Luce has written a very interesting and convincing case about America's decline. He examines differents themes that are associated with this situation :
- the vanishing middle class
- Government and politics covers the last three chapters (almost half of the book)
To me, the most alarming issue was innovation, nevertheless the situation is not better with respect to the other topics.
Many books have been written about america's decline - most have been written before it was even a possibility - nevertheless, I feel the topics covered was right on the spot and very well documented. The analysis of the "tea party" movement and washington bureacracy are also very interesting - I believe especially for europeans.
If america's decline is a "lieu commun" for many people, its impacts threaten to be much more significant than the emergence of china, as The Kagan recent - and advised - "the World America Made" makes obvious.
The "olsonian nightmare" is the key explanation that Luce provides : Mancur Olson, the brilliant swedish economist that analysed the effect of vested interests on the economy (in his case, vested interests, were trade-unions in the UK). For Luce, Vested interests are dominating the politics and its inertia seem to be the dominant force ...
The book is not perfect :
- luce point repeatedly to the fact that Chinan invest huge amounts in infrastructure and america is not, as an example of decline but who said they need to invest the same % of GDP. America's infrastructure are far from perfect but China starts from a much lower point
- Also one might have the feeling that when interviewing people, the only question is "what"s bad in here ?" forgetting the "by the way, does anyting work ?" or "is there any good news ?" - but this is a reader's feeling
- Last, and more frighteningly, Luce could have written the same book about UK or France with the same "olsonian nightmare" diagnostic ... Actually, I have wrriten this book some years ago (in French though)
And that might be the unwritten key issue of the book : America is falling but we are already down there with no bottom in sight !
Let's hope that after the "olsonian nightmare" is just a nightmare a we might wake up one day !!!