Are Americans Obsolete?

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land2341's picture
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Are Americans Obsolete?

 

Found this on salon.....    

http://www.salon.com/print.html?URL=/news/feature/2010/07/27/american_people_obsolete

 

 

"Offshoring and immigration, then, are severing the link between the fate of most Americans and the fate of the American rich. A member of the elite can make money from factories in China that sell to consumers in India, while relying entirely or almost entirely on immigrant servants at one of several homes around the country. With a foreign workforce for the corporations policed by brutal autocracies and non-voting immigrant servants in the U.S., the only thing missing is a non-voting immigrant mercenary army, whose legions can be deployed in foreign wars without creating grieving parents, widows and children who vote in American elections."..........

 

 


"If most Americans are no longer needed by the American rich, then perhaps the United States should consider a policy adopted by the aristocracies and oligarchies of many countries with surplus populations in the past: the promotion of emigration. The rich might consent to a one-time tax to bribe middle-class and working-class Americans into departing the U.S. for other lands, and bribing foreign countries to accept them, in order to be alleviated from a high tax burden in the long run."


 

 

 

 

 

 

inga's picture
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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

I think Americans are irrelevant to corporations, who can sell goods to a rising middle class in China, India and South America....and we have been irrelevant as a workforce now, for several decades.  "Free trade".

 As far as relocating us, why bother?  Elections?  Taxes?  Seriously?  Politicians are all bought these days.  If the rich don't want to pay taxes they just get a 'tax cut' by acting like they are throwing the middle class bread crumbs, when in fact, they have our heads in a vise.

As far as an army, I would think they can get plenty of non-citizens to fight in the foreign wars, they already do.

It's pretty ugly really.

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

Funny, but I don't *feel* obsolete!  Smile

I think the type of citizen that has become common in the last 30-40 years is or will soon be obsolete.  But the sort of "American" that has wrestled/is wrestling with the 3Es -- and all the shinola that comes with it -- is and will be indispensable in the world to come.  

Down with the passive consumer.  Up with...US!  

Viva -- Sager

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The Long Term Trend Is Down

If you think about it:

Inside America:
1/3rd of American high school students drop out of high school.
60% of American college students need remedial classes.
The total of student loan amounts outstanding and owed is now higher than the total of all credit card balances outstanding.
2/5ths of those unemployed are under 25: their unemployment rate is 19%.
43 million (or 14% of Americans) are on food stamps.
43 million Americans live in poverty: that's $22,050 income for a family of 4.
If $25,000 were the poverty level, 100 million Americans would be living in poverty.
Half of Americans don't pay Federal income taxes - many get the earned income tax credit (money from the government for having a minimum wage job, a.k.a. a subsidy to business)
In the Journal of Marriage and Family, a study of Philadelphia-area families found 79% of 18- to 33-year-old adult children still were receiving financial support most months.
A survey of 50,000 women by VibrantNation found of their membership of women aged 50+, 44% report that they are helping their adult children financially, and 35% say they've dipped into retirement savings to help an adult child or grandchild.

Outside America:
A Ford factory welder in China makes $9 per DAY. Compare that to a Ford worker in Michigan or even Toyota plant worker in the South.
Indian medical doctors pay money to take English accent recognition to work as medical transcriptionists for American doctors.
Indian accountants and lawyers do the gruntwork for American accountancy and law firms.
China produces about 5 to 6 million college graduates per year.
The average Chinese college graduate makes only about $44 more per month than the average Chinese migrant laborer.
About 1 in 4 Chinese college graduate failed to find work within one year of graduating.
Other countries are churning out college graduates, too, like India and Brazil and Europe.
Billions of people means billions of workers willing to work for less.

Dwindling Jobs And Wages
The jobs that will be available in America will be increasingly fewer, and will pay increasingly less, due to:
1. A greater number of jobseekers per available job (population growth, college degree saturation, increasing unemployment)
2. Technological improvements
3. Redundancies due to corporate mergers and downsizings
4. Government reductions due to lower tax revenues, higher debt and pension/health expenses
5. Baby boomers clinging to their jobs because they can't retire (debt, wiped out savings, supporting adult children or ailing parents)
6. Offshoring of jobs to cheaper countries.

