Before I get into the review, I have an announcement for frequent readers. I’ve decided to spend less time on reading and reviewing books and more time working on my new book about the Rocky Flats Plant and the Cold War. We intend to maintain a regular once a week schedule for expressions and commentaries, which might be associated with something that I’m drafting for the book. We will continue to do book reviews when we feel the urge, but it undoubtedly won’t be once a week. That notice made me want to spend more time working on the Rocky Flats book and less time on this review. This might be a short review for such a long and data-rich book.
The book by Patrick J. Buchanan is not a fun book to read. It chronicles numerous aspects of American life and government that are in decline or collapse. It is well over 400 pages of despair. I was curious whether Buchanan would provide any hope at the end of the book, and I must say the hope offered by the final paragraph is tepid, at best. “And the crises that afflict us—culture wars, race division, record deficits, unpayable debt, waves of immigration, legal and illegal, of people never before assimilated, gridlock in the capital, and possible defeat in war—may prove too much for our democracy to cope with. They surely will, if we do not act now.” It’s tough to find a positive message in that, especially with our dysfunctional government and (commentary alert) lack of leaders willing to submit themselves to our increasingly brutal election process.
I must admit that I’ve never been a “Buchanan fan,” although I also admit that reading this book made me admire his ability to identify and explain important historical facts despite that they aren’t fun reading. I’ll give the example of “Fruits of Free Trade” that begins on page 15. Buchannan mentions it could be more appropriately titled, “An Index of the Decline and Fall of Industrial America.”
- From 2000 to December 2010, industrial production fell for the first time since the Depression and America lost 3 million private sector jobs
- One in three manufacturing jobs disappeared
- We ran trillions of dollars in trade deficits
- China now holds the mortgage on America
The most disturbing comment is that “…the cumulative current account deficit of the United States from 2000 through the third quarter of 2010 exceeded $6 trillion. To finance it, we had to borrow $1.5 billion abroad every day for ten years.” (Emphasis added)
Not depressing enough? A detailed analysis of who pays taxes and who does not does not encourage that all Americans have the same goals. As of the date of publication the top 1 percent paid 44.42% of taxes, but the Progressives hammer on the fact that “isn’t a fair share.” “The hardest-working and most productive Americans are being bled, and Obama plans to increase the number of free riders.” The government is sending checks to people who pay no income tax (who often complained because the rates on tax payers were reduced). It is also depressing that “Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employers for nine years in a row.” “Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation…The federal compensation advantage has grown from $30,415 in 2000 to $61,998 last year.” The number of federal workers earning more than $150,000 increased tenfold between 2005 and 2010.
The story of food stamps is a good place to start to explain our current national addiction to government support. FDR, the Progressive President, had expressed the fear that “To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.” By February 2011, one in seven people were on food stamps.
The description of demography is also depressing. By 2050:
- One in every six East Europeans, 50 million people will vanish
- Germany, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Ukraine will lose 53 million
- Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia will lose 2.3 million, or over a fourth of their populations
- Romania and Bulgaria will lose 10 million
- Europeans and North Americans were 28 percent of the world population in 1950 and will be 12 percent by 2050 (with a median age of about 50)
- No nation in Europe and North America have a birth rate sufficient to replace its population with the sole exception of Iceland
- Japan in on a path of national suicide with a projected loss of 25 million by 2050
The list goes on, and no solution is given. Young people no longer want to deal with the difficulties and expense of being parents (unless they are in Africa, the Middle East, South America, and some parts of Asia). Britain addressed their shrinking population with immigrants. The speech writer for the Labor government of Tony Blair revealed that there was a conscious decision to socially engineer a “truly multicultural” country and “rub the Right’s nose in diversity.” It is said that “…Hindus and Muslims and black British…are heavily concentrated in what has come to be called Londonistan.”
The chapter on “The Triumph of Tribalism” mentions the formation of new countries and names many that I didn’t know were countries. “A UN that began with 52 member nations now has 193 and counting.”
I recommend the book to anyone willing to skim, as I did, looking for information of interest.