David Walker, the Comptroller General of the United States, had some harsh words for his country last month. I’m surprised that I didn’t hear of this earlier; I’ve also been thinking about some of the issues Walker raised, but until now, I haven’t heard them echoed by anyone actually involved with governmental policy. His words were reported in Financial Times.
Drawing parallels with the end of the Roman empire, Mr. Walker warned there were “striking similarities” between America’s current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including “declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government…”
I’m torn. While I certainly see some parallels between society today and the aspects commonly thought to cause Roman society to decline, usually a gross over-simplification of the issue, I still have hope. We have the benefit of immediate information and feedback, and it’s much more difficult for those in power to get away with manipulating the masses. Despite short-lived imbalances of public sentiment, this country is often split on issues down the middle. Civic decisions are therefore more difficult to make on a national scale, less gets done, and change is only driven in those times of imbalance.
I don’t think the American empire is quite ready to fall, despite some of the parallels with societies on the decline or past their tipping point. What do you think? Is the Comptroller General correct about the impending implosion of our society, or are his words necessary only to bring awareness to some of the issues and perhaps inspire a new cycle of sentiment?
Learn from the fall of Rome, US warned [Financial Times]