The US economy seems to be moping along showing no signs of recovery from the 2008 recession. A lot of people have lost their jobs and have little prospect in getting new ones. States all seem to be having difficulty balancing their budgets and are engaged in layoffs and cutbacks. How did we get into this spot?
It would be easy to blame President George W Bush. It was on his shift that everything went to hell in a hand basket. And for sure, his Administration must take a lot of the blame but that will not help us understand what has really happened. This recession has been years in the making and will require some significant changes to shake off.
Since the 1950’s Americans have deluded themselves on why this country was so well off.
- God received a lot of credit (he blessed this land and its people so well).
- American ingenuity and hard work also received a lot of credit.
- Democracy and capitalism were attributed a major role as well.
Everything American stood as “proof”. Folk lore had it that the US won WWI and WWII. There is little mention of the Korean War or Vietnam War. American Olympic teams won the most gold medals. There is no mention of how much more money the US Olympic committee spent on training compared to other countries. American cars were second to none we were told. Then in the late 70’s Japanese automakers showed Americans that a good car did not need to be so expensive. American industry was supreme until steel and chemicals were replaced by Asian versions of the same products. Air travel with TWA and Pan Am was without peer until the 80’s and 90’s when Singapore Air and Lufthansa set new standards for service and dependability. Health care was probably the greatest achievement of the all the American successes, it was clearly best in the world. Well almost. Today the US ranks 17th in overall health care among other countries but does rank first (by a long measure) in per capita cost.
The point of all this is that America has much to be proud about and is still a wonderful place to live, but there are many other countries that are doing quite well too. For anyone who has traveled, the gap between the US and the rest of the world can easily be seen to be closing.
The question “any ideas” (about how to get the Country growing) is not an idle one. It is clear that Congress has no clue. Both political parties tell either half truths or simply try to distort reality in order to suit their short term political needs.
One of the favorite political mantras is to simply repeat how great the US is. To be sure, in any contest I would like to be dealt the US as my hand. The difference is I would play the hand quite differently. The king has no clothes.
- The first observation is that there are many countries that possess brain power and technology every bit the equal of the US.
- Next, we must understand that capital has no conscience and will go where ever it can earn its best return. We owe Banks and Investment firms no favors.
- Education and skills remain the key to productivity success and there are no secrets in this arena, just the will to learn.
- Lastly there are no substitutes for hard work, fair pay, and sustainable life paths.
Those who long for the America of the past simply do not know America, or how it came to be. America has been, and still is, a land of immigrants. As each wave of foreigners became Americans, the Country grew and change ever so slightly. Those who want to reclaim the past, in truth, really want to retain their personal privileged advantages, and could care less about everyone else.
Anyone that tells you there is a free lunch is a fool or dangerous, and in any case, should not be trusted. Getting America going by cutting taxes or services to the needy fills that free lunch bill.
It is time for the US to look around the world and start making its investment choices again on the basis of increasing our common wealth. The bloated and wasteful ways of the last 60 years must give way to a far more practical and pragmatic approach.