Is This The End of the American Century?

This site features updates, analysis, discussion and comments related to the theme of my book published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2008 (hardbound) and 2009 (paperbound).

The Book

The End of the American Century documents the interrelated dimensions of American social, economic, political and international decline, marking the end of a period of economic affluence and world dominance that began with World War II. The war on terror and the Iraq War exacerbated American domestic weakness and malaise, and its image and stature in the world community. Dynamic economic and political powers like China and the European Union are steadily challenging and eroding US global influence. This global shift will require substantial adjustments for U.S. citizens and leaders alike.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Is The U.S. Becoming Third World?

Rosa Brooks, writing in the Los Angeles Times, has a clever but sobering column entitled "Hey, U.S., Welcome to the Third World!":

It's not every day that a superpower makes a bid to transform itself into a Third World nation, and we here at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund want to be among the first to welcome you to the community of states in desperate need of international economic assistance.
She also points out the many aspects of domestic decline in the U.S.:
Now you are facing the consequences. Income inequality has increased, as the rich have gotten windfalls while the middle class has seen incomes stagnate. Fewer and fewer of your citizens have access to affordable housing, healthcare or security in retirement. Even life expectancy has dropped.
Partly tongue-in-cheek, she offers World Bank and IMF assistance to help bail out the U.S. economy.

But this is not so far-fetched after all. In fact, in 2004, the International Monetary Fund issued a report (see p. 17 of my book) raising concern, even then, about the consequences of the U.S. debt for the stability of the world economy. It fretted about the potential insolvency of the U.S., warning that "large U.S. fiscal deficits posed a significant risk for the rest of the world." The IMF economists calculated that closing the deficit gap in the U.S. would require a permanent 60 percent hike in taxes, or a 50 percent cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits.

So while the U.S. is far from Third World status, it's fiscal and economic problems pose serious problems for the whole world.

(Thanks to my Butler colleague Vivian Deno for calling my attention to the column by Rosa Brooks).

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