Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fear and loathing in the voting booth

November 5, 2012 6:40 PM By WILLIAM F. B. O'REILLY (excerpt)
Harvard historian and author Niall Ferguson believes it is, and if he's right, Tuesday's election may truly be the most important in our lifetimes.
Ferguson, who believes America's growing debt crisis is its real Frankenstorm, first outlined his fears in a 2010 essay in Foreign Affairs magazine.
"Great powers are complex systems, made up of a very large number of interacting components that are asymmetrically organized, which means their construction more resembles a termite hill than an Egyptian pyramid," he wrote. "They operate somewhere between order and disorder. Such systems can appear to operate quite stably for some time; they seem to be in equilibrium but are, in fact, constantly adapting. But there comes a moment when complex systems 'go critical.' A very small trigger can set off a 'phase transition' from a benign equilibrium to a crisis -- a single grain of sand causes a whole pile to collapse."
Ferguson cites in his writings the sudden collapse of empires throughout history, from the Holy Roman Empire to the Soviet Union, with debt being the underlying cause of the downfall. Those who find the notion of rapid national decline alarmist might recall how quickly the economic collapse of 2008 occurred, erasing 40 percent of the average American's wealth until this day. They might also note that every penny of Federal Emergency Management Agency aid going to New York and New Jersey right now is borrowed, either from China or against future generations.

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