the end of the world as we know it

An Inconvenient Fact: All Civilizations End. Is America Next? A Consultant's Perspective

Yahabebe Brown, Executive Coach
(Wordcount: 1,362; Pages: 4) Today, American military force is responsible for roughly 361 Iraqi and 6 Afghani deaths every single day (1). Our economic influence is felt even on uninhabited islands. And American leaders toss their weight around to compel hundreds of other countries to play by our rules. Given this reality we live in, it may be an unusual time to broach the subject of an American civilization in decline. But it's precisely because of these facts that American civilization is in decline.

Let's take a look at a few more facts:

- To secure their stranglehold over American consumerism, OPEC recently increased their power with the addition of Angola (2);

- An increasingly socialist South American continent is falling behind Venezuela to seriously oppose American dominion in the West;

- Corporate America is running to Europe and Asia to escape the strangulation of regulation and compensation;

- Since the dawn of mankind, stretching as far back as 7,000-10,000 years, according to University of Florida law professor Christopher Peterson in his book "Taming the Sharks: Towards a Cure for the High-Cost Credit Market", usurious and near-usurious lending has been one of the ignitions of citizen revolt and empire collapse. In a recent cursory analysis by this firm of publicly traded companies based in NY in 2006, over 85% are financial institutions, lending to government, business, home-owners, car-buyers, entrepreneurs, and students;

- Gunnar Heinsohn, a social scientist and genocide researcher at the University of Bremen, published a thesis claiming that wars and violence in much of history started not for ideology, purpose, or resources, but instead, too many young men with nothing else to do but get mad and violent at the way the old men prevented them from moving up within their society (3). As the U.S. approaches its 500 or 600 millionth citizen in 2050 (depending on the data you're looking at), a larger than expected bump in immigration, an anticipated burst of births after 2010, and a prolonged life-expectancy as high as 90 for everyone else, foretells an ominous combustible brew of anxiety, frustration, and violence in the U.S. (4);

- In case you're not an economist, the following is an economic "must-have" list for generating social unease: a weaker currency relative to other country's currencies (China, Europe), growing wealth inequality (including a shrinking, more indebted middle class with less purchasing power, low employment prospects, and higher costs of living), and trade deficits (that create a world less dependent on any one country). And, as I'm sure you've been alarmed by from watching the news and reading the unending stream of books by pundits, America can cross all these things from its list.

- According to the inventor of the internet, former Vice President Al Gore, our planet is messed up thanks to our frivolous use of planes, trains, and automobiles, which create greenhouse gases, and in turn create a warmer planet, which melt glaciers and kill species, and ultimately ruin the food chain and the future of all humanity. Now that we know for sure that all food comes from the earth, particularly corn ("The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals" by Michael Pollan), we can now more confidently claim that if we don't avoid an "eco-meltdown" ("Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" by Jared Diamond), we're really in big trouble.

So, has America's time come to an end?

Kelly McGowan, Upstream Consulting

Here's the good news: when this same question and facts were posed to the group of consultants that recently got together for the Consultant Entrepreneur's Forum, the consensus was that it takes about 200 years after an "empire" like America peaks before it falls. Seeing as how The United States of America is a little over 200 years old, we've still got a long way to go.

But, not so fast. We also recognized that with the advancement of infrastructure, including communications and transportation, we're condensing the amount of time between significant societal changes, a theory that validates our own perspective (5) on the shorter generation.

Thus, America's time is coming to end and a lot faster than historic trends suggest.

So, what should be done about that? Well, that seems to be the problem. In trying to do something about it, we're seemingly making things worse. From fencing off Mexico to expanding NATO into back into "friendly" Russia to forcing Iran and North Korea to disarm themselves or else(!), our efforts to prevent America's decline looks startlingly like the always unadvisable strategy of protectionism. Ironically, considering the effects of globalization, we may see a future where as many citizens are migrating out of the U.S. as there are immigrants coming in.

So how exactly do obsolete concepts like protectionism win supporters; where does America's "might" originate from; and why is it so easy to find cheeseburgers and Nikes anywhere in the world? It's because of you and me. Having been introduced to the wonders of "easy living", we'd rather die today than live without it.

Convenience and all its wonders, such as mass production and button-activated lifestyles, have produced a system that spends $13 trillion annually (6) and woe betide the impoverished man who, out of principles, refuses to stand aside of this tidal wave of demand to live easy. And with this gargantuan level of spending, mastered over a century of being the planet's #1 greedy bastard, American leaders tease, tempt, and trounce any and all obstacles to getting their way.


(1) To put this gore into perspective, during World War 2, the deadliest war in history, Iraq lost 0.50 citizens per day (not due to the War, but because of British occupation) while the U.S. lost 194. Afghanistan lost none. Or, it would be the equivalent of every single active duty Army solider falling in combat, or every single active duty Marine and Airman, combined. Sources:; World War 2 Casualties:; U.S. Military:; al berrios & co. analysis.

Based on al berrios & co. analysis, civilian casualties of all U.S. invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 are typically disputed by "official counts" to be approximately 10 times less than independent counts. There are various reasons including counts that include or exclude civilians, antagonizers, politicians; an inability to identify remains; inclusion or exclusion of national homicide rates in both countries that may potentially not be related to American occupation, etc. For the purposes of this analysis, we use official numbers conservatively multiplied by 10, but encourage the reader to do their own analysis.

Editor's Note: A long time ago, I entered a grocery store and started picking up candy bars and putting them in my coat pockets. I had no concept that what I was doing was wrong because it was so easy. In fact, it was so easy, I had about 20 candy bars in my pocket before the security officer grabbed me by the neck, hand-cuffed me, and threw me into his office for "processing". It was then that I learned the consequences of greed. (We'll leave the other lessons I learned out of this for now.)

Far be it from me to be an unpatriotic American, but considering total American deaths even remotely related to the 9/11 tragedy (approximately 6,130 as of this writing) and total Iraqi deaths even remotely related to our response to that tragedy (approximately 650,000, as of a July 2006 estimate), that means we've meted out an unspeakable 99 times more death and gore on a civilization that, in fact, was already proven to not be responsible for our tragedy in the first place. I guess this means democracy is winning, considering we also lost an approximate 600,000 Americans during our own Civil War. Given these numbers, I can't help asking myself: is this justice or greed? And what happens when America gets grabbed by the neck to be held accountable for what it's done?

(2) New Member Angola to underpin OPEC efforts to stabilize market,

(3) "Youth and war, a deadly duo", Christopher Caldwell for the Financial Times

(4) Census data; al berrios & co. analysis.

(5) Berrios, Al, "Peter Pan Was Right",

(6) CIA Factbook:;; al berrios & co. analysis.

Al Berrios is Managing Director of al berrios & co., a pure strategy consulting firm, specializing in advising organizations + entrepreneurs on managing their enterprises in a service economy. Write or Subscribe to Consumer Strategies Report.


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