This blog deals primarily with fiscal and economic issues, but sometimes takes a broader point of view. Today let’s take an overall look at how things are going in the U.S.
Here is what is going right:
- Our economy is quite strong. Economic growth was 2.9% last year and is predicted to be 2.8% this year. The unemployment rate, now 3.7%, has been under 4% for many months. This has led especially to more opportunities and wage gains for low skilled workers.
- The middle class is thriving as people at all income levels are moving up.
- Technology. America totally dominates the new technology (think Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft) which is rapidly improving the quality of life worldwide.
- Democracy is thriving around the world especially as our biggest rivals are dealing with major democratic protests at home.
But there are very serious problems as well:
- Our biggest problem (by far!) is the national debt. It is out of control, growing rapidly, and very difficult to address politically. Its main cause is government spending for entitlements, especially for public healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
- In addition, the cost of private healthcare is devastating for many American families. Hospitals especially have become way too expensive (more on this soon).
- Opportunity and social mobility for low income and minority children is meager and needs to be much improved (more later).
- Global warming is a huge problem. Arctic ice is shrinking, sea levels are rising, the ocean is becoming more acidic, and weather events such as hurricanes are becoming more intense. Fortunately, public awareness and concern about global warming are growing rapidly and action is being demanded by more and more people. The U.S. is providing world leadership by putting a strong emphasis on switching to renewable energy.
Summary. Things are going very well in the U.S. and I am overall optimistic that our serious problems will be addressed. However I am pessimistic about our massive debt problem. Most likely it will be publicly ignored until interest rates increase substantially and we have a new and much worse fiscal crisis. The longer it takes for this scenario to develop, the worse it will be when it inevitably happens.