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24 October 2016 - National Depression

posted Oct 24, 2016, 4:37 AM by Benjamin Bias
In these United States of America I expect the national acrimony to get worse after the 08 November 2016 election:

1.Real wages are down since the 1980’s, and the 1980’s were not so fabulous.  No amount of higher GDP, record corporate profits, record highs in the stock market, and reductions in the deficit will make people feel good about the country until real wages are going up.  And real wages will not go up because productivity gains outpace inflation.  Also, the robots are coming: When real wages do go up then there is even more incentive to eliminate jobs entirely with mechanization - the ultimate in productivity gains.

2.Imagine the acrimony after the civil-war was over.  There were millions of citizens who lost an armed conflict over their firmly held beliefs.  Today there are people with firmly held beliefs and they feel like they have lost a civil war:  Same-sex marriage, productivity rights, politically correct language, undocumented workers, and the ever looming threat of curtailing 2nd amendment rights strains their beliefs.  As the nation progresses and social norms drift these people will feel less enchanted by the nation they call home.

3.A minority of Americans selects the candidates of each party during the primaries.  Then in the general election a minority of Americans selects the president.  No matter who wins a majority of Americans will rightly say, “I did not vote for that person and I do not have to support them.”  Once upon a time that might have been an ‘un-american’ thing to say, but nowadays people can say it, mean it, and obstruct any agenda based on that fact.

4.As population rises the number of citizens that is represented by each person in Congress goes up.  Just like with the president, members of Congress are elected by a minority of people in their district.  Thus, each members of Congress is elected by a minority and will have a terribly hard time representing the (ever larger and more diverse) majority.

5.All of the easy problems have been solved.  The country is 240 years old now.  The United States has fought wars over its ideals, both externally and internally.  The problems that remain are problems that have existed since the dawn of civilization: allotment of finite resources, how to treat unequal people equally, and balancing personal liberty against civilization’s best interests.

That we get along as well as we do is amazing and a testament to what is possible when we all do our best to be reasonable.  Yet, and especially if, people have expectations (hope) that does not align with the real progress in their own lives then they will be depressed.  We have recovered and found prosperity out of previous depressions, but the current one will be the hardest to solve yet because there are few metrics that can even detect it.

How we show leadership and solve a depression that is not measured with a stock ticker?