Social Question

ETpro's avatar

Norwegian Sociologist predicts the US Empire will crumble by 2020. Agree?

Asked by ETpro (34490points) February 22nd, 2011

Here’s a video called Fall of Empire, End to Wars: Johan Galtung Predictions. In the video, Professor Galtung predicts the US Empire will crumble by 2020. I for one hope he is right. He’s saying things I’ve been saying, and predicting changes I think we sorely need. What do you think about his thoughts?

Here’s an even more dire prediction of gloom and doom discussed previously on Fluther. Obviously Russian Dr. Igor Panarin’s timing (2010 civil war) was off, but we do have talk of nullification and secession among the far right now.

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60 Answers

incendiary_dan's avatar

I’d give it a wider berth. Certain factors could give it some more time. It’ll definitely be functionally collapsed by 2030, though, with perhaps some forms of the former beauracracy still intact afterwards.

Of course, I hope it gets it over with as soon as possible, and I still think it’s likely within the next ten years.

choreplay's avatar

@ETpro, when I gave them credibility, many of the christian perspectives (prophesies) regarding US, seemed to suggest some type of benign crippled country. Haven’t watched your video yet but will as soon as I get a chance.

Summum's avatar

We are headed in that direction and I think it will be sooner than that.

The_Idler's avatar

“Oh? What’s that?” mumbles a sleepy Britannia, “Those old colonies that went off to make it big on their own? Police State? Religious fanaticism? Imperialism? Monopoly Markets? Oh, that’s a pity… Well, it all seemed like a bloody good idea at the time actually… Land of the Free and all that… Wherever did they go wrong? Perhaps we shouldn’t have spent 150 years acting all superior to them… In their efforts to emulate our global domination, it seems they’ve nullified every ideal and principle on which their nation was founded… Oh well, at least they all have guns so they can stay safe after society collapses… Right, now, where were we? Oh yes. Butler, have the Bank print another few billion, would you? It’s getting a bit nippy in here and the fire’s awfully low…”

tedd's avatar

Everyone always thinks they are approaching the end of times, the world, or the country.

The US has been in FAR worse shape than it is in now, in just the last 100 years, not to mention countless times before. We were fine then, we’ll be fine this time, this Norwegian guy doesn’t know wtf he’s talking about.

mammal's avatar

@tedd no you don’t know wtf you’re talking about, because he’s not speaking apocalyptically, he is speaking optimistically, and i think if it weren’t for people with your mentality America could be a fantastic country.

mammal's avatar

@ETpro thanks for sharing, he reminds me a little of professor Chomsky, clear concise analysis, with a hint of optimism.

tedd's avatar

@mammal America is a fantastic country, thats why I can tell you its not going to collapse in the next 9 years, or for that matter 20 or 30.

The_Idler's avatar

Well it’s either going to become a lot more moderate and liberal (i.e. relaxed) both at home and abroad, or it will become even more of a deprived, unequal, crime-ridden, violent, poverty-stricken prison-state than it already is.

The USA is either going to solve the social issues that plague its people, or it will continue to “suppress the consequences”, which means more people in prison, more deprived, lawless areas, more people without access to adequate healthcare, etc, etc.

I think that, unfortunately, the socio-economic Establishment, that is those in control of religion and media, the corporate elites, have no desire to solve the problems, and have control enough of their followers to guarantee nobody in government strays to far down the route of “let’s try and actually make this country a nice place to live for everyone”.

The democracy is something of a joke. Obama is portrayed by some as “socialist”....? Well everything about his country looks pretty socially conservative and economically liberal to me…
Now either Obama is just a tool who doesn’t really want to change the nation, and he was used to dupe everyone, or he is honestly ideological, but relatively impotent. Either way, it doesn’t say much for the potential of American democracy to effect social progress…

The main issue domestically, I suppose, is that the media – and so the democracy – has been hijacked extremely effectively by the Establishment, and and they have hundreds of millions of blind followers. It’ll take something special to overcome that ignorance and actually go somewhere with American social policy…

incendiary_dan's avatar

We can’t overlook the very really issues of resource scarcity, namely Peak Oil and soil depletion, in facilitating collapse.

