Thankful to not be American

Well, to be honest I am more precisely thankful to be Norwegian and live in Norway, the world’s best country for years now according to the UN. Those who live in Congo, Somalia or even Colombia probably regard the USA as pretty much Heaven on Earth, and not entirely without reason. But the disturbing fact is that for years now, the US has been in decline, while the world as a whole has been growing healthily. Even after the onset of the Financial Crisis, the emerging economies (much of what used to be the Third World) have been growing at a brisk pace.

What is more important is that the growth in the emerging economies is largely real growth, caused by investment in infrastructure such as roads, railroads, education and telecommunication. In contrast, the growth in America has for a long time now been false growth, caused by growing consumption based on borrowing.  The “dotcom” bubble was quickly replaced with a housing bubble, which exploded spectacularly in the so-called Financial Crisis, impacting many other rich countries to some degree. But what is less obvious yet is that this was followed by yet another bubble, which is still growing: The government bubble.

The government is issuing ever more debt, and we are now talking about truly astronomical amounts, where trillions come and go. There is no plan, not even a vague idea, for how to pay back any of this. In fact, there is no plan for how to stop borrowing, ever. In fact, there seems to be no one who sees this as a need, or even a goal, or even a possibility. It is assumed that for the foreseeable future, America and its government will be financed by borrowing.

Unfortunately, that means the foreseeable future is getting shorter.

Unbelievable as it may seem, there are over 6.5 billion humans who don’t particularly think that the US is God’s chosen  country and is entitled to getting money for nothing. But as long as everyone else is also playing along, as long as you can sell American debt or use it as collateral as if it were gold, it is in everyone’s interest to continue to lend. The day someone big throws the cards and back out of this charade, it will be quite unpleasant to live in America for a while.

Not that it is particularly pleasant now, from what my friends there tell me. High unemployment has become a feature and is taking its toll: There are still many people slowly unwinding their life savings while trying to get a new job, even one that pays less than they used to have. There are still people living in houses they cannot really pay the mortgage for, putting off bills and racking up credit card debt while they hope for better times. But the better times don’t always show up, and so people slowly sink down into poverty. Neighborhoods gradually turn into slums. Schools deteriorate and teachers are fired.

Meanwhile, police is beating up protesters on a regular basis, and public parks are becoming like Palestinian refuge camps, permanent spots of squalor and anger.  In several states, recording police brutality has itself become a crime punishable with years in prison. Some of the latest police crackdowns seem to have been organized on a federal level, something that is against the constitution. (Let us leave aside whether or not it is a good idea to beat up leftists, in  principle, if they give the slightest excuse to do so.)

The culture war goes on, with the enmity between “blue” and “red” growing ever stronger, slowly inching toward an actual civil war with blood on the streets. (Not that the streets in America are free from blood even at the best of times, with the violent crime in the country being several times higher than in other first-world countries, and a general acceptance that you choose to risk your life if you walk into areas populated by people of a different skin color.) While the economy is in chaos, and infrastructure falling apart, the political parties are latching on to obscure pet projects that serve little or no useful function, but simply demonstrate their loyalty to their side of the culture war.

It is not that many years since people around the world looked up to America as a shining example of what a modern society should be. But something has gone horribly wrong. I would be surprised if it is not the same thing that always goes horribly wrong with every empire that has a golden age: Hubris. Overweening pride. A sense of being entitled to privilege. Well, at least you had your days in the sun. I hope you enjoyed them. Your golden age is over – so say your analysts.


4 thoughts on “Thankful to not be American

  1. Yes, that’s a good one, and I’m glad you brought it up. If we think each of us that our ego, the person we call “me”, is all there is inside our head, we are horribly wrong. Everything we have learned, and many things that are derived or processed from what we have learned, exist in our psyche together with us. The vast majority of our mental space is not conscious. Think of your dreams. Almost everyone has dreams they cannot identify with, dreams where they cannot say about each of the persons in the dream “that was me”. And yet obviously each of the persons in their dream is them, in the sense that all of the dream comes from inside their mental space, there is no TV screen projecting their dreams. It is the same with thoughts, really. A lot of thoughts are not really “me” but they are not projected by a specific outside force, some kind of official broadcast, either. Rather, we share a lot of our mental space, being a thoroughly social species. So a lot of what people feel and even think is kind of drifting to them and attaching to them, and can completely overwhelm them unless they have a strong consciousness.

    A lot of the trouble we see in society comes from individuals not being enlightened, and a lot of the trouble we see in individuals comes from society not being enlightened.

    In the old days, people talked about “demons” latching on to people. A more modern phrase would be “mind parasites”, at least if we want to describe it on the psychological plane rather than spiritually. These mind parasites have their own survival and reproduction in mind, and don’t really care about you except in so far as you can act as a vehicle for them. Sometimes they even go so far as to kill their host, just like some other parasites.

    Tolle’s teaching is pretty basic, but I am glad it seems to help some people.

  2. It is necessary, when living in the world, to make decisions. Otherwise we would literally become unable to even move – this happens to some psychiatric patients.

    But it is also necessary to not get too attached to one’s decisions. This is a common human flaw. People can be found defending their decisions as if these were beloved children. Sometimes we make mistakes, in the sense that we think we know what to do, but we don’t actually know all that much, and an unexpected outcome happens. It’s all part of the human experience.

    That’s a nice story he tells there, by the way. I have heard it before, but I can’t remember where. It does not matter who tells it, there is something to learn from it. Life is largely like that, it is revealed over time and so things look different when we look back at them from different times in our life. In my experience, things generally look better later, as more of the picture is revealed and loose threads find their place. Still, I am sure we die with some lose threads.

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