On The Age of America: Radio Essay for April 30, 2011

Perhaps you have heard about the bombshell dropped by the International Monetary Fund earlier this week? It is a simple statement, really, yet its’ implications will transcend our very way of life. More importantly, the lives of our children and their children will be forever changed.

I am talking about the declaration that the “Age of America” is nearly behind us. The US economy will be overtaken, says the IMF, by the year 2016. That seems to be a few decades sooner than anyone expected. The analysis is based upon a concept known as Purchasing Power Parity. Think of it this way: rather than compare how many dollars one earns, think about it in terms of what those dollars can buy. If you basic lifestyle essentials cost, let’s say, 10 times less in one country than another, than one needs 10 times less money to have achieved parity in lifestyle across borders. That describes the situation in China today.

So what, you say? Let’s begin to look at the ramifications that such a change in global economic leadership might bring. First of all, let’s recall that the official name of this new economic juggernaut is the People’s Republic of China. I grew up knowing it as Communist China or Red China. It was run by Mao Zedung, a despotic leader responsible for more death than Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin combined. He ruled China until 1976. That’s just 35 years ago.

We remember life in America 35 years ago quite vividly. It was the bicentennial celebration year. America was licking its wounds from Vietnam and Watergate and Jimmy Carter was elected President. Richard Nixon, who ironically opened China to Western trade, was in a national exile. We were at the height of the Cold War with conflict in Europe seemingly imminent. The US economy, though afflicted by inflation and high interest rates, still dominated the world. The era of Pax Americana was in full flower. America ruled the waves, dominated culture, was the leader in math and science and technology, research and development. In short, America was a benevolent, though hegemonic power.

There are countless millions of Chinese who remember the days of Mao; whose political futures were shaped by his policies; and who came of age in their shadow.

Now, the US faces a future every bit as bleak as that faced by the British Empire at the end of the Second World War. Great Britain then embraced the welfare state with open arms and watched as its’ world empire and its’ world leadership position dissolved before its’ very eyes into the benevolent, waiting arms of the United States.

That case will not be repeated today. If America’s grasp on world economic and political leadership slips away, it will not fall into benevolent hands. Once they have control of the reigns, The People’s Republic of China will not play nice. We already know that they will not play fair. And the world they will dominate will be the world that we have bequeathed to our children.

Shame on us. We have the means to make the 21st Century an American Century if we have the political will to make our country competitive again. It is a multi-pronged effort lead by two major forces: (1) restoring the economy and (2) controlling our spending. Sounds easy, right? But to listen to the incessant chatter about the social compact that our President keeps espousing and that the political class in Washington regurgitates, we are not making any in progress to heading off this drastic and dramatic rendezvous with destiny, we are simply kicking the can down the road to a post-2012 election environment, counting upon continued gridlock in Washington, taking the personal vilification of noble patriots such who dare to question the status quo of the American welfare state to the level of an art form, and squandering precious time in the pursuit of personal aggrandizement.

The People’s Republic of China can’t sleep: they are too excited about the prospect of taking over the world.

Press on.

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