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America Where Are You – From Birth Rates to the Renewable Energy Race?

July 15, 2011


Ancient Egypt lasted some 3100 years. By some accounts the decline of the Roman Empire occurred over a slow period of approximately 300 years. The Middle Ages reigned for about 1000 years.  Text books yet to be written will peg America’s position as a world leader from the end of WWI in 1918 to the 2008 Financial Crisis, a mere 90 years.

Seismic factors shaking the American way of life are seen all over the American landscape. We need to quit passing ad hoc short sighted temporary measures and get down to real business. Required are effective short- and long-term policies that serve the people, not our elected officials in these areas.

We the People of the United States of America
Elected officials are more concerned in posturing for reelection than promoting the general welfare of the American people.  To the extent that the White House and Congress remain hopelessly deadlocked over the budget and debt ceiling, Americans are the ultimate looser with a deadlocked political system. These are not new problems, but the government is reactive than proactive. All these 11th hour debates are intensive headline getters and impediments towards ensuring our prominence and prosperity.

On the mainstream news, we are treated to endless footage of leaders from both political parties proclaiming that the primary reason that we are in the midst of such an economic mess is because of what the other political party has done.

• Republicans proclaim that we are experiencing all of this economic chaos because of the Democrats.

• Democrats proclaim that we are experiencing all of this economic chaos because of the Republicans.

We are still down about 7 million jobs from the start of the recession. “The unemployment rate in the United States was last reported at 9.2 percent in June of 2011. From 1948 until 2010 the United States’ Unemployment Rate averaged 5.70 percent reaching an historical high of 10.80 percent in November of 1982 and a record low of 2.50 percent in May of 1953. The United States Unemployment chart from January 1949 to June 2011 shows the current employment rate is the 2nd highest in the last 62 years.”

According to Christina Romer, former chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisors, “we certainly took aggressive action early on with the Recovery Act and the financial rescues; it’s why we took a number of smaller measures as we went on, everything from a small-business jobs bill to extending unemployment insurance. I think there was potentially a chance to be more aggressive maybe in the fall or winter; fall of 2009. I think that’s where maybe lots of policymakers took their eye a little bit off the jobs ball. We saw the feds talk about exit rather than what more can we do? And I think Congress certainly was not interested in doing much more on jobs. I think all of us could have pushed harder and should have pushed harder.”
Michael Snyder writing for the Business Insider, said on Sep. 13, 2010:

The “America” that so many of us have taken for granted for so many decades is literally disintegrating right in front of our eyes. Most Americans are still operating under the delusion that the United States will always be “the wealthiest nation” in the world and that our economy will always produce large numbers of high paying jobs and that the U.S. will always have a very large middle class.”

“But that is not what is happening. The very foundations of the U.S. economy have rotted away and we now find ourselves on the verge of an economic collapse. Already, millions upon millions of Americans are slipping out of the middle class and into the devastating grip of poverty. Statistic after statistic proves that the middle class in the United States is shrinking month after month after month.”

• 45 million Americans were living in poverty in 2009

• 2009 saw the largest single year increase in the U.S. poverty rate since the U.S. government began calculating poverty figures back in 1959

• The U.S. poverty rate is now the third worst among the developed nations tracked by the OECD

• One out of every five children in the United States is now living in poverty

• 28% of all U.S. households have at least one member that is looking for a full-time job

• One out of every seven mortgages in the United States was either delinquent or in foreclosure during the first quarter of 2010

• Nearly 10 million Americans now receive unemployment insurance, which is almost four times as many as in 2007

• Nationwide bankruptcy filings rose 20 percent in the 12 month period ending June 30th.

Health Care
Using infant mortality rate, the number of deaths of infants under one year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year, as an indicator of the level of health in a country, the National Center for Health Statistics reported:

• The U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than those in most other developed countries, and the gap between the U.S. infant mortality rate and the rates for the countries with the lowest infant mortality appears to be widening.

• The U.S. infant mortality rate generally declined throughout the 20th century. In 1900, the U.S. infant mortality rate was approximately 100 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, while in 2005, the rate was 6.86 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, virtually unchanged from 6.89 in 2000, which has generated concern among researchers and policy makers.

Additionally, Mary Engel, Staff Writer for the Los Angeles Times reported on October 16, 2008, reported:

• The United States dropped to 29th in the world in infant mortality in 2004, the latest year for which data are available from all countries, tying with Poland and Slovakia. The year before, it was 27th. In 1960, it was 12th.

• “We as a nation place less emphasis on primary care and prevention than a lot of these other industrialized democracies do that have lower rates than we do,” said Dr. Ann O’Malley of the Center for Studying Health System Change, a Washington-based research group.

• Twenty-two countries have infant mortality rates below 5 per 1,000 births, and Sweden, Norway, Finland, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore are below 3.2.

HuffPost Education  reported, December 7, 2010, “U.S. Falls In World Education Rankings, Rated ‘Average.’  The three-yearly Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world, ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.”

National Debt
As of July 13, 2011 our National Debt was about $14.5 trillion.  Each citizen’s share of this debt is $46,150.58. The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $3.86 billion per day since September 28, 2007!”

U.S.’s debt is fast approaching 100% of the GDP. The government now borrows about 42 cents of every dollar it spends.  Each year since 1969, Congress has spent more money than its income.

Since 1930, the federal government has run deficits in all but eight years. As a percent of the overall economy, the annual gap between spending and revenue is at its highest since WWII.

The following graph compiled by the Washington Post from White House Office of Management and Budget data shows the percentage of the GDP that goes to support the budget deficit. Besides the extreme deficit during WWII; 2009, 2010 and projected 2011 are the worst since 1930.

