I am, however, mostly an optimist. I believe we will weather our many problems and continue to enjoy the benefits of being the world’s leading democracy for many years to come. Consider:
- The pandemic is essentially over. Yes, 800,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 and there are active coronavirus variants such as Delta, Omicron, and perhaps more to come. But three million Americans die every year and so we’ve had an additional 12% deaths for the past two years. Overall, our own free-enterprise drug companies have rescued us by delivering effective vaccines in less than a year’s time.
- American democracy is thriving. Our democratic institutions had a major stress test after the 2020 election and survived brilliantly. There is even a solution on the horizon for polarization and divisiveness.
- The Chinese threat is overstated. China has many problems and its current leader, Xi Jinping, is making lots of enemies around the world. It is unlikely that China will try to take Taiwan by force.
- The American economy and military are very strong. For example, of the ten top companies in the world, seven are American (two are Chinese and one is Saudi Arabian).
- The American Dream is Alive and Well. Wages for the typical worker have grown by 20% (in real terms) in the past three decades.
- The American way of life is the envy of the world. Thanks to American leadership, freedom, and democracy are flourishing around the world. And, yes, America is still the envy of the world.
- Inflation and Debt. Although I’m an optimist in general, I despair about our debt problem. It was already very bad before the pandemic and now it is worse. And, as we know, inflation is heating up (6.8% annual rate in November). It is precisely inflation that will kick off our coming debt crisis by forcing higher interest rates and therefore much higher interest payments on our accumulated debt. This whole sequence of events may now happen sooner rather than later, which is a silver lining in disguise!
Conclusion. Many things are going well in the U.S. today and Americans should generally be optimistic about the future of our country. Unfortunately, our debt problem is growing steadily worse. It may well require a huge new crisis for our national leaders to address it seriously. Our currently worsening inflation could cause this to happen fairly soon.