mammal's avatar

@tedd did you watch the video? he didn’t say it would collapse, just withdraw it’s strategic grip on global affairs. People like you are impeding America, you are part of the problem. America will collapse most precipitously, if it doesn’t see the wisdom of a discreet tactical withdrawal.

tedd's avatar

@mammal You missed the part of the post where he talked about the Russian guy who predicted we’d be in a civil war by now. Far be it from me to put words in the OP’s mouth, but it sounds to be like he is asking more if you think the US will fall.

cackle's avatar

How can America crumble in 2020 if the world is going to end in 2012? :)

tedd's avatar

@mammal oh and for the record, people like you, who are jerks to people they’ve never met simply for the sake of trying to look superior…... are downright rude and the downfall of ANY civilization.

Brian1946's avatar


I think Galtung is saying that the US empire, not the nation itself, will crumble.

England, Spain, and France have all lost their empires, but they still thrive as nations.

tedd's avatar

@Brian1946 I would agree we will probably pull most, if not all, of our troops from the middle east. But past that in what sense are we an empire? Our “territories” in the pacific are already pretty much entirely self governed. Puerto Rico wants to become a state. What troops we have in foreign countries are all there at request of those countries.

You’re comparing that to the former British and French empires, who controlled millions upon millions of people, thousands of miles of territory and unruly natives…. Not to mention those empires were based on trade, whereas with the exception of arguing oil the “American-Empire” has nothing to gain from its expansion.

mammal's avatar

@tedd ah i see the problem, a denialist, you don’t consider America an Empire, didn’t we have this conversation on another thread? And wasn’t it Jefferson that envisaged America as an Empire of Liberty? A contradiction in terms, but nevertheless a clear statement of intent, from a country that had recently rid itself from the straight jacket of one Empire so that it could be free to begin one of it’s own, but one that could never be admitted too, of course, because the war of independence was probably peppered with Anti-Imperial rhetoric, and the rally cry and the ideology around which the new nation would consolidate and assert it’s identity – The American Empire in all but name. Liberating the world of every resource it could get it’s sticky mitts on.

The_Idler's avatar

@tedd I think you should get yourself a thorough understanding of the organization of the British Empire, as well as of the present global economy and the USA’s place in it, as well as the entire history of US military & agency interventions, before trying to assert that the US Empire is not based on trade and does not rely on “controlling unruly natives” across the globe.

The only difference between the British Empire and the American Empire is that the American Empire pretended not to be… Seriously, I can think of no other major differences.

Brian1946's avatar

Here’s a list of the 7 worst dictators that the US supports.

I’d say that the US supports them primarily for favorable access to oil and other resources.

If the US can achieve energy independence (like Brazil has for the most part), then it will be much less reliant on maintaining its economic and political hegemony.

ETpro's avatar

@incendiary_dan, @Season_of_Fall & @Summum. Thanks for weighing in.

@The_Idler GA. Thanks.

@tedd I have to agree with @mammal. America is made up of people that are in no way inherently superior to or less than people in every other country on Earth. The policies those people adopt shape what sort of greatness each country achieves. The egomaniacal don’t tend to do well over the long haul. They never have. There has been empire after empire that rose up and proclaimed its superiority to all the rest of mankind. It used to take centuries for them to learn that when a nation makes it “Us against the world.” they are outnumbered and will eventually lose. But now things move much more rapidly than they did when it was Egypt, Greece, Rome or the Huns declaring themselves the rightful kings of the entire planet by right of their inherently superior nature.

As to the “Russian guy” I noted that his prediction of a fall in 2010 was obviously wrong. But the possibility of a second civil war most certainly does exist and many on the far right are pouring gasoline on that fire. Dr. Panarin (the Russian guy) may yet prove right, just a bit inaccurate in his timing. Personally, I hope he is wrong, and that the more optimistic outcome that Dr. Galtung (the Norwegian guy) foresees is how things end up. I do know that we cannot keep spending more on defense than the entire rest of the world combined forever.

