We hear all this blather about how the US is such a wealthy nation. Not true. Before Ronald Reagan became President, the US was the world's largest creditor nation. People and countries owed us more money than we owed them. Now some 30 years later the US is the world's largest debtor nation. This is the definition of a poor - not a rich - nation. China on the other hand holds $3 trillion in international reserves including $1 trillion of US debt. Other nations have sovereign wealth funds which contain vast amounts of money. The US has only a huge pile of debt - some $14 trillion worth. The US used to be the world's largest importer of raw materials and exporter of manufactured goods. Now we're the world's largest exporter of raw materials and importer of manufactured goods with a trade deficit of some $600 billion a year. At the present time the US has a deficit of some $2 trillion in needed infrastructure repairs while China is building high speed rail track at such a rate that it will soon have more miles than the rest of the world combined. Meanwhile, the US spends more on its military establishment than the rest of the world combined while cutting safety nets and education for its own citizens.
Americans have pulled the wool over their own eyes. Despite having a national debt of $14 trillion, despite having gone from a net creditor nation to a net debtor nation in little over 30 years, despite having enormous trade deficits month after month, year after year, despite having an infrastructure in need of $2 trillion worth of repairs, Americans think they live in a wealthy nation. The truth of the matter is that the US is a poor nation within which live a lot of wealthy individuals. China on the other hand holds a little over $1 trillion of US debt making it a fairly wealthy nation albeit with a large but diminishing number of poor people. China is building new infrastructure at an astonishing rate. It's a fallacy to think a wealthy nation is a nation comprised of a large number of wealthy individuals. In fact many Banana Republics are comprised of a small class of wealthy individuals surrounded by a sea of poverty. The US is on track to becoming one of those. A recent survey showed that there is a higher level of inequality in the US than exists in Pakistan, Ethiopia and Ivory Coast.
It is not hard to diagnose why the US is a poor nation which thinks itself rich while China is a rich nation which passes itself off as being poor. All the free trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA have resulted in the decimation of the US manufacturing base. US factories are closing in droves:
2010 comes in the midst of a stunning wave of U.S. factory closings that stretches from coast to coast. Once upon a time America was the greatest manufacturing machine that the world has ever seen, but now it seems as though the only jobs available for working class Americans involve phrases such as “Welcome to Wal-Mart” and “Would you like fries with that?” Even though the population of the United States has exploded over the last several decades, the number of Americans employed in the manufacturing sector today is smaller than it was in 1950. America has become a voracious economic black hole that ”consumes” as much as possible and yet actually produces very little. The United States is becoming deindustrialized at a blinding pace, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for blue collar American workers to find jobs that will actually enable them to support their families. The sad truth is that American workers don’t have a whole lot to actually celebrate this Labor Day. 14 million U.S. workers are “officially unemployed” and tens of millions of others have been forced to take part-time or temporary jobs that they are overqualified for just so they can survive. Unfortunately, this is not just a temporary situation for American workers. As millions of good jobs continue to get outsourced and offshored, Labor Day celebrations in coming years will be even more depressing.
Since 2001, The U.S. Has Lost 42,400 factories. The "giant sucking sound" that Ross Perot predicted has become a point of actual fact. But this doesn't seem to bother America's leaders. They are dedicated to the policy that US consumption drives US GDP and as long as US GDP is the largest in the world, who cares? Sales are up! However China, as the world's second largest economy as measured by GDP, is on track to overtake the US in the near future. American politicians only care about transnational corporations, nominally American, and how they can maintain the US consumer appetite (and their profit margins) for buying their goods even though most of those goods are produced overseas. They coddle these corporations by lowering their taxes, having their lobbyists drill loophioles in the tax code and giving them a "tax holiday" during which they can "repatriate" their overseas capital and bring it "home" without any tax consequences.
The model of trickle down economics, long since discredited, is still being championed by right wing politicians with the result that the fig leaf of prosperity is being shredded to reveal a naked transfer of wealth from the middle class to the upper one per cent. Naked power grabs are becoming the order of the day as the recent vote to extend taxpayer subsidies to the five Big OIl companies, despite their being the most profitable corporations in human history, reveals. At the same time those same right wing policticians are demanding that the budget be balanced on the backs of the poor and middle class. While countries such as Norway fund their safety net with royalties from oil drilling, the US gives away its natural resources to oil corporations including BP which is not even headquartered in the US. The neocon model of privatization and eliminating safety nets, although unsuccessful in Argentina and Brazil, is achieving considerably more success when practiced here at home. Trade unions are being decimated. States are being turned into fiefdoms and dictatorships. Public education is being defunded. There is an all out assault on teachers, police and other public workers. The notion that government doesn't work and can't be trusted is being fostered.
The US is becoming the very definition of a Banana Republic. It is becoming a nation largely bereft of a middle class, a nation in which there exists a small class of extremely wealthy individuals surrounded by a sea of impoverishment, a nation of antiquated infrastructure, a nation in which there is no there there. All that exists is a diminshing probablity of getting rich or even making it into the middle class. Students are being saddled with immense and obscene amounts of student loan debt. Middle classers are losing their homes to foreclosure. Poor people are being shunted aside as food stamp programs are being shut down and home heating oil allowances are drying up. The war on the poor is raging. And the American people continue to vote the guys that are screwing them into office because they pander to them with promises of unlimited rights of gun ownership and promises that they won't allow gays to marry
The US in point of fact is not a wealthy nation despite attempts to brainwash us that it is, and it's becoming poorer by the hour. But instead of implementing a rational health care system, we continue to give away billions to the pharmaceutical companies that we wouldn't have to if the government weren't prevented by law from negotiating with them. We continue to give away billions in subsidies to Big Oil and Big Agriculture. We continue to give away billions in tax breaks to the rich. We continue to pour billions down ratholes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Israel and many other places. .
These countries are taking us for a ride, and the Israeli President Netanyahu lectures our President on why he won't cooperate to bring about mideast peace. They are manipulating us out of our money while actually working and fighting against us as revealed by Pakistan's harboring of bin Laden. If Obama had tried to coordinate bin Laden's capture with Pakistan instead of going it alone, bin Laden would probably have been tipped off with the result that the Seals, to Obama's embarassment, would not have found bin Laden at home. What, no bin Laden? Just innocent women and children.
As China eats the US' lunch and the rest of the world rips off Uncle Sucker for billions of US taxpayer dollars, the American people should get used to the fact that we're not number 1 any more. Far from being the world's richest nation we're fast becoming one of the world's poorest nations where some of the world's richest people happen to reside. But don't worry about them. They also own villas in France, Italy and Spain. They only continue to hold US citizenship as a convenience. They could live anywhere. They could headquarter their corporations anywhere. It's still convenient for them to headquarter here so they can use their lobbyists to rip off American taxpayers and sell into the American consumer market. But as time goes on most of their sales will be to emerging consumer markets in China and elsewhere.