And none of the above even factors in peak oil or peak resources or the problem with the national debt and entitlements.

Poet

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

It does make you think a bit.  It's long been my opinion that our system of education has abandoned it's purpose and role and become just another business for profit.  Sports standings among universities is considered more important than educational standings.  Our local high school installed an Astroturf football field and built a new locker room with mahogany lockers while laying off teachers (different budgets, you know).  The curriculum is not geared towards education, but compliance and will fail a student that can demonstrate mastery of the subject but failed to turn in a homework assignment.

Our school of business has created legions of degreed morons that think their job is to cut costs at any expense.  There seems to be nothing about building a sustainable business, only how to maximize the current fiscal year at the expense of the future. 

Sorry for the rant,

Tim

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

There is a lot wrong with America and our economy is clearly slipping.  However, with an economy three times the size of the nearest competitor, we are still the 800 lb. gorilla in the room.  The trick will be figuring out how to leverage our size into creating a new economic model going forward that is based on sustainability, not flat out growth.    I don't think we are making much headway at the moment.

Doug

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?
Doug wrote:

There is a lot wrong with America and our economy is clearly slipping.  However, with an economy three times the size of the nearest competitor, we are still the 800 lb. gorilla in the room.  The trick will be figuring out how to leverage our size into creating a new economic model going forward that is based on sustainability, not flat out growth.    I don't think we are making much headway at the moment.

Doug

Doug, we are now primarily a service-based economy. The 800 lb. manufacturing gorilla is China. Our country spent the last 40 years getting flabby and letting the other little gorillas do all the heavy lifting. It is now too late. Every technological innovation (like Apple's iPod, iPad, etc.) is manufactured in China. 90% of laptops/notebooks are made in China. The Taiwanese chipmakers have their factories in China.

And China is closing the gap on being the 800 lb. R&D gorilla by making companies share technology (or outright buying it). Other countries are doing R&D for cheaper after having their scientists get their degrees here.

Inertia is a big thing. America could have done something even 20 years ago, but politicians and big business saw profit, not patriotism, as their primary concern. They got the ball rolling - very slowly at first - and now it can't be stopped. We're just so big here in America that (to borrow an analogy from Dr. Martenson) the stadium still appears mostly empty. at 12:45pm but the water is VERY clearly rising.

What does America still have that keeps me here rather than immigrating to another country? Relative freedom (really sad now, but still better compared to many other countries - you don't see America's elite getting Chinese passports for their kids, but you see the opposite with China's elite), a cleaner, less polluted environment, a multi-cultural, diverse, and relatively tolerant society (in most places).

Poet

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

Poet

I don't think it's quite so clear cut.  As I understand it, our manufacturing output is about equal to China's at this point, but as a percent of
GDP they are way ahead. http://investing.curiouscatblog.net/2010/06/28/manufacturing-output-as-a-percent-of-gdp-by-country/  That, of course, means that their GDP is still a lot smaller than ours.

Percapita, however, American workers are still the most productive in the world.  While we have been losing manufacturing jobs, our output has continued to grow.  http://www.dailymarkets.com/economy/2010/10/03/increases-in-u-s-worker-productivity-more-than-chinas-currency-responsible-for-loss-of-u-s-jobs/  In fact, except for the last couple years, our manufacturing output overall has continued to grow since the 70's, just not as fast as China's more recently.

The big worry, as you point out, is that other countries are closing the R&D gap, by educating their scientists and engineers here.  To me, that is where the rubber meets the road.  We have the best colleges, with a few exceptions, in the world, but our high school graduates are not coming out of school adequately prepared or motivated for technical careers.  I think the largest part of that failing is ours.  We as parents and community members are not demanding the highest standards from the schools and are not expecting our children to live up to those standards. 