@cackle Ha! You make me cackle. The ancient Maya that prophesiseyed that also believed that all history repeated itself ever several hundred years and that they could appease their GOds and assure prosperity by sacrificing beating hearts to their gods. When drought brought tough times, they kept sacrificing and sacrificing and never could figure out why the population was dwindling. And we’re going to take their word for what will happen 1,000 years after they all died out?

@Brian1946 That’s exactly what Dr. Galtung is saying, @tedd. Listen to the video again. Oh and @Brian1946, you left out Portugal and Holland an a few other less notable colonialists.

Also, far past supporting dictators, we have a long and sordid history of secretly engineering coups to install them whenever the leader of a foreign nations with resources we wanted control of refused to just let Western corporations come in and exploit the leader’s sovereign land. We’re an empire, pure and simple. That’s why we must spend so godawful much on our military.

The_Idler's avatar

There aren’t many minor nations’ governments in the world that the US doesn’t “support”.

The only reason those outside of the US SoI tend to be rather authoritarian, is because they need to be in order to maintain power, whilst under the incessant onslaught of US power attempting to control them.

That’s not to say, as @Brian1946 showed, that those inside the US SoI are any better.

In fact the USA has overthrown or at least demonized many democratically elected and domestically popular leaders.

tedd's avatar

@mammal lol…. whatever man.

The_Idler's avatar

Damn, we got trolled. Thing is, some people are that ignorant….

mammal's avatar

@tedd first move towards sobriety is to admit you are an alcoholic.
@The_Idler Two types of dicator those that are with US and those that are against US.

ETpro's avatar

@tedd I see that with you, we are dealing with a fact free zone. Thanks for making that clear.

The_Idler's avatar

I think he must be very young… He thinks “America is a fantastic country”

Clearly never visited any other economically developed countries.
Or maybe thinks the ghettos only exist in GTA.

choreplay's avatar

Oh, what I shared above, I just remembered where that came from and would make an interesting point for this thread. It was from The Late Great Planet Earth, a film that came out around 1979. I remember how it said we were likely doomed by the year 2000. lol.

The_Idler's avatar

in 1979, we were likely doomed by the year 2000…

that was a time of a huge spike in oil prices and also the development of Earth-shattering weapons by two utterly opposed superpowers playing nuclear chess with every person over every inch of the planet…

tedd's avatar

Look if the best evidence or explanation you can give to call the US an Empire… is that we back countries that the vast majority of the world also recognizes and backs….. And we’ve backed autocratic and dictorial leaders in 3rd world parts of the country as opposed to allowing them to slip into civil war and what not…... Then I don’t think you have an argument.

Yes, the US backs some rather unsavory leaders, or at the very least recognizes them as heads of state. So does pretty much the entirety of the UN in most cases. In fact if anything the US recognizes LESS of them.

Yes, the US supplies money, training, and in some cases equipment to governments that are headed by autocratic or dictorial leaders…. at one point Iraq, Panama, the Shah in Iran, Pakistan today, Saudi Arabia, etc. But our influence over those leaders, while not directly swaying their political or social circles, DOES have a sway. And its not as if we’re totally against turning against those or condemning those leaders either (see Noreiaga/Panama, Iraq/Saddam, Pakistan today in countless cases). And look what happens when the major power who is backing a military or autocratic leader pulls out. Iran saw a militant Islamic government take hold, Afghanistan plunged into nearly 20 years of civil war after the USSR left.

And as far as comparing the US of today to the Empires of Britain and France of old. If you know anything about history and think they’re one and the same… then you’re an idiot. The British had troops in all of their territories for starters, they didn’t bother working out treaties they just conquered. When China outlawed opium, which was a major trade source for the East India Company, the British went to war (see Opium wars) with China, beat them, and took Hong Kong as a concession until ohhh about a decade or so ago? The French under Napoleon committed mass acts of genocide in the Caribbean, not to mention declared war on pretty much all of mainland Europe.

You’re confusing being the only world Super power, with being an Empire. There’s a HUGE difference.

