Today’s Americans inherited the wealthiest nation in history — but only because earlier generations learned how to feed, fuel, finance, and defend themselves in ways unrivaled elsewhere...we have forgotten that and instead seem to expect others to do for us what we used to do ourselves…Long ago, Americans struggled to create farmland out of swamps, forests, and deserts, and built dams and canals for irrigation to make possible the world’s most diverse and inexpensive agriculture…Now in California…thousands of acres of farmland this year are going out of production, and with them leave thousands of jobs…In times of chronic water shortages, environmentalists have sued to stop irrigation deliveries in order to save threatened two-inch-long delta fish…So farmers are asked to produce more food for more people in a desert climate with less water — while environmentalists dream of returning to a pristine, 19th-century, sparsely populated California…the end result will be more imported food from less environmentally sound farms abroad…Americans Want It Both Ways, Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, 4/7/2009
Hanson is a classicist well-attuned to what happens when large, powerful civilizations begin to fail. The signs aren’t that different then and now. In Roman times, by about the time of the 4th century, Roman citizens didn’t care to send their sons to defend the frontiers. Instead, they hired mercenaries to do it for them, often from across hostile frontiers. There are well-documented complaints in the Roman Senate about wasting lives and treasure so that well-heeled matrons in Roman society can have perfumes and oils to lavish upon themselves. There isn’t much difference between that and defending a sick, corrupt order in oil-producing countries so that soccer moms or soccer dads can continue to get gasoline for $2.00 or less (in terms of the 1970 dollar, about 25 cents a gallon). There isn’t much difference between that and a pompous environmental organization, whose membership include many millionaires, spending millions to prevent development of American oil, American nuclear powerplants, American hydropower, or, in the case of a group led by Walter Cronkite and Senator Kennedy, wind generators off the Massachusetts coastline. Wouldn’t want to spoil our view, they say.
When a society refuses to pay for its own cost of living, it defines itself as inherently corrupt at worst, and utterly lazy at best.
Look, we know how to run safe nuclear plants, offshore oil rigs, shale oil processing plants, and we certainly know how to build windmills and solar panels. Where is the real change in this? All this writer hears is the moanings of a private, wealthy, elite club’s membership, pining for a world that only they can afford.