I had a couple recent experiences that I found instructive.  Last year's valdictorian and salutatorian in our HS went away to Stanford and MIT.  Not bad for a largely rural small school in a very poor area.  Recently they both posted on facebook opining on how horribly our HS equipped them for college calculus.  When I mentioned that to my son, he pointed out that neither of them took advanced calc in HS.  What the h___ did they expect?  And, where were their parents and guidance counselors?  They didn't think that these kids, who both aspired to technical careers, needed advanced calc?  The course is available and, as far as I know, competently taught.

Another personal experience, then I'll shut up.  I coached a kid a couple years ago who finished first in his HS class and was accepted to a good small engineering school.  When he toured the campus, he loved everything about it except for his difficulty in understanding the heavily accented English the faculty members spoke.  He didn't meet one who was born American.  They largely hailed from Asian nations.

My point is that it is easy to blame the gov't or bankers or schools or some 'other' but it is often enough we who are allowing our country to fall behind economically and technologically.  Our industrial base is still as advanced as any in the world.  We have the skills and, in some quarters, the motivation to adjust to the new realities coming our way.  Its up to us to get it right.  There's still time, but it is getting short.

Doug

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

Doug

not to disagree with you, but what the heck are we manufacturing these days?  Is it mainly manufacturing for the military industrial complex?  When I go to a store, many times I have a hard time finding anything made in the US.  The other day I pulled out an old LL Bean parka I have from about 20 years ago.  It is still in great condition.  I was shocked when I looked at the tag and it said "made in the USA"

Brian

 

inga's picture
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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

I think we are in a whole new paradigm. 

Resources everywhere are going to be limited. 

I would venture a guess most things we own are made abroad. 

Corporations are going to go where their profit margins are greatest.

I remember when Walmart was founded, they said they were all about 'buying American'....uh, what happened to that slogan?

For every one kid who goes to Stanford or MIT, how many drop out of high school or graduate with such poor skills that working at the quickie-mart is a challenge?  Kids in tough environments have a real impediment to learning.  If you are concerned about being shot on your way home from school, I imagine geometry is only of use if you can calculate the trajectory of a bullet.  Money is not equitably distributed in education.  Heck, I have a kid with an MS in engineering from a prestigious school and she still had to struggle for a job. 

(I do think WAY too much money is spent on extracuriculars....but this is how school districts attract parents into their tax base...yes, I had kids that participated, but, we would have paid more for those activities).

I dunno....I am kinda glad those nuns whacked me with a ruler....It gave me IBS, back then and I developed a tic, but  I'm over it, now.

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

bluestone

I was stumped by your question, so did a little googling.  This seems like a pretty comprehensive list of manufacturing industries at work in the US.

http://www.ism.ws/ismreport/mfgrob.cfm

Quote:

The Manufacturing ISM Report On Business® is based on data compiled from purchasing and supply executives nationwide. Membership of the Manufacturing Business Survey Committee is diversified by NAICS, based on each industry's contribution to gross domestic product (GDP). Manufacturing Business Survey Committee responses are divided into the following NAICS code categories: Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Textile Mills; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Wood Products; Paper Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Petroleum & Coal Products; Chemical Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Primary Metals; Fabricated Metal Products; Machinery; Computer & Electronic Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Transportation Equipment; Furniture & Related Products; and Miscellaneous Manufacturing (products such as medical equipment and supplies, jewelry, sporting goods, toys and office supplies)..

When I perused the list, it jogged my memory and I recall seeing many plants producing goods in these industries in my travels about the country.  I don't have a clear picture of how they break down economically, but some seem obvious.  Wood products, including paper, is still huge.  I see logging trucks every day carrying loads of logs that are cut from second growth forests in the northeast.  They are a big source of income in our poverty ridden neck of the woods.  There are still iron mines around the Great Lakes feeding ore boats that take the ore to steel mills for heavy industries still hanging on around the Lakes.  The coal industry in the south and west is huge.  Food from growing to processing to the table is huge.  Chemicals are a big industry not far from where I sit as well as many other places around the country.  The list mentions plastics and I'm aware of a number of small stamping plants that produce plastic products to order for all kinds of other industries.  Where the plastic is actually manufactured I don't know.  Cattle is a big industry that feeds not only food processors, but also leather goods manufacturers including exports for production of finished products then returned to the States.  The list goes on, but I imagine anyone can catalogue the factories and production facilities they see as they travel around their own regions.