ETpro's avatar

@tedd Do you actually bother to read any of the links posted, or do you just try to absorb all the information from the anchor text in the link? Look again at the the link I posted here to the examples of the US secretly engineering coup d’√©tats in sovereign nations all around the world.

We saw to the assassination of the enormously popular and democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and installed the Shah of Iran in his place to assure Iranian oil wouldn’t be nationalized, but would remain under the control of Western Oil companies. The anger generated by that led to the eventual fall of the Shah and the current regieme that is pursuing nuclear weapoins.

We were instrumental in the overthrow of an elected government in Iraq and that fiasco ended up bringing Saddam Hussein to power. Why? Again, the Iranian government before Saddam was considering developing their own oil resources instead of allowing Western oil companies to run the show. We aren’t even talking denying us the oil. They would have sold it to the West. They just wanted the cut of drilling and refining.

We have done such all over the world to secure oil rights, timber, resources or to stop nations from voting for socialism. There a few nations in Central and South America that haven’t been targets of our interference. This is not simply recognizing a legitimate government installed by that nation’s own people. This is trying to run the world by covert action installing dictators and its rationale is keeping resource exploitation from all quarters of the Earth open to Western corporations. We are less than 5% of the world’s population. We can’t exploit the resources of other 95% for ever with no blow-back.

As to “American Exceptionalism” do you know who Ozymandias was? If not, follow the link and read the poem. It’s very short. The meaning is just as true today as it was for all the world hegemonies of the past.

woodcutter's avatar

No, that’s just wishful thinking for the few.

ETpro's avatar

@woodcutter I’m not following you. Are you saying that America will last forever as the world’s sole superpower and will project it virtual empire near and far with no problems resulting from that? Please clarify your “No.” What do you think will happen as the future unfolds?.

tedd's avatar

@ETpro I smell paranoia

ETpro's avatar

@tedd Go take a shower and see if that helps.

woodcutter's avatar

@ETpro I don’t get the “empire angle” people keep shrilling about. What empire? What year is this? The US govt is in these host countries because they are asked to remain there. They will leave when told to. If the US is not the greatest place then what prey tell is? France? Is there a perfect country?

ETpro's avatar

@woodcutter I answered that same question for @tedd here even though I had answered it before. It was clear from his posts he had not read the links. Please do read the answer there and the salient links. If you find fault with what the links say, I would like to know what you see that is not true there. But it all is a matter of public knowledge now with documents finally pbtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

France is a pretty good country. They have the best health care system in the world. They have great universities, millenia of culture and incredible cuisine. But I wouldn’t rate them number one. Germany is in the running, as are most of the Scandanavian countries. New Zealand is a fine country. There are lots of countries that provide well for their people and whose citizens are happy with their government. How many US citizens are happy with the government we have? How’s our educational system standing up to the rest of the world? What when China passes us as the world’s largest economy?

Maybe you need to look up who Ozymandias was as well.

tedd's avatar

@ETpro China will never pass the US economy, they lack the raw materials and resources. The only factor they really have going for them is an incredible sum of cheap, uneducated, labor. (just getting that out of the way)

And the US looking after its own self interests (as does every major country on the planet, including France, England, Russia, China, Iran, etc, etc, etc) by supporting (be it clandestine or transparent) or undermining (be it clandestine or transparent) other nations/rulers/what-have-you’s…. does NOT make the US an Empire, at least not one on the same level as the old Spanish, British, French, Japanese, Ottoman, or the various German Empires.

They are INCOMPARABLE and we are not even close.

And if you think that the British MI6, or the French counterparts… or say Moousad, or the new Russian and Chinese secret agencies aren’t undermining, assassinating, propagating, or through any other clandestine and often unsavory method supporting or eliminating “minor” rulers throughout the world in other countries…... Frankly you’re an idiot.

everephebe's avatar

@tedd you’ve been drinking a little too much of the Americana propaganda cool-aid.

I think 2020 is unlikely, because it’s too soon (my guess is around 2050 maybe). Within this century? Yes, probably. Will that be the end of the world? Nope.

