SL & RD Pierini, August 11, 2011
You too often hear pundits and politicians today say thatAmericamay be at a low point but we always come through. Or, when things get tough, American will rise to the occasion and overcome the obstacles. While these are nice campaign slogans, they are not really supported by the history of past civilizations. Americais at the beginning of the death of initiative within its citizenry. As our Government takes over more and more of our society and private sector, individuals lose their sense of pride of accomplishment as more and more “things” are given and not earned. The creeping infection of socialistic governance is a disease that infected all prior civilizations and eventually contributed to their downfall by draining their treasuries and their will to excel.
You have often heard the phrase that “life can turn on a dime”; but you may not have heard this one by Albert Einstein, “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” Mankind has yet to learn from history, especially the history of failed civilizations. When you list out just some of the major civilizations that have come and gone you get the sense of the fragility of man, and the civilizations he creates.
- The Great Ancient Chinese Dynasties
- The Unparalleled Pharaonic Dynasties in Egypt
- The Great Pre-Columbian Cultures of Norte Chico, Olmec, and Zapotec
- The great Classical Period Mediterranean Civilizations of Greece, Rome and the Hellenistic Civilization
- The Modern Civilizations of Japan, China, Russia and Europe
- The United States of America
We listed theUnited Statesas the most recent civilization to rise to dominance and while it has not “fallen”, it is certainly at a tipping point in its development. The others are a mere handful of the hundreds of human civilizations that rose to greatness in their own right and in their own piece of the world. But they all have shared one thing in common. They have all failed and declined to a shadow of their former greatness or have disappeared entirely. While this may not be pleasant to ponder, ponder we must if we are not to succumb to our own self-made fate and follow our predecessors into our own iniquity.
Many of the civilizations that have perished have shared similar characteristics. One overriding characteristic that begins the ultimate fall is an increasing dependence on government to provide for the citizenry. This socialistic trend pre-dates Marx by centuries, even millennium and has been around since the earliest of civilizations. At the core of this trend towards government dependence is the loss of initiative and pride in accomplishment. This in turn kills the human spirit as it craves more secular satisfaction to replace the loss of self-pride in accomplishment. This growing dependence on the central government, is always accompanied by a waning interest in self-defense. The citizenry is so internally focused on itself and on its government providing for its needs, it seeks to avoid confrontation at all cost and thus the need to maintain a strong defense. The increased leisure time that is available due to the lack of productive efforts by the citizens, leads to an over emphasis on physical pleasure and moral decline, often accompanied by incurable diseases or plagues. The final nail in the coffin is that the treasury of the civilization is depleted totally trying to service the needs of the citizens. This leads to civil unrest and exposes the civilization to outside aggression. While these are generalizations to be sure, a simple Blog article cannot delve into the specifics of each rise and fall. The short list of similarities include:
- Each of the major civilizations of this earth had very difficult beginnings involving wars, overcoming environmental perils, managing population growth, and providing for the general well-being of its citizens. The struggles create a mutual bonding of the citizens toward a common goal of survival. This bond will be as strong as the threat or the civilization will cease to exist. Often the civilization is under attack from its neighbors and congeals into a cohesive nation as a result. Each citizen has to produce a good or service for the good of the community or the community will fail. Everyone has to use the highest degree of initiative to accomplish as much as possible. The sense of community is lifted by the individual’s sense of personal accomplishment as well as their satisfaction in what they have gained in property. This sense of wellness permeates and drives the infant nation to greatness. Often, the harder the birthing, the mightier the nation.
- Rise to Prominence:
- Through intelligent choices, strong military capabilities, the development of a hard-working and contributing citizenry, and well-managed and disciplined governance, the civilizations rose above mere subsistence to actually enjoying leisure activities and “luxuries”. While the forms of government ranged from ruthless monarchs to democracies, they did all provide well for their citizens and kept them either happy or scared. If the citizenry is happy, they are very supportive of the governing body. If they are scared, they may submit but their level of commitment is limited and will contribute to the eventual downfall of the civilization.
- the Roman Government provided everything for its citizens and as the affluence grew, the Romans themselves stopped working, opening shops and soon outsourced those activities to those who had been conquered. Slaves also became a substitute for Roman labor as the citizens performed less and less productive duties. Conquered lands were stripped of their resources and production capacities and shipped toRomewhere an insatiable appetite awaited their consumption.
- The ancient Pharaohs kept their citizens busy either with rural agrarian pursuits or busy building monuments and cities that rivaled and surpassed cities and structures of today.
