This is less of a complete entry, and more of a question. Here's the context:
The Mitt Romney documentary (named, yep, Mitt) has been making the rounds recently. And toward the end, Mitt says something pretty revealing. Here's the quote:
“This is really serious, guys. This is really serious. I cannot believe that he [i.e. Obama] is an aberration in the country. This is following the path of every other great nation, which is we’re following greater government, tax the rich people, promise more stuff to everybody, borrow until you go over a cliff. We have a very high risk of reaching the tipping point sometime in the next five years.”
Now, let's leave aside the obviously delusional aspects of that statement, because no matter how bad Obama is, he will never match the fiscal irresponsibility of the Reagan administration or the ghastly failures of George W. Bush. What I find interesting is the assumption that there's a single natural progression to the collapse of "great nations" - that they punish the wealthy, coddle the poor, and then collapse into bankruptcy. This has a familiar ring to me; and even if it didn't, I'm pretty sure that Mitt didn't come up with this himself, because original thinking isn't one of his vices.
I suspect it is Friedrich Hayek six or seven times removed (and not what Hayek himself would have said), a truism that circulates on the Right so that conservative pundits can appear profound without putting in the intellectual effort to be so in reality. If that's the case, then it's a talking point worth considering.
In short, what great nations (if any) have actually pursued this course? Any thoughts? How does one define a "great nation" anyway? And of that group, how many have declined because of taxation of the wealthy, and how many through war, disease, famine, cultural co-optation, or imperial overreach?