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Old 03-07-2011, 11:06 PM
 
Location: The Bay and Maryland
1,362 posts, read 3,182,989 times
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Since the start of the Great Recession in December 2007 and early 2008, many people have been boldly declaring that America is in decline and is destined to become a run-down third world country with permanent high levels of unemployment, poverty, homelessness and lawlessness. Many of the most prominent economists have said flat out that the economy in America will never recover because our old economy was built on the shoddy foundation of unsustainable rising debt in the form of the imaginary monopoly money known as credit. These smart folks do have a point because credit companies were lending thousands of dollars in credit to anyone with a first and last name regardless of income level and employment only a few years ago.

Also, many people argue that unemployment will never reach pre-recession levels because millions of white collar American jobs and manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to India and China to maximize corporate profits. Small businesses are being taxed and regulated to death and can't stay afloat in this cutthroat new economy run by faceless global companies and the government. Non-coincidentally, small businesses used to make up a huge percentage of American jobs which helps explain high unemployment. These same folks argue that the U.S. government has been effectively bought out by the richest one percent of the population over the last thirty years through Reagonomics, deregulated trade in outsourcing and that the American people are now much less important than all powerful global corporations to the policy makers in Washington. This does seem feasible since the government has done nothing to stop ultra rich people and corporations from continuing to outsource thousands of American jobs and put Americans out of work every month. The new Obama adminstration hasn't even done anything to tax the richest folks in America who are also the only sliver of the population that experienced the most economic growth in these past 30 years (mind you that the greatest economic expansion in U.S. history occurred when taxes on the rich were the highest in the 1950's). These theorists also believe that big corporations will not start hiring millions of American workers again until we start working for extreme poverty wages like workers in China.

However, these same people predicting ultimate doom in America also have prophetic visions of America actually joining the ranks of the third world. This seems somewhat foolish because most Americans still enjoy the highest standard of living in the world. Over one billion people around the globe are malnourished and don't have access to clean drinking water or have access to adequate sanitation. Most people around the world live on less than two dollars a day. Currently comparing even the most impoverished areas of America to a third world country is almost laughable and just screams ignorance.

But at the same time, certain places in America are quickly coming to resemble third world scenes. The rapid de-industrialization of former power-house manufacturing cities like Detroit has created eerie dilapidated, post-apocalyptic, impoverished ghost towns and wastelands of high crime and unemployment out of places that were once home to a thriving working middle class that was once the envy of the world.

Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline - Photo Essays - TIME

The middle class in America is shrinking at an alarming rate while the richest sliver of the richest one percent of the population is enjoying the lowest taxes and greatest wealth increase in American history. It is estimated that the bottom 40% of all American workers own less than one percent of America's total wealth all while the richest one percent of the population own over 30% of that same pie. Economic inequalities in the U.S. haven't been this extreme since the 1920's. America currently has the highest level of income inequality of any developed nation. Today, no jobs are safe and anybody can be laid off. Even the most educated people with years of work experience are losing their jobs. The real unemployment rate is much higher than reported in the mainstream media and certain states and cities have much higher unemployment rates and dismal job markets than others. Hundreds of thousands of smart, educated, hard-working people who "did everything right" are losing their jobs and homes and resigning into quiet homelessness. College is more expensive than ever and the quality of education is declining. Higher education has become a big business dedicated to teaching kids nothing but how to get drunk every night and extend their adolescence an extra five to six years and rack up tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt that will never go away until every last cent is paid off. Young college grads are being saddled with tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt only to find out that no one will hire them. Countless young college grads may face financial ruin and are broke, unemployed and restless with way too much time on their hands (**mind you these are the same factors that are currently causing all the violence and rioting and unrest in Egypt and the Middle East). I would hate to see what is happening overseas start occurring in America.

The Youth Unemployment Bomb - BusinessWeek

This blog predicts the downfall of America as we know it:

The Economic Collapse

Despite of all of these alarming and scary facts about American life in 2011, this country has gone through many deep recessions and depressions in the past and has always managed to bounce back. Most of the people predicting ultimate doom and gloom in America aren't old enough to remember the Great Depression, countless others, such as myself, weren't even born yet. Do you think that America is truly in decline or do you think that America will bounce back in a few years?

Last edited by goldenchild08; 03-07-2011 at 11:40 PM..
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:13 PM
 
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The recovery has to start at the top. I like what the CEO of The Container Store said. Something to the affect that CEOs have failed America if anyone has. He chose not to lay off people because it really wasn't necessary for most companies. We're just greedy at the top and need to lose some of that if we're going to get back.
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Old 03-08-2011, 12:12 AM
 
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America is not in decline absolute terms. Just in relative terms. Primarily to China, but also to a much farther extent, other large developing countries such as India and Brazil.

Relative to Europe and Japan, America is not in decline. It's position is the same. However, China has been advancing so rapidly that its position relative to the US has changed significantly over the last few decades.

