Today was supposed to be the end of the second week of my trial in the septic tank of the DC Superior Court. Instead, the judge decided to yank the thing at the last minute, after I and my wheelchair and everybody else had already flown to America's dismal capital city for a month-long stay. So we're all eating five-figure sums on last-minute room cancellations and other expenses. And the stresses imposed on my feeble frame had me back with the docs this week. But hey, it's an eleven-year case cruising into its twelfth, so what's the big deal? Certainly, the District of Columbia, where justice goes to die, doesn't care.
Nonetheless, I thank everyone who's signed up for one of our limited-edition trial souvenirs: The SteynOnline Liberty Stick. The trial may be postponed for a few weeks (months? years?), but the Liberty Sticks are shipping right now. It features both Magna Carta and the US Constitution - so you can wave that constitution at anyone you so desire. Every stick is signed and numbered by yours truly, and, unlike everything else these days, is manufactured not by child labor in Wuhan but by regular all-American US citizens from Minnesota. You can order one here - but they're going fast, so don't leave it too late.
~With no small-hours trial-prep to consume my nights, my thoughts stray to the Big Picture. As I observed on Wednesday's Clubland Q&A, there is no greater sin in media than being right too soon. That was with respect to the Covid vaccines, where I hosted the one show on UK broadcast telly that regularly covered both the human cost - those crippled and bereaved by Pfizer, AstraZeneca et al - and the broader reality: that Boris Johnson's "Great British Success Story" (knighthoods and damehoods all round!) and the other miracle jabs were, at best, useless and, at worst, posed serious long-term health threats.
That didn't work out too well for my short-lived return to Brit media. Chief Commissar Michael Grade and Deputy Commissar Melanie Dawes of the UK state censor Ofcom leaned on the pussies at GB News to close down the only show that, nightly, dissented from the Official Narrative. A bit more media scepticism - from the BBC, ITV, Sky - would have prevented a lot of ruined lives. Lord Grade and Dame Melanie exceeded their lawful powers in their lockdown-era clampdown, which is why I'm suing them in the English High Court - to prevent these sick control-freaks doing it all over again when whatever's next comes down the pike.
As you may recall, whenever we interviewed Vikki Spit or Charlotte Wright or any of the others on the receiving end of the AstraZeneca, we invited the company to respond. They always declined - even though, at the time, they were sending their legal teams to attend coroners' inquests as the death toll climbed. Three years later, the Great British Success Story is no longer available in the UK, and AstraZeneca is being sued - over what they knew and when they knew it:
AstraZeneca issued press releases following clinical trials saying the vaccine – known as Vaxzevria – was between 62% and 90% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 depending on dosages, with an average of 70%. The legal claim states: 'In fact, the absolute risk reduction concerning COVID-19 prevention was only 1.2%.'
One point two per cent: for that, Boris and his monster ministers jabbed perfectly healthy persons who were at no risk from Covid - and crippled them. The knighted perps need to go to gaol.
~One other subject where I was right too soon was the demographic transformation of the western world. Here's me over seventeen years ago, in the opening of a certain international bestseller:
Let me put it in a nutshell:
Much of what we loosely call the western world will not survive the twenty-first century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most European countries. There'll probably still be a geographical area on the map marked as Italy or the Netherlands – probably - just as in Istanbul there's still a building known to us as 'St Sophia's Cathedral'. But it's not a cathedral; it's merely a designation for a piece of real estate. Likewise, Italy and the Netherlands will merely be designations for real estate.
That's just for starters. And, unlike the ecochondriacs' obsession with rising sea levels, this isn't something that might possibly conceivably hypothetically threaten the Maldive Islands circa the year 2500; the process is already well advanced as we speak. With respect to Francis Fukuyama, it's not the end of history, it's the end of the world - as we know it ...and the dawn of the new Dark Ages (if darkness can dawn): a planet on which much of the map is re-primitivized.
The clever chaps at The Economist called it "alarmist", as did Tarek Fatah in my own magazine, Maclean's. The Economist is as complacently globalist as ever, but the late Mr Fatah lived long enough to admit his error:
Steyn was right and I was wrong.
As for "re-primitivization", we have imported monsters in sufficient numbers that the demographic energy in western societies is now with those who rationalise and celebrate the murder of babies as a conscious strategy of war. Oh, and not just Jew babies. In the French town of Annecy, children are stabbed for no other reason than that they belong to a different tribe. In Manchester, children are blown up because they like infidel pop music.
All this was predictable. It was always perfectly obvious that "multicultural" "diversity" is an interim phase - before a new dominant unicultural homogeneity asserts itself. That is as true for Yorkshire as it was for Alexandria. Twenty years ago there was still - just about - time to do something about it. Instead, western leaders doubled down on policies that could only lead to societal death.
And yet, and yet...
