Friday, December 16, 2005

The economic collapse of the Soviet Union, er, I mean, the United States

I just started reading Martin Cruz Smith's new murder mystery, "Wolves Eat Dogs". It takes place in Russia after the collapse of the USSR. To quote the cover blurb, "[Moscow police detective] Arkady Renko has survived, barely, the journey from the Soviet Union to the New Russia.... Now Renko enters the privileged world of Russia's new billionaire class". By page 55 (where I am now), the author has painted a pretty grim picture of life in the New Russia -- corruption, Mafia-like violence, social disintegration and economic inequity between the new super-rich corporate mafia and the average poverty-stricken citizens who have lost their savings, their homes, their jobs and their pensions.

Many political scientists will agree that the economic collapse and resultant political fragmentation of the Soviet Union was caused by a huge drain on that country's resources as a result of the USSR's occupation of Afghanistan combined with the humongous expense of keeping its super-power military machine running at top speed.

In 2005, the United States of America seems to be in approximately the same position that the USSR was in during the 1980s -- too much money being spent on war; maxing out our credit cards on war toys at the expense of everything else.

I hope that I'm wrong but what if this comparison is valid and there will also be an economic collapse here in the United States too? And will political fragmentation also result? Perhaps the red states will form a new country called Tex-America and the rest of the states will break into West America, Mid-America and America East....

And will US corporate gang leaders take over Houston and New York and DC like they took over Moscow? And will the average person in Chicago and Los Angeles lose their jobs, housing and savings like what happened in Leningrad? Should we study the antics of the New Russia to get a glimpse of how the New America will be?

Or can we learn NOW from the USSR's example and cut down our over-expanded and unjustified military empire before it's too late?