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What collapsing empire looks like

What collapsing empire looks like

(updated below)

As we enter our ninth year of the War in Afghanistan with an escalated force, and continue to occupy Iraq indefinitely, and feed an endlessly growing Surveillance State, reports are emerging of the
Deficit Commission hard at work planning how to cut Social Security,
Medicare, and now even to freeze military pay. But a new New York Times article
today illustrates as vividly as anything else what a collapsing empire
looks like, as it profiles just a few of the budget cuts which cities
around the country are being forced to make. This is a sampling of what
one finds:

Plenty of businesses and governments furloughed workers this year, but Hawaii went further -- it furloughed its schoolchildren. Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in
the nation.

Many transit systems have cut service to make ends meet, but Clayton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, decided to cut all the way, and shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders.

Even public safety has not been immune to the budget ax. In Colorado Springs, the downturn will be remembered, quite literally, as a dark age: the city switched off a third of its 24,512
streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police
force and auctioning off its police helicopters.

There are some lovely photos accompanying the article, including one showing what a darkened street in Colorado looks like as a result of not being able to afford street lights. Read the article to revel in
the details of this widespread misery. Meanwhile, the tiniest sliver of
the wealthiest -- the ones who caused these problems in the first place
-- continues to thrive. Let's recall what former IMF Chief Economist Simon Johnson said last year in The Atlantic about what happens in under-developed and developing countries when an elite-caused financial crises ensues:

Squeezing the oligarchs, though, is seldom the strategy of choice among emerging-market governments. Quite the contrary: at the outset of the crisis, the oligarchs are usually among the first to get extra help
from the government, such as preferential access to foreign currency,
or maybe a nice tax break, or -- here's a classic Kremlin bailout
technique -- the assumption of private debt obligations by the
government. Under duress, generosity toward old friends takes many
innovative forms. Meanwhile, needing to squeeze someone, most
emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk -- at
least until the riots grow too large.

The real question is whether the American public is too apathetic and trained into submission for that to ever happen.

UPDATE: It's probably also worth noting this Wall St. Journal article from last month -- with a subheadline warning: "Back to Stone Age" -- which describes how "paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as
counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal
revenue." Utah is seriously considering eliminating the 12th grade, or making it optional. And it was announced this week that "Camden [New Jersey] is preparing to permanently shut its library system
by the end of the year, potentially leaving residents of the
impoverished city among the few in the United States unable to borrow a
library book free."

Does anyone doubt that once a society ceases to be able to afford schools, public transit, paved roads, libraries and street lights -- or once it chooses not to be able to afford those things in pursuit of imperial priorities and the maintenance of a vast Surveillance and National Security State
-- that a very serious problem has arisen, that things have gone
seriously awry, that imperial collapse, by definition, is an imminent
inevitability? Anyway, I just wanted to leave everyone with some light
and cheerful thoughts as we head into the weekend.


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Comment by Nikki on August 9, 2010 at 8:25pm
Since there's no school on Fridays, are the other days longer? Does your state law require a minimum number of days of instruction/er, government induced indoctrination? I would like 4 days better too. My daughter is going into her senior year but our school district is small and has been fine so far but glad there's only one year left. I home schooled her in 7th and 8th grade because junior high is when some sweet kids turn really mean, esp girls.
Comment by fireguy on August 9, 2010 at 12:32am
Our public school has not been open on Fridays since before we moved here in '96 we like it, one less day a week in the Government indoctrination camp. Since we live in a very small town pop. 2000, we don't have any private schools to send the kids to but it is easy to get involved and have a positive impact because everyone knows everyone else and what the kids are up to as well. Of course if we lived in a larger control grid city things would be quite different and we would be paying for private school or home school as well as the school taxes. So far so good, for us, got one kid still in High School and the other two are commited to the resistance and doing well. Thanks for the post.
Comment by fireguy on August 9, 2010 at 12:22am

About the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution, in
1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of
Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some
2000 years prior:

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a
permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."
"The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage "


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