Monday, December 03, 2012

The One Thing I Mourn the Most With the Death of the United States

A sad reality which has only gotten worse since the election is the increasing amount of depression I see in myself and my friends.  Oh, I try, heck, I'm writing a book on how to ENJOY the decline, but I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't say the death of the United States doesn't bother me at least once a day.  BUt still, I try to fight it and find reasons to live anyway. 

However, while writing "Enjoy the Decline" I was put in such a depressed mood one day that it forced me to try to think through this problem.  It forced me to really analyze what was bothering me so much.  And out of everything wrong that is happening to the US, and out of all the bad things that are likely to happen as we switch to a socialist nation, the single, biggest thing I mourn is what the US could have been had we just kept going like we did in the 40's-60's. 

I'm not talking about the amount of money we'd make, which I've addressed before, but what we could have achieved as a society in terms of culture, music, technology, space exploration, etc.  The coolest thing to happen recently was Felix Baumgartner setting the parachuting record.  And before that?  Anything? 

To make my point take a look at this plane, the XB 70

That thing was DEVELOPED IN THE 1950's. 

In basically 20 years we went from propeller airplanes to a BOMBER that could do Mach 3.  10 years later, moon landing (and no comments about how NASA was a waste)

What have we done in the past 50 years?  Yes yes, I know, a bunch of computer stuff, hurray .  Great, we can text.  But that's just the point, we will never know what we could have achieved had we kept up with the historical level of economic growth and technological innovation. Or another way to put it (though I can't prove this is true, I just remember hearing it somewhere) had the Roman Empire not collapsed, technology would have advanced much faster resulting in us landing on the moon before Christopher Columbus discovered America.

Sadly, the only way to speculate on what we could have achieved is to look back at the past.  Not just to estimate would-be trajectories of various advances in the US, but even worse - some aspects of life were better back then.

Can anybody argue the women's rights movements of the 1970's did anything but harm the country?
Can anybody argue the Great Society did anything but harm and create more poor people?
And for the Patron Saint's Name of Frick, can we at least get some quality cartoons like Bugs BUnny again??? (yes, yes, I know too expensive, excuses, excuses, excuses).

The worst part of the US not achieving its best is that by default it makes it impossible for the individual to achieve his/her best.  Being brought up in the 70's and 80's we were told/brainwashed that the US was the greatest country in the world and if you worked hard you could achieve anything.  Certianly the historical evidence proved that.  So why would a little kid think any different?  It only served to inflate young kids dreams and expectations, making the crash even harsher.  Sure enough, slowly, over the course of 20 years, entering adulthood, the economic realities of this nation and the idiots that voted those realities in whisk away your dreams, and worse, make you fear the future. 

So now instead of worrying if there will be hover cars,
we worry if we can have cars period, let alone afford the gas.

Instead of worrying about whether you'll own your own personal plane,
we worry about whether we can afford a flight somewhere for winter.

Instead of worrying about finding the "right one"
you'll settle for somebody that doesn't have illegimate kids, hasn't filed for bankruptcy, and have a part-time job.

Instead of worrying about whether you'll be the best pilot, or best welder, or best accountant,
you're worrying if you'll just be able to find a job, period.

I know I say "enjoy the decline," but it takes a mighty strong person to embed that into their psychologies.


Anonymous said...

What are you talking about? It WAS the greatest country on planet earth, and in all of history. No question we've fallen to the wayside, but there was no good reason NOT to believe we were great.
I'll miss it too.

Unknown said...

Speaking as a cartoonist who has actually read about animation history before (I highly recommend reading both Leonard Maltin's "Of Mice and Magic" and Michael Barrier's "Hollywood Cartoons" for two excellent overviews on the so-called Golden Age of Animation), one of the reasons why it's so hard to have cartoons of actual quality again is because the skill to produce such animation really isn't there or isn't being taken advantage of from what I've seen. The art schools no longer teach any practical, useful skills to their students but teach intellectually dishonest concepts like "style over substance." That's part of the reason why so many of these new cartoons look like poorly drawn ripoffs of the much older stuff that was produced during the Golden Age. In order to survive at a studio like the one at Nickelodeon, you have to really dumb down your own ability, talent, and skill to stay in demand because of how amateurish many of the cartoons that are being produced are.