Five Nordic nations (Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland) have now announced a new joint arrangement to facilitate the "deportation" of undesirables. Oh, my. Western ministers using the D-word in public?
Too little, too late? Almost certainly. But it wouldn't have been in 2006, when prudent governments still had time to prevent a continent slipping quietly into a long Eurabian night...
~Okay, one more from the right-too-soon files. Twelve years ago, in another bestseller, I wrote:
A lot of the debate about America's date with destiny has an airy-fairy beyond-the-blue-horizon mid-century quality, all to do with long-term trends and other remote indicators...
So take your eye off the far prospect, and instead look about fourteen inches in front of your toecap. Within a decade, the United States will be spending more of the federal budget on its interest payments than on its military. You read that right: more on debt service than on the armed services...
Just to clarify: We're not talking about paying down the federal debt, just keeping up with the annual interest charges on it. Yet within a decade the United States will be paying more in interest payments than it pays for the military – and that's not because the Pentagon is such a great bargain. In 2009, the United States accounted for over 43 per cent of the world's military expenditures. So America will be spending more on debt interest than China, Britain, France, Russia, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, India, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Spain, Turkey and Israel spend on their militaries combined. The superpower will have evolved from a nation of aircraft carriers to a nation of debt carriers.
And here we are:
The 2024 US defence budget is $842 billion.
And the annual interest on the federal government's debt is over a trillion.
Back when I wrote the above - 2011 - the national debt was under $15 trillion, so I was just being, as usual, "alarmist". Twelve years later, it's $34 trillion.
So we're adding over a trillion-and-a-half to the debt each year.
But forget about the debt - because, as I always say, when you talk to anyone in Washington - Democrat or Republican - it's pretty obvious that no one who matters ever gives three minutes' thought to paying it down. So now the mere interest on the debt is over a trillion per annum.
For the purposes of comparison, that's over twice the entire budget of the Government of India (which is the tenth highest-spending government on the planet) - just on interest.
The debt isn't to be confused, as many ordinary folks are prone to do, with the deficit. On the present $6 trillion expenditures, Washington has an operating shortfall of another trillion per annum. In other words, it's adding another trillion in new debt just to pay the interest on the old debt.
Federal debt currently works out at about hundred grand per citizen, or a quarter-mil per taxpayer. And that barely scratches the surface of the American people's actual indebtedness. Total college-loan debt is closing in on two trillion bucks - which seems a tad excessive for a worthless credential in Transgender & Colonialism Studies that prolongs adolescence, obstructs healthy fertility rates, and teaches your kids to hate you and your country.
Oh, and here's another trillion in debt:
US credit card balances see largest yearly leap on record
CNN reports this as a mixed blessing:
The resilient consumer has kept the US economic engine running, but it's coming at a big cost: Americans are piling up record credit card balances, and more and more are falling behind on those payments.
During the third quarter, credit card balances hit a fresh high of $1.08 trillion, rising $48 billion from the prior quarter and leaping by a record $154 billion from the year before, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit released Tuesday.
This is separate and in addition to government debt:
Household debt increased 1.3% to $17.29 trillion in the third quarter.
All that "resilient consumer" guff makes it sound as if the patriotic US citizen is maxing out his MasterCard to buy a new car or at least a new laptop just to keep that old economic engine humming along. Whereas, if you stand in the checkout line for ten minutes, it's perfectly obvious "consumers" are relying on their credit cards to for basic necessities - and then paying for February's milk and bread in late November.
Twelve years back, I used to modify the old line:
If you owe the bank a thousand dollars, you have a problem.
If you owe the bank a million dollars, the bank has a problem.
If you owe the world 34 trillion dollars, the world has a problem.
America is a zombie superpower. What, at this stage, is holding the joint up?
Charles Krauthammer used to say: "Decline is a choice." Not on the above numbers: There is no possibility of genteel Euro-style decline; only swift, dizzying, vertiginous collapse.
~You have to be able to talk honestly about such things, and increasingly in the west you can't. So I've been enormously touched by how many readers, listeners and viewers want to support my free-speech lawsuit against the ever more overbearing censors of Ofcom. Well, there are several ways to lend a hand, including:
a) signing up a friend for a Steyn Club Gift Membership;
b) buying a chum a SteynOnline gift certificate;
c) ordering a copy of my latest book The Prisoner of Windsor (you won't regret it); or
d) treating yourself to the aforementioned SteynOnline Liberty Stick.
With the first two methods, one hundred per cent of the proceeds goes to a grand cause - and, in the latter two, everything save the shipping. And you or your loved one gets something, too.
~Finally, let me thank all the newcomers to our ranks in recent days, from Gettysburg to Gananoque, Crickhowell to Christchurch. We hope to welcome many more of you in the years ahead. For more information on The Mark Steyn Club, see here.