Decline of the WestnA Western View on the Fall of the American CivilizationnImagine yourself going ahead in time — 60 years ahead.nImagine yourself in the People’s Republic of NorthnAmerica, in the year 2050.nby Richard D. Lammn-t^^–:;n^8i:^0nIn discussing the rise and fall of the American civilization,nit will be necessary to examine the situation at the last timenwhen historians felt this society could have saved itself fromndisintegration. Consequently, I will use statistics from thenearly 1980’s. Now nearly 70 years old, these figures remainnextremely important, because they prove that even thoughnthe warning signals of an empire in liquidation were flashingnall around, few did anything to retard the unraveling of thisnonce-marvelous civilization.nLike all other great civilizations that disintegrated, thenUnited States of America let its economy stagnate. In 1955nthe United States had 44 percent of the world’s economicnproduct, an economy eight times larger than Japan’s, thenworld’s highest productivity rate, an educational system thatnwas second to none, and a constant string of trade surpluses.nBy 1985 the generation in charge of America in the 60’snand 70’s had run up a $2 trillion debt, and the US slipped tonthe lowest rate of productivity growth of any in thenindustrialized world. It had the highest percentage ofnobsolete plants, the lowest percentage of capital investment,nand the highest number of functional illiterates in thenindustrialized world. What happened?nThe wealth of a nation lies in its productivity growth — innits people. In the early 1970’s the United States went fromnRichard D. Lamm, a former governor of Colorado, isnnow director of the Center for Public Policy andnContemporary Issues at the University of Denver.nT6/CHRONICLESn^m>n’^jiMw^^^r-j^^nnnmssMXif ^if “•’ ‘ ‘nj ^ ‘n^%^nthe highest rate of productivity growth in the industrializednworld to the lowest. Its productivity was one-half thenGerman rate, one-third the French rate, one-fourth thenJapanese rate. From the first oil shock to 1983, increases innannual productivity in the United States were roughlynone-seventh of those of its major trading partners.nSecond of all, it let its federal debt get out of control.nNeither political party was able to say no. The Democratsncouldn’t say no to social problems, and the Republicansncouldn’t say no to military spending. The debt was notnconsidered an economic problem, it was considered anpolitical problem.nSo by 1986, the federal debt for just that year was greaternthan the gross national product of 158 of the 167 countriesnin the world. Just to pay the interest on the federal debt costn$458 million a day, and it took the individual income taxnfrom everybody living west of the Mississippi River just tonpay the interest on the federal debt. The interest paymentsnon the federal debt took 70 to 80 percent of the nation’snsavings pool. Christmas is an occasion when children tellnSanta Claus what they want and adults pay for it; debt is annoccasion when adults tell the government what they wantnand the kids pay for it.nThe next disabling factor was the trade deficit, which wasnat least partly caused by the overvalued dollar, which was innturn caused by the federal debt. In 1983 the United Statesnran up the largest trade deficit that history had ever seen.nThe following year it doubled. In 1985 the United Statesnbecame a debtor nation and in 1986 it became the world’snlargest debtor nation — owing more than Argentina, Brazil,nand Venezuela put together. In the decade leading up ton1986 the United States bought almost one-half trillionn