Dystopian portraits of American futures typical rely on deus ex machina global erasures — post nuclear (The Terminator stuff), plagues (The Stand, I Am Legend) or environmental messages (The Day After Tomorrow, the new The Day Earth Stood Still). The dissolution and decay (social or political) that led to these ‘resets’ are almost always given short shrift. It’s no wonder, especially recently. Who, after all, doesn’t remember the mind numbing horror of watching the words ‘taxation dispute’ come down the scroll in Phantom Menace?
Put bloated billionaire Lucas’ clueless story telling instincts aside. The getting there is in many ways the valuable part of any allegory, fable or instructive myth. Consider Tolkien. Echoes of the far earler Falls (Elven and Numenor) embued his Lord of the Rings with such rare, almost 3D tangibility.
Detroit’s failed bid to gain government loans shines a brief light on what will become a more common occurrence — U.S. elected officials acting as surrogates for direct foreign investment at the cost of the fraying larger American marco economic weal. This our real life version of how we ‘got there.’ All can see in this case because our current rudderless government allows the Senate’s Sourthern GOP Posse to act out without immediate consequences. And to be fair, most Americans at their root core today view themselves and their purpose as primarily consumptive bipeds.
The Executive is farther along this trajectory. The hundreds of billions pimped to AIG and CitiGroup? It’s true American self interest underlay some of the high minded sound bites about ‘global system risk’ etc. Also true? Our Chinese and Japanese creditors hold too many dollars and too many toxic products we (and the Brits) shoveled around.
Are we at a tipping point with the GOP sabotage of the Detroit deal? Not yet. It’s still a novel meme for the media to note with at least apparent surprise that senators would act in support of foreign capital. The tipping point comes when such actions are decisive and accepted without comment.
Who knows? Maybe that bloated rich toy merchant might have the last laugh. And a Fall of American Empire introductory title scroll begins with ‘collateralized debt obligations’ . . .