Has America Jumped the Shark?

As I write this, one Euro will buy you 1.47 US Dollars. The Loonie, meanwhile, is kissing a buck-ten US. Oil and gold are up too. China is renooberating some $1.43 trillion in foreign reserves, and that is very bad news for the greenback.

Gen-X Canadian that I am, experience inclines me to assume that the instability in the US Dollar is a mere fluctuation, a correction, a blip, and that the US and its currency will recover sooner than later. We will again look southward -- or westward, for those of us above 60° -- to our traditional economic leader and benefactor.

But what if this is instead the decline leading to the fall of the American Empire? What if America has -- to borrow the Fonz-inspired phrase, meaning a radical change in plot preceding ultimate demise -- jumped the shark?

That's quite a charge, and not one that I'm wholly capable of defending. I have no relevant credentials to offer other than an unhealthy interest in US politics and economics: dollars to doughnuts I can name more US senators and congressmen than members of parliament. I'm not proud, I'm just sayin' is all.

It's simply the case that, ever since the appointment of George W. Bush, the United States has become so darned entertaining. We rightly think of Americans as our neighbours, but they've become our wacky sit-com neighbours: the Mertzes, Howard Borden, the Ropers, Rhoda Morgenstern, or even Lenny & Squiggy. What will they do next?

Tuning in each week reveals ever-stranger plot twists. The United States, the most potent political, social, and military entity ever devised, is now...

  • in debt to the tune of $9 trillion;
  • importing $60 billion more than it exports each month;
  • foreclosing 45% more houses than last year;
  • writing down billions in subprime loan losses;
  • unable to medically insure 14% of its people;
  • eavesdropping on its citizen's telephone chats;
  • legitimizing known methods of torture;
  • burning, flooding, and drying-up;
  • stalemated between an unpopular president and an even less popular legislature;
  • arresting without the right to trial;
  • mandating pre-approved travel for foreigners and citizens alike;
  • spending $10 billion annually to defend against imagined North Korean missiles;
  • relying upon a tenuous Pakistan for control of Afghanistan;
  • hiring mercenaries to supplement a deflating infantry;
  • threatening to attack yet another sovereign nation "just in case"; and
  • forecast to spend $2 trillion and many thousands dead on a needless war that cannot be won, lost, or ended.

That's the list I was able to jot on a Wednesday morning. Much longer litanies of administration-specific wrongdoings are available.

Is that enough to irrevocably tip the scale away from America's favour? I'm beginning to believe that it is. China or Europe or India will pick up the torch. The US won't give up its pride of place without a serious bout of wrasslin' though; it will be a very rough ride for us Canucks.

America will continue to be morbidly entertaining -- the best episodes always appear just before the series is cancelled.

Archived Comments

  1. Dave on 20071107.Wednesday:
    I just spied this in a Vanity Fair article due for December: "a dollar so weak that for an American to buy a cup of coffee in London or Paris -- or even the Yukon -- becomes a venture in high finance." [Emphasis added]