It occurs to me that all of these industries are heavily dependent on oil in one form or another.  It's interesting to speculate how they will survive when peak oil becomes obvious.

Doug

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

 

I talk with various small-business owners and consultants to small business owners across the country every day in my line of work. Many are service companies or distributors, some do construction. Of those that are manufacturers, most of them have factories or suppliers or subcontractors in China or Mexico, and maintain a home office here in the U.S. Only a few are still manufacturers and they are in very niche industries: firearms, medical equipment, etc. Even so, a lot of their subcomponents are made in other countries.

Writing in The New York Times, Alan Tonelson and Kevin Kearns, members of the U.S. Business and Industry Council, claim that for years the U.S. Labor Department has been leading the American people to believe that the productivity of its workers has been skyrocketing: "Labor productivity figures, which are calculated by the Labor Department, count only worker hours in America, even though American-owned factories and labs have been steadily transplanted overseas, and foreign workers have contributed significantly to the final products counted in productivity measures."
http://economyincrisis.org/content/us-productivity-gains-misleading

Poet

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?
Doug wrote:

...snip

I had a couple recent experiences that I found instructive.  Last year's valdictorian and salutatorian in our HS went away to Stanford and MIT.  Not bad for a largely rural small school in a very poor area.  Recently they both posted on facebook opining on how horribly our HS equipped them for college calculus.  When I mentioned that to my son, he pointed out that neither of them took advanced calc in HS.  What the h___ did they expect?  And, where were their parents and guidance counselors?  They didn't think that these kids, who both aspired to technical careers, needed advanced calc?  The course is available and, as far as I know, competently taught.

...snip

Doug

Doug,

Since we are talking about High School education I think that I will chime in here. I believe that I am qualified to offer an opinion since I have been teaching HS math for the last 17 years.

I could probably rant about several areas but I will try to keep it focused to math. I teach Advanced Placement Calculus and Honors Algebra 2. The students that make it through my AP Calc class and go on to university are more than well qualified. I know because I get much positive feedback from them after they are successful at universities like Univ of Cal., Stanford, MIT, Cal Tech and many others. Sounds great right. However, there are over 3600 students in my high school and we have one AP Calc class of 21 students this year. This is about the same as most years. The numbers are pathetically small. This same situation is evident in my "Honors" Algebra 2 classes. I teach 4 of these classes and if if was up to me this would be collapsed into one regular algebra 2 class, one algebra 1 class and two pre-algebra classes. Most students simply are not prepared to proceed to the next level in mathematics after they complete each course. This situation starts in elementary school and proceeds all the way up.

Schools have lost focus on providing a meaningful education and now are focused on satifying the bureaucrats. In my view this situation is a consequence of too much government involvement in education; especially Federal Government involvement.  Let me provide an illustration of government interference that negatively impacts education.

No Child Left Behind (NLCB) legislation implemented by Dept. of Ed. mandates certain performance standards for high schools. These are determined by yearly tests usually done in April or May. If a school does not meet minimum standards then they get put on the list of "Program Improvement" schools. As part of the requirements the overall school and every major sub-group within the school must meet the minimum standards for each subject area. A major sub-group means 100 or  more students in that group.

Several years ago our school did ok on every test  except one sub-group. That sub-group was Special Education. Yes because there were 105 students in our school that were identified as "Spec. Ed." they had to pass the minimum standards for  math. Well, why do you think they are in Special Education? So as a consequence of that group not passing the whole school got put on the "LIST".

