Comments for: Will 2013 mark the beginning of American decline? ANALYSIS Will 2013 mark the beginning of American decline? The threat comes from an unwillingness to have an honest conversation about the budget. Read More Will 2013 mark the beginning of American decline? Back to story → Guidelines for posting on bangordailynews.com The Bangor Daily News and the Bangor Publishing Co. encourage comments about stories, but you must follow our terms of service. Keep it civil and stay on topic No vulgarity, racial slurs, name-calling or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. The primary rule here is pretty simple: Treat others with the same respect you'd want for yourself. Here are some guidelines (see more): It should be noted this is not a comprehensive list. Don't insult one another or the subjects of BDN stories. You may be ticked off at what someone did or said, but you can explain that without resorting to name-calling or obscenity. 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E-mail us at email@example.com and let us know your username and where you posted or saw the comment. That's about it: Stick to writing about the stories; be civil; be kind; enlighten your neighbors. And we'll keep moderating posts to try to ensure everyone meets those standards. Anonymous Leaders lack courage – those that have it get thrown out. Americans want everything for nothing. They think it is their right – it’s not. Anonymous I agree. We now have more wagon riders than wagon pullers, and they vote for more socialist idea minded officials. I am saddened by the lack of patriotism. Whatever happened to “ask not what can my country do for me, ask what I can do for my country”? Anonymous If you are not physically disabled, and have a drivers license, and are on welfare, you should not be allowed to vote. I’m not talking about all those who have retired. They have paid their way into the system. As for the mentally handicapped, if they can be trusted to drive, they can get a job. Anonymous Facist idea that. Anonymous Are you being facetious or are you just being a liberal? Anonymous Neither. Anonymous Sorry but it has to be one or the other, I was going to use stupid but that gets me Censored by the moderators Anonymous Guy down the road from me has no arms, he uses his feet to drive,eat,write checks raises foster kids and works full time.Hard for me to understand what some others consider disabilities and sit home and collect.Really makes me feel like a s##@ when I start to feel sorry for myself and I see him. Anonymous Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If we held everyone to this standard, just think how prosperous this country would be. I’ll bet your neighbor never fells sorry for himself. Anonymous That was my point he is my reality check. Anonymous Liberals see the mentally disabled as a down trodden voting block Anonymous I don’t know about getting everything for nothing, but since we’ve been around, from colonial times through to the recent past, Americans holding power have gotten a lot for cheap, particularly when it comes to good land and resources. That’s not true anymore, and it bothers them to no end. As for JFK’s cold war slogan, uttered in his inauguration, how deeply did it strike the national consciousness? If it was widely held, it began to slip on November 22, 1963, and continued on that path through the following decades. “What can I do for my immediate community” has had a greater pull on most of us for obvious reasons, but even that has been on the skids, it seems, but that’s meat for another discussion. Anonymous The decline began 4 years ago and 2013 will show how fast that speeding locomotive has gained. Our leaders are cowards and yet we continue to put more of them in office. An example about to happen is john kerry. How can a collapse not happen? Anonymous a Susan Rice fan, I see. Anonymous Too funny! Anonymous No the decline has been going on for decades the last four years have just been the beginning of the end. Anonymous Dec. 21 didn’t happen, we’re still around. Anything else? Anonymous I never thought the world was ending, Hell I don’t even expect the nation to end, just decline to the point where the people will wish that it had. My prediction is that it never will the citizens of this nation will rise up and take care of the traitors trying to make us a part of the one world government. Stephen P. Gorman No. Our current decline began with the election of Ronald Reagan and the adoption of Arthur Laffer’s supply side economic theory resulting a distortion of the American economy. More simply – it was a policy driven scenario where the GINI Coefficient increased over time to a near winner take all. Moreover, this process was entirely mindful, not accidental. It is not too late to take corrective measures. Anonymous The corrective measure for a high Gini coefficient is usually called ‘spreading the poverty’ – a job the Democrats have already taken on with gusto. Robert Karl Skoglund “Our current decline began with the election of Ronald Reagan” Winner take all. The big are eating the small. In recent years in my own county alone I have seen big box stores eat dozens of family-owned businesses. About the only thing you can buy in downtown Rockland today is a Wyeth print and a bowl of fish chowder. Capitalism in America is now no more than a drawn out poker game. There will come a day when a billionaire will push his chair away from the table, stand up, and say, “The game is over. Thanks to our wonderful regressive tax structure, I’ve got it all.” The humble Farmer ChuckGG As a former Republican who went Independent this year because the GOP today is all about social issues, I bought into the supply-side economics. I would say that in general the idea is not bad. There are lots of ways to skin a cat, I suppose. The problem we experienced, as I see it, is that instead of the wealthy taking the savings they made in reduced taxes and reinvesting those funds into manufacturing jobs using modern equipment to thus reduce the production costs and be able to compete with such forces as China, those funds were invested in far more liquid assets on Wall Street, a great deal of which turned out to be of quite questionable value. Why take the risk to build a new factory when companies could be in/our of the stock market quickly? Instead, the current factory production was sent