Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Empires Often Collapse From Cancer Within

The coming Presidential election and our polarized country has caused me to reflect on the decline or collapse of great empires. When thinking about the decline or collapse of major powers we quickly realize that it is oftentimes hard to predict when or how their demise will occur. Decline and collapse can be sudden or slow. Truth be told the timing of when power is about to shift is always hard to correctly gauge. Even when signs of decline or an approaching "tipping point" are everywhere that does not guarantee the end is near. History shows that as the foundation crumbles away it is not uncommon for those in power to extend their rule by using various tricks. Often those in power simply go about changing the rules in a way that gives them a new lease on life.

Empires Often Die From The Cancer Of Corruption
In our world of instant communication, it should be assumed that many factors are able to accelerate the process of decline. Sometimes a system morphs or evolves towards its end and in other cases, a single event acts as a catalyst to bring a system to its knees. One clear sign a country is developing problems is when political polarization grows and social discourse becomes outwardly hostile. When we see this coupled with economic decline and a spike in inequality the possibility of a shakeup is magnified.

The economic crisis that gripped the world in 2008 provides an excellent example of postponing what appears preordained. Central Banks across the world joined with politicians to pull rabbits out of their hats and used unprecedented actions to halt the collapse of the system. However, after years of deficit spending and slow growth, we are forced to ask if they only delayed the last scene of a bad play by creating an extend and pretend scenario? That may depend on other actions taken over time to repair and set right many of the problems and issues that plagued our country. Post-2008 we bought time to change our evil ways such as spending money we didn't have and dealing with growing debt loads and unfunded promises, but in truth, we have squandered both time and money while failing to address our many structural problems.

In this election, a big issue is the huge growth in inequality and this has manifested itself in a backlash against establishment candidates. Bernie Sanders on the left and Donald Trump on the right call attention to this problem. Those who look closely understand that it is not the 1% at the top stealing the icing off the cake, but the much smaller .1% or .01% that are skewing the numbers and overreaching. This display of anger goes hand in hand with the massive growth in crony capitalism and corruption. Much of this can be attributed to the ability of those in control "changing the rules" and positioning themselves to benefit at every corner. Those in power have taken advantage of our busy and complex world where people now find it impossible to watch all the moving parts of the massive government that promised so much.

What might be called the "Deep State" definitely exists and it often works in plain sight and not how it is depicted in the movies. It is not a complex conspiracy but the gut of a system laced with ever growing corruption and relaxed morals. It is very possible human beings are generally too incompetent, lazy and inept to carry out complex schemes on a grand scale. People have proven again and again to be bad at keeping secrets and insider knowledge is almost always passed around, even in secretive organizations this is done in a reckless manner. Doling out secrets and insider information confers status, tactical advantage, and sometimes even financial gain.

Corruption and crony capitalism are cancers on society that continue to grow if not constantly addressed with harsh measures. Empires and successful endeavors are built on strength and a sound financial foundation. This can erode very quickly in a fast changing world. Debt is an often no more than a glorified  IOU  and we must try to remember that bills can go unpaid and promises left unfulfilled. Faith is the glue that holds this all together. Most likely the economy won't fall apart or collapse today and when it does a new economy will rise from the ashes. However, if and when such an event occurs the question remains as to when and what the new rules will be.  

What happens when the momentum ends?  The whole concept of economic growth is based on an ever growing trend of year over year increased production. We must remember the influx of monetary stimulus from QE and massive government deficit spending has created the illusion of more pent-up demand then exist or can be substantiated. By removing the incentive for people to save and encouraging risk we have eroded the quality of economic growth. In the long-term, this results in an elevated baseline for comparing year on year growth, in short, we have to move forward faster in each coming year just to keep growing. All this underlines that we are living in "interesting times" while playing havoc with the value of things and what they are worth. Like some of the cruel games children play you don't want to find yourself without a chair or holding the "hot potato" when the game ends.

Many polls have indicated for years that a majority of Americans feel the country is moving down the wrong path. This does not bode well if the current election speeds us along in the same general direction in which we are traveling. Recent news clips showing unrest, protest, and violence at political gatherings is an indication of growing friction between factions in a divided nation. Indications from the White House and statements from President Obama that he will further involve himself in the Republican race coupled with comments to halt Trump's advance only increases the angst. The widening divide created by pitting one American against another and continued games of class warfare come at a great price. One thing is crystal clear, few Americans are busy bragging about the state of our union.

Footnote; This post dovetails with many of my recent writings. Other related articles may be found in my blog archive, thanks for reading, your comments are encouraged.


  1. Do you supposed that America is cursed for not praising God in spirit and truth anymore, but rather in vain?

  2. I'm not under the impression we are cursed as much as guilty of not being vigilant in asking and demanding more from our elected officials.

  3. I disagree that humans can't keep secrets. Plenty do, we just don't know about them because they kept it a secret. I'm also unsure that humans can't conduct complex schemes. The Soviets mounted a sophisticated scheme of funding "civil rights" and anti-war organizations, as well as flooding Viet Nam with drugs to weaken our troops. I know, I was one. They never tried to go up on the price.
    My current belief is that the European nobility discovered the advantages of ruling through deception, started the banks to expedite it, and gradually morphed into what we know today as the Globalists, Elites, what have you. Don't underestimate them.