat and rational, too. It doesn’t account for terrorists who want to destroy us because we’re infidels and our Western culture is an abomination to Allah.

I’m still a libertarian, albeit a conservative one.  But I’m not a pacifist or a non-interventionist. The Monroe Doctrine just won’t work today. Back in the day, there was an entire ocean separating the eastern hemisphere from the western hemisphere, and it took months to cross it, at great peril, and we felt pretty secure from whatever they were doing over there. Today, we have satellites that traverse the globe (Iran just launched one),  and nuclear weapons that can decimate entire cities at one pop. (And Iran may soon have those, too.) Back in the 1800s, everything ran on coal or wood, and we had all the coal and wood we needed right here. We had no dependencies on resources controlled by others on the other side of the globe. Today, our entire economy would grind to a halt and people would starve and freeze to death if our oil supply were cut off.

In a rational world, with a free market ruled only by the laws of supply and demand, that would not present a problem. But, when you have ideological enemies who are determined to see your culture brought to its knees, and they control the supply of your economy’s life blood, you have a very different situation. We need to protect our access to the vital fluid that sustains our economy and culture. I’m not suggesting that we have a right to take it just because we need it. We’re willing to pay – but we can’t afford to be cut off entirely.

That’s the world we live in today. It’s a lot more complicated than it used to be. With satellites and nuclear weapons, and the ease of transcontinental transportation, our neighbors are no longer just the countries in our hemisphere. The whole world is our neighbor. And some of them are nuts.

When it comes to domestic policy, I’m still a libertarian. I’m for minimizing government and maximizing individual freedom and responsibility. But when it comes to foreign policy, I’m a hard line conservative. We can’t change the world. But we can preserve our own sovereignty and, within our own borders, we can maintain a free society. And people who share our values, and revere the principles on which our nation was founded, and have something to contribute to our country and our economy, are welcome to come here and carve out their own niche in the land of liberty. And I believe we should make it easier for those people to become citizens. But open up our borders, grant entitlements to aliens, increase our exposure to terrorism, or compromise our sovereignty by entering into binding agreements that let other nations dictate our policies? No way.

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