As we were half-watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics (on CBC of course), we were joking that the Italians hadn't done anything of note since the Renaissance and the program should have stopped with Leonardo.Spain dominated the 16th C, thanks to being the first to steal from the Indians, and finding the most lucrative places to conquer. In the 17th C., it was the French, with the fur trade, and the Dutch, with the spice trade. After the English and Iroquois defeated the French and Algonquians in the Seven Years War, England became imperialists in chief, despite the independence of some minor colonies in North America (India, China, and Africa were much more important) and that bit of a bother about Napolean. Then, after WWI, as the world's best history book, 1066 and All That, puts it, "America became top nation and history came to an end."For all the claptrap about the collapse of the Soviet Union being the triumph of Laissez Fair over Communism (if anything it was the triumph of Keynes over bureaucratic, corrupt, inept state socialism) and the hype about being the only "Superpower," there is no good recent historical precedent for a "top nation" to stay that way, which is why the likes of Cheney and Rumsfeld idealize Imperial Rome (certainly my idea of a role model). America certainly won't stay top nation if it continues to reward privilege, corruption, and cronyism instead of achievement, if it continues to look at Donald Trump as a hero and great entrepreneur, if it continues to prefer profligacy to hard work and self-sacrifice (or uses that idiot version of the Protestant Ethic in which being rich must just desserts, so selling stock with insider knowledge is just God tipping you off), and if it continues to substitute faith for reason in science and economics.I'd say if the next Congressional and following Presidential elections do not produce realists who are willing to face up to our problems and propose real solutions, which will involve sacrifices, an efficient national health-care system, a massive, multi-faceted, realistic government program to deal with energy independence using science not fantasy, and a balanced-budget, which will require major tax increases on those who have the money, since Laffer is a fraud, within 10 to 20 years, we will not be "top nation," and with global warming looking more and more like it is out of control, history may really come to an end.
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