The American economy is worth 15 trillion, still over twice as big in absolute terms as a distant 2nd place, China a desperately poor nation with a huge population…
But is that wealth proportionally useful compared to other places?
If we consider GDP by purchasing power parity, China with many times more people still has only 75% as much relative wealth as the US.
The US national debt has passed 100% of GDP but the US remains one of the worlds most reliable debtors: 2% of GDP, 7-8% of Federal Revenue more than pays off all the
interest each year. The federal government spends 4x as much each on social programs and the military!
The American debt burden would not impress struggling European powers during the Napoleonic wars.
Nations like Japan are far worse off with close to 150% GNP in national debt or Greece at 200%. Germany isn’t that much better off at 85%
The net US trade deficit is by far the largest in the world at about 450 billion, but another 30-40 billion a year of exports could plug the gap and the difference still pales in comparison next to the massive size of the US economy.
The numbers tell us that the US is a monster, yet those of us who live there are experiencing relentless and accelerating decline. How do we explain this against awe inspiring numbers?
After all even a US in relative decline is still surpassed only by the entire EU.
Here’s some reflections on reconciling the reality on the ground with the statistics?
Virgin Bride: Unbuyable
Wife: Average income just an entry ticket to the arena
Girlfriend: Average income just an entry ticket.
Job Security: Unbuyable
House: At least $200,000 (realistically far more paid after interest, no one can afford that out of pocket)
Car: At least $10,000 if new. (realistically far more paid after interest, no one can afford that out of pocket)
Rent: At least $600/month, $7200/year even in cheap areas after utilities and fees.
Education: 16 years to satisfy basic prerequisites, consuming at least 6 years from age able to enter workforce. Possibly more than a decade with higher degrees. A doctor or successful lawyer may earn a lot but has to compensate for 10+ years of working part time or not at all. Filling a big black hole of years of tuition + living expenses.
Children, Family Before Age 30: The price is a life of grinding poverty.
How much just to break even? A couple million dollars earned over a couple of decades? Even if everything goes as planned, break even by middle age?
The simple truth that stares us in the face: The “normal” lifestyle with house/apartment, car, job doesn’t make financial sense.
It entails a huge expenditures of time and energy in a desperate bid to break even.
In the past, people may have had prospect of having a family and securing their genetic futures, but now even this basic reward(readily available to many poor peoples all over the world) is elusive.
Just a glimpse at these basic expenses shows us that rent seeking, fees, tuition, royalties, interest on assets and payments is where wealth can actually be made.
Right now what keeps people going? Fear that the only alternative to the “break even track” is to live in true uncertainty of survival.
The United States remains fantastically wealthy on paper yet is the average person’s life essentially any different than the average across time and place?
Is someone in a poorer country who can hope for a genetic future in their reproductive prime, surrounded by supportive family, with an ancestral home to live in, a family trade to aspire to, in fact, better off?
Are Americans as atomized individuals a whole that’s less than the sum of its parts?
Are Americans despite their unprecedented wealth undermined by backwards and wasteful social institutions and culture?
Or is the present trend of declinism as the numbers suggest, a misguided fad?
Insights on this matter?