So what you say. Here comes the unintended consequence. Our district has yearly open enrollment that allows students to transfer to available spots in schools of their choice. We used to get many students transfer into our school because of our academic excellence. In fact, I had several very good students transfer in that took my math classes and later went on to do very well at prestigious universities.  When we got put on the "LIST" the number of these very good students that transferred in dropped dramatically. Parents had a choice. Why would they send their top student to a "Program Improvement" school. Because fewer top students transfered in our scores suffered. It became a self fulfilling situation. Now the entire focus is not on top quality education but to get off the list.

This is only one instance of bureaucratic interference that has unforseen consequences. However, similar examples can be found at every level of public education in every discipline. We spend far too much time, money and resources on regulations and satisfying bureaucrats and far too little on education. Every time we put more mandates on the schools we end up doing  more harm than good. 

In addition to End the FED we need to END the Dept of ED.

End of rant.

Ken

 

 

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?
Ken C wrote:

 As part of the requirements the overall school and every major sub-group within the school must meet the minimum standards for each subject area. A major sub-group means 100 or  more students in that group.

Several years ago our school did ok on every test  except one sub-group. That sub-group was Special Education. Yes because there were 105 students in our school that were identified as "Spec. Ed." they had to pass the minimum standards for  math. Well, why do you think they are in Special Education? So as a consequence of that group not passing the whole school got put on the "LIST".

So what you say. Here comes the unintended consequence. Our district has yearly open enrollment that allows students to transfer to available spots in schools of their choice. We used to get many students transfer into our school because of our academic excellence. In fact, I had several very good students transfer in that took my math classes and later went on to do very well at prestigious universities.  When we got put on the "LIST" the number of these very good students that transferred in dropped dramatically. Parents had a choice. Why would they send their top student to a "Program Improvement" school. Because fewer top students transfered in our scores suffered. It became a self fulfilling situation. Now the entire focus is not on top quality education but to get off the list.

Ken

This is just horrible.

Seriously, your entire "rant" needs to be spammed into our society's consciousness. I hope the rant gets posted everywhere and anywhere on-line so it can enter mainstream consciousness.

P.S. - Has the caliber of students decreased in general since you began teaching? I recall being in 11th grade English (regular, not remedial) about two decades ago. Our coursework constituted one-page reviews on movies like Moby Dick (rather than the actual book) and - I kid you not! - word searches and crossword puzzles and word unscrambles. Having come from another regular 10th grade English class where we wrote essays and studied archetypal imagery, I was horrified! The teacher was a tenured 30-year veteran who, when I complained to her about the quality of the coursework, confided in me that she had burned out because the students didn't care. (And truly they didn't.) She made tons of money as a real estate agent (and drove a late model Mercedes). Her only remaining teaching joy was coaching Speech & Debate (she was so good, she took kids to national competitions).

Poet

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

Poet

You are right it is horrible but it is only one small issue among the many that we have to deal with every day.

The more that TPTB help the less I get done.

And the more that they want to "help" the more money they waste.

An example:

I have to come in for "training" during the Christmas holidays for some worthless in-service.

The choice was to come in during my off time and get paid for it or be pulled out of class for two days next semester. I was not about to lose two days of instructional time for  some worthless training that no one needs so I chose to do it during my off time. Your tax dollars at work.

 

I could "rant" about a lot of things but at this point I don't think that it will make any difference. There are so many people trying to drive and control public education that I believe it can not be saved. It will continue it's long slow decline. In the mean time I help all the students that I can as much as I can and try not to worry about the rest

Ken

 

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

Okay, let me chime in here.

Service jobs: these are not just McDonalds. Think "software engineering" and "video games" - or teachers at our universities- and you encompass more of what service jobs are nowadays. Sadly, most of the work out there requires a high degree of training. But our schools are not always doing the job of preparing these "knowledge workers." So yes, our federal department of education is one of the first things I would cut--my dad was a teacher and my mother was on our local school board, and my family is made up of teachers and superintendents. We all know that the unfunded mandates that are the strings attached to federal education dollars are the main reason that schools are struggling financially. Over 90% of a local school district's budget is etched in federal bueacratic stone. That's why, if a school budget does not pass, they get rid of things like band and sports when they go on austerity: that is all they are ALLOWED to cut!  And don't get me started on the tax-exempt National Education Association. They get all their money from teacher's unions, represent those unions, and then pay no taxes? Outrageous.

