If the US goes into full decline, what were the main causes?

This. Let’s focus in, it’s the Republican Party. I don’t know how far back to blame them for what we face now but the post-WWII Republican Party has made a mission of destroying this country primarily because they hate income taxes of any kind. They want an economic elitist WASP society and cannot stand the idea that this country functions to the benefit of anyone but themselves.

With real citations within.

Tl;dr: it’s not just you.

I wouldn’t necessarily count on it, though. As I’ve pointed out on another thread, the United States might face the effects of climate crisis even before the climate crisis gets real here. Populations in South America, Central America, and Mexico could potentially become climate refugees in the millions - perhaps the tens of millions per year. Where do you think they’re going to (at least attempt) to go? You remember how the Middle Eastern refugee crisis impacted Europe, right? Well that’s probably us at some point in the not too distant future.

Climate change is already real in the US, from catastrophic wildfire to increased hurricanes to problems with crop growing and rising sea levels along the coasts. It just hasn’t inconvenienced the 1% sufficiently for them to give a damn. There are still far too many people happy to continue to profit from the status quo even if that means throwing other people under the bus.

But yes, we are already seeing mass movement of people due to climate change induced alterations in climate. The movement of people from the Middle East to Europe is one manifestation (yes, there were wars inducing that movement, but unrest and war follows climate change and food shortages). The movement of people from Central American is another.

Would not surprise me if we get one from the burning West Coast going eastward, which is going to make some in the Great Plains crap their pants about those “foreigners” that are “invading” “their” country.

We think of the Heartland as being the bread basket of the country, but the West Coast is a serious player in terms of agriculture and agribusiness, and were we to have prolonged climate instability there, which seems likely, actually, then that’s going to have a tremendous impact on the rest of the country.

Beyond that, there’s the issue of water supply. Las Vegas gets its water from Lake Mead. Most of ‘San Angeles’ gets its water from rivers like the Colorado River. The Bay Area gets its water from Sierra snow melt. Atmospheric changes that occur over just a 5-10 year period could have cataclysmic consequences for residents in these areas if we’re talking about extreme drought, which is not unheard of anymore.

I look at our polarization and how our response to a public health crisis was politicized to the point where millions of people have suffered needlessly because of hyperpartisanship and misinformation. I don’t have much faith that our response to climate change - a much more dangerous situation - will be any better. In fact, because climate change causes real scarcity, on top of scarcity that is merely perceived, i would expect the outcome to be far worse.

The Great Plains are the “breadbasket” because that is the place the literal ingredients for bread - grains - are grown in large amounts. California is the “fruit, nut, and vegetable basket”, growing something like half of those categories for the rest of the nation.

The thing is, you can’t maintain orchards and vineyards where the landscape burns every year. You can’t grow anything where there is no water, and most of the water of California agriculture is imported from elsewhere. The Colorado hasn’t made the full run to the sea in decades and it’s only going to get worse.

Anti-science and anti-intellectualism, both of which it seems that I’ve been dealing with my entire life, wealth inequality (a recent study showed that if the country had 1970-level wealth inequality, the average employee would be making $92,000 per year now), unsupportable health care (life expectancies declining, especially for white men!) and an outdated and unrepresentative election system (I know, I know, Red Wiggler always comes back around to elections).

We’re a fucking mess and getting worse every year.

The fractionalized consumer driven “news” media that finds it more lucrative to pander to the preconceived ideology of a niche set of viewers than to accuracy.

The GOP is bad news, but it is only radical because radicalism is what its voters want. And the voters are only radical because their entire reality has been warped by right wing media. But the right wing media only portrays this warped reality because that is what their viewers want. But they want it because their view of the world has been warped by the media, and so on in an ever spiraling positive feed back loop going on for decades.

We are now in a media world where people can choose their own reality, and most people choose one where all of their preconceived notions are the right ones, and they are in an epic struggle against the forces of darkness as represented by the other side whose media are filled with nothing but lies. Once you are in a reality of your own choosing it is very hard to escape.

While that is technically true, I think that statement gives the impression that most CA water comes from outside CA. It doesn’t, the Colorado river notwithstanding. Rather while a majority of the water for SoCal agriculture IS imported, it is “imported” from…NorCal :wink:.

