–The rise and fall of American greatness

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. Those, who do not understand Monetary Sovereignty, do not understand economics. If you understand the following, simple statement, you are ahead of most economists, politicians and media writers in America: Our government, being Monetarily Sovereign, has the unlimited ability to create the dollars to pay its bills.

America is the greatest nation in the world, perhaps in the history of the world. Do you believe that? What does it mean for a nation to be great? There is no agreed-upon measure; it’s subjective. So I’ll give you my personal thoughts.

Is greatness military power? Perhaps. The U.S. is the greatest military power in history. But Russia has military power, and I do not consider them a great nation.

Is greatness population size? Perhaps. We have more than 300 million people. But China has even more, and I do not consider them a great nation.

Is it resources? Perhaps. We have coal, oil, many other minerals, as well as farms that grow massive amounts of food. But Saudi Arabia has resources, and I do not consider them a great nation.

It may be that greatness is measured not only by what a nation is or has, but also by what a nation does. Before we became a nation, our future citizens and their families dared to leave their homelands to travel the treacherous ocean in search of freedom. That was greatness.

We fought the most powerful nation on earth to defend our freedom. That was greatness. The most influential people in America voluntarily surrendered their powers to join together for the greater good. That was greatness.

We developed that glorious miracle, the Constitution, then amended it with another glorious miracle, the Bill of Rights, the thrust of which was to protect each of us from excessive personal and governmental power. That was greatness.

We also did things that were not greatness. We killed native Americans. We kept slaves. That was smallness. One of the many reasons for the Civil War was slavery. The South’s position was immoral and small. The North’s position on slavery was moral, and that war was greatness, as was the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment. The Civil Rights Act of 1886 (passed over the veto of President Andrew Johnson), and the subsequent 14th Amendment, guaranteeing full citizenship to all those born in America, was greatness. The ongoing attempts by right-wing demagogs to overturn the “birthright” portion of the 14th Amendment is smallness.

Many of us countenanced bigotry against blacks, Jews, Catholics, gays and others. That was smallness. But as a great nation, we have tried to change that.

The WPA was greatness. The war against Hitler was greatness. The march across the Pacific to defeat Japan, was greatness. Helping to rebuild a defeated Germany and Japan, rather than plundering them, was even more greatness.

The invention of atomic energy was greatness, though the bomb itself, not so much. In a controversial way, the use of the atomic bomb, not on Tokyo or Kyoto, but on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were greatness, in that they ended the war without destroying the moral, emotional and traditional center of Japan. The Marshall Plan was greatness.

The development of the ENIAC computer and subsequent computers and programs, of which “Silicon Valley” became the leader, were signs of greatness.

Senator McCarthy was smallness, but censuring McCarthy was greatness..

The creation of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were signs of American greatness.

The civil rights movement and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were profound signs of greatness. Roe v Wade, which protected not only vulnerable women, but prevented the suffering that is endured by unwanted children, was greatness. Failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment was smallness, though numerous court decisions may have made the Amendment unneeded

Eisenhower’s interstate highway initiative was greatness. The lack of an interstate, high speed passenger rail system is smallness.

Landing on the moon was a sign of greatness, as was the first mechanical exploration of Mars. The development of vaccines and medicines of all kinds, of which America is the leader – greatness. The Mosaic web browser, which in 1993, marked the true beginning of the World Wide Web, the mobile phone and the cordless phone were products of a great America.

Many, many more examples of greatness and smallness can be suggested, and you may disagree with, or add any, you wish. But in my eyes, there is a pattern. Though President Kennedy said, “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country, I believe the true measure of a nation’s greatness is what that nation’s government does for people, especially weaker, poorer, most vulnerable people. The Statue of Liberty poem expresses our greatness.

We never returned to the moon, nor have we landed people on Mars. This failure (I consider it a failure) resulted not from lack of scientific talent nor of human courage, but rather because of perceived lack of dollars.

Xenophobia has strengthened, with Arizona’s anti-immigrant laws and infamous sheriff being only the most prominent examples. These laws have their basis in money – the belief that immigrants take resources away from us – we who already have our citizenship, not by effort but by good fortune. The British expression for that is, “I’m all right, Jack.” We have become a nation of I’m all right, Jack.

