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Can America really be great again? (I)

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

01-26-2016 15:16 BJT

Editor's Note: CCTV.com Panview will post a two-part series about the rise of the US economy and signs that  the nation could be headed towards more gloomy financial conditions. We invited Sol Palha, a prominent business news writer from the USA, to write the series. This is Part 1.

By Sol Palha, senior analyst at Tactical Investor newsletter, based in New York, NY. USA

The United States often speaks from a bully pulpit, proclaiming itself as the land of the free, the land of opportunity, progress and all things great. Upon closer examination, American exceptionalism seems naked, bald, fat and ugly.

 

The sad part is that Washington does not appear to care about its people and often treats its citizens worse than outsiders. If you cared about your people you would not engage in expensive wars that you cannot afford, while allowing your nation to plunge downhill. 

On almost every major front, the US is lacking in superiority. From education to infrastructure, the US ranks far below other nations, including developing nations. But Americans do rank number one in the world in military spending. 

Record 20% of Households need food stamps.

Now roughly 48 million individuals are on food stamps. The number has surged 42% from 2009, the year the markets bottomed out and are we in the middle of a bull market? Aren't we supposed to be better off today? Could the US government be lying? 

Poverty levels

Let a few selected quotes do the talking:

In 2013, the official poverty rate was 14.5 percent, down from 15.0 percent in 2012. This was the first decrease in the poverty rate since 2006.

In 2013, there were 45.3 million people in poverty. For the third consecutive year, the number of people in poverty at the national level was not statistically different from the previous year's estimate.

The 2013 poverty rate was 2.0 percentage points higher than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession.

The poverty rate for children under 18 fell from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent in 2013.

The poverty rate for people aged 18 to 64 was 13.6 percent, while the rate for people aged 65 and older was 9.5 percent. Neither of these poverty rates were statistically different from their 2012 estimates.

Both the poverty rate and number in poverty have decreased for Hispanics in 2013.

Since unrelated individuals under 15 are excluded from the poverty universe, there are 430,000 fewer children in poverty universe than in the total civilian non-institutionalized population.

Poverty is up nearly 16 percent in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA. Up more than 27 percent in the suburbs of Providence RI.  Nearly 79 percent outside Seattle, WA. 

And in the suburbs of Austin, Texas, the number of poor has swelled almost 143 percent. More poor people now live in America's suburbs than in cities or rural areas.

American incomes have declined more in the three-year expansion that started in June 2009 than during the longest recession since the Great Depression, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by Sentier Research LLC.

Median household income fell 4.8 percent on an inflation- adjusted basis, since the recession ended in June 2009, more than a 2.6 percent drop during the 18-month contraction, the research firm's Gordon Green and John Coder wrote in a report today.

Household income is 7.2 percent below the December 2007 level, the former Census Bureau economic statisticians wrote.

"Almost every group is worse off than it was three years ago, and some groups had very large declines in income," Green, who previously directed work on the Census Bureau's income and poverty statistics program, said in a recent phone interview. "We're in an unprecedented period of economic stagnation."

Super power should have super infrastructure right?

1.1 in 9 of the country's bridges is rated as structurally deficient, which require significant maintenance, rehabilitation, or replacement.

2.Of 84,000 dams in the U.S., 14,000 are considered "high hazard" and 4,000 are deficient. It would cost $21 billion to repair them.

3.42% of the country's major urban highways are considered congested, and 32% of major roads in the U.S. are in poor or mediocre condition.

4.Even though a third of Americans don't drive cars, 45% of households lack access to transit.

5.There are 240,000 water main breaks in the U.S. each year and many water mains and pipes are over 100-years-old.

6.The Federal Aviation Administration anticipates that the national cost of airport congestion and delays will nearly double from $34 billion in 2020 to $63 billion in 2040.

7.90% of locks and dams experienced an unscheduled delay or service interruption in 2009. Barges being stopped for hours can prolong transport of goods and drive up prices.

8.Congestion on rail lines costs the U.S. economy about $200 billion a year, or 1.6% of economic output.

How could a so-called superpower country end up in such poor shape? All this money had been thrown at useless wars and stupid bailouts; the money could have been better used to keep America great again.

Worse yet, over 20 countries have far superior infrastructure. Apparently, the basis for this superpower status is simply big guns. 

(To be continued)

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

 

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