Also, many artists grew up watching really badly made animation like say Scooby-Doo or the many flat style cartoons that have been produced since the 1990s and inadvertently end up believing that they have a style when they really copied a bunch of mistakes which originated in John Kricfalusi's Ren and Stimpy cartoon.

Outsourcing the animation to foreign countries, especially to keep up with tight production deadlines for television animation and many episodes the artists have to churn out, has sadly been a reality since the 1950s, when Jay Ward outsourced those Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons to Mexico, although the commercials were still animated right here at home. There is also a ton of incompetence and political correctness from executives and ilk who have no artistic talent of their own who wouldn't know a good piece of animation even if it smacked in them in the face. Notice the same trend with worthless degrees and professions that you've pointed out over and over again on your blog can also apply here.

"Studied anthropology at Tufts University and law at the University of California- Hastings College of California. After working as a corporate attorney with the firm of Dewey Ballantine as a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney and then as a Los Angeles Deputy Public Defender, joined Disney TV Animation and Disney Channel as a development exec."

Click "True Executive Tales" on the labels for the first blog post to find even more crazy stuff from these worthless idiots. I feel silly bringing this stuff up on this blog, but the parallels between worthless degrees, leftism, subjectivism and what talentless people end up doing in art is too frightening to overlook or ignore.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that you bring up space-flight and its astonishing achievements. This guy has a plan and has the potential to actually get it done, since he is personal friends with Burt Rutan.

He suggests a subscription that people voluntarily pay to a private company to put another man on the moon and then go for Mars. The math would only require about a million people to pay something like $10 per month. He outlines how he intends to build membership and promote the idea and give Americans a plan to go back in to space. He starts it @56min.

The entire thing is brilliant in terms of analyzing where we are as a country now, but it is long.
He also gives a very entertaining response to what should have happened with Benghazi @36minutes.

Lib Arts Major Making $31k/yr said...

Best post you have ever made, period.


Because beneath the books, the anecdotes, and "enjoy the decline" mantras, it's what you actually think. It's what any rational-thinking individual actually thinks.

Anyone with a brain and a speck of pride is caught in a nice little trap: It takes a powerful sense of delusion to truly enjoy the decline, and for any rational individual, putting yourself under such a level of delusion would require sacrificing enough personal pride to do so. Simply put, knowingly lying to yourself requires that you think less of yourself by default.

Conversely, one can hold on to the pride in seeing the truth for what it is and not rationalizing it to soften the blow on your own psyche. The issue with this is (as you stated) it leads inevitably to depression from viewing all the unfiltered ruin. You keep your pride, but make it much harder for you to keep hope when you unabashedly watch the world crumble around you.

Delusion keeps us safe. Personal honesty keeps us sane. There's a stigma attached to both. I imagine there's a nice balance between these two things somewhere, but of course, that balance is something that everyone will have to come to terms with on their own.

Unknown said...

As a bonus treat for you Captain, Mr. Kricfalusi has also defended capitalism and seems to understand it best as an artist himself. There are a couple of problems and misunderstandings he has about the free market and he completely leaves out the idea of big, overgrown government, crony capitalism/corporatism, ridiculous subsidized services and excessive regulation being part of the problem of how these overgrown companies are allowed to be created in the place, but I still recommend reading it so you can understand that not all artists are blindly liberal, socialist, or progressive in their viewpoints.

Anonymous said...

Some people always say that if the National Socialists had beaten the Soviet Union and won the war, the Germans would have moon bases by now.

While I am no Nazi sympathizer, the emergence and victory of socialism and marxist ideologies since the end of WW2 really has set humanity back and halted human technological development and upward progress.

But have no fear, the Chinese will save us. LOL

Leif Christensen said...


Is there a connection between the decline of American culture and the increase in military suicides, or are they usually caused by combat-related mental issues? There seems to be good evidence for both.

peter1953 said...

