With the Olympics looming large, there's been a lot of discussion on my daily ferry commute about the rise of China in the international stage, and, of course, the debate if the USA has already gone past it's nadir as the pre-eminent international power. In other words, has the USA already begun its decline, like the great empires before it? Many factors lead to this possibility, primarily the lack of investment in a manufacturing base: when a society becomes so wealthy that they find it less expensive to send work to another country, or to employ illegal aliens, no matter how trivial or important the work, I maintain that it is officially on the decline.
As part of this exercise, we look at key indicators that might represent the telltale signs of when the USA "jumped the shark." For the Roman empire, it might have been the gladiatorial games and vomitoriums; the British empire saw the East India Company become it's de facto ambassador to the world. What might the USA have to offer? Well, you could argue Madonna's new video, watching her re-embrace her more sexually liberated self as she gyrates alongside Justin Timberlake (does this guy love cougars, or what? Janet Jackson AND Madge?) might qualify. Or, you might take a more serious note and find that the manufactured war of Iraq might be a key indicator; it's about as obvious as Madonna.
Me, I like to look at more subtle things. Exhibit A: you can now buy M & M's with your favorite baseball team's logo on it. Not just the logo, mind you: the M & M's are your team's colors, and there are three variations of the logo imprinted in delectable M & M sugary goodness. What's the part that makes me convinced this harbinger of our international descent is here? My first thought on seeing this was "Wow, if they only had the NFL teams and Dallas Cowboys ones, $269.95 isn't a bad deal for a 10 lb. Box."
My fellow Americans, I have seen the road to ruin, and it is paved with M & M's. For those who want a smaller taste of the decline, $13 will get you a palatable 7 oz. portion. I'm off to weep at my own moral decay.