ETpro's avatar

@tedd Facts are just such inconvenient truths. China just passed Japan as the world’s second largest economy and is on track to eclipse the USA by 2019 to 2030, depending on a slew of hard to predict variables.

As far as idiocy goes, if you think that Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Argentina and on and on are all stunning foreign policy successes for the USA, you have no rome to be labeling others as idiots.

Crawl back in your comfortable fact free zone and just keep repeating this mantra, “What, me worry!”

WasCy's avatar


I thought you were doing well until you posited that China “will never surpass” the US. I don’t think it will happen as soon as some here think (as the Japanese didn’t in the 1980s, when that was the last sure thing). But it’s probably inevitable at some point, given the sheer size of the Chinese markets. It’s not a question of raw materials so much as it is of entrepreneurial spirit, government policy and will to work. Having been there a few times now, but with only a limited experience there, it seems to me that China is becoming the place in the world to seek out new capitalists. Unless their government screws up as ours is they will probably pass us economically within the next hundred years or sooner.

Otherwise, you’re doing a generally good job against the “Blame America First” crowd.

ETpro's avatar

@WasCy I resent being labeled “Blame America First.” Everything I blamed our country for, I clearly documented to be a fact. If we can never admit our mistakes, we can never fix them. I still have great love for this country and want it to live up to all that it can be. You will not achieve that by deliberately ignoring every wrong because it bothers you to admit an error.

tedd's avatar

China will never pass the US because their entire economy is based on the US buying from them.

A countries economic growth this year, or over 5 years, does not accurately project where it will be in 10 years or 20 years.

Ok China’s GDP just passed Japan’s for second place. But ignoring for the moment that it is IMPOSSIBLE for them to sustain growth at those levels, and any economist will tell you that without blinking…... The economies of China and Japan (mid 5 trillion dollar ranges) COMBINED are still about 3 Trillion dollars short of the US economy (almost 15 trillion)

and @etpro, you clearly didn’t even read my post. So here goes…
-Vietnam was a proxy war with Russia, for starters.
-Afghanistan I mentioned in the context of Soviet Russia pulling out and plunging the nation into 15 years of Civil War that ended with the Taliban taking control (and in fact I pointed out at the very start of all this the US will likely/happily be pulling out of Afghanistan soon). -I pointed out that Iran was a failure if anything BECAUSE we pulled out.
-If we wanted to add Cuba to our “empire” we could’ve done that when we beat the Spanish in the Spanish-American war, rather than give the island its own sovereignty.
-Didn’t mention Cambodia, but our influence was almost entirely thanks to the Vietnam war effort, and falls into the proxy war with Russia category. And moreover than that, when we pulled out of the area the country fell into civil war and the Khmer Rouge took control…. you know the people who committed the greatest acts of genocide since the Nazi’s.
-Didn’t mention Nicaragua, but Reagan deployed a TINY detachment of US paratrooopers to help defend Honduras from Nicaraguan intimidation and invasion (which they did invade btw).
-Didn’t mention Argentina and I’m sick of looking up your crap.

And this is all still ignoring that even in the cases where the US is actually helping to engineer political change in countries, to better their own cause…. we’re FAR from the only ones doing it. And even the “former” empires do it at great length.

And resent that label all you want, you clearly dislike our country for some unclear, or poorly informed reason.

tedd's avatar

@ETpro Uh oh, another US backed dictatorship taking over!!! link

ETpro's avatar

@tedd It is true the US has been meddling in Somalia for decades and began backing a coalition of anti al Qaeda warlords back in 2006. I’m of the opinion that in the case of Somalia, we probably couldn’t get anything worse for our efforts than what was happening there all on its own. We’ll just have to wait and see what comes of it all. If we get damned lucky—something that has not been a common outcome of our many covert operations—the wave of democracy sweeping the Middle East and North Africa may take hold there too, and we may actually see a functional state emerge from chaos. I certainly hope so.