The worst thing about the decline is that not a soul under 40 will have ever experienced what a confident and self-assured America was all about. Conservatives could always point to this or that success but no more. How sad that our new intellectual overlords have nothing good to offer but fear of the "other"...

Anonymous said...

"Roman Empire not collapsed, technology would have advanced much faster resulting in us landing on the moon before Christopher Columbus discovered America."

I seriously doubt that. Firstly, the impetus for great scientific advancement was the enlightenment and the scientific method: nobody knows if or when that would have occurred in an alternate history.

Secondly, Rome produced almost no great mathematicians. Most of their great works were public in nature, and they were extremely ossified in their thinking and technology near the end.

Alex said...

Sorry, you couldn't be more wrong on this one. That bomber in the picture was pretty cool, but it was, for all practical purposes, a complete failure. Since then, in aerospace alone, the US has made massive strides. Unmanned drones capable of autonomous operation for days at a time. Stealth technology. Missiles capable of pinpoint precision at distances going in to hundreds of miles. Insane improvements in avionics. Mach 2+ Supercruise. A doubling in fuel-efficiency (and a corresponding increase in range) for nearly every type of transport/passenger aircraft. Jet engines capable of outputting 10 times as much thrust as the most powerful engine of the 50's. And, coming up soon, the SABRE - an air-breathing rocket engine which should finally make SSTO a reality, and provide relatively economical hypersonic transport capability. Never mind all the changes made thanks to advances with composites, improved understanding of aerodynamics, and the increased use of electronics.

That is a quick summary of some of the achievements which the US has made over the last 30 years in JUST ONE FIELD. Meanwhile NASA is taking pictures of planets orbiting other stars, they're examining the universe as it existed 13.2 BILLION YEARS AGO, and they're driving multiple remote-controlled science-laboratories on the surface of Mars. Every person in a developed nation has instant access to more information than even the most educated people had just 20 years ago. Self-driving cars are pretty much a reality (self-flying and self-landing aircraft are already a reality). Medical advances are too numerous to list (look into artificial organs, for a start). The sequencing of the Human Genome has essentially created a whole new science for us to exploit; it's already been used to make better crops, but we're just starting to scratch the surface of what's possible. And all of these advances are primarily brought to you by the good ol' US of A.

Sorry Cap, but if you think the US is stagnating as far as research and technology are concerned, you're simply not paying attention. Sure, things could always be better, but the gloomy picture you're painting doesn't come close to reflecting reality.

Brian said...

There were plenty of comments at the time the moon landing was a waste and the money would be better spent on the inner-city poor.,4619235

kurt9 said...

There are private groups working on afforable space access, fusion power, and radical life extension; and are starting to show significant results. The failure of big science is more a failure of government bureaucracy than the failure of human accomplishment.

The problem with government-funding of science and technology is that at acts as an "attractive nuisence" that sucks people into doing bogus work when they would otherwise be pursuing stuff in private endeavors.

Dave said...

Captain, it might make you feel better to read (and perhaps write a review of) this short book:

All that you lament is foreordained in this book written in 1976, e.g. how each generation scorns the achievements of its parents and strives in a different direction.

The bad news is that the USA is almost finished. The good news is that its downfall clears the field for rough, brave men to found new nations, some of them destined for greatness. In such times, one man with courage makes a majority.

T and A Man said...

I don't know if you understand what happened back then.

1940-1970 **WAS** the Keynesian era, and the policy of full employment.

Gi.I's returning from WWII understood that everyone could be doing something. 8% of the population wore a military uniform, and engaged in wealth destruction... EVERYONE else was employed creating wealth, regardless of productivity. They also got a living wage from their endeavours.

High minimum wage, guaranteed job, high taxes to fund R&D.... it was known as the "All boats rise" era. Much of this is socialist doctrine, much the way universal education is socialist.

The major proponent of dismantling was either loose money appearig in the 60's that saw the gold exchange removed by Nixon in 1971, and the Randian-Friedman nonsense implemented by Reagan.

GulfofMexico said...