Manufacturing jobs: I am a safety manager with friends in other industries. The main reason that Amercican productiveity is UP and the number of jobs is down is mechanization. In manufacturing we've gone robotic on a lot of things. It's not just for car asembly lines any more: one of my fellow safety engineers does work for ABB Brown Boveri in MI, and the robotic painting technology that was only for new cars is now being used on appliances.  Office mechanization got rid of middle managers years ago - now we call the secretaries "administrative assistants", and they have a new title for a reason: thanks to spreadsheets and such they handle work that was done 15 years ago by middle management.

That being said, companies like Anchor Hocking glass kept their jobs here. The workers, when told the plant might be moving overseas, suggested improvements to the bosses that kept their jobs in the US. Native manufacturers and industries will have a huge edge when TSHTF: lower transportation costs. In my opinion we will have more and more things made locally as transporation gets more and more expensive. Lots of industries are not all that oil-intesive: glassmaking, forestry and wood produtcs, farming, hydropower, mining can be done primitively, wine-making, weaving cloth at a mill on a river, brick-making goes back before the pharos, etc.

Americans are not obsolete, but their next 30 years will look very different. Whether it is a dark future at first (my belief), or a somewhat smooth transition, there will still be people wanting to make a living.

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

I can't provide stats but I'm guessing there are more Indians and Chinese who want to obtain American citizenship than the other way around.  The idea that America stands for liberty is hardly obsolete.   That's why those countries might  crank thousands of engineers but America spawns the likes of Hewlett Packard, Edison, Graham Bell etc that they emulate.   

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

I have taught at the college level for over ten years.  I see two major problems that will haunt us:

Students who are simply ill prepared for college due to lowered standards.  (I can argue all reasons of why this is so,  Dept of Ed, government, parents,  they all play a role.)

Students who think they are owed a grade for showing up.  This one I find most egregious.  I know students who are hard working willing to try, ambitious and smart.  I also know too many who are none of these things but who are excellent at gaming the system to attempt to get the same grades those other students earned.  They make me furious.  I will give a chance at an education to anyone,  but by golly you need to do the work.

You add these guys to a college institution that has become more and more  about getting the paying customers through than about education,  and parents who will call department chairs over juniors bad grades and you get snotty little ne'er do wells with attitudes and the very same diploma that the hard working kid got.

When I started teaching I never once spoke to a parent!  Now at least once every semester some one calls.  I am sorry but if your "child" is old enough to be armed and sent to another country to fight a war they are old enough to attend college.  If they are not then they should not be there.

I had a parents send in his own secretary to hand in a paper she had clearly written for the student to force me to change his grade.  (She looked embarrassed) when I refused the parent contacted the board of trustees who then forced me to give this failing student a B!  Not just even a D!  No, they changed his grade to a B.  This young man is now working for the state.

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Re: Are Americans Obsolete?

Maybe Americans are has beens in the near term, like the next five years. However,the flailing beast of an American military-industrial complex can do a lot of damage on the way down. It's hard to imagine the USA saying, "pardon us, we're just going to wander over to our strip mall ghettos and die peacefully without causing any fuss". My crystal ball says that things will be pretty ugly for everybody in the short term and that with peak oil, we're probably looking at something like 2 billion people carrying capacity on earth rather than the 9 billion that everyone seems to be projecting.

However, in terms of avoiding complete environmental catastrophe to the extent that people can't even live on the planet in 10 years or so, I think that we're all in this together. Us, the Chinese, everyone will have to pitch in and get sustainable. Does the paradigm on earth necessarily need to be that of one empire after another ruthlessly subjugating everyone else? Salvaging an environment that can sustain human life is not the job of just one dominant military empire whether its the US, China, or India.

In fact, we may find very soon that all of our survival depends upon everybody spending trillions on alternative energy technology rather than on subsidizing our own destruction with all these endless wars.

 

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