What characterizes the beginning stages of an empire in decline? Is it war, famine, disease, moral decay, or all of the above? There is perhaps no clear formula or single event that can be used to pinpoint when a civilization begins to fall and yet, it must seem obvious to many living at the time.
So, let's ask the question: How about the U.S.? Is it on the verge of falling apart?
Given what I'm about to say, I think we all need to take this question seriously.
To understand the fate of our nation, we can easily compare the following two things: The amount of taxpayer money used to invest in things that, without question, we'll all need and use for years to come, i.e. roads, bridges, dams, clean drinking water, etc—that is, our infrastructure—versus the amount of taxpayer money used by the government for creating a massive worldwide surveillance machine.
Just think about that for a moment.
Needless to say, I don't need to tell you much about recent leaks regarding the NSA. If you've been watching the news, you may know that billions are being spent each year on developing a hi-tech surveillance network to collect, record, and potentially track or predict you and others across the globe.
How much is being spent exactly? Here are some estimates:
The NSA is one of at least 15 intelligence agencies, and combined the total U.S. intelligence budget in 2012 was $75 billion, said Steve Aftergood, director of the government secrecy program at the Federation of American Scientists, a nonpartisan think tank that analyzes national and international security issues.
Aftergood estimates about 14% of the country's total intelligence budget -- or about $10 billion -- goes to the NSA.
Gordon Adams, a former White House budget official for national security, said he wouldn't be surprised if NSA's resources are "well north" of $20 billion a year.
Meanwhile, America's infrastructure—as graded by the American Society of Civil Engineers—lies in a serious state of disrepair. Here's their most recent report card:
Essentially, the money being taken out of your wallet each and every month is not being used towards the things you and I actually need to live, but, instead, it seems that it's being used to help the government spy on you. Forget that our sewers, roads, and drinking water systems are one grade away from failing. You could be a terrorist! You just don't know it yet.
So, I ask you: Is the U.S. on the verge of falling apart? Our priorities determine our future. Right now, it appears that our government's greatest priority is not whether we'll have electricity, drinking water, and good roads in the years ahead, but, as Edward Snowden says, “to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive [and extremely expensive] surveillance machine" secretly being built.
Well, the secret is out. The U.S. government is investing heavily in a bridge that no one wants. Let's hope it collapses before our actual bridges do.
Bottom line: While much of our infrastructure is near failing and severely underfunded, the U.S. government is wasting taxpayer money on building a modern Police State instead.