Third World America

Arianna Huffington’s new book Third World America describes and echoes a number of different commentators on the broad health of the US over the next 10 years. As one can see from the title of her book, both the forecast and prescription are not good as the US is locked in a political war of mean-spirited “starve the beast at any cost” attrition just when clever, far-reaching and deft economic strategy is essential. And here are 5 other analysts and writers that lend credence to Ariana’s arguments :

Robert Reich – his book Aftershock see the US flawed because the basic bargain of “workers are consumers has been out-sourced as wealth accumulates into ever smaller elites and the political process get increasingingly lobbyists.

Tom Friedman – argues in the NYTimes that Americans have acceded to being 11th in the world as both education and opportunity [jobs and investment] have declined steadily over the past 2 decades despite ┬álarge spending by both government and business.

Robert Scheer – The Great American Stick-up describes how both GOP and Democrats aligned themselves with financial elites who bought the dismantling of financial reforms and continue to do so with the blessing of SCOTUS.

Paul Krugman – NYTimes columnist was first to coin the phrase Third World America and one of the few economists to argue that stimulus was too small, not targetted well enough, and had to resolve the question of jobs and China’s WTO defying trade policies.

MacLeans – Canada’s national news magazine also has a Third World America story which addresses the tremendous shortfall in state and local governments tax base forcing many drastic cutbacks for health, education, welfare, policing and basic transportation infrastructure. Since the US is Canada’s largest trading partner, an economic downturn in the US has stark implications in Canada.

Remarkably, these accounts are neither right or left centric. Mostly they simply ignore the blame game – and rightfully so because both Democrats and Republicans are complicit in mis-management and poor governance as well described in Arriana Huffington and Robert Scheer’s books. But what becomes abundantly clear is the US simply has not adjusted to its inevitably diminished economic position in the World as American firms have chosen to export/outsource manufacturing and creative jobs to lowest cost producers while allowing just about every country to hoodwink US trade policy with local industry protectionism against US firms plus currency manipulation that puts US firms in the position “of having to export” jobs. In Europe there is an echo of these problems as the banks there falter and jobs get exported. And of course, as in the US, political blame battles takes precedence over any claim to astute economic and national policy.

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