- Developmental Plateau:
- At some point the civilization becomes complacent and ceases to grow in power and stature. The citizens look to its government to provide more and more goods and services and become reliant of the government for even the barest of necessities. The role of the government morphs into a socialistic model where the State is the focal point for all goods and services. The complacency will also will manifest itself in a lack of commitment to its own defense, the production of foodstuff required to sustain the civilization, or a general malaise that caring for the nation is someone else’s problem and the individuals only want their own creature comforts provided for them. This phase is usually accompanied by a collapse in the moral fiber of the civilization and all forms of debauchery become common place. Many resorted to human sacrifice of many forms for mere amusement. Population growth starts to wane and reproduction barely keeps up with those who die.
- Roman Empire:
- By the time the Christian movement began to grow within the empire, Romans had become lazy, complacent and reliant on the socialistic rule that provided their every need. Their armies were now manned with slaves and mercenaries and the will that once made theRoman Empiregreat wilted under the socialist oppression of its government. The Roman citizens lost all drive to improve and were well on their way to their ultimate destination.
- Towards the end of the Great Dynasties, the Egyptian citizens relied more on the central government and performed less and less of the productive activities that made this nation great. By the time theRoman Empireascended, the Egyptians had lost much of its will to be superior both domestically and militarily. The might of the Roman Army was no match for the weakened, socialistic Egyptian culture. The citizens replaced one “provider” with another.
- Once the citizens begin to quibble over who is to provide for their well-being, they lose a great deal of their autonomy and are reliant on others, usually those in power. They reach a point where the government is their sole provider and protector. The government becomes overburdened and resource strapped due to the incessant depletion and consumption by the citizens. The government consumes more and more centralized power as the socialistic roots of its control permeate all of its society. Similarly, the civilization tires of defending itself and its allies and seeks to outsource its defense to the highest degree possible. Many of the roles that were played by the citizens are also farmed out to outsiders to provide food, fuel and other needs of the civilization. Finally, with an overabundance of time, the civilization turns inward and the satisfaction of the individual’s needs are paramount. the Debauchery peaks and more decline becomes rampant. There is a corresponding disdain for others and for those in power. Those in power have to wield greater and greater forms of physical control to keep the citizens in check. Finally, the civilization is either attacked and defeated by outside forces or succumbs to a slow decay or is ravaged by famine, plague or both.
- Romans: By the time of the fall of the Roman Empire, its citizens had grown so accustomed to their government providing everything they needed to live that they had no skill nor will that would allow them to survive and fight off encroaching invaders. The total centralized control left the outlying provinces week as the Central Government power waned. The lack of personal initiative and drive was the disease that finally destroyed Rome. There was no will to provide for themselves nor to protect themselves. The spirit of self that once built the empire, had died along with all of the personal initiative and pride that made Rome great.
- Egyptians: This once great nation suffered the same fate as the Romans but ironically at the hand of the Romans. The great Dynasties of the past gave way to weak, centralized bureaucracies and their military capabilities declined to the point that they could not ward off even moderately strong armies. The Egyptian spirit had been quashed and the sense of personal accomplishment that built this unbelievable civilization began crumbling like much of it great monuments. The pride that was encouraged by Ramases the Great had died and was replaced by complacency and a lack of initiative. The central, socialized bureaucracies may have kept the people alive physically, but had destroyed their spirit.
While this is not particularly uplifting, we, the United States, can still make choices that will avoid the commencement of a steep decline into oblivion. These choices will be extremely difficult and require that at least 40% of the citizens give up their socialist, progressive ideology and help to change the course of this nation. We face a much faster decline or annihilation today than most of the preceding great civilizations. This is due to the technological and military advancements that have been made in the 20th and 21st centuries. Our adversaries have the capability to completely annihilate the United States off of the face of this earth. Today this capability is somewhat limited to China and Russia. Soon, Islamic Radicals, North Korea, and several South American nations will achieve the capacity to annihilate the United States.
In order to insure our long-term viability and to stop the dissension into history, we need to learn from those who have gone before us. Some of those lessons include:
- Emphasize Personal Accomplishment, Not Government Power: The growth and encroachment of government over the private sector must be checked now. We have allowed perhaps well-meaning advocates of socialism to lay bare our private sector productive capacity and strip our citizens of much of the drive, energy and initiative that has made this nation what it is today. It may not be politically correct to say but the creation of the welfare state basically re-enslaved a large segment of our population. It created a dependence on government by a whole group of people who had been, would be, and should be set loose to use their initiative and talents to better themselves and allow them to feel the pride of self accomplishment and self-worth. This cancer is being spread to many other segments of our society as government replaces jobs and opportunities with the chains of dependence on government. The pride of starting and succeeding at a small business is something everyone should enjoy at least once in their lives. It does not have to be a General Motors, it can be a landscaping business, a pizza parlor, or a repair shop. It is knowing that your efforts actually made a difference is what is important. Not that it is the 15th and my government check should be in the mail today.