Prosperity and low unemployment following WWII enabled our county to rapidly climb out of the red. Projections for continued slow economic growth and high unemployment will only exasperate the problem.

SOURCE: White House Office of Management and Budget; GRAPHIC: Wilson Andrews, Jacqueline Kazil, Laura Stanton, Karen Yourish – The Washington Post

In the words of Mark J. Albrecht, The Washington Times, July 11, 2011”

“Since 1960, America’s space program has been the crown jewel and Exhibit A of American exceptionalism. It has been a symbol of our spirit, ingenuity and technological prowess. It has fueled and sustained an economic expansion unparalleled in history and has powered the most awesome and unrivaled global military capability since the Roman Empire.”

“Yet our space program has been in a slow and steady decline since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1989, our lead in all aspects of space and space technology was so large that even decades of neglect, waste and inaction have left us without peer in almost all categories even today. This won’t last long. We are eating our technology seed corn.”

Headline News: “China’s space program shoots for moon, Mars, Venus,” by Louise Watt, Associated Press, July 11, 2011. “This year, a rocket will carry a boxcar-sized module into orbit, the first building block for a Chinese space station. Around 2013, China plans to launch a lunar probe that will set a rover loose on the moon. It wants to put a man on the moon, sometime after 2020.”

America has been engaged in the war in Afghanistan since 2001? It’s the longest war in U.S. history. It began on Oct. 7, 2001, in response to the Sept. 11 attacks on our country by al-Qaida terrorists based in Afghanistan. The war was justified, and it dealt the terrorists an awful blow. Cost of War in Iraq and Afghanistan to the taxpayers in the United States since 2001:$1.2 trillion and counting.

We have been engaged in the war in Afghanistan since 2001? It’s the longest war in U.S. history. It began on Oct. 7, 2001, in response to the Sept. 11 attacks on our country by al-Qaida terrorists based in Afghanistan. The war was justified, and it dealt the terrorists an awful blow.

On June 22, 2011 the New York Times reported: “Mr. Obama announced plans to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. The remaining 20,000 troops from the 2009 “surge” of forces would leave by next summer, amounting to about a third of the 100,000 troops now in the country. He said the drawdown would continue “at a steady pace” until the United States handed over security to the Afghan authorities in 2014.”

Renewable Energy
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s “Annual Energy Outlook 2011,” (“AEO2011”) report, released on April 26, 2011 states: “Despite rapid growth in generation from natural gas and nonhydropower renewable energy sources, coal continues to account for the largest share of electricity generation.”

A New York Times article “China Leading Global Race to Make Clean Energy” by Keith Bradsher, January 30, 2010 states:

• China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world’s largest maker of wind turbines, and is poised to expand even further this year.

• China has also leapfrogged the West in the last two years to emerge as the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels. And the country is pushing equally hard to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient types of coal power plants.

• President Obama, in his State of the Union speech last week, sounded an alarm that the United States was falling behind other countries, especially China, on energy. “I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders — and I know you don’t either,” he told Congress.

• As China seeks to dominate energy-equipment exports, it has the advantage of being the world’s largest market for power equipment. The government spends heavily to upgrade the electricity grid, committing $45 billion in 2009 alone. State-owned banks provide generous financing.

• So while Americans are used to thinking of themselves as having the world’s largest market in many industries, China’s market for power equipment dwarfs that of the United States, even though the American market is more mature. That means Chinese producers enjoy enormous efficiencies from large-scale production.

• In the United States, power companies frequently face a choice between buying renewable energy equipment or continuing to operate fossil-fuel-fired power plants that have already been built and paid for. In China, power companies have to buy lots of new equipment anyway, and alternative energy, particularly wind and nuclear, is increasingly priced competitively.

Closing Comments
In closing, from birth rate to the space race America has lost its edge. While our policymakers create walls and swirl in a sea of inefficient, wastefull, slow, and ineffective theatrics, the bridge that made America great seems is burning fast.

Wish the answer was as simple as a prayer and meditation, but the wound is too deep.

When and only when our policymakers put us, the American Citizen, ahead of partisan politics; become proactive, efficient and effective; turn more programs over the public area and get out of the business of running businesses; would we possibly be able to turn the falling trends around and back to America.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2011 11:36 AM

    I couldn’t agree more–we really need to get our act together–great blog, great commentary!

  2. Laurence Needleman permalink
    July 28, 2011 2:21 PM

    Your conclusion is the classic liberal philosophy of the Founding Fathers which is now deemed as modern conservatism and the basic philosophy of the Tea Party movement. And, of course, as products of the Scottish Enlightenment, the Founding Fathers got it right – limited goverment, limited taxation and strong property rights; the exact antithesis of modern progressive/liberal thinking.

  3. July 28, 2011 3:22 PM

    Classic liberal philosophy of the Founding Fathers verse ultra-right wing philosophy of the 3rd Reich! I stick with the former. Absolutism of the ultra-right only results in ashes – history of man dictates so.

  4. Laurence Needleman permalink
    July 28, 2011 5:46 PM

    The Third Reich was never ultra-right- it was always SOCIALIST. Before they were known as the Nazi Party they were the National Socialist Party. It was Stalin who who labeled the Nazis as right-wing because they were competing philosophies of the left. Check out the Nazi party platform of the twenties and except for its racial policies it is no different than today’s Democratic party platform!

  5. July 28, 2011 6:49 PM

    Ahh, now I get it, Socilaists are progress and liberal thinking.

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