Although I am mostly an optimist about the future of the United States, I do recognize that there are immediate serious problems that need to be addressed. For example:
- The Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Right now the Omicron variant is surging in the U.S. and around the world. It is highly infectious but also has quite mild symptoms especially for those who are vaccinated, as are 80% of U.S. adults. Moral: get vaccinated, go about your business, exercise reasonable precautions, and stop worrying about catching Covid-19.
- Global warming is a serious problem, but we need to respond to it in a realistic manner. Although carbon emissions are decreasing in the U.S. and Western Europe, they are increasing worldwide. Developing countries are the biggest culprits (especially China) because of their massive use of coal in order to industrialize. In short, the world needs to de-carbonize, not de-fossilize. This means emphasizing nuclear energy as well as carbon capture and storage. We won’t start making (worldwide) progress on global warming until we adopt such a realistic strategy to do so.
- Inflation and debt. Right now the annual inflation rate in the U.S. is 6.8% (in November 2021). If it continues much longer at this rate or higher, the Federal Reserve will be forced to raise interest rates. The higher they go, the more likely it is that our rapidly increasing national debt (now about $28 trillion) will trip off a new fiscal crisis. Until annual deficit spending (which is what creates debt in the first place) is greatly reduced, such a new fiscal crisis will loom on the near-term horizon. This problem, of course, can be solved if only there is a national will to do so.
- Political polarization. Besides inflation, this is our country’s biggest political problem at the present time. The red states and blue states take very different approaches on many major issues such as abortion and gun control. The solution is to stop expecting national consensus on our most divisive issues such as these and to let the states go their own way, as long as they act in ways that are consistent with the U.S. Constitution.
Conclusion. The reason I am optimistic about our country’s future is that our most serious problems, as described above, are not only solvable in theory, but are likely to be resolved by our very strong and firmly established democratic traditions and procedures.
Americans are incredibly lucky to live in such a strong and prosperous country with such widely accepted democratic norms. We are more than capable of resolving our current serious problems. I believe that America has a long and glorious future to look forward to.
Much more later on the particulars of how all of this is likely to unfold!
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