For all the Obama-era talk of decline, there is at least one reason why America probably won't, at least not quite yet.
"Peak oil" and our "oil addiction" were supposed to have ensured that we ran out of either gas or the money to buy it. Now, suddenly, we have more gas and oil than ever before. But the key question is: Why do we?
The oil and gas renaissance was brought on by horizontal drilling and fracking that opened up vast new reserves either previously unknown or considered unrecoverable. Both technological breakthroughs were American discoveries, largely brought on by entrepreneurial mavericks and engineers exploring on mostly private lands. Couldn't the Saudi, Venezuelan or Nigerian oil industry have discovered these new methods of resource recovery, given their nations' reliance on petroleum exportation?
The world now wakes up to iPhone communication, Amazon online buying, social networking on Facebook, Google Internet searches, and writing and computing with Microsoft software. Why weren't these innovations first developed in Japan, China or Germany -- all wealthy industrial countries with large, well-educated and hard-working populations? Because in such nations, young oddballs like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs more likely would have needed the proper parentage, age, family connections or government-insider sanction to be given a fair shake.
Even in its third century, America is still the most meritocratic nation in the world. Unlike the caste system of India; the class considerations of Europe; the racial homogeneity of China, Japan or Korea; the tribalism of Africa; or the religious orthodoxy of the Middle East, America is still a place where one can offer a new idea, invention or protocol that is judged on its merits, rather than on the background, accent, race, age, gender or religion of the person who offers it.
Businesses evaluate proposals on the basis of what makes them lots of money. Publishers want writing that a lot of people will read. Popular culture is simply a reflection of what the majority seems to want. In the long run, that bottom line leads to national wealth and power.
If history is a guide, the savviest Chinese citizen of Japanese descent would not make it as a high official in Beijing's Communist Party -- no more so than a brilliant Japanese citizen of Chinese descent would run Toyota or Honda. A white Croatian of enormous talent could not end up as president of Sudan.