offshore and our factories were allowed to rust-out until they were of utterly no value. Then, once all worth has been extracted from them, the factories were shuttered and the people sent home. We did little to compete globally and the middle-class was allowed to swing in the breeze. So, we now have an emphasis on becoming a service industry country, yet we continue to cut education. I am in the IT field and I can tell you the people coming from China and India are technically well-trained and skilled. What we have that most of them do not are management and design skills. I cannot say I see a lot of creativity in many of my offshore employees. Design, management, and ideas, still come from the USA with the grunt labor of getting the IT project out the door coming from India and China. Now, that certainly is speaking in generalities. China realizes all this. We know the iPhone is built in China but conceived and designed in the USA. China wants in 10 years to have that part of the business, too. And, they will get it. The next great idea may well come from China or India. And, yet, here we are, clinging to an old Capitalist design that everything will be handled on the free market. This is a design to fight an economic war of yesterday. We cannot win this battle using yesterday’s weapons. We could have owned the solar panel business. China dumped $6B into it. Us? $500M to one company that failed. The USA needs to make these heavy investments in education and infrastructure or we will be left in the dust. We also should open our doors to immigration to get young people into our colleges and universities and then offer them citizenship/residency for working in their field in our country for a period of 5 years. Once established here, they are unlike to return to their own countries and taking their skills learned here, back there. I remain optimistic despite all this. What annoys me is this never-ending litany from the naysayers who want us to return to a non-existent 1950’s when we should be looking forward and preparing, like the rest of the planet, for the new economy. We can continue to lead the world but we cannot do it by resting on our laurels while our infrastructure, educational levels, and immigration policies, continue to crumble around us. a dope boy Here’s the catch, you no longer need that great idea to survive in a global economy. The only thing holding back the ‘mother land’ a.k.a. China is their population. They are simply to top heavy. Thin that down to even our size and they own the economic world. India faces even a greater population problem. They have more people then we do only in the size of Texas. Resting on those laurels was our greatest, i.e. our inventions. The best thing America could do is to go into isolationism, if not forever then at least for the next 30 -40 years. Seal up the country. Keep our trade secrets in house, our inventions and stay the hell out of everyone’s business’s. We really don’t need the rest of the world to survive. We have been sold out by the investor’s on Wall-Street and by our neighbors who play the stock market. If you take away that scenario, they could all legitimately be lined up and shot. Anonymous I agree with much of what you are saying but much of what you are advocating is being worked on, just in a very assinine ways. Our infrastructure is being worked on; bridges to no where are being built, multi lane highways with no expected traffic increases, passenger rail but not freight rail, new buildibgs built while existing buildings are sitting empty. Our immigration policies are allowing cheap labor in to fill the few entry level jobs while keeping out those capabile to fill needed higher level positions. By filling the entry level positions with immigrants, predominantly illegal, and depriving our own young people of the chance to develop work ethic and develop work skills. therefore helping to destroy our middle class. Our education system is still one of the best, students from all around the world come to attend our universerties attending technical classes while students from the US are attending basket weaving and getting degrees in humanities, that were at one time taken to “round out” an education but had little to do with the core subject. Our Primary and Secondary systems are a mess some schools are wonderful while some are utter failures. Even the wonderful school systems have problems though, we “invest” millions in students that will never really acheive success at the primary level, and conversly “invest” millions bringing college level courses to high school while leaving more than half of our students to languish in classes that will prepare them for the entry level positions that are being filled by illegal immigrants and keeping the wages of those jobs as low as possible and make the wages of social programs a better life path. I believe this is the purpose of some running the US government. ChuckGG Thanks. I agree with some of what you are saying but perhaps not the causes. Infrastructure: The idea of have an Infra-structure bank similar to USAID would allow the government to guarantee construction loans. This is essentially the Hoover Dam model and worked well. Rail: The freight rail companies are doing well and are over capacity for the current track available. We need passenger rail in the NE corridor but not in Wyoming. Of course, we don’t need water projects in the NE but we do in the SW, so to each area what is needed should be done. Everywhere passenger rail has been restored, businesses have sprung up. Look at 5 round-trips a day with Amtrak PWM-BOS. Yes, it is subsidized but so is every other transportation mode. Illegal immigration: Farmers this year had crops rot on the vines as they could not get local workers to pick the product. The local people would not do that kind of manual labor for minimum (or lower) wages. Increase the wages and food prices soar. We need a migrant farm worker program. The migrant farm workers “stealing” American jobs is just not accurate. There are jobs such as precision machinists that go unfilled. Those with a college education have under 5% unemployment. With only a high-school education the numbers rise to around 7.5%. And, those high-school dropouts? Over 12%. Education: There is no question we have great colleges and universities. That is why people travel from all over the world to come here. But, now