Mark Steyn is no stranger to controversy and to the particularly scathing vain of apocalyptic social commentary. In 'America Alone' he addressed an increasing sense of isolation on the part of America in world that seems to be irrevocably sliding away from the many principles that had built the Western Civilization. Unfortunately, in the intervening years even America and Americans have been drifting away from those same values and principles, and in Steyn's view are headed towards the inevitable doom. In 'After America' he presents his case for this assessment.
A doomsday books ought not to be this much fun to read. Steyn's wit, erudition, and style are second to none in today's polemical political punditry, and in his latest book he's been combining them and using them to the max. He strips naked all the liberal sacred cows and reduces to the brutal essentials many of the big-state arguments from the left. Steyn argues that the recent encroachment on individual liberties in the US under the Obama administration, and a concomitant increase of the nanny state, are actively undermining the political and economic health of America, and make it far less competitive in the ever more treacherous seas of the changing geopolitical realignments. Aside form the economic uncompetitiveness, it's the lack of leadership when it comes to individual freedom that is rapidly eroding America's unique leadership position. As many generations of immigrants have known for well over two centuries, including Steyn and myself, America has for well over two centuries been a beacon to all who try to escape or overcome tyranny in all parts of the world.Lire la suite ›
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394 internautes sur 441 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Steyn Downgrades America to "Pining for the Fjords"8 août 2011
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It is eerily prophetic that Steyn's book was released August 8th, 2011, the first business day after Standard and Poor downgraded America from a AAA credit rating. Sadly, per Steyn, it is only the first, and mildest, of the blows America is to receive in the near future. The outcome will likely not be pretty.
Still, if you must cross the River Styx, it is at least enjoyable to have Steyn as your ferryman. With his trademark wit, he manages to leaven the bad news. It makes for an enjoyable book, if not an inviting future.
If you have been reading or listening to Steyn, his complaints are not new. The United States has been developing an ennervating, over-regulated, freedom -stifling, and ultimately unsustainable welfare state for generations, and that process accelerated under Pelosi's Congress and Obama's Presidency. It has long been said that things that can't go on forever, won't. Well, the U.S. economy is leaving the town of Can't in the rearview mirror as it accelerates headlong into to the uncharted land of Won't.
However, just because it is uncharted, don't think that it can't be predicted, and Steyn manages to do this as well. The world after America will be a Hobbesian thing, with life that is "nasty, brutish, and short". And sadly, there probably won't be too many Steyn's around to lighten the mood. The last time Steyn broached the decline of the West, in America Alone, he was dragged before the Canadian Thought Crimes Tribunal (or whatever they called it) for criticizing Islam. Don't imagine that satire will flourish After America.
For all that, though, I believe Steyn wants desperately to be wrong (as I pray he is). It is possible to view this as a visit from America's Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (except a talkative ghost, who's good with the one liner). Read this, get your friends to read this, and heed it as a warning. It doesn't _have_ to end this way.
Finally, from Robert Heinlein, an appropriate quote: "Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as `bad luck'."
Look for a run of "bad luck" in the future, if we don't heed the warning.
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THIS BOOK SHOULD BE GIVEN TO EVERY MEMBER OF OUR GOVERNMENT.8 août 2011
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Steyn takes aim at the people who have driven the US to this economic Armageddon with his usual razor wit. The man seems incapable of writing a dull sentence.
The cover of Steyn's book shows a dead Uncle Sam, flat on his back and with a toe tag. Steyn is not warning about a coming American decline. "We're already in it" he announces with gloomy relish, "What comes next is the fall--fast, sudden, off the cliff" (p 13).
And who is at the helm as this wreck is taking place, it's ... wince...Obama. Obama, who promised us hope and change and gave us that wild, draconian suggestion--in his Debt Commission--to raise "the age of Social Security eligibility to sixty-nine...By the year 2075" (p 8).
Gee. Imagine the courage it took to suggest that dramatic change.
To think that Michael Beschloss said about Obama the day after his election, "He's probably the smartest guy ever to become president" (p 55). I wouldn't be surprised to hear Beschloss has retired to France under an assumed name.
The Barackracy, as Steyn puts it, is going to lead us as far and as fast as they can away from the American Dream. In twenty years like this Steyn predicts we'll be "living the American Nightmare, with large tracts of the country reduced to the favelas of Latin American, the rich fleeing for Bermuda....and the rest trapped" (p 22).
Europe and all the American left imagined they could wrench money from the wealthy, or just print money if they had to, and provide endless nanny state happiness. Free medical care. Long vacations. Assured jobs with little hard work. Bliss and free lunches for all.
And it even worked for a while in Europe, when there were between seven to ten young adults being taxed for each senior citizen. Then a funny thing happened. The Europeans stopped reproducing. It was as if all of Europe woke up one day having decided to commit suicide. In Germany, for example, one out of every three women is childless. And the women who do have a child frequently only have only one.
So all too soon, across Europe there will be two young adults supporting every retired senior citizen.
Oh, and did I mention the debt the two young adults will also have to pay off due to the ever profligate welfare state?
Furthermore, Steyn points out how uncontrollable medical costs have been even for the most strictly controlled economies. In Canada the health budget "increased from nearly 35 percent...in 1999 to 46 percent today. In Ontario...it is set to reach 80 percent by 2030" (p 228).
Somehow I doubt those` two young adults in Ontario will be able to afford many vacations.
All this perfect storm of economic bad news is coming at the worst time possible, given our cultural state.
As Steyn puts it, "the story of the last forty years is the mainstreaming of rock -star morality" (p 232), not to mention the wreckage of traditional marriage. In the US over 40% of our children are illegitimate. "Entire new categories of crime have arisen in the wake of familial collapse, like the legions of daughters abused by their mom's latest live-in boyfriend" (p 234).
