The West found its ultimate expression in the United States where mostly European Christian immigrants and their diseases cheerfully brushed the comparatively primitive natives aside and built a new society relatively unimpeded. Given their origins, the result was naturally an ambitious, hard-working, Christian and 18th century politically liberal society where big business and small government both had to respect the demands of citizens while independent Catholic and Protestant churches, disciplined by their competition, helped restrain the powerful. Corruption was minimized, personal responsibility was maximized and it helped make the Protestant work ethic famous. It became an advertisement of capitalism and of a large scale economy. And with linguistic and social uniformity to help, it became rich and powerful relatively quickly. Its example influenced and helped accelerate socio-political development in Europe and eventually elsewhere. But neither societies nor their governments are static; attaining success has never guarantee retaining it..
Dour, restrictive Judeo-Christian morality reflects human biology better than it reflects human behavior. The advent of cheap, easy female contraception defenestrated permanent marriage, female sexual reserve, the primacy of the family and the sanctity of human life. With so many Commandments of the Judeo-Christian Decalogue dismissed, a little application of some enlightenment thought quickly accounted for most of the rest, completing the process with the interment of God. Although restrained by a strong Christian residue, the West has become essentially a post-Christian society. Its elected governors have predictably, lost little time finding advantage in adapting.
Without God, the post of Lawgiver devolves to human government and its might is right. In democratic societies morality becomes ongoing negotiation between the voters and the politicians; compulsory public education becomes a primary tool for political indoctrination. In the United States, Common Core Curriculum pursues uniformity among locally governed public schools; the result seems effective for indoctrination, unimpressive for education, and expensive. That is unsurprising; politicization naturally compromises what it touches. That effect increases with the size of the government and such growth is implicit.
Growth is a government imperative. Increased staff and responsibility raise bureaucrat salaries and authority; along with the power and electability of politicians. At some point, most workers in a growing government will come to earn more than their private economy counterparts. Where this is prevented, corruption typically expands to help fill the difference. Growth offers something to nearly everyone in government. However, governments are economic vampires that produce no wealth but consume or divert the resources of those who do. Expanding governments interweave their economies, stultifying them with politicization. Politics is no substitute for economics when profits are needed, a reality that is the bête noir of central planners. Consider the organized labor laws: U.S. labor unions successfully parlayed political support into wage increases until employers went offshore for cheaper labor while immigrants and new machines replaced U.S. workers. Elected union bosses deemphasize the future just like their government counterparts. Politics subverts but cannot overcome economics.
While America’s government has grown; its middle class and private sector unions share decline. Its once iconic housewife was demoted to a working mother earning less than her husband. The resulting politicization has decreased that gap at the men’s expense. The government growth has preempted an increasing share of U.S. Gross Domestic Product; inflationary policies have devalued workers’ already constrained earnings, widening wealth inequality. Unsurprisingly, the middle class decline has contributed to growing poverty. In effect, government grew with crony labor unions until foreign competition interfered; from there, it has grown toward oligarchy with crony corporate bosses. Once the mainstay of the economy, now America’s middle class is rejoining the enlarging proletariat, diminishing economic prospects..
Ever increasing social welfare programs and international military adventures have bought votes, fattened corporate purses and magnified government by means of deficits and debt. Currently, that debt amounts to about $143,000 for every living American taxpayer. To ease and grow the borrowing, the Federal Reserve has expanded the money supply and depressed interest rates, leading to inflated housing and stock market prices. Such policies depress the middle class particularly and the economy generally by interfering with the accumulation of secure savings and devaluing the consumer’s dollar. The Federal Government is not the only borrower from the cornucopia of endless, cheap money; every citizen’s share of all of the country’s debt securities and loans from all sectors approaches $250,000. Facing this, almost 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 saved. This is unsustainable. Politicized, irresponsible finances have become common in the West and elsewhere. In summary, Congress and the Federal Reserve have bought the voters, enriched the capitalists and expanded the government and its worldwide informal empire by manipulating the currency at the expense of the middle class and the U.S. financial system. The bill for that is about to come due in the U.S. and many other places.
The reckoning has arrived via the COVID – 19 pandemic: The U.S. and most other governments have adopted draconian restriction of human contact and travel that have closed businesses, schools and churches, thrown millions into unemployment and nearly paralyzed entire industries. The economic impact of these actions has been deferred by widely distributed welfare provisions but the money – trillions – was borrowed. Governments have added economic depression to the pandemic, bankrupting small businesses and impoverishing people. Compounding the imminent impact of all this, it has been built upon a foundation laid by the 2008 Financial Recession, the causes of which had been papered over with fiat money bailouts instead of curative bankruptcies and financial retrenchment. The result resembles a house that appears attractive to those unaware that it is riddled with termites and the continuing profligate spending is the wind that will bring it down..
Though largely unadvertised, the impending inflation and financial collapse is no secret. Government planners have been preparing for years in anticipation. They hope to eliminate or at least minimize the use of cash, replacing it with more traceable and controllable electronic payments. They would like to equip every citizen and their cars with trackable identification and a centralized dossier. Some hope to magnify pandemic welfare payments into a guaranteed minimum income, greatly magnifying dependency upon government. These, added to the existing travel policing, rapidly increasing political censorship and proliferating facial recognition capabilities have only to be combined to provide a U.S. version of the Chinese social credit citizen control system. The coronavirus pandemic’s extra constitutional lockdown controls of individuals and businesses are a new mode of governing in the United States, one that appears predictive. The two-party political system has evolved into a forced choice, increasingly hereditary oligarchical structure now being reinforced with controllable voting. People are arrested in predawn raids and jailed and deprived of their children for violating arbitrary civil orders of questionable legality. Unsurprisingly, U.S. corruption seems to be increasing as God, His churches and now the U.S. Constitution recede.. Summing up: The Judeo-Christian descendants of Rome – the West – who built the United States, evolved its classical liberal government and resulting modernity have transferred their allegiance from God and self-reliance to Government. That government has naturally responded by expanding into nearly every aspect of life, applying ever increasing control. The resulting conversion from dispersed economic to centralized political decisions is restricting individuals and stultifying the economy. The West is retreating from the leadership of human progress; this should not surprise. It is only another act in the play of human history, reprising the pattern of earlier societies and it is firmly embedded in human DNA. The same behavior that drives societies forward has the opposite effect when applied in a government. It only remains to be seen how much will be lost in the collapse, how long it will endure and from whence will come the next burst of restricted government with unrestricted human progress.