Water is becoming an increasing issue less because of a decrease in CA average precipitation and more from the increasingly erratic and compressed water years coupled with warmer winters.The warmer winters in particular with more high elevation rainfall and less snowfall are greatly reducing the traditional snowpack/spring runoff system. Water that comes down as rain is captured to some extent in reservoirs and aquifers, but less securely and efficiently than the snowpack.

But your larger point certainly stands. It is likely for example that a fair bit of this year’s wine grape crop is already ruined because the grapes can absorb smoke and pass on a tainted flavor to the wine. There is apparently no way to tell how bad it will be until you attempt to make the wine and if tainted it is unrecoverable. Fruit and nut trees are dropping leaves early/failing to go into bud because of the sudden loss of light. Etc. It’s much like a severe unseasonable cold snap - a short window of inclement weather can have an unusually out-sized impact on specific agricultural productions. The more disruptions you have in a given year, the more fragile agricultural yields become and even many large commercial farms work on tight margins.

American decline seems to be rooted in changes in its culture. People became short-sighted and unable to solve problems due to “emotional thinking” and tribalistic thinking.

The forces of inertia (in its institutions) kept the country going, until resistance due to emotional and tribalistic thinking interfered with the institutions too much. So with COVID-19, the public health institutions were weakened by an administration voted in by short-sighted, emotional tribalistic people.

The issue is concentrated on the right, including the Republican Party, which includes believers, people who exploit these believers, and people in between (sort of like a snake oil salesman or a cultist who bought their own product). However the far-left runs into some of these same problems.

These same problems have struck outside of politics. The US has a large anti-vaxxer movement, alternative health movement, homeschooling movement, and so forth, often based on maladaptive thinking. It doesn’t help that there are actual problems in the health and education institutions, sometimes (but not always) caused by this kind of thinking.

This is something I’ve noticed also.

Government organizations that (until recently) didn’t have much of a political role have been massively outperforming the ability of elected officials to respond to problems in our country. Obviously this is going to happen everywhere to some degree but the gap is stark at this point. I also think it prevents horrible policies especially from the Trump administration from causing damage in obvious, immediate ways so the public doesn’t always understand the problem and what to expect from their elected officials as to how to fix it.

I would pinpoint the main cause as a lack of delayed gratification.

For decades, America has been a nation of spenders rather than savers, a nation where running up debt is the norm, where people have to have their marshmallow now rather than wait half an hour for the psychologist to come back with extra ones, etc. And in this pandemic, we saw how many people vehemently rejected things like lockdowns or distancing because they didn’t want to put up with some short-term inconvenience for the sake of much bigger longterm payoff.

The difference is, is that those organizations hummed away in the background. A politician would say, “We’ll get on this” and then turn it over to the machinery of the government to get it done.

Now, these organizations are leaderless, or even have people running them that are against their core mission, so rather than having the politician then take the results from the government machine and claim credit, the agencies are having to find their own ways of getting information out.

Don’t disagree.

I’m not saying that Reagan caused it, but he certainly played off it.

Carter said, “If you are cold, don’t turn up your heat, put on a sweater.”

Reagan said “It’s morning in America!”

That was really when we all started living beyond our means.

Wages didn’t go up, but spending did. People saved less, invested less, borrowed more. The fed deficit went from a small fraction of the budget to a pretty significant chunk, and of course, taxes on the wealthy went down, way down.

All of this wealth that people didn’t save or had to borrow ended up being transition to the hands of the ultra wealthy.

Income inequality will be the co-morbidity of the decline of the US. It’s not what will kill us, just as AIDS isn’t what kills someone infected with HIV, but it sets the stage and makes us vulnerable to whatever comes along and rocks the cart.

I want to point out that you’re probably talking about commercial reactor cores; we definitely retain the capability in an absolute sense, in that we routinely refuel and build nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, and I somehow doubt the Pentagon is buying foreign reactors or parts.

But the ultimate culprit with a lot of this is globalization. When companies can shop around for factory locations where labor is cheap, it enables them to price things low, which essentially forces their competition to do the same thing, or automate in order to compete. Even without a race to the bottom, the relentless drive to cut costs drives companies to outsource or build stuff in countries where labor is low, which is NOT the United States. I mean, why would a company pay workers $7.50+ per hour to make cheap goods in the US, when they could pay a quarter that, or possibly less to make them in China, and not have to toe the line on worker protection, etc… either?

