If you work in the computer field and don't read science fiction, we'd worry about you. There are exceptions that test ("prove") a rule, but that's a pretty severe test.
And if you ARE a compuphile and you DO read science fiction, but haven't read stories from Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix universe, then it goes beyond doubt -- you're a poseur, a fraud, a fake. Sterling's stories are a requirement for the scientific mind of our age. The collection/novel "Schismatrix" itself is a litmus test for withstanding "constant future shock". It's a screening test for post-Humanism in the biological sense.
From those stories, there is the story of Hans Landau, and it has recently struck me as a parallel to the continued collapse of the American Empire.
In the story, Hans is a young scientist and engineer in one of the factions in Czarina Kluster, which itself is one of the power centers of Human civilization in the Solar System. Like the rest of Human powers in that future time, it accreted around a theme (item or idea), and this particular kluster's theme was an alien queen who was living in exile from her race. Her race held the secret to fast interstellar travel, hence Humanity was finding itself subservient to them in a strong economic sense. Czarina Kluster was founded quickly and grew very powerful.
Hans's daily pursuit was involved with an upcoming paradigm shift, in which Mars would be terraformed by a newly accreted faction. As with any faction, there are predecessors, and Hans was one of them. So, in a sense, his loyalties were already divided. The story implied that he would join Terraform Kluster once it arose.
To this end, his work involved lichens, living on and inside rocks. This would serve the end of terraformation, but for now, for money, Hans had hit upon a method of getting the lichens to grow inside gemstones, or crystalline rocks that would become gems once he transformed them with a lichen infestation. And of course, he had one of his first successes all prepared to present as gift to the wealth-drenched "Cicada Queen". ("Czarina Kluster" = CK = cee-KAY = sih-KAY-duh = "Cicada").
At this point, we can see directly and indirectly, that Hans Landau was a young, productive member of his local society (which is a bit of a redundancy in Sterling's universe since local and society were mutually supportive). Hans benefited from the stability (defense and support) he received from the Czarina Kluster; in return, he had produced an item of marketable value, which could help his Kluster not only by direct wealth, but by the 2nd strength of any faction: reputation.
C-K had a singular weakness -- it was an accretion around the alien Queen, and as such, anything that happened to her would happen to the entire Kluster. This society was very strong, but was brittle like glass. One impact (like the disappearance of the Queen, which happened in the story) could shatter it ... therefore making a bit of a mockery of its strength. Glass is strong but brittle, so you'd better not build bridges with it.
As the Kluster neared collapse (and everything seemed fine until it happened), Hans found himself the object of several highly-placed schemers, and was eventually attacked twice in quick succession.
The first attack was by some initially unknown councilor or adviser to the Queen. The object of the attack was ... yes, you guessed it, Hans's proprietary method of gem-lichen growth. While Hans was rendered helpless from this attack, a more powerful attack commenced by the 2nd councilor. At first, the 2nd attack saved Hans from the 1st one, and once rescued he was taken to the "palace" of the Queen (essentially her starship). But the subtlety of the 2nd attack became clear in due time; the 2nd councilor ended up demanding that Hans cede his gem-lichen patent to C-K to stave off upcoming market instability.
Hans refused both of these attackers. Both attackers threatened to destroy his life. And both attackers failed to follow one of the most basic precepts of sustainable society:
Live within the means of the members of your society.
The greed and incompetance of governors shows up over time as increased taxation and decreased services. People like Hans could produce and produce over generations, and all the while the social percentage could collect ... as long as it was small, leaving incentive behind and producing stability forward. But that's not within the ineptitude of the ruling class. Eventually, the socioeconomics of the Western model demand utter confiscation to delay the crash ... which must come anyway, and the longer it is put off, the harder the crash hits.
Modern America should find Sterling's story to be an allergorical mirror. The bases to American power include not just a nuclear military, but also a long history of stomping across the world as an abusive Imperium. The hatred generated by such activities will come home to America eventually. And up to the point of catastrophe, the American society will start to eat its own belly, trouncing producers to make up for the generations of mis-spending of the Imperial percentage.
Taxation on corporations is dropping, and the producers (workers) are expected to make up the difference. This cannot continue, and catastrophe looms (as those who know can see). Hans almost ended up being confiscated and auctioned off as a slave ... he was lucky to have avoided that, and was allowed by the 2nd councilor to leave C-K. How many common Americans will be so lucky?