Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

10 Sure Signs America Is in Decline


Now that it’s painfully clear the U.S. is on a downward slide, the only question worth asking is when, precisely, did everything start to fall apart.  At what point in time did the pendulum begin swinging the other way?  Accordingly, history buffs, philosophers, and amateur intellectuals rejoice in debating this question.

Some say it was the Kennedy assassination.  Others say it was Vietnam, the first war this country ever lost.  Others say it was Watergate, the scandal that destroyed a president and shattered our faith in government.  Still others say it was Ronald Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers, a decision that put the zap on organized labor and set loose the dogs of unbridled corporate greed.

Personally, I think it all started in 1978, when TV weather people began referring to rain as “shower activity,” but that’s just me.

In any event, whatever it was that launched our decline, there can be no doubt that our best days are behind us.  And anyone who thinks otherwise might consider the following.

1.  Estonia has stronger labor laws than the U.S.  It’s true.  According to the OECD (Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development), Estonian workers have better protection than American workers.  Which raises the obvious, disturbing question:  Where is Estonia?

2.  Sarah Palin almost became Vice-President.  Americans can take a joke as much as the next guy, but that little stunt could have backfired.

3.  The movie Titanic beat out LA Confidential for the “Best Picture” Oscar in 1997.  A big, splashy movie squeezes out a smaller, well-crafted, artistic gem.  Quantity over quality.  Style over substance.  Ho-dads over surfers.

4.  The U.S. now has almost twice as many suicides as homicides.  In the 1970s, we were recognized as the murder capital of the industrialized West.  But our murder rate has dropped precipitously.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that we’ve taken to killing ourselves instead of other people.  Not an encouraging sign.

5.  In 1983, the U.S. military invaded Grenada, an island nation (132 sq. miles) roughly one-fourth the size of Phoenix, Arizona.  The justification for invading?  It was determined that Grenada represented a threat to U.S. security.

6.  In 2003, California, the most populous and, arguably, most diverse state in the union, recalled Gray Davis, a perfectly suitable governor, and replaced him with an ESL Austrian movie star whose physique was once described as a “condom stuffed with walnuts.”

7.  The Kardashians get better ratings than the PBS Evening News.

8.  In 2002, President George W. Bush lost consciousness after choking on a pretzel. Bush’s dog revived him by licking his face (something the First Lady regularly did to divert his attention from televised football). Washington survived Valley Forge, Kennedy survived PT-109, Reagan survived a gun shot.  And our commander-in-chief passes out from eating a pretzel.  Who can deny that our best days are behind us?

9.  The United States is in the midst of an obesity epidemic.  Babies are fat, children are fat, adults are fat.  Even American pets are becoming obese.  Oddly, this national obesity epidemic coincides with increasing annual expenditures on exercise equipment and athletic apparel.

10.  According to unofficial polls, 92-percent of Americans believe they have a Guardian Angel watching over them.  If that’s true, then these “guardians” need to step up to the plate, because we’re getting our rear-ends kicked.

DAVID MACARAY, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.   He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at


David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 25, 2016
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation wasted $32.2 million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians