Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The Big Picture: Will the End of Empire Be Good for America? 8 November '11

According to the International Monetary Fund - China will overtake the United States as the world's top economy in just 5 years.

Come 2016 - it will be the end of the American Empire as we know it.

And it will be the best news our nation has received in a very, very long time.

From our military misadventures abroad - to our crumbling infrastructure and woefully slow start on adopting alternative energy here at home - to our reliance on banksters and their boom-bust cycles - to the loss of "Made in America" manufacturing - to the corruption of our media - and the disintegration of accountability in our government - there were numerous troubling sign posts along our nation's road to ruin.

But many of these dangers are lurking just below the surface - they're not generally at top of mind for most Americans.

But in 2016 - when China becomes the new top power player in the world economy - then we'll no longer be able to ignore America's fall from grace - and on that day - we'll have too look ourselves in the mirror and say - ya know, maybe this whole empire thing was a bad idea from the get-go.

Empire is cancer.

Every single nation that has decided to expand beyond it's borders to pursue empire - has also succumbed to it.

It happened to the Greeks - it happened to the Romans - it happened to the Vikings - it happened to the Spanish - the French - the British - the Germans - the Soviets - the Vatican - the Ottoman Empire.

No empire that has ever existed - still exists today - aside from the United States... and our clock is ticking.

That's because empire depends on three things - bread, circus, and war.

War is a critical component of all empires since it employs the young citizens of the empire - and brings back home critical resources to keep the empire expanding.

For the Romans, for example, war brought wood and slaves.

For the Spanish - war brought gold and slaves.

For us - war brings oil.

And thanks to these natural resources from abroad - the bread to feed citizens at home - and the circus to keep everyone entertained - it can keep the holders of empire in power all across the empire.

But like a cancer - this continuous growth and parasitic existence of empire - of the idea and the reality of empire - is unsustainable.

Eventually - the places that can easily be warred upon are vanquished - or they begin to fight back - as was the case with the British Empire when the American colonies revolted - and then the colonies in India revolted against the British as well.

And without war - without a steady influx of more gold, or more wood, or more slaves, or more oil - then the empire runs out of the ability to produce bread and circus at home - and the empire begins to unravel.

That's where we are today here in the United States - in the middle of the great unraveling.

Rarely are these collapses painless - they often lead to great depressions - civil wars - military takeovers.

But we may be able to avoid the traumatic collapse - if we begin planning for the transition right now.

First, we must realize that our nation was never intended to be a great empire.

Thomas Jefferson dreamed of America as a self-sufficient, peaceful, agrarian nation.

He debated the future of America at length with one of his chief political rivals - Alexander Hamilton - who envisioned the United States as a global empire that would soon supplant the British Empire.

Ultimately - Hamilton's vision won out - and the United States DID replace Britain as the great empire - and thus caught the cancer that has claimed the life of every other empire in history.

But it's not too late to return to Jefferson's vision.

Not only is it not too late - it may well be our only hope as we stand on the precipice of collapse.

If China wants to be the next empire - if they want to carry the cancerous burden of being a superpower - then let them make the same mistakes we've made.

Because when it comes to empire - we have been there, done that - wrote the book on it - and it's time to move on just like every other nation that has been an empire has eventually moved on - from Britain - to the Vikings, Norway - to Germany - and experienced a re-birth and an overall better quality of life today than they had when they were empire.

It's time to dust off the old Jefferson books - and figure out how to be a respected, self-sufficient, and EXCEPTIONAL nation of the world - and not the police officers of the world.

The era of American dominance may be ending - but out of it - an American renaissance may bloom.

That's The Big Picture.

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to understand how to respond when they’re talking about public issues with coworkers, neighbors, and friends. This book explores some of the key perspectives behind his approach, teaching us not just how to find the facts, but to talk about what they mean in a way that people will hear."