JLBB wrote: ↑
1 month ago
The reality is that in reference to traditional economic metrics (which the US has always been measured by) it isn't failing, although the national debt problem makes it difficult to engage in serious transformation policy agendas without risking destruction of the economy entirely. If anyone failed America it was a combination of the Bush and Clinton administrations for causing the GFC and Bush for his destructive foreign policy and expenditure on war. Obama was largely impotent aside from a failed fiscal stimulus that largely hammered the nails in the coffin.
People talk about centrism being dead, but the US needs a party for example that is interested in serious infrastructure spending that will actually have a valuable long term return on investment, aid in terms of peoples lives and doesn't involve trashing an already existing energy grid for the sake of a new one and passing (increased) costs onto consumers, in a bill that also tries to give everyone in the country that wants one a government job. A party that offers a single payer healthcare system but doesn't want to give free healthcare to illegal immigrants, while subsequently decriminalising coming to the US illegally, a position the majority of Democratic candidates support. Instead there is a batshit crazy wing of the Democratic party out of touch with reality or the desires of the public, and apathetic but realistic Republicans, from Pelosi to Trump. Both sides seem to want to pull further in either direction, which is why nothing can get better.
The economic metrics are quite good, and have been quite good for several decades. Inflation is officially low, unemployment is officially low, the stock market is doing great, GDP growth is high, etc, sounds like utopia ... but I'm skeptical. I don't know how you feel about the following, but I strongly suspect that the official numbers are somewhat cooked, though I don't know to which extent. I recall a quote by Gregory Mankiw (I think that it was Mankiw) discussing how the Clinton administration had cooked the books on inflation. Their idea was that by under-estimating the inflation rate, they could save money on social security spending. I think that they did this by manipulating hedonics and substitution.
An old friend of mine from years ago, who had double majored in economics and physics, had told me that there's a theorem in neo-classical economics that suggests that unemployment and inflation should be anti-correlated. I don't remember the name of the theorem, but he said that the empirical data challenged that theorem, as both numbers were low. I responded that there's no issue, if the official numbers are cooked, then the theorem is irrelevant.
I agree that Clinton's presidency is at the heart of many of the failed problems. When he came in, he benefited from the Cold War being won, the gulf war being won, a recession being just finished, the emerging tech boom due to the internet, demographic changes that would lead to lower crime, and majorities in both houses. He arguably had the best cards of any President of the post-war era ... and he squandered those cards and the country merely partied for 8 years. A lot of people got rich, but nothing useful got done with all of that political capital. He tried to initiate Middle East, but he failed. He tried to fix health care, but he failed. All they had was a big party, they also alienated Russia by trying to plunder it during the Yeltsin years, when they should have sought to have an alliance with Russia. He's the most over-rated of the recent presidents.
These are some of the current inefficiencies in the US right now:
- Infrastructure, it takes too long to get from point A to point B;
- Education, too expensive due to the rise of bureaucracy and loan sharks, and teaching less and less;
- Health care, most expensive system in the world, with higher rates of infant mortality resulting;
- Research into pharmaceuticals is almost entirely funded by US taxpayers. The pills then get sold to Americans at ~10x the prices that they are sold to the rest of the world, Pharma executives and marketing companies pocket the difference, and in general the clinical trials are often of very poor methodology;
- Mass immigration from the third world crashing working class wages and increasing the cost of living;
- An ecosystem of speculators and tax credits increasing the cost of housing of middle-class families in their 20s and 30s;
- Criminal justice system which puts 3 million people in jail, largely for smoking marijuana, at a cost of $100,000/year, not including the human cost. The criminal justice system also fails to deal with more serious crimes. For example, there's a huge amount of rape kits which remain untested. Drunk drivers get off easy. etc;
- It's easy for any lunatic to get access to assault rifles;
I unfortunately don't see any of that getting solved.