The decline of America — 1978 to 2016


Decline of America

“When I was twenty-one, it was a very good year…
But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of my years
And I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs…”
— It Was A Very Good Year, composed by Ervin Drake and popularized by Frank Sinatra.

I was 21 in 1978. It was a very good year for me.
It was also a very good year for America. That was the conclusion of The Guardian on June 19, 2013:

In or around 1978, America’s character changed. For almost half a century, the United States had been a relatively egalitarian, secure, middle-class democracy, with structures in place that supported the aspirations of ordinary people. You might call it the period of the Roosevelt Republic. Wars, strikes, racial tensions and youth rebellion all roiled national life, but a basic deal among Americans still held in belief if not always in fact: work hard, follow the rules, educate your children and you will be rewarded, not just with a decent life and the prospect of a better one for your kids, but with recognition from society, a place at the table.

I consider two other alternatives as the high-level years for the United States; 1946 when the United States had more than 50 percent of the world’s GDP and 1966 when the Dow briefly touched 1,000, a mark which would not be broached again for 15 years.
Fareed Zakaria of CNN fame claims that, “The world has shifted from anti-Americanism to post-Americanism.” In other words, except in the Muslim world, the United States is becoming too insignificant to hate. A weak economy, mounting debts, second rate education, indecisive leadership and an expanding chasm between liberals and conservatives on moral and economic issues are a clear indication that America is in a steep decline which can be slowed but not arrested.

Decline of wealth

  • In 1978, the United States was the world’s largest creditor. In 1985 the U.S. had become a debtor nation for the first time since World War I.
  • In 1978, U.S. federal debt totaled less than $800 billion. Today it is $19.2 trillion and growing.
  • In 1978, U.S. consumer debt was slightly more than $300 billion. Estimates suggest that it will reach $1 trillion this year.
  • In 1978, 9 million automobiles were manufactured in the United States. Despite the surge in automobiles around the world the U.S. manufactured 5.7 million cars and trucks in 2015.
  • In 1978, there were 18.8 million manufacturing jobs. Today there are slightly more than 12 million manufacturing jobs. Since January 2000, the U.S. has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs, an indication that the reversal in manufacturing that began in the 90s is drastically worsening.

U.S. manufacturing employment, January 1970-December 2014 (millions of jobs)

U.S. manufacturing employment graph
Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015
In many ways Osama bin Laden won with his attack on 9/11. He and a few hundred terrorists did not just take down the Twin Towers; they permanently altered America’s economic landscape. While the U.S. was already in decline, the repercussions of that attack included spying by the federal government on its own citizens and a security apparatus that belies what America once stood for.

Decline of morality

In 1978 I pretty much had the same morals as my parents and grandparents. Nearly 40 years later the moral compass is broken largely because of the progressive liberals like President Barack Obama, who insists on special privileges for any handful of malcontents who cry that their civil rights have been trampled on.

  • In 1978, illegal Mexicans were rounded up and deported back to Mexico. In 2016 they are coddled in sanctuary cities like San Francisco. Words like racism are tossed at any and all that complain that the law is being broken by these illegals.
  • In 1978, homosexuality was frowned upon. Just five years earlier it was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. As a result it was kept in the closet. Today it is openly celebrated by Obama. Anyone who does not embrace this “freedom” is labelled homophobic.
  • Police, once the bedrock of urban centers, have become hunted by criminals and liberal prosecutors out for political gain.
  • In 1978, the United States was called a melting pot as immigrants were eager to assimilate in a fusion of nationalities, cultures and ethnicities. Obama has encouraged ethnic division within the United States.
  • In 1978 Muhammad Ali beat Leon Spinks in a rematch and became the first man to win the World Heavyweight Championship three separate times. Ali was seen as a man of peace and he transcended boxing. He was for millions the face of Islam. Last Sunday we saw elements of Islam as a lone, armed Muslim killed 50 people and wounded 53 others at a LBGT nightclub.
  • In 1978, America was saddled by the ineptitude of President Jimmy Carter. But a man that would put America back on its feet, Ronald Reagan, was in the early stages of running for the presidency.

Obama is the root of America’s problem

The latest edict from the Obama administration, issued jointly by the departments of Education and Health and Human Services, recommends that states instruct young students in-home languages differently than English and encourages them to retain separate cultural attachments.
The policy statement calls for a range of practices, from creating curricula and educational systems that “support children’s home language development,” to urging states to hire more teachers who “speak the language and/or share the cultural background of children who are DLLs [dual language learners] in the community.”
I find it startling that Obama has a current approval rating of 51 percent. The nation is still suffering from his economic policies. In fact, no other post-modern president has failed to deliver at least 3 percent economic growth in any one year.
It is an amazing outcome when you consider that the Federal Reserve has held interest rates at record lows and purchased enormous amounts of debt. The Fed now holds more than five times the amount of securities it held prior to Obama taking office.
The Fed’s balance sheet expanded from $850 billion in 2008 to more than $4.4 trillion today. The questionable value of these securities, as well as the Fed’s various lending programs, has led many to question the financial wherewithal of the Fed.
I am not 100 percent sold on Donald Trump, but like millions of people, I hope he has the vision and strength to help give Americans the national unity and wealth we once enjoyed. I am, however, 100 percent convinced that the presumed nominee for the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton is more corrupt than former President Richard Nixon but lacks his strengths in diplomacy. Clinton will be a continuation of the ruinous policies, foreign and domestic, of Barack Obama.
In 1978, Bill Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas, and by his side was his politically ambitious wife Hillary. It was one of the few exceptions to what was otherwise a very good year.
Yours in good times and bad,
— John Myers