Mark Steyn, in the most recent National Review hardcopy, speaking about how the fall of Rome may apply today:
Hayek's greatest insight in "The Road to Serfdom" is psychological; "There is one aspect of the change in moral values brought about by the advance of collectivism which at the present time provides special food for thought," he wrote with an immigrant's eye on the Britain of 1944. "It is that the virtues which are held less and less in esteem and which consequently become rarer are precisely those on which the British people justly prided themselves and in which they were generally agreed to excel. The virtues possessed by Anglo-Saxons in a higher degree than most other people, excepting only a few of the smaller nations, like the Swiss and the Dutch, were independence and self-reliance on voluntary activity, noninterference with one's neighbor and tolerance of the different and queer, respect for custom and tradition, and a healthy suspicion of power and authority." Two-thirds of a century on, almost every item on the list has been abandoned, from "independence and self-reliance" (40 percent of the people receive state handouts) to "a healthy suspicion of power and authority: - the reflex response now to almost any passing inconvenience is to demand the government "do something," the cost to individual liberty be damned.
Well, that's Great Britain, it cannot happen here, right? Well, it certainly won't occur in such a cushy manner ...
Why did decline prove so pleasant in Europe? Because it was cushioned by American power. The United States is such a perversely non-imperial power that it garrisons not ramshackle colonies but its wealthiest "allies," from Germany to Japan For most of it's members, "the Free World" has been a free ride. And that, too, is unprecedented. Even the few NATO members that can still project meaningful force around the world have been able to arrange their affairs on the assumption of the American security umbrella; In the United Kingdom, between 1951 and 1997 the proportion of government expenditure on defense fell from 24 percent to 7, while the proportion on health and welfare rose from 22 percent to 53.
So, when we decline, who will have our back? When our national expenditures on health and welfare rise to 53% and 40% of our population receive state handouts), who is going to send aid down to Haiti?