The Wealth of Nations, mini update
The system under which the United States operates is generally known as a mixed economy, with government and private entities providing goods and services on a mass scale. It can also be called mixed in another sense, in that the dominant force in the system is the corporation - a "legal person," organized or constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties, including the capacity of succession. Monopolistic, oligopolistic, and even competitive corporations exert great power not only in the market, but in the political sphere as well. Witness the last election, in which corporate donors controlled the agendas of both major candidates, and even "counted" enough of the votes to swing the "election."
The other part of the mixture in the private sector is the smaller proprietorships and partnerships that make up much of what we see on the local level: coffee shops, restaurants, dry cleaners, small manufacturers, farmers, etc.
Regardless of the mix of government, corporate, and smaller "actors," as they say in the profession, the continuation of the mass industrial system depends on growth of output. There must be prospects for growth forever, or the system will fail. The rate of growth, expressed as a percentage above the previous year, should be between 2 to 4 percent for a reasonably healthy economy. That means a doubling of economic output every 18 to 36 years.
This kind of growth was certainly possible when the continent was "discovered." There was an abundance of resources, and there were even resources like oil and uranium that were not known to have value.
Now we are in a different situation. The resources are being depleted, the land, air, and water are being poisoned, the oil is running out, the population is huge, and there is no magic elixir or philsopher's stone that can create growth out of baser materials.
A sane and intelligent civilization would recognize this situation and find meaningful ways of solving the problems faced. Such a society would have a means of choosing leaders who would honestly, competently, and humanely work to change the nation's, and the world community's, way of being on this planet.
Enter the Bush crime family, with a mixture of hocus pocus economics, religious fakery, corporate cronyism, and a "new" philosophy of empire. Add in a healthy (or not so healthy) dose of terror fear mongering, and what you have is what we now are witnessing: the entire planet rapidly descending into chaos.
The next few years will be the critical years for the future of Humankind on this planet. I think it is safe to say that the various schemes of the Bush crime family are beginning to unravel. In this context, it is probably better that Bush "won" the election. He will be more likely to reap what he has sown by remaining in office while it all comes crashing down.
So, there is cause for optimism. While the fundamental questions that the world faces are not being even recognized as existing by the "only superpower," the process of recognizing is being accelerated. To paraphrase Adam Smith, the Bush crime family is serving an end which is no part of their intention, the betterment of mankind.