it has become ludicrously expensive for American citizens to attend any college. The GI Bill program after WWII raised our education level to all-time highs and from that we gained the space program and the technologies we enjoy today. Those GIs came back from the WWII, got educated, and created modern America. It was an investment by the government in the people and it paid us back many, many times over. The primary and secondary schools: It’s pretty obvious how all this works. I live in Montgomery Country, Maryland, but am from Maine and still have a home there. MC and Fairfax County, VA, are always head-to-head as the wealthiest counties in the country. They also are the best educated with high levels of Masters and Ph.D.’s The parents here demand high quality education for their kids, are actively involved in their education, and are willing to pay the property taxes to ensure the schools are the best. They know the difference a great education makes. Let’s contrast that will some nearby and less affluent counties – their education levels are not nearly as good. The solution is not to throw money at it and hope it gets better. It takes great educational leaders, teachers, administrators, and, yes, lots of money to adequately pay them. I have been asked to teach a college course. I thought it would be great fun. I look at the salary and there is just no way I could begin to take that kind of a pay cut. The concept lost of most of the Tea Party crowd who seem to have a very narrow view of the world, is that we are making an investment in the future. It won’t pay off in 30 days. It will pay off in 30 years. These problems are all solvable but they require long-term planning and long-term investment. However, every 4 years we usually change administrations and start over at square-one. Anonymous As well as the Federal Reserve has worked for us I suspect that a federally controlled “infrastructure bank” would just become another boondoggle. Passenger rail service has helped Boston, how? And businesses have sprung up in Portland? Which? I would personally love to have decent public transportation; I can no longer drive because of vision issues, but in a state as rural as Maine public transportation is not viable. Why won’t American workers take the farm jobs? Predominantly because they are paid to not do these jobs. Would paying better wages to legal farm workers cause a rise in food prices, probably but it could be offset by lower government cost when people on welfare start working. Why do you assume the illegal immigrants are only taking Farm jobs? They are in food processing, construction, forestry, manufacturing, hospitality and I assume almost any other industry you can name. Yes precision machine jobs and other technical positions go unfilled, but why? Education you will say, but I suggest most of it is because of government interference and to a certain amount the educational system. Many of these technical positions can, and probably should, be filled if the companies will run OJT programs and then not expect the trainee to accept slave wages after training is complete. At one time this was the way to get technical training. Education with no experience is not really valuable. Many times, as a non degreed technician, it fell to me to help a degreed engineer learn basics that were never taught in the university. I was also taught many things by engineers that I worked with. Why is higher education so expensive today? Much of the problem is that the Government “invests” so much into it. Every time the government increases the money provided to students the University increases cost an equivalent amount plus a little more. The government and the educational system continuously raise the educational requirements for jobs therefore lowering the value of higher education, all the while making the education more expensive. The GI bill helped many people in many ways but was it an investment by the government or a delayed payment for services rendered? Investing in to veterans that had earned that education was investing in a pretty well known quantity, where subsidizing education for people with little or even no life or work experience is at best a crap shoot. That has not paid off in many cases. Primary and secondary education is failing in this country for many reasons; the most egregious reason is the Federal government’s interference. If the Federal government has ANY duty here it is to make sure that the States are doing their jobs with respect to education, but the States only real responsibility is to make sure the local schools are educating students enough to become decent citizens. If we are being honest schools are not graduating decent citizens. By decent citizens I refer to reading, writing, arithmetic, and enough government/civics/history to be able to make logical electoral decisions. Most teachers and even some administrators are under paid but look at the levels of money paid to schools for administration and you can see vast amounts of waste. The small school district here has a superintendant, assistant superintendant, business manager, food administrator, transportation administrator, multiple secretaries, 2 principals, two vice principals, again secretaries and assistants, maintenance supervisors for both buildings, cafeteria managers and this is for just the K-8 buildings there is another whole other administration for the high school district. We are also a fairly affluent town but the results vary from wonderful to marginal and we do have a few failures. Few of the parents in town are uninterested in their children; most even make it to teacher conferences if they don’t have to attend with exs. Yes the teachers have many conferences with the mother and father separately. The fact that the Federal and State governments change with regularity is a reason to not have them involved beyond setting reasonable minimum standards. ChuckGG I’ll try to address some of your issues but what I am reading is mostly “reaction” and not a lot of facts behind it. USAID – I worked for an International Development Bank for 11 years and I found the creation of infrastructure in South America (our focus area) quite beneficial. The US and other countries with money provided loan guarantees that back commercial loans. The US made money not only in interest but in sales that were directed back to the USA to