The post WWII era was not Keynesian in terms of federal spending. Annual budget deficits largely ran at less than 2% of GDP and there were a handful of years in surplus. I do agree that government was highly interventionist during this time.

See for budget deficit data.

The mounting costs of the Great Society and the Vietnam War led Nixon to sever the US dollar link to gold. By doing so, he cynically (and correctly, perhaps) thought he could avoid a recession (in nominal terms, anyway) that would be caused by reducing federal spending, thus raising his chances of re-election in 1972, and We've been trying to enjoy the decline ever since. Very opportunistic short-term thinking on his part.

What it boils down to though is the electorate is convinced it can have its cake and eat it, too. If you don't believe me, look around and you'll see cake eaters.

GulfofMexico said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

There's more to the profitable technology question than military and NASA.

As a business strategy, patient corporate research & development is what put us on top, to be honest. The ORIGINAL cell phone technology that did not become a viable consumer product until the 1990's was developed by Bell Labs in the late 1940's. It took over 40 years for the payoff. Xerox developed the graphical user interface in the 70's and we didn't see a product demand until the late 80's and the Apple Macintosh. This was long term planning that happened at the corporate level looking for consumer products- and it worked. The basic research was done by companies thinking in terms of commercial application. That's really now gone.

After the Bayh-Dole Act was adopted in 1980, technology development was pushed in the universities and pretty much transferred there. Some...interesting...technologies have come of that. Great, but what is the commercial application???? When the military can't afford the toys, who's going to buy the product? Academics don't think that way, which is why so many of us out here watching it all go by are mourning the loss of Bell Labs decades after its closing. The basic research that led to new technologies is not considered in payoff, but rather, Well, isn't that cool?

Anonymous said...

NASA was great when NASA designed its own rockets instead of outsourcing their design to defense contractors (von Braun worked for NASA). Why mourn the passing of the US? Isn't it easier to go back to NASA designing its own rockets again? I know they don't have all the lobbyists the defense contractors have, but then they don't have all the hate and loathing either. Write a book about the "passing of the US" or get off your ass and do something about it. Your choice.

T and A Man said...

The post WWII era was not Keynesian in terms of federal spending. Annual budget deficits largely ran at less than 2% of GDP and there were a handful of years in surplus. I do agree that government was highly interventionist during this time.


I can't see how that eliminates it from being Keynesian economics.

I suspect you're conflating large budget deficits with keynesian economics. That's not it at all.

Keynesian economics is about maintain aggregate demand when the private sector can not do so. A socilist veil on top is full employment.. as opposed to NAIRU which is the de jure policy today.

In times of the private sector creating sufficient aggregate demand, or more pointedly excess demand (such as rampant credit growth, or as pointed out, LBJ's Great Society/Vietnam) then the other main purpose of keynesian economics is to ensure price stability, which is either increased taxes or budget surpluses.

No one likes the punch bowl taken away however.

But you really are mistaken, the closest we have got to keynesian economics was the 1940-70 period.

Anonymous said...

The USA still makes some excellent cartoons. Check out "The Tick," "The Venture Brothers," and "Archer."

she said: said...

I agree with your overall sentiment. But don't lose hope. Growing up in the 70's and 80's (the shadow of the 60's) You had a sense you missed living in the most carefree generation ever. "the good times". I think this generation will feel the same way about the 2000's. But it will come back eventually even better.

We've got a spaceport for shits sakes. And I've seen pictures of Brandsons Spaceship 1 there. So this is a real thiing.

I was so pissed when I saw they were spending money on this thing many years ago. But now I believe private industry will take over. Because we all really can't stand each other and are looking for ways to get more space from each other. Eventually the only place that will be is space.

PS. Businessinsider is a douchy outlet. But they had the best pictures.

Anonymous said...

Well it seems everything was fine and dandy back then. But I can't say things were really better for black people such as myself.

Captain Capitalism said...

I would be curious. I know Jim Crow and everything, but was it worse than what it is today with broken families, crime, outsourced males, etc?

I'm not being facetious, I truly want to know.

Ideally we'd have the best of both worlds. Nobody I think is asking for the return of Jim Crow.