Sometimes, especially lately, it’s depressing to think about the future of the U.S.
The economy has been in the doldrums since Barack Obama took office, and, in a slew of ways, is actually worse now. Median incomes are the lowest since 1995 [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/median-income-falls-inequality_n_3941514.html], the workforce is its smallest in nearly 50 years [http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/13/data-shows-millions-of-americans-falling-out-of-the-workforce/], real unemployment is running at 16.6 percent [http://www.gallup.com/poll/125639/Gallup-Daily-Workforce.aspx], and all those 20-something kids who should be are moving back home with their parents. [http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/01/living/parents-moving-home-millennials/]
But that’s not the real problem. See, on top of all that, we’re $17.5 trillion in debt.
The last time America was debt free was 1836. That lasted one year. When Ronald Reagan took in 1981, the national debt was less than $1 trillion. When he went home to California, the debt was three times that. George H.W. Bush pumped the debt up to $4 trillion. Bill Clinton ran it up to $5.6 trillion. And by the time George W. Bush left office, the debt had nearly doubled to more than $10 trillion.
In Mr. Obama’s first four years, the debt has soared more than $7 trillion.
How’d we get here? Consider this: When Mr. Obama went to Brussels this week, he took a 900-person entourage, three cargo planes, two 747s, a slew of support planes, a phalanx of Marine One helicopters and nearly 50 for his motorcade.
That was for a 24-hour stay.
But it’s not just that. America has been so rich for so long, it just can’t get used to the notion that it’s not wealthy any more. It’s as if America is the wife of a billionaire who finds herself suddenly divorced. No more suites at the Ritz-Carlton, time for the Days Inn. Oh, and get used to mac ‘n’ cheese.
There’s a puzzling puzzle that virtually no one seems to notice: If America is the richest country in the world, why doesn’t everyone owe us money? Why do we owe China $1.2 trillion? Hell, we owe ourselves $4.4 trillion. (more…)