FADING SMILE OF A DYING EMPIRE by Jim Quinn for The Burning Platform

“All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance.” – Edward Gibbon

“Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay; the worst is death and death will have his day.” – William Shakespeare, Richard II

We moved to our corner of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania twenty-seven years ago. We raised our three boys here. We spent hundreds of hours on local baseball fields, in hockey rinks, in school gyms for basketball games, concerts, plays and donuts-with-dads. It’s still a nice place to live, with virtually no crime, decent roads, and reasonable property tax rates. But I would have to say there has been a degradation in the overall quality of life in my community, which is consistent with the downward spiral of our society in general. When we planted our roots in this community it was still more farm-like than suburban. Family farms and open space were more prevalent than housing tracts, strip malls, fast food joints and cookie cutter commercial buildings. A beautiful farmhouse a few miles from our home, freshly painted white, proudly displayed the iconic yellow smiley face. It symbolized good times.

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We’ve been driving on this road for twenty-seven years on the way to baseball games, hockey practices, the car dealer for service, and lately to our gym, as we try to fend off father time.  Driving by that barn in the early days would always brighten your day. A bright yellow smiley face against a white background represented a positive, happy view of the world.

We moved to this area in 1995 while Clinton was president, unemployment was 5.6%, CPI was 2.8%, GDP growth was 2.7%, the annual deficit was $164 billion, the national debt was $4.9 trillion, the Fed balance sheet was $500 billion, the U.S. population was 263 million, total household debt was $4 trillion, you earned 5.5% on your money market fund, the U.S. bailed out Mexico, the Oklahoma City bombing happened, and OJ Simpson was found not guilty of killing his ex-wife. The military industrial complex was being starved by lack of wars and the stock market soared by 33% as the beginning of irrational exuberance began under the reign of Greenspan and his Put.

A lot has happened over the last twenty-seven years and the faded, barely visible smiley face, on a now mold ridden decaying barn, is truly representative of a society, culture and economic system dying a slow torturous death, as apathy, technological distraction, myopic indolence, and the greed of powerful elites combine to ensure the eventual collapse of the short-lived American Empire. Much of this quarter century of decline is borne out in the change in economic numbers noted above.

The unemployment rate is reported as 3.5% today with 158 million out of 264 million working age adults employed. That leaves 106 million not employed, or 40% of working age adults not working. Back in 1995, 125 million out of 199 million working age adults were employed, leaving 74 million not working. Over a quarter century we’ve added 65 million people to our population, but only 33 million to the employment rolls. Either we’ve devolved into a nation of freeloaders on welfare/disability, or the BLS is lying about the 3.5% unemployment rate, or both.

The BLS currently tries to convince the ignorant masses inflation is only 8.5%, up tremendously from the 2.8% in 1995. Since the Fed/Wall Street induced financial crash of 2008, the government had been reporting inflation of between 0% to 3%, when in reality, as measured the way it was measured in 1980, it had been between 7% to 10%. Today’s actual inflation rate is 17% in case you were wondering. Revealing the true cost of living to the peasants might induce a revolting outcome for our overlords. The government prefers to treat the math challenged masses like mushrooms, by keeping them in the dark.

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