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The Fall of the American Empire

This article was written by in Society. 6 comments.

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…”

Roman RuinsI’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]

Published or updated September 10, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Tim

The biggest difference is how the economic systems differ. second is morals don’t have anything to do with anything. decline of moral values measured on what yardstick is what I’d like to know. third, our military isn’t over extended, because we can always pull back. even though the two wars cost a lot, they still only amount to 3-5% of GDP. This is far different than the roman empire. our economy has a far greater absorption capacity. heck, wwi and wwii we were rationing. we aren’t even anywheres near that.

over simplification? Indeed. wrong? Indeed.

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avatar Kevin

I think we’re in trouble.

Now I don’t really buy some of the “moral virtue” stuff out there, but I *do* believe there is no such thing as a free lunch. We’ve pinned our economic growth on deficit spending (both nationally and as individuals). Worse still, it seemed like a free lunch because of easy, cheap credit.

Credit bubbles never last and the piper has to be paid. We have many years of growth that will be paid for with many years of debt payments.

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avatar Randy Peterman

I don’t want to be a pessimist myself but I do want to point out that the non-publishing of important financial information such as the M3 by the Federal Reserve Board means that we’ve got even greater government involvement in the stock market with almost no public notification of exactly what they’re doing. It is disheartening to say the least.

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avatar plonkee

The American empire is nothing like the Roman empire. Mostly because there is more elsewhere.

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avatar Modern Worker

Sorry, can’t agree with you here buddy. I appreciate you taking the time to write this, however America is nowhere near falling apart.

Cheers, Modern Worker

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avatar lynn

Morals has a lot to do with the health of a country. Families are the strong foundation of any society. Crack the foundation, and the building falls. So simple, yet so difficult.

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