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.
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.