The accession of the emperor Commodus in 180 CE marked the descent “from a kingdom of gold to one of rust and iron.” — Cassius Dio, ancient historian.
America was once a kingdom of gold. It has become a wasteland of rust and iron. What is difficult is placing the blame on a single American president. I’ve written on this before and we have received excellent comments, many with merit, but few in agreement of the culprit. What is safe to say is that America has declined severely from its apex, whether you want to set a bar during the post-World War II of the late 1940s or before Vietnam during the early 1960s.
It seems more likely that the death of the American Empire reads like the Agatha Christie novel, Murder on the Orient Express, where not one person committed a murder but 13 did in one coach, all with connections to the deceased.
In 200 years from now, when students ask who and what killed Pax Americana, the answers will be varied. And it all took place in the open over decades with millions watching and almost none who intervened. There are so many similarities between the collapse of Rome and what we are witnessing now but are powerless to stop, the collapse of the United States of America.
The cost of war
Picking a single reason is like throwing darts blindfolded. You will hit something and it may well be the reason for America’s demise, but all we are doing is attempting a postmortem on the dying but not yet dead. Of course there are bushels of experts who think they can nail down the exact cause and, through that, reconstruct the American Empire.
There are many parallels as to Rome’s demise and the fact that America is kaput. Two of the many reasons are military expansion and massive debt.
The Cold War and supporting the proxy wars that sprang from it (which would includes Vietnam) cost the United States $8 trillion. According to Time, the cost of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars will be between $4 trillion and $6 trillion. Without war, the United States could have a deficit of $6 trillion to $8 trillion rather than one of $20 trillion.
Some may ask how America can be bankrupt when the country borrows $4 billion every day. It comes down to what Donald Trump would no doubt call a rigged system. In August 2011, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating for the first time, dropping it from AAA to AA. In doing this S&P said that debt had made the U.S. government’s ability to manage its finances “less stable, less effective and less predictable.”
I have to wonder how many of the world’s top bond analysts it took to figure that out. But the fact is that anyone that knows the difference between a stock and a bond would probably conclude that a double B rating on Treasury debt would be a more accurate approximation. That is not good when you consider that the S&P definition of double B bond, “is LESS VULNERABLE [emphasis not added] in the near term than other lower-rated obligors. However, it faces major ongoing uncertainties and exposure to adverse business, financial, or economic conditions which could lead to the obligor’s inadequate capacity to meet its financial commitments.”
The epitome of “too big to fail”
A central reason foreign governments did not vigorously sell U.S. Treasuries even after they were downgraded is because they are on the hook holding roughly $7 trillion worth of Treasuries whose values would fall off a cliff if word on Wall Street got out about nations liquidating Treasuries.
China and Japan are holding $1.25 trillion and $1.13 trillion in U.S. Treasury debt respectively. Russia has sold $80 billion Treasury holdings. That is the sale of almost half of their Treasury securities. You would think that the Democrats would tread more gently with a creditor who could throw the U.S. dollar into a tailspin of such speed it would create an economic vortex which would make the Crashes of ’29 and ’08 look like downtick. I think this would have already happened if not for the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve. They ripped out a page from the Latin American Dictators Economic Handbook.
The definition of Quantitative easing is:
An unconventional monetary policy in which a central bank purchases government securities or other securities from the market in order to lower interest rates and increase the money supply. Quantitative easing increases the money supply by flooding financial institutions with capital in an effort to promote increased lending and liquidity.
It has been written about ad nauseam so I will only add this: U.S. presidents have become Latin American dictators but they use keyboards rather than a printing press which helps out and gives the Greens one less thing to complain about.
When in Washington, do as the Romans did
What the United States is doing and what Latin American countries have tried is nothing new. In Ancient Rome emperors used silver to back their money.
Rome’s wealth rose to glorious heights through bloody conquests. In his book, The History of Money, Jack Weatherford explains: “Rome’s fame and glory came from the military and from conquest, and their riches, too, derived much more from the achievements of the army than from those of the merchants.”
But conquests and occupation required ever more silver. Less than a century after Julius Caesar’s murder, Roman spending rose to 250 million denarri, 10 times what it had been 60 years earlier. By 60 CE Nero reduced silver content in the coinage by 90 percent. It wouldn’t take long for all the money to be re-coined with no silver. In antiquity change was slow, but by 285 CE the Roman Empire split East and West and no longer resembled what it had been during its heights.
America is not so different. Watergate introduced corruption at its highest levels of government. This has only increased in front of disinterested Americans. Salon in December 2012 carried an article titled: 8 striking parallels between the U.S. and the Roman Empire.
I have narrowed it down to four:
What is most reprehensible is that presidents, nominees for president and certainly some members of the senate and house, along with their staff, are crooked; that they with their illegal activities swarm Capitol Hill the way Army Ants swarm a knoll. Just consider how President Barack Obama blatantly operates outside the law and is braggadocio in his disdain of the Constitution.
The deconstruction of the American Empire has been ongoing for decades. The hegemony that was the starch of America’s social fabric did not survive past the 1970s. In just under half a century it was washed out. So too was the middle class and poor. The American dream that millions believed they could capture if they reached for the golden ring turned out to be a fake charade fixed by the ruling class that were no better than carnies at a state fair. The inevitable result is that America as we knew it will cease to exist.
Instead we will be citizens to a One World Government that came to national attention when President Jimmy Carter took office in 1976. All of the top positions in the government — the office of president, vice-president, secretaries of state, defense and treasury — are held by members of the Trilateral Commission and the national security advisor was its director. Many lesser officials also came from this group.
The election is over and not since President Abraham Lincoln has the country been so divided. It is only going to get worse.
Yours in good times and bad,
— John Myers