…The entire [American] ethos, lubricated by fiscal and monetary policy, has been oriented toward instant gratification, consumption, and borrowing to spend, in all things, so the people have become obese, consumer-obsessed, and economically if not physically hedonistic; and investment, fitness, and other traditional values have suffered. As I just wrote, a study of these matters on the scale that their urgency deserves would have to be conducted very thoroughly, but if such a study is not undertaken and the logical conclusions translated into public policy, the comparative decline of America will become an absolute decline, and sooner than one could easily imagine, an irreversible decline. Almost none of the countries that have risen swiftly in these comparisons is hostile in the slightest to the U.S., so the threat is not existential, other than to the degree that Americans are accustomed to thinking of their country, with good reason these 200 years, as a yardstick for national progress and achievement, and would be disoriented to find it is not.
Adjusting to an era in which that is no longer the case would be much harder for Americans and American national psychology to assimilate than the steep rise of the prosperity, productivity, and political sophistication of a host of friendly countries, many of which would not hesitate to acknowledge their indispensable reliance on the generosity, example, and protection of America as they climbed the peak to compete with their benefactor.
Unfortunately, in the one party as in the other in this dismal election year, all we have heard is the usual soporific claptrap about “the greatest nation in human history,” arguably true, but no defense against the insidious and unceasing rot within, which will paralyze or kill all productive impulses and aptitudes if allowed to, and will, sadly, only still the frenetic tongue, on autocue, of the much-talking political huckster last of all.