WasCy's avatar

I don’t think that any of us not directly involved and sworn to secrecy on account of our involvement can have much more than an inkling of how successful our covert efforts might be, when they are. And I suspect that a great number of things are done covertly and by other diplomatic means that are never written about in contemporary newspapers, blogs or even WikiLeaks. That’s statecraft. We can speculate all we want, praise or damn it or try to ignore it, and it goes on all the time anyway.

We hear about failures, sometimes even then not all the time when they blow up spectacularly or publicly. And even then we probably get only fractions of the story. The world isn’t a Robert Ludlum or John LeCarr√© novel, but things are happening all around us all the time that we’re not aware of. Not all bad, either, and certainly not all due to ‘luck’.

ETpro's avatar

@WasCy There’s truth to that. Faliures can safely be released on Freedom of Information Act request. Successes have to remain hidden forever. If we boasted of a success, we’d for sure turn it into an instant disaster.

mattbrowne's avatar

I disagree with this prediction. Other countries are catching up or are outstripping the US, but this doesn’t mean that the US isn’t doing well in absolute terms now and in the future.

The greatest risk for the US’s future right now is the Tea Party and other ultra-conservative movements waging their war on science.

Western countries own the knowledge economy. We can’t compete with Asia when it comes to large-scale manufacturing of commodities.

Creativity and innovation are the greatest assets of both North America and Europe. Any war on science and anti-green technology stance poses a great threat to this.

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne One of the greatest challenges is to solve the sustainability problem, and boy is that ripe for the application of creativity and technology. You are right, more and more people in the developing world are catching up with the Western nations. Information Age technology lets them all see what luxury living is like, and they want in.

The problem is that if all 7 billion people on Earth lived exactly like Americans do today, we would need 5 Earths to find the resources for such a lifestyle. That is unfortunately not an option. So s/he who figures out how to live sustainably at a hogh level of comfort on the available resources of our one planet will become very wealthy, and will provide hundreds of millions or even billions of jobs lifting others out of poverty and into the middle class.

Of course, if American Teahadist take us back into their cherished 19th century, none of that will happen in America. But it will happen somewhere on Earth. It has to.

ETpro's avatar

Here’s some more fuel for the fire about how rapidly China’s economy is growing. First there is the news today that China’s leaders are trying to cool down GDP growth to 7%. They want to push instead for better quality of life. How happy would we be with our GDP growing by 7%. That would end our unemployment problems pronto.

Then there is this discussion on NPR. Be sure to click at the top and listen to the audio as well as read the text.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ETpro – Yes, indeed. However, we only need 5 Earths based on our level of civilization as of 2011. While it is true that some extravagant lifestyles like flying 2500 miles round trip for a nice weekend somewhere, or building a castle for 2 people having 25 rooms and 6 bathrooms won’t be available for the growing upper middle class, it is certainly possible to keep most of our accomplishments and comfort, like plastic products using biomaterials instead of crude oil. But this requires a giant leap in innovation, so we need young people who want to become scientists and engineers and teachers instead of lawyers and investment bankers.

The_Idler's avatar

Pays too well to sell out to the establishment though.

That said, in the end, as I say to all my friends studying Law or Banking & Finance or whatever,
“Come the revolution, you’ll be first against the wall…”

mattbrowne's avatar

Teahadist is an interesting coinage, btw.

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne Right. I am not advocating the whole world live like the most piggish Americans. We could live sustainably here and all have very fine, fulfilling lives. And we could make a major international industry of helping lift the developing world into good, sustainable living. Instead our Teahadist lobby to see who can drive the most gas guzzling truck on the block and make uthe most jokes about Global Warming being an Al Gore hoax. It’s sad.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ETpro – Here’s one of the root causes:

Teahadists lack compassion. The should take a look at this Charter

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne That’s a wonderful link. I’ve become convinced that there is a divide between those who see the world as a zero-sum equation, and those who see it as an infinite-sum equation. Zero sum types say there is a known quantity of pie and there is no more. I want a very big slice, so you need to settle for way less. Infinite sum types say you can just keep making more pie. Eat a whole pie if it doesn’t make you sick doing it. We’ll bake up some more.

