Skip to comments.Learn from the fall of Rome, US warned
Posted on 08/13/2007 5:35:11 PM PDT by Sir_Humphrey
The US government is on a burning platform of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon, the countrys top government inspector has warned.
David Walker, comptroller general of the US, issued the unusually downbeat assessment of his countrys future in a report that lays out what he called chilling long-term simulations.
These include dramatic tax rises, slashed government services and the large-scale dumping by foreign governments of holdings of US debt.
Drawing parallels with the end of the Roman empire, Mr Walker warned there were striking similarities between Americas current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government..
Sound familiar? Mr Walker said. In my view, its time to learn from history and take steps to ensure the American Republic is the first to stand the test of time..
Mr Walkers views carry weight because he is a non-partisan figure in charge of the Government Accountability Office, often described as the investigative arm of the US Congress..
While most of its studies are commissioned by legislators, about 10 per cent such as the one containing his latest warnings are initiated by the comptroller general himself..
In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Walker said he had mentioned some of the issues before but now wanted to turn up the volume. Some of them were too sensitive for others in government to have their name associated with..
Im trying to sound an alarm and issue a wake-up call, he said. As comptroller general Ive got an ability to look longer-range and take on issues that others may be hesitant, and in many cases may not be in a position, to take on..
One of the concerns is obviously we are a great country but we face major sustainability challenges that we are not taking seriously enough, said Mr Walker, who was appointed during the Clinton administration to the post, which carries a 15-year term..
The fiscal imbalance meant the US was on a path toward an explosion of debt. .
With the looming retirement of baby boomers, spiralling healthcare costs, plummeting savings rates and increasing reliance on foreign lenders, we face unprecedented fiscal risks, said Mr Walker, a former senior executive at PwC auditing firm..
Current US policy on education, energy, the environment, immigration and Iraq also was on an unsustainable path..
Our very prosperity is placing greater demands on our physical infrastructure. Billions of dollars will be needed to modernise everything from highways and airports to water and sewage systems. The recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis was a sobering wake-up call. .
Mr Walker said he would offer to brief the would-be presidential candidates next spring. .
They need to make fiscal responsibility and inter-generational equity one of their top priorities. If they do, I think we have a chance to turn this around but if they dont, I think the risk of a serious crisis rises considerably.
It was the culmination of several centuries of bad administration and private armies going all the way back to Sulla.
Does anyone know where we can download this report?
We all fight in our own way. However, there is no guarantee we will prevail. Many of our citizens fight against us for no other reason than they like to destroy things.
On the plus side I happened to drive by an anti war protest Saturday afternoon and the seditionists were all shouting and shaking their "Honk if you want our troops out of Iraq NOW" signs. You could have heard crickets chirping. Dead silence at the light. This in Mass. Hope still exists!
If we didn’t have a flood of immigrants, we’d be underpopulated and with a vast imbalance tipped towards the aging population, thanks to 40 years of abortion.
Rome was underpopulated, relative to its empire; Spain at the time of its invasion by the Muslims was extremely underpopulated; and just about any place that has ever fallen has had a severe drop in population prior to its destruction.
We need immigrants: we have to make them Americans, though, and that is where we are failing. And that’s our fault (permitting “bilingual ed,” separate language facilities for every group, special rights for Muslims, etc.).
Learn from the fall of Rome? I agree: don’t lose wars against barbarians.
The parallels to Rome seem relevant to me, regardless of the speaker's Clintonian background.
I’ve never known an accountant to go off like this. Imagine if all our accountants in our jobs and lives behaved so, lol.
This isn’t as far fetched as you would think. In Houston, we have a football stadium (Astrodome) right next door to a football stadium (Reliant Park).
What does our President do when we're invaded? Invite them to become citizens!
Sorry folks. But if this guy represents the Right in this county... We are frikin' doomed.
I knew that one day it was bound to happen, and now it has: I agree with something said by a Clinton appointee.
To all those issuing a kneejerk bash just because he’s a Clinton appointee, I’ll remind you that we conservatives pride ourselves on intellectual honesty over partisan politics.
I don’t agree with everything he says. For example, he seems to see the majority of the problem on the fiscal front, while I think the moral rot is of far greater concern, especially when viewed in a long-range context. Morality and character are the glue that hold us together in troubled times. And in case you haven’t looked around, morality and character are in shorter supply by the day in our country.
We as a society now engage in bizarre, indefensible behavior that will be our un-doing.
MM (in TX)
If these people are so smart why don’t they realize that dramatic tax increases don’t add up to more money to the government in the long run and the effects on the economy and the tax base?
If you told them we could balance the budget with a 90% tax rate for 2 years they would consider it, instead of contemplating that 90% of the people would stay home (nevermind the 10% that would revolt :0)
Were this report issued, with these exact same words and same analysis, seven years ago, I doubt that any FREEPER here would disagree.
Ya. I’ll go buy a bunch of gold and build a fallout shelter. Call me when it’s over!
Sure. Conservatives talk a mean game, but when push comes to shove they have seldom shown to have what it takes to take names and kick serious arse.
Ya, but it wasn’t and that’s the point. The conditions aren’t that different.
“so they must be experts on the Fall of Rome. They are plotting it every day....”
This hackneyed historical analogy misunderstands Rome’s decline and our problems.
Whenever intellectuals of the author’s ilk start fretting about fiscal solvency it is always being used as a Trojan horse for raising taxes. It is amazing how little the media and permanent washing bureaucracy cared about entitlement reform when Clinton was in office. It was as if this burning problem didn’t exist.
The reality of the situation is that the Social Security System’s problems could be solved with one stoke of the pen. Merely by restricting COLA adjustments to the Social Security system to the inflation rate would fix the system in near perpetuity. This simple change would reverse the current insane policy of computing COLA increases based upon labor force productivity rates. This bit of insanity was enacted in the 1970s.
Similar changes would quickly fix the other entitlement programs.
The only way in which we resemble Rome is in the way in which public officials have been co-opted by special interests I have a solution for that problem but it wouldn’t be pretty.
That's, Emperor Bush.
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