Has America Peaked?

Many Christians have noted recently that it feels like America has peaked, certainly from a moral standpoint, if not from the standpoint of worldwide esteem.

When my colleague Gidon Ariel and I wrote Israel FIRST!, we explored this in one of its chapters, and pointed out that historically speaking, every time a wave of Blood Moons rolled through history, a non-Jewish nation peaked and eventually turned against the Jews. Examples included the Roman Empire, Franc Kingdom, Spanish Empire and others. To that list we suggested that America might well be the next peaking empire.

We also devoted a chapter to the economic rise of Israel, which we considered to just now having completed its “seed stage” with significant economic growth ahead of it. This prediction came out of the historical pattern we found, that whenever one empire was peaking, another future key nation was being seeded.BIN-OpEd-Experts-300x250(1)

Whether all this is correct remains to be seen. Wise historians caution that it is easy to overstate the significance of current events, when making long-term predictions. We agree. Only when the secular historians begin to look BACK and say “America has peaked” could we truly say that we called it right.

But, before historians look back, you would expect to see secular economists and historians look FORWARD and predict that a decline may be in front us. This HAS just happened recently in two important ways.

Book Predicts Falling Growth

Robert J. Gordon, a noted American economist, has just published “The Rise and Fall of American Growth“. His thesis is that the growth in America between 1870 and 1970 was an unprecedented, unrepeatable period of transformative growth and innovation.  He writes “No other era in human history, either before or since, combined so many elements in which the standard of living increased as quickly and in which the human condition was transformed so completely.”

Early Electric Light Bulb. (Photo: Wikicommons)
Early Electric Light Bulb. (Photo: Wikicommons)

He says that nothing on the horizon, not even the Internet, can match the changes brought by the combination of electricity, hot and cold running water, the telephone and the internal combustion engine.

The primary criticism of his thesis centered around his lack of appreciation for the Internet as a fundamental growth driver for this century. As a former executive of a high-tech company whose success came from the Internet, you might expect me to flat out disagree with Gordon. Yet, I do admit that the Internet is just ONE major invention today, versus SEVERAL simultaneous inventions Gordon cites in the industrial age.

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In our time, I see the Internet’s main accomplishment being the improved speed and cost at which ideas and information can be made available. This is a shifting of power from the elites to the rest of us, making information and ideas harder to control (both good and bad ideas). The printing press transformed the world in the years that followed its invention about 1450. So it is hard to argue that essentially “putting a free printing press in every home” with “unlimited free paper” and a “free worldwide mail delivery system, would not also have an impact on the world. But I agree that this impact is not enough to match the impact of the century of changes between 1870 and 1970.

I find it interesting that the decade that Gordon chose for his initial decade of growth (1870-1880) was the same decade that Jews began to return to the Holy Land. One of the first new neighborhoods in Jerusalem outside the city walls (Nahalat Shiv’a) was notably established in 1869. The first modern Jewish settlement within the border of Israel was Petah Tikva in 1878, followed up by the first Aliyah wave that began in 1882.

Moore’s Law is Finally Failing

Another fundamental secular prediction that is predicting change looking FORWARD, is the slowing of “Moore’s Law”. Gordon Moore of the chip maker Intel has been credited with an observation that for about 50 years, the number of transistors on a chip could double every two years.

Moore’s Law. (Photo: Intel and Economist.com)
Moore’s Law. (Photo: Intel and Economist.com)

This amazing principle meant that every two years chips could get MORE intelligent, FASTER, CHEAPER, SMALLER in size and LOWER POWER.  The powerful impact of all these things combined cannot be overstated!

With reference to Israel, here again we find that the age of silicon expansion and its enormous benefits was beginning when Jerusalem was unified as the capital of Israel in 1967.

But Moore’s Law has a problem. Intel, the most powerful chip company in the world, with all its billions of dollars of resources for research, has just admitted that Moore’s Law has now shifted from “every 2 years”, to “every two-and-one-half years”. But that is not the whole story. That official statement does not admit what lies underneath it, which is that while the Moore’s Law clock is DELAYED, the CHEAPER benefit is completely gone, the LOWER POWER is almost gone, and the FASTER benefit is struggling to keep pace as well. It will take five to ten years for the impact of these changes in Moore’s Law to truly trickle though our economy, but unless there is some unknown breakthrough coming, this will slow economic growth. The Economist issue March 12, 2016 issue has an excellent series of articles on this topic if you want to dig further.

The alternate view is that the impact of a slowing of Moore’s Law has been talked about for over 20 years, and that “this (scare) too shall pass”. I agree that for many years, everyone who predicted Moore’s Law would end, and even Gordon Moore himself predicted in 1995 that it would end in 2005, has been wrong. My point is that Intel, the very company whose founder coined the term “Moore’s Law” would NOT have been quick to make this call themselves. In fact, in my opinion they were very late in admitting what many of us saw coming since 2010. Indeed, for Intel, admitting a change in Moore’s Law certainly does not raise the prospects of their business. Therefore, this official pronouncement is highly notable.

What then to Watch?

One of the premises of our book is that if you want to get a head start in looking for trends and patterns in the world, look to Israel first. That which happens in the land of Israel can ripple through the world very quickly

That’s not an original idea to us. It is nothing less than the theme of the entire Bible.