I have a dream. I have a dream that one day all people in America will be rich. Not just the top 10%, but everyone. The way I see it, “America’s Decline” largely owes to two predominant driving factors:
- Structurally: The economy truly is not working for everyone.
- Culturally: Generally speaking, with each subsequent generation, we’re overall growing weaker.
To the first point: As I’ve ranted on before, over half of all Americans aren’t even invested in the stock market. Thus, this has given rise to the “Shareholder Class.” (I didn’t invent that term; can’t remember exactly where I initially read it, but it’s accurate.) AOC made waves last week by ragging on DIA and SPY’s recent record gains. I’m no AOC fan, but on this point she’s entirely correct. Until all Americans participate significantly in the stock market, we will never have broad-based wealth for all. Platforms like Robinhood are a good start. But we need to further democratize accessibility to the equity markets and do everything we can to maximize broad-based market participation. When Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple does well– everyone should do well. When Tesla changes the world with EVs, everyone should benefit.
To the second point: I want America to be a country that lasts a thousand centuries. I wish for our nation to surpass the heights of the Roman Empire. It’s true we are a country with great promise and potential. And we’ve had auspicious beginnings, not to mention we are geographically blessed. Two oceans isolate us from much of the rest of the world and its challenges/problems. And from sea to shining sea, we’ve literally got everything it takes –the natural resources, the ingenuity, drive, creativity, and persistence of our people– to be great.
But like all great civilizations, a great danger looms. Not of a foreign nation-state nuking us or threatening our way of life. No, external threats which are easily visible are easily identified. Faced with external danger, America has never wavered; that is not our greatest fear.
No, our greatest threat —like all great civilizations that reached for the heavens; the Persians, Romans, Mongols— America’s greatest enemy is from within. It’s us. It is complacency. It’s from our own people tearing ourselves apart. It’s from growing soft and spoiled while the rest of the world grows strong.
Here’s a historical tidbit I tell often (that trended as a meme back in 2018): In 1944, 18-year old American men stormed the beaches of Normandy, climbing out of Higgins boats onto Utah and Omaha, under relentless hail of German machine gun fire. Our bravest and greatest generation defended the free world from the Third Reich. When everything was on the line, Americans, the best of a generation, rose to the occasion and defended our liberty and democracy against the Nazi regime.
Fast forward to recent years. Nowadays, what occupies the public discourse of our 18-year-olds? Safe spaces in universities. Eating Tide Pods and vaping. Fear of being “triggered.” Endless debates over transgender restrooms.
We can do better, America. As the popular African saying goes: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”