A U.S. economic miracle lasting 20 years is the only way to heal us and benefit all Americans and unite a society that is dangerously fractured along political and socio-economic lines. Japan, Germany, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, et al. pulled off at one time or another an impressive economic miracle and it is long overdue for the U.S. to achieve something similar.

Money, time and energy are wasted in D.C. and in the media focusing on those activities which avoid this solution and which actually add to our continuing and seemingly never-ending relative decline of our living standard.

A giant irony resides in the fact that we have enormous resources and vast space but have done far less with them in sharp contrast to Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Taiwan, Germany, Japan, et al. which have done a lot with very little resources in crowded conditions. We have millions of people living in slum houses often right next to luxurious sports stadiums and pompous corporate office buildings. All metros and university campuses prove it blatantly.

This writer, in many trips to Europe, has never seen anyone living in a trailer home, yet he did so twice during his poverty years in the U.S. and has followed the growing number living in them for many decades.

According to census figures, in 1960 out of 180 million Americans, about 1.3 million were living in marginal trailer homes. By 1990, out of 240 million about 15 million were doing so, a massive percentage increase relative to population increase. And it continues to rise beyond the overall increase in population.

Add a large number of slum homes and it is no surprise that the masses are discontented.

Our national economic problem involves transforming our natural resources and vast space into a rising living standard which would offer hope and contentment for the people who would enjoy seeing their net worth, housing and neighborhood and total environment improve year after year.  Hateful political rhetoric and extremist actions would be reduced, if not ended, if the people experience a constantly rising net worth.

But such has been prevented and actually has been substantially mislead by the primary statistic of economic well-being: the GDP growth statistic. It has measured too much the massive wealth accumulation by our bureaucracies but not by the people. This shows up in the shocking growth of the Harvard Foundation which grew from 1.5 billion in 1975 to above 40 billion by 2000 and also shows up, among other factors, in the giant growth of income by top CEOs. Their annual income in the 1950s was about 25 times the average worker's income yet it grew and grew to 90 times, then to 200 times and actually hit 450 times or more in recent decades. Such imbalances were not matched by top CEOs in foreign advanced economies. GDP stats should be replaced by a primary index, which measures the growth of family/individual net worth adjusted for inflation and for hours worked. Such a primary index would serve the people and not wealth accumulation by bureaucracies and parasitic CEOs on Wall Street.

It is a screaming ethical and moral tragedy during the covid crisis of having billionaires explode their wealth by a trillion or so while uncountable millions were suffering.

To set the stage for a U.S. economic miracle we have to redirect wasteful military spending abroad for immediate improvement to upgrade substantially the infrastructure. Simultaneously a series of major reforms have to be institutionalized:

l. Simplify the tax code and impose a transaction tax on deleterious and parasitic trading on Wall Street which also has to be partially decentralized to revitalize local and regional businesses.

2. Impose far higher sin taxes to internalize the cost of smoking, drug abuse, etc. instead of dumping the damage onto the innocent taxpayer.

3.Gradually over time, enact screening and merit up and down bureaucratic hierarchies the way it is done far more in successful foreign economies. Too often we substitute politics for merit.

4. Stop our intense historical attempts to control and dominate the globe, whether through military action or through buying vast areas. Eight hundred foreign military installations are provocative and have not served the national interest but polluted the globe and denied us a living standard commensurate to our natural resources and space.

Without a stunning economic miracle, we will merely continue hateful political bickering, wealth accumulation by bureaucracies and the never-ending relative decline of our living standard compared to crowded and resource-poor foreign economies.

Ottumwan Siegfried "Sig" H. Sutterlin, who has earned a doctorate in history from the University of Minnesota, is a former senior Fulbright scholar in Europe and retired history instructor at Indian Hills Community College. He can be reached at hay7be@yahoo.com.

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