To see how this works in real life, I can relate a true story from my youth. I had just gotten married and needed a summer job while trying to work my way through college. My new father in law was a long-time sheet-metal worker at a local company that made portable and truck-mounted air conditioners that are used at airports to cool planes while their engines are not running. He got me a job with the company working as a carpenter—something I had previously done for my dad’s construction company.

I worked there just three days and built a tool shed and a dog house for the owner’s guard dogs when the plant manager came out to where I was working, and asked to talk to me. He said he had noticed on my employment applicatin that I had studied drafting, and worked for the City’s surveys department drawing plot plans and new road projects. He asked me if I would be willing to switch jobs and work as a draftsman for the same pay I was getting as a carpenter. Of course, I said yes, but I wondered why he wanted me. I knew the company had a fully staffed engineering department with perhaps a dozen draftsmen, several engineers, a checker and a chef engineer (the owner’s son),

Buford explained that the engineering department was completely disconnected from reality when it came to how you actually make things. He said the bosses son would not listen to anyone, and was turning out drawings calling for dimensional tolerances that were utterly absurd and nonfactual as well as unnecessary.

He took me on a tour of the plant and showed me a glaring example. There was a big weldment made of 8 inch channel and I beams. It was the base for a portable air conditioner the size of a small house trailer. It’s two long sides were 8” channels and they had a long oblong hole cut in their middle so a forklift could poke its arms into the base, lift the air conditioner, and drop it where needed on an airport tarmac. The holes had to be flame cut with a blowtorch which was controlled by a pantograph following a hand-made oblong shape. The print called for the slot to be 48 inches long by 5 inches high and the tolerances were +/- 1/64th of an inch. Now I don’t know if you are familiar with flame cutting, but an acetylene torch isn’t going to produce a tolerance anywhere close to that. And there was utterly no reason to ask for the slot to be so closely controlled, since the forklift driver just gets off and kicks the arms to about the right spread to lift a palette or crate or air conditioner. He adjusts the arms to fit each load as he gets ready to lift it.

It would have required lots of time on a giant CNC milling machine to create the slot specified on the print. That would be a million dollar machine we didn’t have, and had no need of. And it would take far longer to program the milling machine and cut the slot than the cheap automated acetylene cutting machine took.

Buford wanted somebody like a wood worker, who understood how you make things and when tolerances actually matter, and when it’s fine to just land in the right ballpark. Well, that’s the background. Now the gist of the story.

I’d only worked as a draftsman for a couple of weeks in a drafting office out in the shop, separate of the engineering office which was up in the front of the building. One of the young draftsman came to my office and angrily confronted me. He said he had heard how much I was getting paid, and that it wasn’t fair. He warned me he was going to insist that they drop my pay to what he was making.

I was dumbstruck. “Why not instead ask that you get paid as much as me?” I asked him. But he was adamant. He wanted everyone lowered to his level. That was the only “fair” solution he could see.

Somehow Teahadists have been brilliantly brainwashed by right-0wing media and think-tank talking points to “think” that fair is that corporate CEOs have gone from making 51 times minimum wage in 1965 to making an average of 821 times minimum wage today. In that same time, the CEO’s top tax rate was cut from 70% on income over $200,000 in 1965 to 35% today. So CEOs today are getting 1600% more than they did in 1965 and paying half as much in taxes on it, and that’s OK to the Teahadist. He can only concern himself with the unfairness that a teacher, with a college degree, gets an average starting salary of $30,000 (much less than college grads in the private sector) but gets and “unfair” amount of healthcare and retirement benefits as part of her total wage package. It’s hard to figure out how to debate with somebody whose sense of logic is so addled by propaganda pushed by the corporatists.

iamthemob's avatar

Teahadist is my new favorite word.

woodcutter's avatar

@iamthemob i just got that. I like it

iamthemob's avatar

@woodcutter – I can’t take credit for it – I think @ETpro brought it into the conversation.

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob I can’t take credit for it either. I heard someone else use it, but have no idea who first coined the term. I think it might have been MSNBC’s Ed Schultz or one of his writers.

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