If someone buys a car, would it not make sense to take it out for a drive first and perhaps even take it to a mechanic to look at it? Well it is the same with systems. If a particular system is being pushed, it is fair and even imperative, to pose some fundamental questions. For whom does this system really work? What kind of output, how much, of what quality and going to whom does the system produce, but, always, RELATIVE to what inputs it had to work with? What are real costs, micro and macro, short-run and long-run, of the forms of prosperity and poverty and in-between that the system produces? What kinds of trade-offs does the system produce and tolerate (e.g. guns and/vs butter)?
So if we are going to push “our” system on the rest of the world, and even invade or shock-an-awe those who resist all the advantages of “civilization” that we offer (Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, “Survivor”, “The Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” [un]”Reality” shows, Gladiator Sports, Lotto and Get-Rich-Quick Schemes, infomercials, Botox, “The Biggest Loser Show” ) perhaps it is time for some new metrics of the state of the empire.
Talk a walk through some bookstores like Barnes and Nobel and see what is selling in terms of themes: a) get-rich-quick; b) dress and network for success; c) cults and occultism; d) gladiator sports; e) immortality and morality; f) staying, looking and feeling young; g) rise and fall of past empires and are we the “New Rome”?; h) 2012 and end times cults; i) celebrity gossip; j) how to win at Texas Hold-em and other forms of gambling; k) careers, study guides, condensed books and how to get academic degrees and/or start businesses quickly, cheaply and easily… Sounds somewhat like a bookstore might look like during the days of the fall of the Roman Empire.