What will happen to all the children raised in fragmented families if the economy really collapses?
This is an important book, compelling and at times frightening. I hope it will be widely read.
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Running out of tomorrow8 août 2011
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Canadian-born Mark Steyn has long been one of the top conservative wits and most acerbic critics of modern liberalism. One of my favorite lines from the immigration debate is his: "When in Rome, do as the Visigoths do." Up through his last book, America Alone, he has promoted the U.S. as the last hope for freedom and civil society while showing how Europe and the rest of the world was falling apart. With After America, Steyn claims that America too is bound to the same fate.
His argument is straightforward, and familiar to anyone paying attention to the debt crisis--he claims that America has gone from a nation of producers to a nation of borrowers, as he puts it, "from a nation of aircraft carriers to a nation of debt carriers." And he brings this fact into stark perspective--China can and will have the power to overtake America in all economic and military capacities. This is not a far-fetched prospect since China owns so much of our debt. Steyn notes that our debt service alone could fun China's military--even if China quadrupled its military budget.
He sums up the situation with one great Steynism after another. "When government spends on the scale Washington's got used to, that's not a spending crisis, it's a moral one." "Globaloney." "Mad Max on the New Jersey Turnpike?" "From federally regulated bake sales to Armageddon--in nothing flat." and, my favorite, "We've spent too much of tomorrow today--to the point where we've run out of tomorrow."
Critics will certainly balk at the author's unabashed biases (he constantly jabs at Obama's "Audacity of Hope," for instance, "The Stupidity of Broke."). But he can't be convicted--he chastises both major parties because neither has shown restraint on spending. A more powerful critique would point out that Steyn makes no real effort to analyze the reasons for government intervention, which, though their consequences are clearly paralyzing, began with valid concerns. For a fuller examination of the evolution of Western political economy, I would recommend Juggernaut: Why the System Crushes the Only People Who Can Save It.
Meanwhile, this book provides exactly what we need in a time when we need it most--a kick in the head. And there's no writer in the world that provides a wittier, punchier kick than this. Your call America!
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Mark Steyn's "After America" strikes the right balance between gloom and hilarity8 août 2011
Mr. Andrew Lawton
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In November of 2010, bestselling author and radio personality Mark Steyn gave a speech in London, Ontario, Canada entitled "Head for the Hills: Why everything in your world is doomed." While comical, Steyn put forth a very negative outlook for the West that addressed a lot of the major demographic challenges facing Western nations.
Steyn, is his new book After America: Get ready for Armageddon (Regnery Publishing) the much anticipated sequel to America Alone: The End of the world as we know it, focuses almost exclusively on the United States. The country that once shone as the beacon of wealth and freedom to the world lost its way, and Steyn doesn't pretend that patriotism and belief in American exceptionalism alone can fix the problems plaguing the nation.
At one point in After America Steyn recounts a speech from Dennis Prager in which Prager dispelled myths that America's biggest threat was Barack Obama. Prager said that if Obama were to drop dead, nothing would change. Rather, the threat was that "we have not passed on what it means to be American to this generation."
That's what Steyn sets out to change in his newest book.
Mark Steyn brings to light the fact that the 111th Congress (2009-2010) spent more than Congresses 1-100 (1789-2009)...combined, that in just a few years, the U.S. will be spending more money on debt service than on its military, and the money spent on interest payments will be enough to fund the entire Chinese military, and many other shocking facts, accompanied by an in depth analysis of why people need to care.
Drawing from some of the greatest thinkers of the past and present in his book, Steyn brings home lessons that people should have learned through history, particularly the recent history of Europe's economic and cultural crash, as well as many anecdotes and chapters in ancient history. Most shocking was Steyn's use of classic novels to illustrate his points. The shock comes not from an author using fiction to make his case for the decline of America, but that what's happening in the present day is so unprecedented, plot lines previously thought of as bizarre fantasy have become reality.
Make no mistake: in the author's eyes, the United States is not facing a decline -- the decline is already happening, and has been since mid century. What's next for America is a fall, a plummet, and the result is not pretty.
In addressing how the U.S. got to this point, Steyn seems to suggest that over-education (the word "education" requires a very loose interpretation when discussing North American universities) and ever-increasing focus on feelings over pragmatism is one of the primary catalysts for the disaster that lies ahead. The average American is twice as old when they finish school as they were in 1940, and that was the generation that won a war and created more innovation for the United States than any generation prior.
Steyn's After America is more than a summary of current events; it's a textbook for common sense that every patriot needs.
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Could have been waaaay better8 novembre 2011
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Firstly, I should mention that I'm a conservative who firmly believes we need a government that's far more fiscally responsible, and smaller. What I don't want is a government that thinks it needs to wipe my arse for me and pass along the bill to my kids and grandkids. Frankly, I think most of my personal views are aligned with Mark's; which is why I was so looking forward to After America. It did start off really good. He stuck to facts and statistics and really starting laying out what was actually going on in America. Then, it seems, he ran out of things to say. So he decided to simply bash the left, page after page after tiring page. Adding to the tedium he seemed to think it was clever to put "ocrat" on the end of words. And it was, for the first few times. I stuck it out as best I could, reading page after page and chapter after chapter, waiting for Mark to move on from bashing the left and get back to explaining how the system's broken and broke and what we need to do to fix it. Maybe somewhere along the way he does, but I just couldn't keep reading. In fairness, I have been known to bash the left myself from time to time, and I usually enjoy when it's done by others, but I was hoping for so much more from this book. Remove the needless bashing and cut out the "ocrats" and this book could have been a short story. Finally, I should add that Mark does include a lot of startling information that I did not know. For that I'm giving it three stars. If he'd avoided the blame game and stuck to the story I would have given it 4.5 stars.