As the close of this difficult decade draws near, some are tempted to assume the cycle of economic decline we have experienced will once again be followed by prosperity. But the past decade of American policy, and the past year particularly, recall the Roman poet Juvenal’s critique of his contemporaries as eschewing their civic and military responsibilities for “bread and circuses.”
Over the past decade, federal government spending reached the $400 billion level; in this past year, it has more than quadrupled. In the past decade, the dollar has continually lost value; in the past year, there has been serious and persistent discussion of abandoning it as the world’s reserve currency.
In the past decade, financially sophisticated people have understood that our current rate of entitlement spending would result in an eventual crisis necessitating massive, painful spending cuts or massive, permanent tax increases; in the past year, the Administration and Congress are attempting to institute a massive, new trillion-dollar entitlement.
Imagine a family — a dysfunctional one — that has used up all their savings, credit cards, home equity line of credit and retirement fund — but want to go on one last grand vacation using up the kids’ college funds.
The bread and circuses lack of seriousness is even more acute in military affairs. After Pearl Harbor, Americans fought the Japanese and their fascist allies in Europe to defeat. After 9/11, Americans were told we needed to fight a war on…”terror.”
If you can’t name your enemy, you can’t defeat it. The strategic errors and weak public support for America’s wars in the past decade are the result of the strange unwillingness to educate the public on the Islamofascist threat to American power, freedom and democracy. In the past year, this policy confusion has turned to outright appeasement and defeatism.