- Maintain a Strong Defense: Most of the prior civilizations diverted resources from their defenses and “consumed” them for personal comfort and pleasure. This made them vulnerable to aggressors and we are no different. Europe and Japan after WWII basically ceded their defense to the US and we have become the protector for the democratic free world. If the US continues to downgrade its military, and to create rules of engagement to our enemies, we will not survive. The great warrior philosopher, Sun Tzu, is quoted as saying: “The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him.” This basically means that we have to fight wars to win and not let others say that our tactics are too severe or give into ridiculous “rules of engagement” that hamper our ability to protect our homeland and our troops. The goal of war is to kill your enemy or be killed. This is a fact and there is no middle ground. Sun Tzu also quipped, “So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.” If our enemy has vulnerabilities, we must attack those vulnerable points and not attack at their strength. If this means that we have to take out a safe house that has civilians being used as shields, we have to take our the safe house. If we allow our enemies who employ terrorist tactics to change the rules of engagement, then we have already lost. This may mean the bombing of cities where there will certainly be collateral damage. We like to hide behind our superb technologies and play war games with a joy stick but unfortunately that is a luxury that will lead to our demise. Are we up for this change in our mental attitude and our commitment to our military?
- Return to Economic Basics: The only people who benefit from a growth in government are those in power. The citizen gives up freedom, property and often their very lives due to excessive government growth. There is one absolute, there is a finite amount of resources that a nation has at its disposal to create wealth for its citizens. Those resources are either left in the private sector or taken over by the government. As government grows, the private sector shrinks. This nation became great based on strong capitalistic principles. We have to go back to them as soon as possible. The government will soon consume over 25% of our GDP then continue to consume more and more of our GDP until the government is the sole consumer of all goods and services, ie wealth, produced by this country. There are three things that we must change quickly:
- Taxes: We must re-encourage investment in the US. To do this, we must lower capital gains and tax rates overall. We have the highest corporate tax rates in the world and this is a big reason why investments in the US are drying up. We also need to not tax profits made by our companies in other countries. The revenue was not created here and should not be taxed here and we could certainly use the $2.5 Trillion in overseas profits here at home
- Regulations: The regulations under Bush were reaching the stage of ridiculous but Obama is reaching ludicrous. We need to become self-sufficient and use our own natural resources and stop limiting ourselves and our children’s futures. We are ceasing to produce farm products, manufacturing is almost non-existent, energy development is at a standstill, and our automakers are being forced to build products like the Chevy Volt that has only sold 2,700 cars in almost 18 months! The government needs to get out-of-the-way, period. Otherwise, business will have to continue to move it manufacturing overseas in order to compete in this world. It is better to produce here at home but even General Electric, Obama’s pet due to Jeffrey Immelt’s position as its CEO, moved its light bulb and other manufacturing overseas to avoid EPA regulations, litigation, and US labor laws. And Immelt is the Job Guru for Obama!
- Lawsuits: Tort reform must take place. Congress is made up almost exclusively of attorneys but in spite of that we have to limit lawsuit damages to reasonable limits. If this is not done, companies will continue to produce overseas to avoid the frivolous litigation that plagues the US today. You remember the lack of flu shots we had a couple of years ago. Do you really think that US Drug companies will produce vaccines here at home where the lawsuit potential is unlimited and the government mandates the price of $6-$12 per shot! Get real.Our Choice:
Well, are we to go the way of the Incas, the Ming Dynasty, the Dynasty of the great Pharaoh Ramases II, Alexander the Great, Caesar, or others who have shown us how to avoid what is not out inevitable fate? Are we going to wait for a heroic figure to come along and save us from ourselves? Many thought that Obama was that heroic figure only to see the inevitable human flaws that we all have. No, this has to be a resurgence of our collective will to make it happen. We have all but erased one of our founding fathers favorite mottos, “In God we Trust”. Man will always disappoint us. God won’t.
Permit me to leave you with one final quote from Albert Einstein:
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
SL Pierini & RD Pierini