provide the goods and services to complete these projects. The USA hard-cash backing amount to about 3%. It was a good deal. We need to duplicate that in the USA. Amtrak: Check out Brunswick’s new station with new businesses. People are traveling 5 round-trips per day and it must be for business. The former Brunswick Naval Air Station will be aided by this rail service. There are plans to expand passenger rail. It won’t go to your front door but it will go to critical areas. Start being an optimist instead of a naysayer. >>>>”Why won’t American workers take the farm jobs? Predominantly because they are paid to not do these jobs. Would paying better wages to legal farm workers cause a rise in food prices, probably but it could be offset by lower government cost when people on welfare start working. Why do you assume the illegal immigrants are only taking Farm jobs? They are in food processing, construction, forestry, manufacturing, hospitality and I assume almost any other industry you can name.” I disagree. I live in an area where the county had to raise the minimum wage to $10/hour in order to get ANY workers to come here. I think you believe people on welfare are all shiftless bums. To the contrary, many cannot work, are disabled, old, have no skill sets. Sure, there are scofflaws in every system but no one is giving these jobs away in lieu of people on welfare. In my area, a trip to McDonald’s late at night will find a large number of hard-working Hispanic people from all over who are busting their chops to work an honest day’s living. Also, how exactly would higher food prices be offset in the marketplace by less people being on the government dole? There won’t be more food purchased and the government does not set food prices. According to this, only about 8% of the population is on welfare. That includes everyone, including the scofflaws. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_percentage_of_people_in_US_are_on_welfare Clearly, you seem to hate the government and believe it has no value and should be shut down. Your comment about government interference (what interference?) in education is causing the education lapse. Hardly. If you think a company in this competitive day and age is going to do OJT with no help, you are wrong. Some companies have started their own schools but what seems to be working well is a joint government/company training program that helps get people off welfare and into a job while not burdening the company with the full cost of training an individual. I don’t see the government interference to which you refer and you did not cite any examples. I believe if we look at the education in different geographic areas based upon economic wealth, the results speak for themselves. The more affluent areas with better education demand and get the best education. There is more parental involvement. And, on the flip side, look at history and even today and see the poor areas in the southern part of the USA and compare their educational levels. The Feds can set all the standards they want for primary and secondary education but unless the funds and management are there, nothing will happen. Look at the success stories on some of the inner-city charter schools. Amazing. These kids have the skills and the willingness to learn if the school and the parents become involved and if it is properly funded. With regard to the GI Bill and all that – yes, those returning soldiers earned that education. That does not mean that we should not provide affordable State University education for our kids. That is the whole point with a State University system – affordable education for the middle class. However, it does seem very affordable to many. I would propose a free or greatly reduced tuition, based upon need, for residents of the State with the agreement they keep their grades up and they work in the State, in their field, post-graduation for a period of 4 years. This could be substituted with some kind of community service if their particular job does not exist. Delays and exceptions could occur, as needed, but the debt would remain until it is paid off in cash, or by fulfilling the agreement. Above all, I think you are giving far, far too much credit to “local control” of the educational system. I do not want the Feds micro-managing schools, but I also do not want the country to return to (and, in some cases, continue) these extremely low-grade schools you often see in the deep South and in poorer areas. We don’t have to worry about Portland, Camden, and my county in Maryland – they will do fine. What do you do about the dirt poor areas with no funds? Kids are our future and they all deserve a top-notch education. If you look at other countries, they know this. They know the future of their country rests on getting people educated and stopping the poverty/welfare cycle. This is a long-term problem that won’t be solved overnight but it needs to be solved. Let’s at least start with education and see how that works out. If we don’t, our two-class system in the USA will continue to grow, along with resentment by everyone. Anonymous Hiring practices at companies (and yes, universites) are what raise the academic achievement bars for employment. Stephen P. Gorman Sir, You’re describing two scenarios: A) The classic Bain Strategy of buying into company, loading it up with debt and increasing its paper value, then sell the company along with the debt which invariably turns out to be more than the new company can handle. Hewlett Packard is now going through something very similar with its acquisition of Autonomy. B) Sunbeam CEO Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap’s corporate shift away from illiquid assets to highly liquid assets like the time he turned the behemoth Scott Paper into a small contracting company that owned a licensed trademark. When these processes first appeared, people hailed them as the new efficiencies. History shows that they provide provide short term gain for some and long term pain for many. ChuckGG I agree. And, for the most immediate gain for their stockholders what happened was exactly what should have happened. Investors made millions and moved on. Their job is to make money for their investors, not to provide a source of long-term job stability for their hired middle-class workers. Tell me how this is going to be any different in the future. Anonymous The reason