Because of massive debt. And the empire probably won’t fade away gradually; it’s likely to crumble in a short span of time.
In this speech delivered in Sidney, Niall Ferguson tells the Australians something they don’t want to hear: The American “empire,” in which the Aussies are a junior partner and major beneficiaries, will not last long. While there is a long-running theme in Western thought that empires inevitably rise and decline in a process that stretches out over centuries, the prolific author and Harvard financial historian warns that change is likely to come suddenly and terribly.
Ferguson likens empires to “complex systems,” which may seem to be in equilibrium but beneath the surface are continually evolving and are subject to major discontinuities, or crises. When things go wrong in a complex system, there is a tendency to move from stability to instability quite quickly.
Imperial falls are typically associated with fiscal crisis, Ferguson observes — specifically crisis resulting from the mounting cost of servicing a public debt. In 1543, when imperial Spain was at the height of its powers, 2/3 of the empire’s revenue was dedicated to supporting interest payments on loans. By 1598, interest payments actually exceeded revenue. When interest payments consume a nation’s entire revenue, he says dryly, “it’s game over.”
In France, the debt service of the state rose from one quarter of the budget in 1751 to 62% by 1788. The French Revolution was triggered in 1789 by the assembly of the Estates-General to deal with a fiscal crisis. The situation quickly spun out of control. The nearly 1,000-year-old monarchy was overthrown. Two years later, Louis XVI was beheaded.
The Ottoman Empire, the so-called “sick man of Europe,” ran up its debt service from 17% of state revenues in 1868 to 50% by 1877, after which its European holdings began to disintegrate.
Likewise, the fall of the British Empire was presaged by vast war debts incurred during World War I, which hampered rearmament in face of the Nazi threat, and the ensuing World War II. Said Ferguson: “Alarm bells should be ringing very loudly in Washington, D.C.” But they’re not, he added.
Hollywood is using the shows that are popular with teenagers to foist homosexual propaganda on them.
As it becomes more common for teenagers to realize — and then tell others — that they are gay or lesbian, there is also a growing number of teen characters on TV programs geared toward teens going through the same thing. The CW’s “90210,” which returns on Jan. 24, joins the ranks of shows like “Glee,” “Gossip Girl,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Hellcats,” “Greek” and the new MTV series “Skins” in showcasing young, gay roles.
So it was that Teddy — a “90210″ character most fans had written off as a rich playboy whose latest infatuation was ex-girlfriend Silver — hooked up with classmate Ian at the beginning of this season and slowly admitted the truth about himself. And Adrianna Tate-Duncan ( Jessica Lowndes), another of Teddy’s exes on “90210,” experimented with bisexuality last season.
This phenomenon can be seen in “Degrassi,” the Canadian teen drama whose current version is in its 10th season and airs on TeenNick in the U.S. The show has existed in various iterations and over the years has moved from having a main character with an older gay brother to covering two male coming-out story lines, a lesbian and a questioning character. It currently features a transgender teen figure named Adam, played by actress Jordan Todosey.
Teen coming-out stories seem especially relevant, after reports of physical and cyber bullying reached a boiling point last year with a number of gay teen suicides. “Hellcats,” a new CW series about college cheerleading, tweaked a plot line this season after it ended up too closely mirroring the events that reportedly led to the death of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi. Shows like “Glee” and “Degrassi” have presented intense story lines about bullying, while “Pretty Little Liars” and “Gossip Girl” — both based on young adult novels in which every character has something salacious jangling in his or her closet — have included “I know your secret” cyber threats.
“The idea of taking Eric’s sexuality and be able to tell that story in the language of the show” was important, “Gossip Girl” executive producer Stephanie Savage said of a story line in Season 1 in which Serena’s younger brother publicly revealed that he had been kissing the handsome blue-blood who ladder-climber Jenny Humphrey was passing off as her boyfriend. “We didn’t want to stop ‘Gossip Girl’ and have a ‘very special episode’ about Eric.