America has been so successful for so long that we have become a soft, decadent, and complacent nation. We’re like the wealthy family of some long-dead industrialist, arguing about who gets to use the private plane this weekend, while the company he built that provides us our extravagant lifestyle falls to pieces around us. Our government is big, expensive, and incompetent. Our education system is mediocre. Our media is little more than a for-profit propaganda network and the American people are increasingly immoral, godless, and degenerate. We ignore those inconvenient facts because it’s more pleasant to focus on our powerful military, our increasingly borrowed wealth, and the achievements of corporations that we by turns, take pride in and despise.
Throughout history, great nations, regional powers, and empires have risen to prominence and have either been greatly diminished or have disappeared entirely. Over the last few decades, since America became overly confident of our eternal place in the sun after the fall of the Soviet Union, we have started treading the same path of those fallen countries. We can always change direction, but there are no guarantees that we will. Nor is there any guarantee that the disasters listed in this article will come to pass in the lifetimes of anyone reading them. What we have often seen in history is that a once-great nation that slides backward can often continue on for quite a while before some outside shock proves too great for it to absorb in its weakened state. In our case, it’s entirely possible that a debt-driven economic collapse will be that shock and that it will happen in the next decade or two, but no one truly knows exactly the time and place that sort of nightmare may occur.
What we can say is that an awful lot of very smart people are alarmed by what’s going on in this country and have grave doubts about where we’re headed. Are they wrong? Are they right? Are they right, but worrying too soon? We don’t know yet, but what you are about to see are not unreasonable worries. They are things that could happen to you or your children. Perhaps if enough of us see these possibilities and do something about them, this country can remain a beacon of light and hope instead of shaking itself to pieces.
1) That there will be no revolution/secession/civil war: The level of hatred between many Americans on the Left and Right is growing so intense that it’s quite easy to see the country splitting into pieces. That could be peaceful or violent, relatively isolated (California or Texas splitting off) or widespread, messy, or relatively clean. The only thing that is sure is that we’d be better off together as a nation than separating, but at some point, it seems quite possible we’ll decide that we just can’t live together anymore.
2) That America will always be a Republic: An increasingly incompetent government that can’t keep law and order, reduced confidence in the fairness of our elections, and the military being one of the most trusted institutions in America sounds like a recipe for a dictatorship. Hopefully, it will never happen, but they probably said the same thing in Rome before Caesar took over.
3) That Social Security and Medicare will continue on in their current form: Contrary to the comforting, but false claims you may be hearing from D.C. and the media, we are currently paying for Medicare and Social Security with borrowed foreign money. At some point, we will no longer be able to get that cheap foreign money and we will have to dramatically cut our two biggest budget items, Social Security and Medicare to make up for it.
4) That a nuclear bomb will never go off in America: Fear of America’s nuclear arsenal may be enough to discourage any nation from firing a nuclear missile at us, but if Iran is allowed to get nuclear weapons, we are guaranteed to see nukes spread all across the Middle East. Once we have a large enough number of potentially hostile nations, unstable nations, or nations with anti-American factions in them, we could see nukes carried across our porous borders by terrorists into our country from parts unknown. There are a lot of groups that would nuke America if they thought they could get away with it and we could be a decade or two away from there being a real possibility of that happening.
5) That this will always be a rich nation: It’s increasingly easy and practical for rich people and large corporations to relocate to other nations. As law and order erode, taxes increase, regulations multiply, hostility towards the wealthy escalates, and our school system produces more and more students indoctrinated in social justice, whining, and entitlement instead of reading, writing, and mathematics, we may see a lot of money flee our shores, leaving behind a much poorer nation.
6) That the majority of our population will be able to work: As advances in AI make the workplace more efficient, automation replaces people and we continue to allow massive numbers of unskilled laborers to cross our border at will, we may start to see larger and larger groups of the population that are legitimately unable to find jobs. This rather famously happened in ancient Rome for different reasons. It led to violent, increasingly dangerous mobs that had to be placated with bread and circuses. It’s not hard to see us in the same position.
7) Low taxes on the middle class: Contrary to all the “why aren’t the rich paying their fair share” rhetoric you may hear, Americans actually have the most progressive tax system in the Western world. Because the rich have the ability to move and the influence to have loopholes put in the law, it would be difficult to loot an even higher percentage of their wealth than we already do. What that means is that the American middle class will have to be taxed at a MUCH HIGHER rate in the future than they are today as part of an effort to keep the deficit under control. Eventually, it’s always the middle class that ends up paying for big government. Given that we have the biggest big government in the history of big governments, if you’re a middle-class American, do the math on what your tax bill is going to look like in the coming years.
8) That you can just go to the store and buy what you want: During the early days of the coronavirus, “just-in-time shipping” failed us. When we saw massive increases in demand for things like masks, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer, we saw shortages that lasted for months in some cases. Now, imagine the same situation, except with food in general. Could that happen? Absolutely. Something like an EMP that went off in the atmosphere, solar flares, or some sort of surprising climate disruption could lead to massive shortages of food. Given the limited number of refineries in the U.S. and the weakness of our central power grid, it’s not unimaginable that we might have to go for quite a while without fuel or power at some point. If you’re assuming that you can just pop into Wal-Mart and get anything you want, you may be in for a big surprise one day.
9) That the government won’t try to confiscate your guns: It seems bizarre that anyone would still be seriously discussing gun control after left-wing rioters were allowed to run wild all summer with minimal police interference, but here we are. A real attempt at gun confiscation would be likely to lead to widespread bloodshed and violence, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of people on the Left advocating it.
10) That no one will prey on your children with the blessing of the state: Today, there are a lot of people on the Left pushing transsexualism on children. Some of them even go so far as to advocate pedophilia. I don’t think it would shock anyone at this point to see liberals openly calling for relationships between adults and children or calling for mandatory hormone blockers for children so they can “choose their gender” when they grow older even as they deride everyone that opposes these things as bigots. Unless they start seeing more political blowback for the bizarre policies they are already advocating, you can bet liberals will go further and further down this dark and bizarre path.
John Hawkins is the author of 101 Things All Young Adults Should Know.