September 9, 2019
American Failure… or ‘Something Else’?
By Steven Longenecker, Publisher
Folks across America are giving up.
They’re tired. They don’t understand how they can work harder every year… and end up with less and less.
In fact, for many Americans, the only thing they see more of each year is debt.
Student loans for their children keep getting larger… and can never be discharged in bankruptcy. Hospital bills are soaring… funded by payment plans and harassment from collectors. Credit-card debt, mortgage debt, personal debt – all rising.
There is something wrong in America.
Most folks don’t understand what, exactly. You likely can’t put your finger on it. But you feel it… deep down in your gut.
There is something that is simply not right.
It’s nothing new. It’s been here a long time.
And that gut sense of wrongness is rooted in a historic betrayal.
The institutions you have depended on, relied upon – governments, banks, newspapers, schools – are failing you.
As a feature story in The Atlantic recently noted, Americans are turning away from the pillars of society as “deaths of despair” via drugs and suicide soar to record highs:
What Americans young and old are abandoning is not so much the promise of family, faith, and national pride as the trust that America’s existing institutions can be relied on to provide for them.
Today, fewer than three in 10 Americans trust the government according to the Pew Research Center. That’s been true in every major poll conducted since July 2007, right before the Great Recession. Trust has been falling since the early 2000s.
And for good reason…
The government has managed – and continues to manage – its finances foolishly. As a result, our country’s debt situation is worse than you can imagine.
Within the next 10 years, two things alone will eat up ALL government revenues: entitlements and the interest on the national debt. And you are on the hook – one way or another.
Likewise, trust in the news has plunged. Gallup reports that the number of folks expressing little to no confidence in newspapers recently hit an all-time low.
I don’t blame them… When’s the last time you read something unbiased in a national paper?
As for banks, hospitals, and schools… All these institutions have also squandered the public’s trust. This is the very trust that has for so long served as the foundation of today’s society.
For some Americans, this continued erosion of trust will be an unrecoverable disaster.
For politicians, it is an opportunity to win an election by “doubling down” and making bigger and bigger promises that they can’t pay for… and will only make these problems worse. For example – free college and the outright forgiveness of $1.5 trillion in student loans, free money via a “universal basic income,” or free health care via “Medicare for All.”
Of course, if you know anything about money and government – there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
As American Consequences editor in chief P.J. O’Rourke is fond of saying: “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.”
Yet… for other Americans who haven’t yet given up… this shift could be an opportunity.
As that Atlantic article concluded:
And there is the brutal truth: Many will likely falter. They already are. Rising anxiety, suicide, and deaths of despair speak to a profound national disorder. But eventually, this stage of history may be recalled as a purgatory, a holding station between two eras: one of ostensibly strong, and quietly vulnerable, traditions that ultimately failed us, and something else, between the unmaking and the remaking.
We – like the Atlantic – can’t say what that “something else” is.
But we recently read with interest a presentation about America’s huge wealth shift… and perhaps the end of American capitalism as we know it. If you’re interested in reading it too, click here.
Now here are some of the stories we’re reading…
The nuclear family, God, and national pride are a holy trinity of the American identity. What would happen if a generation gave up on all three?
The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, and Bank of Japan “have to face the fact that when the next downturn comes there will not be the power to reverse it in the same way that existed before.”
The worrisome leading indicators are real, but so are the sources of resilience that could keep the expansion going.
The 100 largest owners of private property in the U.S., newcomers and old-timers together, have 40 million acres, or approximately 2% of the country’s land mass.
The current crop of Democratic candidates is offering a beehive of free programs without any real discussion on how to pay for them.
And let us know what you’re reading at [email protected].
Publisher, American Consequences
With P.J. O’Rourke and the Editorial Staff
September 9, 2019