I have been writing this blog for almost 10 years, beginning shortly after the 2012 national elections. I have named the blog “It Does Not Add Up” because my main focus is the fiscal health of the United States. Our national debt, now in the neighborhood of $30 trillion, is far too large and is growing in an unsustainable manner.
It will be very difficult to fix the debt problem. In theory, we can do it by controlling the cost of entitlement spending. But this will be very hard to accomplish in practice. I now have adopted the more pessimistic view that it will take some sort of a “crisis” for our national leadership to effectively address this problem. The current 8% annual rate of inflation could become such a crisis but more likely will be brought back down to a tolerable level by aggressive Fed action in raising short-term interest rates.
Nevertheless, I am still optimistic about the long-range future of the “American Project” because we have a fundamentally sound free enterprise economic system as well as a stable system of democratic government respecting individual rights.
My optimism about America is backed up by my personal satisfaction of living in the mid-sized city of Omaha, located in the deep-red state of Nebraska. Consider these fundamental advantages:
- Low cost of living. The cost of living in Omaha is 8% less than the national average.
- Low crime rate. Homicides in Omaha are way below the national rate.
- Low rate of homelessness. The entire state of Nebraska has “only” 2400 chronically homeless people, much less than most other states.
- Income inequality. Income inequality in Nebraska is much lower than the national average, as is typical of red states in general.
- Educational equity. The eleven school districts in metro Omaha comprise a Learning Community whose focus is on early childhood education to better prepare children from low-income families to succeed in school.
- Unemployment rate. Nebraska’s current unemployment rate is 1.9%, the lowest in the U.S., and for Omaha, the unemployment rate is only 2.4%.
Conclusion. While I no longer think that there is a simple or even relatively painless solution to fix our national debt problem, I am still optimistic about the long-term prospects for maintaining essential U.S. leadership in world affairs. Perhaps my “rosy scenario” outlook is influenced by my own quality of life which is greatly enhanced by the favorable demographics of my city and state of residence.