the grunt labor goes to China is the avg weekly wage is $14 bucks ,if I could get my employees to work for that I would be stylin’.You fail to recognize that little fact while expounding on the virtues of communist countries and denigrate the capitalists. ChuckGG Hardly. Companies could have made investments in modern equipment to be highly efficient, but they did not. That money went to questionable financial instruments on Wall Street and the factories here were allowed to rust-out. You also fail to recognize there is nothing we can do to change the compensation of Chinese workers. It will change of its own accord as more and more Chinese become middle class. We watched this happen in Japan, then Korea, and then China, as each manufacturer sought out lower wages. Right now, Vietnam is taking business away from China and some Chinese factories are being shuttered because of this. So, we have a choice. We can jump on this same bandwagon, or we can invest in the future. We make great space shuttles, incredible medical equipment, and just about anything high-tech. Toasters? We will never make a dime on those unless an iPad is somehow integrated into one. I am not “expounding on the virtues of communist countries and denigrate the capitalists.” That’s an emotional response. I am pragmatic. I want what works. We should learn from others and prepare ourselves for the economic battles of today and tomorrow and stop playing this holier-than-thou game of clinging solely to the pure capitalist model. If the Chinese government dumps $6B into solar panel design and production, we should dump $8B into making them faster, cheaper, and more efficient. If we wait around for the free-market to take care of this, it will analyze the situation, determine it is too high a risk, and invest in Chinese solar panel futures. That does nothing for job opportunities here for the middle class, or for us in the long-run as a nation. Anonymous check again, China is growing fast, there are common people staying in luxury hotels, more cars, more of everything… and they will continue to grow… until they return to where they were when they imposed paper money on the world – as a trade requirement. rural China will catch up quickly. Anonymous you need to check again .That is the exception not the rule Anonymous China can not grow fast enough to overtake her population increase. True she now has a middle class, BUT that includes (and I’m including lower middle here) only 300 million people. China has the burden of 1.2 Billion very poor unhappy folks. They have been putting out fires for the last ten years, but they haven’t yet the army or the diplomacy to keep these folks in check. Anonymous Some Chinese and Indians are well educated but lack good communication skills and are clueless about essentials of American life. Ever tried to get good service and be understood by off-shore “service” centers? ChuckGG Well, good communications skills by American standards, I would say. It is a cultural issues. I work in DC where every form of English I have heard a hundred times over, so I am somewhat used to it. All that said, no matter what your background or culture, you should be prepared to work well in the environment that is your audience. This seems to be lacking. I speak with Indian co-workers and they tell me they learn English and focus on writing and grammar, etc., but far less on speaking. That is quite evident as I often find the accent particularly difficult to understand even though the correct words are used. As a sidebar on this – you often hear from the isolationists in our country about how English should be made the “official language” of the country. Here is reality – after 3 generations, the kids have almost forgotten their native tongue. We saw it with every group that came to these shores – Irish, Italians, Germans, French – you name it. When I grew up in Maine, my friends’ grandparents spoke only French. My friends’ parents spoke both French and English. My friends spoke “some” French to converse with their grandparents. I suspect that is almost completely faded out by now and most of the “French kids” as we used to call them speak English, albeit with a Maine accent. Funny story: Mom & I were in Toronto at the Royal York. We had separate rooms a floor apart. She called me and asked me to come down and speak to the guy from housekeeping. She could not understand a word he was saying. I trotted down to Mom’s room and found Mom with her very heavy Maine accent trying to converse with a man from Jamaica – both speaking English but neither understanding anything the other was saying. I had to translate English to English between the two. Both of them I understood completely because my ear has been tuned to both accents. Both complained about the other “not speaking English.” Oh, well. Anonymous I agree. I would only add that Gingrich and his GOP Contract With America made Reagan’s trickle down economic plan almost impossible to fix. We are living with the results of that Contract still today with the intransigence of the GOP to work for America rather than their corporate bosses. One more thing, the economy nose dived shortly after Bush 2 took office in 2000 and personally I don’t know a single person who has recovered from that national debacle, both economic and in international issues. Anonymous Our current decline began with the election of T. Roosevelt and continued mostly unchecked over than a century that followed, and has come to where we are now. We are drowning in debt, owned by our government, have a ruling class bent on destroying us and the people unable or unwilling to see that the government is the problem. Anonymous Yeah, trustbusters suk. Pfft. Anonymous Do you ever make a comment that makes any sense? Because he pretended to bust up trusts doesn’t cover some of his other bad decisions. I could have said the problem started with Lincoln, and maybe it did, he did start the destruction of state soveringty. The South had every right to secede from the Union. Anonymous Nonsense. Anonymous I am not sure which of the three statements you feel are nonsense but all you prove is that you are not anywhere as wise as you pretend to be. truly sad Anonymous More nonsense. Anonymous I’ll vote for all of your pronouncements as misguided, possibly not total nonsense. Anonymous Wow. How antebellum of you. Anonymous How in heck am I “pre war”? that is what antebellum actually means. Anonymous I don’t know about you, but in the 80’s my wallet was full of $. I shudder to think of what would have happened if inept Jimmy Carter would have won re-elction. Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but I’d be willing to bet most people would trade today for the prosparity of the Reagan 80’s and the Clinton 90’s all day long. Anonymous Actually the “theatrics” belong totally to the special interests, right and left. If the feuding political parties can’t come to an agreement, the problem will fix itself. Taxes will go up, spending will be cut, and it will all happen automatically. This is the “poison pill” scenario that our self centered 1% political class set up to force themselves to act. I’m OK with the January fix. Yeah I’ll pay more, and get less, but Oh well, I still live in the best country in the world, where opportunity is available if you seek it . The “Seeking” will just take a bit more work in January than in December. It will still be easier than a poor boy seeking opportunity in Brazil (Where they shoot street children) or China (where the workers on assembly lines make the equivalent of $14 a week. NO ONE ever made a dime betting against the USA long term. Maybe our population needs to see what “less government” means. Maybe the up-coming generation will learn to be as strong, self reliant and community-minded as the children who grew up during the depression. If that happens, it will be worth a few years in the dust-bowl. Our country is based on the greatest Idea ever postulated by man. That citizens run the place. We have to get back to that principle and it may (unfortunately) take hard times to bring us there. One cut that people should demand if the January freeze comes around is that our elected government employees share the pain. Paying Snowe, King, Collins, Pingree & Michaud four times the State’s average wage is the kind of behavior that got us where we are. Symbolic though it is, the cuts should start there. Anonymous The people who want the government to think for and take care of them may not agree. The idea of standing on their own, making their own decisions and being self supporting is pretty scary to them. Anonymous Tell that to the Pentagon and to the Banks. They hog more government money than everyone else put together. Anonymous They too are about to get a pay cut, aren’t they? If it gets deep enough and hard enough, just maybe we can start pulling together. Anonymous that explain the hostess bonus packages to their execs……they were “all pulling together” after asking for concessions from their own employees wages and benefits, not only once, but at least twice significantly…..but they have enough greenbacks to show their appreciation to the execs? That’s what it is all about to you isn’t it? Money, and how much can be secreted to off shore banks. I remember a time when employees were the most important investment a company could make……..now it’s their ability to make sure they pad their wallets and show appreciation for those doing so. Anonymous I think the court had something to do with that. Ask the Court. Anonymous Good post Tux. It does kind of remind me though of the proverbial guy who always gets his rear end kicked in every walk of life and then somebody will walk up to him and say “well it could have been worse”. When we start measuring life in the USA by life in Brazil and China then we have fallen to a place that I’d never thought we’d see in my lifetime. How the mighty have fallen. I for one, don’t feel it’s too much to ask for congress to come together and for once put aside their disdain for each other with a measure for some new taxes say on people earning in excess of $400k and some meaningful spending cuts across the board including foreign aid. If I had to pay more taxes I’d like to have them directed to Medicare and Soc. Security as those two programs need to remain solvent. Anonymous Very well said and I would like to add one thing ………………………. WE the “AMERICAN” PUBLIC needs to make OUR elected officials understand that “THEY” work for “US” …………….. the “AMERICAN” PUBLIC …….. not for big banks, not for big oil, not for big pharmaceutical companies and especially NOT for foreign countries. It is time that “The UNITED STATES of AMERICA” takes care of its’ own “FIRST”. Anonymous The beginning of the decline ??? Robert Karl Skoglund “what I can do for my country?” Vote against our present regressive tax structure. “what I can do for my country?” If you’re earning over a million a year you can start by paying your fair share of income taxes. Those of us who read Dutch and Swedish newspapers know that the folks over there are amazed that Republicans are pulling the U. S. toward financial collapse by their refusal to tax the super rich. Northern Europeans come right out and say in print that the Republicans in the United States are crazy — financially irresponsible. Our friends in Northern Europe are scared because they know that when we go under we’re going to pull the rest of the world down with us. People in other countries are likely to see things differently than Americans because the TV news that they watch and the newspapers that shape their opinions are not owned by American or English billionaires. The humble Farmer Anonymous first sentence paying your fair share.LOL!!!.. With all the exemptions most middle class and lower income families pay ZERO in taxes.. They actully get a refund larger then they paid in.. Let them start paying their fair share. FLAT TAX everyone needs to pay 15% Anonymous Those of us that do not read Dutch and Swedish newspapers know that those that do are just crazy. Please do those of us that don’t feel that the answer to everything is government control and go to Sweden or the Netherlands. Anonymous Whats the obsession with what Europeans are doing or thinking. I am all in favor of everybody paying there fair share ie a flat tax everybody pays the same% no deductions or loopholes. Anonymous I am not sure what you are talking about Robert. The US has the single most progressive tax system in the world. We are named number one by none other than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In case you missed it Sweden and the Netherlands are members. http://www.oecd.org/general/listofoecdmembercountries-ratificationoftheconventionontheoecd.htm Whenever you venture