It’s not so much some sort of moral failing of modern-day Americans, but rather a consequence of the world we live in. The alternatives aren’t really palatable- we could I suppose, incentivize companies to buy American, which would require either big subsidies to offset the extra cost of American-made parts (due to higher labor), or would require consumers to pay higher prices for American-made goods. Neither of which would be popular I suspect.

The catch in the longer haul is that it has let our manufacturing base wither somewhat, and along with that, the higher-paying jobs that come with it.

I’m with razordance; in the long haul, the accelerating pace of that kind of thing due to technological advancement (robotics, AI, machine learning) is going to be a big problem, and how we deal with it is going to determine where we are relative to the rest of the world in the future.

Here is a chart showing savings rates since 1960. I’m not seeing any recent decrease in savings - we’re doing much better than 2004, say.
I don’t think objection to lockdowns is an example of short term thinking, since it is clearly related to the objection to wearing masks. I’d say it is more an example of distrust of government (fostered by those in the federal government today) and lack of scientific understanding at even a basic level.

If someone else is willing to do something for less than you are, then it makes economic sense to let them do it, and for you to do something else.

The problem is, what do they do with their profit?

If they pass it along to the consumer, in terms of lower prices, then that’s a good thing. And some of that happens.

But if they take that profit for themselves, then that is an inefficiency in the market, and the economy suffers for it.

And then the externalities, of course. People complain about the GHG that China puts out, but then don’t acknowledge that it is being put out on our behalf. If we were producing all our own goods, then we’d be putting out that CO[sub]2[/sub] ourselves. Instead, we offload it to them then pat ourselves on the back for decreasing our footprint.

And of course, if people are working for less than a living wage, or are actually enslaved, then there are some human rights issues that we should object to, not profit from.

Exactly. If we shut down trade with China, those factory jobs aren’t coming back. They will be automated, so that job that we lost in the 80’s or 90’s or even just a decade ago is going to be done by a machine now. Factories will need a fraction of the workforce, and that workforce will need a completely different set of skills.

By recent, sure. But there is definitely a difference between the savings rate in 1960 and 1970 than from 1980 onward.

Fox News

Do we really have any evidence that companies are just capturing that profit? Everything I’ve ever read or learned in business school points more toward a race toward the bottom type situation w.r.t. sourcing cheap raw materials/components from China, or in sourcing cheap labor from the developing world. The sort of situation where if one manufacturer does it, then all the others are compelled to, because they can’t compete otherwise.

In a lot of ways, US manufacturing labor has been priced out of the global labor market, and in varying degrees, so have all Western countries. And where they haven’t, it’s more due to the fact that other aspects of the manufacturing process have been highly automated, freeing up $$ for the more manual aspects. Most of this high price is good stuff- worker safety, higher wages, minimum wages, unemployment insurance, taxes, etc… but the fact remains that developing world people are paid considerably less.

That’s the way things are going; jobs are becoming increasingly automated through the use of robotics coupled with machine learning and AI. It used to be that only really super-rote jobs would be automated- taking body panels and spot welding them together, for example. It was advantageous and actually produced a better product to have a machine do it exactly the same way every single time, rather than have a guy or two slap them in a jig and hit the foot pedal to weld them together. But for a long time, that sort of automation was all that could be done economically. Or to have prerecorded messages and call trees to direct callers to actual people for help.

Now we have the ability to have the robots actually do steps that require evaluation and decisions. In the call-in example, they can actually parse the caller’s speech and identify the question and sometimes even pull the correct information from other systems and generate a correct response. Stuff like “Why was my water bill so high in August” would be responded automatically with something like “You used 2x the water in August than you did in July (XXXX gallons), which is why it was more expensive. Would you like an irrigation audit to determine if your lawn sprinklers are working properly?” and then go on to set up the audit. All with nobody human involved on the receiving end. Great for call centers, but not so good for the people who used to answer the phones. Same thing for food service- we’re not far I suspect from fully automated fast food places/kiosks. Again, great for consumers, but not so good for workers if you can buy a real Big Mac from a vending machine.

That’s going to be the biggest challenge I suspect, and how the US handles it is going to largely define our world standing in the future. Less jobs and more people- how do we make that work, along with likely increasing immigration of all sorts, resource challenges, and other natural world issues like climate change induced sea level rise, etc…