Jack Heidel’s Overall Political Outlook

I have been writing this blog, It Does Not Add Up, for seven years now, beginning in November 2012, right after Barack Obama was reelected to a second four year term as President.

I am a non-ideological (registered independent) economic conservative and social moderate.  I have definite opinions about many aspects of American public policy, which I believe are supported by careful reasoning and analysis of current events as well as ordinary common sense.

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Every now and then I pause to summarize my most basic public policy views which will usually determine how I come down on specific issues:

  • The overwhelming economic and military strength of the U.S. is responsible for the relative peace and stability which the world has enjoyed ever since the end of WWII.
  • The biggest challenge to U.S. world dominance going forward is the rise of China. It would be dangerous and foolhardy to assume that China will become less autocratic in the future (as much as we hope this will happen).
  • As China’s strength continues to grow, our biggest advantage in the coming bipolar world is the great appeal of democracy. Democracies rarely go to war with each other.  We should continue to support the growth of democracy around the world as much as we reasonably can without getting bogged down in local disputes.
  • Domestically our high degree of political polarization is caused by the populist revolt to the inexorable rise of globalization and technology. The biggest unknown is what will happen after President Trump leaves office in either January 2021 or 2025.  A Democrat will almost surely follow him as President.  The big question is how the Republican Party will reconstruct itself to provide effective opposition.
  • The best way to combat populism is with faster economic growth, especially focused on maintaining a low unemployment rate (under 4%). This is the single best way to provide more and better paying jobs for those on the bottom of the economic ladder.
  • Our biggest domestic problem by far is the rapidly growing and out-of-control national debt, now sitting at 79% of GDP (for the public part on which we pay interest). It is currently being ignored by most national leaders and many economists because interest rates, and therefore interest payments on the debt, are so low.  But interest rates will inevitably rise in the future, and the longer it takes for this to happen, the greater will be the eventual new fiscal crisis, much worse than the Great Recession of 2008-2009.  It is the rapid rise of entitlement and especially healthcare spending which makes this such a difficult political issue.
  • Man-made global warming is a serious and immediate environmental threat. But public awareness about it is so large (70% in the U.S. and growing), that strong measures are already being taken both in the U.S. and around the world to combat it.

Conclusion.  The U.S. has been the leading superpower in the world since 1945 and is in a good position to continue to dominate world affairs indefinitely, if it can just exercise reasonably good judgement.  As the world better adjusts to globalization and the rise of technology, political polarization will  begin to wane and more conventional political norms will again prevail.

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4 thoughts on “Jack Heidel’s Overall Political Outlook

  1. Jack,

    I strongly support your position on the deficit and I appreciate your continued advocacy for reducing it. I am less sure of your thoughts that the U.S will dominate world affairs indefinitely. As we move toward greater isolation and even adversarial positions with our allies, we are being outflanked by both Russia and China. Our allies trust us less and are moving with their own alliances independent of the U.S. Russia and China manipulate us while gaining ground globally by establishing infrastructure and lending globally. American can’t be “America First” if it means “America Alone”.

    • I agree with you that our future dominance in world affairs depends on having strong and supportive allies. But I think that when push leads to shove the democracies will stick together out of self interest if nothing else. Trump is cracking down hard on bad actors such as North Korea, Iran and especially China. His methods and style are crude but effective. He is unlikely to start a war. Putin is a trouble maker but Russia is a failed state becoming economically weaker all the time.
      The world is an ugly mess right now. I don’t think Americans appreciate how lucky we are to be largely out of harm’s way. This does not mean that we should be complacent and we’re not except for our rapidly growing debt.

  2. The declining level of SOCIAL COHESION within adjacent neighborhoods and communities is our nation’s greatest risk underlying the stability of our nation’s autonomy within the worldwide market-place arenas for its knowledge, resources, and human dignity. Improving Social Cohesion will be necessary for controlling Federal and State entitlement spending, especially for healthcare.

    SOCIAL COHESION may be defined as a broadly shared expectation among a nation’s communities that the persons residing within each other’s community are trustworthy and that each community’s prevalence of these trustworthy persons is related to their own community’s continuing collaboration with their adjacent communities to endow each other’s Survival Commons (aka augmented safety net) with sufficient Social Capital.

    Personally, I see no prospect that our nation’s Social Cohesion is on-track to improve. Remember that 86% of the world’s population, per Newseum 10 years ago, live in a nation that does not offer or enforce the equivalent of our First Amendment rights (speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition). Even so, Jack, I share your optimisim.

    • I agree with you about the importance of social cohesion and how badly it is missing right now in the U.S. Even though only 14% of the world population has the same constitutional protections that we have, more than half of the world does live in a democracy, however imperfect. I am optimistic about the continued spread of democracy around the world as well as the continued strengthening of democratic constitutional protections

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