As we enter our ninth year of the War in Afghanistan with an escalated force, and continue to occupy Iraq indefinitely, and feed an endlessly growing Surveillance State, reports are emerging of the Deficit Commission hard at work planning how to cut Social Security, Medicare, and now even to freeze military pay. But a new New York Times article today illustrates as vividly as anything else what a collapsing empire looks like, as it profiles just a few of the budget cuts which cities around the country are being forced to make.
…Meanwhile, the tiniest sliver of the wealthiest — the ones who caused these problems in the first place — continues to thrive. Let’s recall what former IMF Chief Economist Simon Johnson said last year in The Atlantic about what happens in under-developed and developing countries when an elite-caused financial crisis ensues:

Squeezing the oligarchs, though, is seldom the strategy of choice among emerging-market governments. Quite the contrary: at the outset of the crisis, the oligarchs are usually among the first to get extra help from the government, such as preferential access to foreign currency, or maybe a nice tax break, or — here’s a classic Kremlin bailout technique — the assumption of private debt obligations by the government. Under duress, generosity toward old friends takes many innovative forms. Meanwhile, needing to squeeze someone, most emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk — at least until the riots grow too large.

The real question is whether the American public is too apathetic and trained into submission for that to ever happen.
I’ve felt for a while now that we’re likely to see some form of large-scale civil unrest in the next couple years, as it becomes more and more evident that the American way of life that so many people take as their guaranteed birthright is never coming back. But while I’d be glad to see a pitchfork-bearing mob marching on Wall Street after swinging through Washington and robbing the World Bank, I fear it’s much more likely that any violent uprising will be comprised of reactionary teabagger types lashing out at someone with less power than them (as is always the case with authoritarian bullies). I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of racial incident being the flashpoint for a larger riot, probably involving immigrants. I’d be very glad to be wrong.
Look at them and see what they are like:
they move as though a wind were pushing them,
they rest as though a hand had stopped them.
In their eyes is the oncoming darkness
sweeping across summer’s fields
before the storm.