More than anything, the US right now has been hit hard by the financial crisis and is going through a period of significant stagnation.
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Old 03-08-2011, 02:06 AM
 
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Well, its declining relative to Europe too, but otherwise I agree.

A lot of people has an image of America and how it compares to the rest of the world that solidified in the 50s/60s. When the first world competition was rebuilding from WW2. And buying the products of America, the only serious manufacturing economy left intact, to do it. The 50s and 60s were based on unique circumstances that are not coming back.

With Europe geting its act together, China, Brazil, India etc joining the first world, America is no longer automatically the best at everything, and can't win without really trying anymore. That doesn't mean life has gotten worse in the USA. It just hasn't improved as quickly as it has elsewhere.
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Old 03-08-2011, 04:27 AM
 
Location: In a house
5,230 posts, read 7,491,897 times
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Not so much because of the economy, but more as a result of losing sight of what makes it a special country. Our wealth was great but its not our defining trait. Our respect for individual liberty, rights & freedom is out greatest attribute and thats been in decline for a few decades now at least. Liberal policies will continue to erode our greatness & contribute to our decline even if the economy turns around. I'd rather live in a free country with a poor economy that in a wealthy socialist state. Our country wasn't born rich, it was born free.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:15 AM
 
Location: The Bay and Maryland
1,362 posts, read 3,182,989 times
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It may be premature to proclaim that America is in decline. Twenty to thirty years ago, the inner cities of most American cities were much more impoverished, dangerous, crime ridden and unlivable than today. The violent crime and homicide rates were much, much higher in every major American city during the 80's and 90's. The advent of crack-cocaine transformed desperate poor inner city communities into battlefields. Many big cities that are generally safe today had homicide rates that mirrored destitute places in war-torn nations. In the early 90's, Washington DC was the murder capital of the United States with nearly 500 murders in 1990 and brownstones were selling for a dollar in Harlem because the neighborhood was a decrepit warzone with seemingly no future. Today, DC is the most educated, highest median income big city in the nation with the country's strongest job market and record low crime rates. Similarly, today New York City is officially the safest big city in the nation and everything in NYC is prime real estate.

I think if America wants to truly change for the better, our economy needs a massive overhaul. Corporations can no longer have absolute power to do whatever they want. Regulations are needed. The whole credit crisis came about because real wages for working Americans have been stagnant since the 70's and people ran up their credit cards and sent their wives to work to maintain their standard of living. The ultra-rich, of all people, also can afford to be taxed at a higher rate as well.

Last edited by goldenchild08; 03-08-2011 at 09:33 AM..
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:39 AM
 
Location: On the "Left Coast", somewhere in "the Land of Fruits & Nuts"
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Until the passage of NAFTA under Clinton, and then the acceleration of outsourcing under Dubya, domestic Manufacturing jobs have always managed to absorb a huge portion of America's unskilled labor. But in an increasingly hi-skills economy, where do those folks turn now, except to low-paying "Services" jobs, or to Welfare?

We need to recognize that every manufacturing job lost, represents a substantial "cost" one way or another to the taxpayer, in increased crime, welfare, health & social services, etc.. And like the German "two-tiered" educational system that supports both Tradeschools & Universities, we also need to face the fact that not everyone is cut out to be a computer programmer either.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:52 AM
 
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First, the global economy is dependent upon, and prospered from, an abundance of natural resources. Those natural resources were once abundant relative to a few billion inhabitants of the planet. However, 7 billion people, and exponentially growing, have or are turning abundance into scarcity, as resources are finite. The growth in oil reserves and discoveries falls way short of the growth of population and consumption of oil. All around the world over tilling has eroded precious top soils. All around the world aquifers and water tables are being depleted. Magnetic shifting is said to be influencing weather patterns. Whether that is true or not does not change the fact that weather patterns are indeed changing and having detrimental effects upon farming. Thus, all in all, the globe, with 7 billion people and growing, has reached a point of diminishing returns.

What I am saying is that the pie of resources is shrinking (because they are finite) while the number of eaters are increasing.... and its a zero sum game now. The resource base of the planet cannot support the growth in living standards of billions of third world people. There are simply not enough resources to support the majority of the world’s people enjoying at least half of Americans ability to consume stuff. So price rations in the free market. Increased demand on limited supplies means that commodities will skyrocket in price, reducing the ability to afford and consume and hence lower the standard of living for most in the world, in absolute terms.

Secondly, the US position has been artificial since WWII. With all the major world economies destroyed in WWII, except the US, that is when we boomed into an unsustainable standard of living Zenith. The US had a monopoly globally. Nations needed our products, our financing, and our know how. We became the world’s largest net exporter and largest creditor and over 50% of global GNP came from the US in 1950. In other words, 4% of the planets population produced over half the goods and services. Well, that only came about because the other economies had been destroyed. When those economies recovered and new economies of old Communist nation turned to capitalism, the Monopoly was thus destroyed and the US was forced to use debt to maintain its standard of living and not make the political hard choice.

