Continuing on from where my last post left off, let’s consider the big domestic stories.
The U. S. economy is flat
At the present rate of growth of the U. S. economy There is no growth in the U. S. economy. Real growth is, essentially, zero. The Case-Shiller index fell again, ending the first quarter of 2012 at the lowest level since the housing crisis began in 2006. Why don’t we hear a coherent plan to remedy the present situation from somebody, anybody?
Please do not tell me that higher education is the key to a bright economic future. More than half of recent college grads are unemployed or underemployed. Canada has the highest percentage of people with college educations—roughly 50%. That seems to be about the limit for higher education for a population. What about the other 50%? We’ve had three consecutive administrations for which higher education for all has been the keystone of their economic policy. What that has produced is mountains of student debt.
If you believe that cutting taxes will produce a vibrant economy, please explain why the multiple tax cuts of the last decade haven’t had that outcome? And why this time will be different?
This is not just a Big Story. This is The Big Story. The entire world’s corporate economic plan seems to be for the U. S. consumer to recover.
State and local governments are broke
State and local governments are being bankrupted by increasing healthcare and pension costs. Healthcare and pension costs are rising fast enough and incomes, real estate values, and retail sales are rising slowly enough (or even falling) that just increasing taxes is no solution. We need national healthcare reform that lowers healthcare costs. This is a Big Story.
As I’ve written any number of times before energy independence is a will o’ the wisp—there’s a world market and unless we close our doors and pull the rug in behind us we’ll be subject to the effects of a world market. However and somewhat ironically, energy self-sufficiency may be within our grasp. This is an absolutely enormous story. Our imports of oil are a big component of our trade deficit and our trade deficit is a component of our economic slowdown. My suggestion on energy policy: lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way. Mostly the latter.
If anybody has a good explanation of how most people can save for their futures as long as the Federal Reserve maintains a zero interest rate policy, I’d like to see it. It’s also killing the insurance industry but that’s a topic for another time.
Mexican immigration seems to have stopped and may even be going back the other way. I honestly don’t think that enough people appreciate how big a story this is. I think the assumption is that, if the American economy picks up, Mexican immigration into this country will resume. The demographics and economic development of Latin America and the Caribbean do not support that conclusion.
If you have other candidates for really big domestic stories, please submit them in comments. I’ll add the ones I agree are Big Stories in an update to this post.