Chapter 9: The US Trade Deficit as an American Problem: Leveraged Over-Indulgence
INTRODUCTION Historians attribute the collapse of the Roman Empire, which once seemed invincible, to three factors: (i) overstretched and overconfident military; (ii) moral deterioration; and (iii) fiscal profligacy. These factors are symptomatic of contemporary America. The US military is overstretched, fighting unnecessary wars here and there, some of which have nothing to do with the “war on terror” and a lot to do with the “war of terror”. The fact that the US military is overconfident is symbolized by Donald Rumsfeld’s belief, in his heyday, that the invasion of Iraq would be a “walk in the park” and by George W. Bush’s infamous statement of “mission accomplished”, not to mention the US’s catastrophic adventure in Vietnam. Moral deterioration is exemplified by the transfer of money from the average taxpayer to wealthy bankers under the pretext of “too big to fail”, Donald Trump’s call for free oil from Iraq and the control of the mineral resources of Afghanistan to compensate America for the “liberation” of these two countries, the authorization of torture and kidnapping by George Bush II, the glorification of war, the justification of profiteering by all necessary means, the rationalization as “natural” of extreme income and wealth inequality, contempt towards the rest of the world (symbolized by the do-as-I-say attitude), and the attitude of blaming others for its own problems. Fiscal profligacy, which is related to the first two factors, means extravagant and wasteful spending – living beyond one’s means and sustaining this kind of lifestyle by borrowing from others....
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