I believe America’s greatness is waning, and I believe the decline began in 1981, with Ronald Reagan’s inaugural address, in which he said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden.”

He may have been correct if he were talking about a small group, or perhaps even a tiny village. But the notion of 300+ million people, each “governing himself” not only is ludicrous, but
devolves to self-serving, selfish and mean-spirited, as it now has, as exemplified by the Tea (formerly Republican) Party. We, as individuals, are small and weak. But we together, as a nation, are powerful.

Yet, today, we are asked to decide how much to reduce Social Security, reduce Medicare, reduce Medicaid, reduce assistance to the arts and public radio, reduce funding for roads and bridges, reduce funding for scientific research and medical research, limit aid to states, limit aid to education, limit aid to the poor, the homeless, the helpless.

Reduce and limit; limit and reduce. These are the symptoms of a declining nation. Slip one step backward; then slip another; then another. One day, your children will look around and ask you, ‘What has become of us? What happened to our great nation?

Your answer will be: “Our greatness is lost, because we, your parents and grandparents, thought our government was the enemy, and began a process for limiting and reducing what our government could do. We didn’t understand, nor care to learn, how our government creates money, and why we need our government. We just believed all the misleading slogans. It all began with Ronald Reagan, but it accelerated in 2010, with the Tea (formerly Republican) Party. And I’m sorry children, but you must pay the price for our ignorance.”

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. It’s been 40 years since the U.S. became Monetary Sovereign, , and neither Congress, nor the President, nor the Fed, nor the vast majority of economists and economics bloggers, nor the preponderance of the media, nor the most famous educational institutions, nor the Nobel committee, nor the International Monetary Fund have yet acquired even the slightest notion of what that means.

Remember that the next time you’re tempted to ask a dopey teenager, “What were you thinking?” He’s liable to respond, “Pretty much what your generation was thinking when it screwed up my future.”


12 thoughts on “–The rise and fall of American greatness

  1. “The creation of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were signs of American greatness.” No, all are perfect examples of looting people of Their hard earned money so others, who provide nothing in return gets that money. America’s greatest was designed simply to finish off what is known today as evil. Liberalism last stand is now and will fall harder than those who died in the flood. Enjoy your moment because you are running out of time.


    1. Conservative Tea (formerly Republican) Party election platform: Cut Social Security; cut Medicare; cut Medicaid; cut funding for roads, bridges, medical research, physical research, education, the military, homeland security. Protect tax cuts for the wealthiest.

      Sounds like a winner to me.

      Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


      1. You need to move to DC, near K Street, and learn a bit how things work. Once you experience how things really work inside the beltway, you will either get angry or join them.


          1. It works this way, people who win get to full fill their obligations to those who put them there (hint Not the voters).


  2. No one was looted. In a Monetarily Sovereign government, taxpayers do not pay for government spending. The government creates its spending money ad hoc and uses neither taxes nor borrowing. In fact, if federal taxes and borrowing totaled $0 or $100 trillion, this would have no effect on the federal government’s ability to pay for Social Security and Medicare — for everyone in America.

    That is why FICA is a waste, unnecessary and unused.

    The U.S. dollar is one of the few things in life that actually is a “free lunch,” because the federal government creates dollars in unlimited quantities, merely by pressing a computer key.

    Feel better, now? Anyway, feel free to do your part by refusing Medicare and Social Security benefits.

    Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


  3. If “FICA is a waste, unnecessary and unused”, how come “The creation of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were signs of American greatness.”?

    No, absolutely not! The failure to provide free pension, health care and education to everyone by a Monetarily Sovereign government is smallness.


  4. Fields,

    FICA is a waste because it’s a tax, that contrary to popular belief, does not support Social Security or anything else. Check out the link in my previous comment.

    I agree the federal government can and should provide free pension, health care and education.

    Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


    1. That’s exactly why it’s not great for the federal government to tax people who can’t print money for their entitlement benefits. Social Security and Medicare would be “signs of American greatness” were they created without FICA.


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