© Sean Stone
En dokumentarfilm i fire dele, A Century of War (Et århundrede i krig) søger at finde svar på hvad der ledte til kollapset af den amerikanske industri og manufaktur sektor og økonomi, og hvad for skridt der kunne tages for at genoplive den i en post-industrielt samfund. Serien var skabt af Sean Stone, og co-hostet af RT America's Watching the Hawks show.






Kommentar: Denne artikel er delvis oversat til dansk af sott.net fra: 'A Century of War': A Sean Stone documentary looks at the reasons the American middle class is 'in despair'


In the first two parts of the four-part documentary, Prometheus Gift and Collapse at Home: Devastation Abroad, Stone takes viewers on an encyclopedic journey through the industrial and manufacturing age of 1900s up to the present day. "What happened to the American century? What happened to the American ideal of progress?" Stone asks. "While we see the projections of American power abroad, the homeland suffers from industrial de-evolution."

Through a series of excerpted interviews with John Perkins, a former chief economist with Chas. T. Main, former Wall Street insiders Nomi Prins and Catherine Austin Fitts, former Microsoft insider Ramez Naam, Stone seeks to answer how industrialization and manufacturing left America, the infrastructure decayed, and the US population became weighed down by debt.

"The United States is in a situation comparable to the British Empire before the First World War," said William Engdahl, whose book A Century of War inspired the series. "The decline had begun years back, perhaps 20, 35 years back, but it proceeded very slowly because it was artificially covered over through the inflow of money from Asia and other places."

Examples are given of the decline of motor industry in Detroit which used to employ nearly 2 million people for its one industry but now has a population of just over 600,000 with the city declaring bankruptcy in 2013. "Now with the financial crisis, the collapse of the home mortgage market, Americans and middle-class Americans are finding themselves in a desperate situation. America's role in the world is the not the pillar of democracy and freedom that it once seemed to be," said Engdahl.

According to Stone that translates to more than one in three Americans having a part-time job, and the loss of the physical economy, where an industrial economy with union protections ensured good pay for jobs and ensured that the minimum wage kept pace with the rise in the economy's inflation ensuring a steady economy.

The documentary argues that starting since the 1970s workers have continued to be more productive, the US economy is still top of the world, but workers are not really getting much, if any, of those gains.

"What's happened is that wages for men have basically been stagnant for several decades," David Madland, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress told Stone. "At the same time you have core costs of basic middle class goods like healthcare, housing, higher education that have gone up much, much faster. They will try all sorts of changes to afford what they think is a middle-class life with people working longer hours, more women going into the workforce and going deeper and deeper into debt. What you have is a toxic mix of more hours, more stress and more debt."

An example is given of New York City where the average rent is $4,500 a month, that's $54,000 a year. The average family income in American is $55,000 a year.

"People talk about there not being inflation here. But actually Americans have the highest inflation in the last 20 years of any country in the world," said economist Michael Hudson. "The inflation has been the stock market and the real estate market."

Stone shows during the New Deal era in the 1930s, under the Roosevelt administration, many bridges were constructed, as were roads, water supply lines, and electrification for the majority of the United States. In 1950s under the Eisenhower administration those policies continued with the construction of the highways coast to coast, and in 1960s under the Kennedy administration the country began an ambitious space program "giving birth to tremendous scientific in medicine, computer technology, and travel," according to Stone.

Alongside the public programs instituted by the US government was the growth a parallel economy of the military. "The elites in the US at the close of the WWII realized that the Depression was ended as a result of the war, and so many of the elites felt that what we should do was maintain something of a war posture or a military posture in order to subsidize the nation and not fall prey to a depression." Mike Gravel said: "What was built on that is what we call the 'military industrial complex." More than half of the US budget is spent on the military, or 54 percent, according to figures from the Office of Management and Budget, and involves more ties between government and corporations.

In the documentary John Perkins, former chief economist with Chas T. Main and author of The Economic Hit Man, said "we have a new empire. It is not an American empire, it is a corporate empire." Stone argues the Vietnam War was so costly to America it had to be covered up under the Nixon administration by removing gold standard that backed the value of the dollar by creating an economy based on the value of the oil.

"Much of the US budget was financed not by taxes but by foreign balance of payment deficit. The more Americans spent abroad, these dollars ended up in foreign countries, a lot paid out for oil, and oil countries ended up buying treasury bills as did Europe, Germany, France, Japan," said Hudson. "In effect central bank reserves were based on American military spending, so foreign central banks were financing the surrounding of their countries with military bases. So surrounded that they didn't really have a choice if they wanted to politically break, they would end up like Iraq, Libya or now like Syria having a regime change and an invasion. Basically countries were financing their own subjugation."

Stone asks, "If globalization has been the mechanism by which corporations have found cheaper labor and goods to grow their influence and sales, then is globalization the problem? What can US do to protect itself from transnational predators?"

Progressive political commentator Thom Hartmann said the doing away of tariffs gave the US an inability to protect itself. "Tariffs represented 100 percent of the income of the federal government from the George Washington administration to the Abraham Lincoln administration," said Hartmann. "We used tariffs to protect domestic manufacturing and keep manufacturing in the United States. The average tariff around that era was 30 percent."

In the third part of the documentary, Harnessing Technology for What End?, Stone argues for exploring energy alternatives to the oil-based economy. He presents arguments for supporting investment and interest in hot and cold nuclear fusion as remedy. The US government squashed scientific research in cold fusion in the 1980s. "We have this irrational fear of nuclear power. It is far safer than people imagine," said Ramez Naam. "If you look at the Fukushima disaster, that was a 40-year -old reactor, not built to modern specs, not built to modern design. Modern reactors can't have that happen to them."