an opinion along these lines you restrict yourself to Northern Europe. Why is that? Could it be your friends in Northern Europe are more afraid that our friends in Southern Europe (Spain Italy Greece) will pull them down as well? Anonymous lets do analysis of national health and and income status and social class division.. Lets consider how much is spent on the penal systems, and let’s also consider defense expenditures.. He’s referring to a nation’s overall health, as compared to others. He’s not speaking of one specific item of that health. Anonymous I can read. The poster said….”Vote against our present regressive tax structure.” That statement is patently false…. not only are the countries he is referring to less progressive in their tax structure, they agree with the idea that the US tax structure is the most progressive. When you Progressives get caught do you all say about each others statements…. “Well That’s not what he meant.” Anonymous I guess instead of the penal sys. we could use time outs and counseling. And as far as defense, I guess just put up NO TRESPASSING sign alone our borders. And as far as social classes go, this is one of the few countries in the world that you can be born with nothing and work your way to the top. Or you can choose to stay where you are and blame others for your failures. Anonymous Sadly, America’s decline started with the election on 2008! Anonymous The American people are getting just what they voted for. They knew what he was over the last four years and they voted “him” back in. It looks like going over the cliff is the only way to stop the uncontrolled spending. BonzoDog1 Main Street Republicans and — more importantly — Wall Street have finally become aware of what the TEA party wrecking crew is really all about, and it has nothing to do with the national deficit. A brand-new recession brought to you by House Republicans will put a serious hurt on corporate balance sheets, to say nothing of most Americans’ wallets. Grover Norquist, who nobody elected and is worshiped nonetheless, is the modern messiah if the devout right. Like the Army captain in Vietnam long ago, he truly believes that in order to save the village, he must burn it down. Americans have been trickled upon for more than three decades and our jobs have drained away as capital moves offshore for a better return on investment. When you’re in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging. Anonymous Decline started in 2009 when Obama took office! Anonymous Buy local, buy American, and worry about your own backyard. Everything else is a moot point. You have no control over state, national, or world politics. Greed and ambivalence has spun our economy out of control to the point where we as individuals have very, very little influence over our national destiny. Why beat your head against the wall over things you can not change? Anonymous And STOP voting for loony Republicans! Anonymous Stop voting for either of the two major parties period. They are both responsible for this mess. They have catered to the top 1% so well that they have destroyed the American dream for the other 99%. Alfred Newman The real decline of the US began with the US Supreme Court rulings of 1962. And will not end, if they ever do end, till the tree of liberty is once again watered with the blood of Patriots and traitors. Anonymous Voting district reapportionment? School prayer? ?????? Anonymous Are you THE Alfred “E” Newman??? The decline started much earlier that was just one of many low points in stupid decisions by the US Supreme Court. Anonymous deleted Anonymous Sad that the intent to divide Americans has worked.. For those whose think that borrowing money every year that we can’t ever pay back is going to work, well what can I say, it’s catching up.. both parties created this mess and no one will be exempt from the cost of fixing it.. Merry Christmas!!! Anonymous Sad but very very true. Anonymous Take her over the cliff, I am tired of the whole mess that we have gotten ourselves into,and if you think its all the republicans fault or all the democrats fault then you are quite foolish indeed.Neither one cares for anything other than themselves.We deserve the leadership we have got.2013 is going to be the year we all get to share in the hurt and hurt it will. But alas we will all continue to blame the other side and they will continue to laugh at us behind closed doors and act like they care in front of the camera.WE deserve the leadership we have. Anonymous The sin of it all is that while they point the finger at each other, they are are really on the same team and we are not smart enough to see it. Anonymous Agreed. Anonymous With John Boehner and the lost control of the House, “Teabaggers” running… the Nation will onloy go in one direction…DOWN! “Tip” O’Neill would never allow it to happen… Anonymous I am not sticking up for the republicans but you do realize the dems have had the executive and the senate for the last 4 yrs and the house for 2of them.Neither party is any good to any of us.They are only concerned with themselves. Anonymous I fully agree… Anonymous Why is Boner in the picture? Oh yea its the BDN Obummer can do no wrong Anonymous And he forgot to mention the wars….This year a military budget of $633 billion…Like the Roman Empire, the American Empire cannot sustain this…Nearly 1000 bases in 350 countries while American children go hungry, angry demented young men go on shooting sprees, homeless veterans sit on our sidewalks in the cold…. Anonymous Yeah so sad but oh so true. Anonymous America began its decline, when Reagan pulled the solar collectors from the Whitehouse. consider this, in 1966 Ford produced a car that got 35mpg, when the energy crunch hit (which was why the collectors wasn’t up), it didn’t sell them here. Now, for 2013, it has finally gotten back to advertising one that gets 33mpg.. as a nation, we are 40 plus years behind reality… this article just underscores that reality. “Saint Paul’s Joke” (2012,Amazon)- people talk about what is, but they never read what the facts declare reality to be. Betting against America has long been the safe bet… we came to prominence because of two world wars and our natural resources. New England was the safe bet when there were ships under sail and our wood was perfect for their construction … now nada! American resources, except coal, are almost gone… and