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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Closing the Collapse Gap?

An interesting, if perhaps far-fetched, thought experiment in which the writer speculates that the US is now very similar to pre-collapse USSR. I am not sure if that is true, indeed I hope it isn't, but the fourth slide has the following, interesting, comments:
The Soviet manned space program is alive and well under Russian management, and now offers first-ever space charters. The Americans have been hitching rides on the Soyuz while their remaining spaceships sit in the shop.

The arms race has not produced a clear winner, and that is excellent news, because Mutual Assured Destruction remains in effect. Russia still has more nuclear warheads than the US, and has supersonic cruise missile technology that can penetrate any missile shield, especially a nonexistent one.

The Jails Race once showed the Soviets with a decisive lead, thanks to their innovative GULAG program. But they gradually fell behind, and in the end the Jails Race has been won by the Americans, with the highest percentage of people in jail ever.

The Hated Evil Empire Race is also finally being won by the Americans. It's easy now that they don't have anyone to compete against.
The last two points are interesting. While the US has the largest percentage of its living population in jail, at least it knees them in jail and doesn't ship them to the Arctic Circle to die cutting trees or whatever the GULAG wanted them to do. The USSR killed millions (perhaps 50-60 million) over the course of its run. I am not sure the US-USSR comparison works here.

Further, the last point is probably true but unavoidable. Whoever is "in control" or perceived to be in control of other people's destinies are always held in disdain. I would posit that the US attempts to control other people's destinies has been relatively mild compared to the efforts of other countries throughout history. Do all of those who think the world would be better if the US was taken off its pedestal really think things would be so much better if, say, China was running the show? My guess is that the majority of the supporters of a down USA would not want China instead, but rather make a living being anti-"who is in charge" and they have had a good run at bashing the United States because, for the most part, the US doesn't impose any costs on them for doing so.

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