Finally, there is really nothing that can be done at this point to change the fate of the future. The world is going to have to come to grips with its finite resource reality and the US is going to have to come to grips with the fact that we will continue to be insolvent unless America radically lowers its standard of living.
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Old 03-08-2011, 10:29 AM
 
Location: The Bay and Maryland
1,362 posts, read 3,182,989 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mateo45 View Post
Until the passage of NAFTA under Clinton, and then the acceleration of outsourcing under Dubya, domestic Manufacturing jobs have always managed to absorb a huge portion of America's unskilled labor. But in an increasingly hi-skills economy, where do those folks turn now, except to low-paying "Services" jobs, or to Welfare?

We need to recognize that every manufacturing job lost, represents a substantial "cost" one way or another to the taxpayer, in increased crime, welfare, health & social services, etc.. And like the German "two-tiered" educational system that supports both Tradeschools & Universities, we also need to face the fact that not everyone is cut out to be a computer programmer either.
I agree that not everyone is cut out to be a computer programmer. However, any job that can be outsourced through technology does definitely get outsourced. And this includes "in-demand" white collar fields that people love to harp about like engineering and computer programming.

Yes, America is becoming a service economy. Is that really all that bad? It is really all that bad if you are a recent college grad, a laid-off white collar worker or any white collar professional for that matter. However, many plumbers, mechanics, store managers and used car salesmen make very good livings without a college education. This faux-prosperity we have been living in since the 70's powered by easily available credit and two parent working households has erroneously created the belief that ridiculously expensive higher education and white collar desk work is the only way to live for the middle class in America. This is far from the truth. My brother in law is a used car salesmen who never went to college and he makes 80-100K a year and doesn't have any student loan debt. The tables have simply turned in America. Service sector work isn't all that bad; you just have to be willing to start working at the bottom and climb your way up. Many people who own McDonald's franchises started working cleaning the bathrooms or as fry cooks but worked their way to become managers and then become store owners. Besides, I hate to admit it but tens of thousands of white collar workers in America don't really work anyway. The stereotype of white collar workers playing computer tetris and pretending to work in cubicles all day does have an element of truth to it. There are thousands of Homer Simpsons in America who fall asleep everyday behind their respective power boards at their versions of the Springfield nuclear power plant. Americans are so fat today for a reason. It is hard to believe that no too long ago in America, people were paid to work hard and exercise on a daily basis and still be able to afford a house and live comfortably. Sadly these same jobs today that were once highly respected are looked at as low-status grunt work reserved for illegal immigrants who are inevitably viewed as subhuman by ironically repulsive morbidly obese Americans. It is a shame that all the formerly respectful professions like construction, maintenance, landscaping and most honest blue collar work have been monopolized by cheap illegal immigrant labor. And it is also a shame that most manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas.

Many young Americans bought into the myth fed by their Baby Boomer parents that a college education was worth its weight in gold. However, Boomers are very out of touch because they grew up in an age of an anomaly of an ever-expanding economy when college educations were much cheaper, wages were adjusted for inflation and higher education degrees guaranteed employment. Today, college degrees aren't worth the paper they are printed on. Work experience and connections heavily outweigh the mediocre certifications of higher education in 2011. This is the reason fresh college grads can't get work because the seniority of laid off veteran career salarymen is much more valuable than an unproven recent college graduate with an anorexic portfolio. College is more overpriced than ever and doesn't guarantee a job no matter what you study and it doesn't matter if you went to the most prestigious Ivy League in the nation or Clown U. I wouldn't advise any young person to go to college in today's economic climate. Going to a trade school to learn an in-demand skill that can never be outsourced or working right away in whatever job you can find and establishing a work history so you can climb the ranks of the service industry is the way to go today. Learn to be a cook or a plumber and you can make 40-60K a year and not be 20-200K in debt when its all said and done.

Last edited by goldenchild08; 03-08-2011 at 11:00 AM..
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Old 03-08-2011, 10:35 AM
 
48,516 posts, read 83,688,108 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grim Reader View Post
Well, its declining relative to Europe too, but otherwise I agree.

A lot of people has an image of America and how it compares to the rest of the world that solidified in the 50s/60s. When the first world competition was rebuilding from WW2. And buying the products of America, the only serious manufacturing economy left intact, to do it. The 50s and 60s were based on unique circumstances that are not coming back.

With Europe geting its act together, China, Brazil, India etc joining the first world, America is no longer automatically the best at everything, and can't win without really trying anymore. That doesn't mean life has gotten worse in the USA. It just hasn't improved as quickly as it has elsewhere.
It really is not on a decline reative to europe. Europe has such problems from governamnt spendig as part fo their GDP they had to take to cutting , Even then only germany is really in a good position. But its all relative as stated as to even decline to china or any eneging country would take along time. Our economy is huge still. All we have to do is start brig i line our spending governamnt spending with revenues and not egt tot eh poit that europeans are in where its close to 100% of gdp. That leaves no wiggle room as they are in now.They are like a family that spends what they earn in this recession and losig income.
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