coal cannot power planes or tanks, so our military is done. Anonymous If you go to the Bank today and ask for a loan on a 350,000 dollar house, with a salary of 45,000 dollars per year they are going to refuse you.. Durning the Frank, Dodd era you would have gotten that loan.. We all know that type of loan would be impossible to pay back.. So the Banks stopped lending money to people who couldn’t pay it back… Well the US Government is still working under the Frank Dodd Bill , They are trying to pay for the next 2 years budget by borrowing money from other countries that know for certain that the USA cannot pay it back.. They will stop loaning money shortly and all of this will be moot. Anonymous We’ve been in decline ever since 1789 when the Articles of Confederation were hijacked by a bunch of wealthy demagogues who were afraid of a powerful population…Get used to it. Anonymous No thanks. I’ll take post-AOC America any time. Anonymous The decline started with the 2008 election! 02b9c people who talk about the billionaire walking away from the table and saying i won, is the same guy who dosent invest in this country anyway, if a man has a company offshore and keeps his money offshore, then by all means send HIM offshore. Education and training is the only way to keep america moving in a good way, i thi nk we should invest heavily into schools and vocational trades and also investing in american companys who are in america. a dope boy Vocational trades I agree. We don’t need anymore bankers and stock brokers. America’s demise is not by accident. Prior to the 1940’s there was no such thing as a ‘middle class’. Roosevelt betrayed his own class, but more importantly the ‘middle class’ could not be stopped from happening because we manufactured, we where on the move with our factory’s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jQT7_rVxAE That’s what allowed people like my Uncle with barely an 8th grade education to purchase a home and a raise a family proper. Part of what has happen is we made the ‘middle class’ into something that was once considered high class, meaning every job now requires a college education and a $600,000 dollar home the new ‘middle class’ standard. Anonymous People have a number of opinions in the forum about when the decline began some said under Reagan another said under Obama still another said Roosevelt, one even said it was under Lincoln. All of these posters decided to point to a President as the one to blame. I don’t think it was any of them. I think it was a date. I think it was September 11th 2001. That date put stress on our country as none had before. Not even Dec 7th 1941 because on that date our country game together and out of it came a generation of prosperity like the world had never seen. Sept 11th 2001 exposed our countries fault lines like no other. The events that arose from that date threw one domestic group against another. It caused a national distraction that allowed China to to become an economic power. It led to a US economic decline and a system of tax breaks and stimulus all aimed at stemming the tide yet all unsuccessful. Each widening the fault lines. Rich vs poor …liberal Vs conservative with nary a member of the middle class nor a moderate to be found. I don’t think that China will be a world leader or any other country in the immediate future for that matter. Europe is a basket case as it teeters into a possible breakup of the EU. (That isn’t over btw) In any event Europe is almost a non-player as its percentage of world GDP declines as it is projected to do. (re: Obama’s Asian focus) I think that future historians will look back and see the US post WW2 period as humanities golden age and they are likely to mark Sept 11th 2001 as some kind of turning point. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot How far do we go back when deciding at what point America fell into decline? How about the Constitutional Convention of 1787 when they threw out the Articles of Confederation and drafted, in secret, our present constitution that created and lead to the leviathan central government we have now? Just my thoughts. Anonymous As posted before, the AOC was doomed from the start. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot I don’t know if I would say it was doomed from the start. It had it’s flaws that could have been fixed, but as they say, that’s all water under the bridge now. Anonymous The demise started when the Federal Reserve was allowed to control the money in the US. Before that we have treasury dollars backed by silver and gold.. If we went back to the US Treasury Dollars you could buy 8 gallons of gas for one US dollar today.. Time to send the Federal Reserve back to the Brits. Just like their Euro both are doomed to failure… The Value of the Britts Federal Reserve dollar that is backed by debt, is what will be the demise of the USA. A can of cream of chicken soup cost $1.50 not because it has that value but because the dollars is becomming worthless.. Yes it’s scary, but true. If they the US borrows 2 more trillon it will drop the value of the Federal Reserve dollar so that a can of cream of chicken will cost $3.00 per can.. . Time to get rid of the Problem and put in place what JFK put into law, yet to be implimented, that we go back to the US Treasury Dollar valued by gold and silver.. That will fix everything and that can of soup will go to 5 cents a can. Anonymous Guess who took us off the gold standard, a few decades late: Nixon. $35/ounce was unsustainable. Anonymous Interesting that the LBDN posted a picture of Boehner and not Obama. It’s almost like the LBDN is trying to convince the public that the fiscal cliff crisis is Boehner’s fault and not Obama’s. Who is the President, I ask? I believe it’s Obama, so why isn’t his picture on this article, laying the blame on him? Oh yeah, the LBDN is biased and the Republicans are all bad. LOL, what joke of a newspaper. Peter Hyatt Winston Churchill said that socialism was like having a man put one foot in a bucket, and then asking him to carry it. Once, taking state aid was the last resort for hard working Americans. Now, we are taxed far beyond what our forefathers ever dreamed of, and the government has taken care of us from the cradle to the grave. At the cost? Freedom. Anonymous January 20th 2009 marked the U.S decline. Anonymous No, 2008 marked the beginning of American decline.