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Recapturing the American Dream

Donald Trump on America's Decline

The Donald Paints a Troubling Picture

This is the first of a two-part blog on what ails our country and how best to fix our economic (and political) problems. I devote this blog to discussing how and why we have gotten into the economic mess we are in now. In the next blog I will discuss some of my ideas to turn it around and make the US the economic power it once was, but no longer is, because of the emergence of China and revitalization of the German economy.

Donald Trump was a big hit at the recent CPAC convention. His message resonates among the Tea Partiers. America is in decline, not respected around the world, and headed to disaster if we don't reverse course and do it immediately. At CPAC, The Donald said: Trump "Considering the state of the country we need a competitive person," after noting that Business Week had named him 'the world's most competitive business person.'  "If I run and if I win, this country will be respected again."

Like other speakers before him, Trump's campaign message springs directly from the general sense of American decline. "The U.S. is becoming the laughing stock of the world," he said, noting that a German company had just bought the New York Stock Exchange and OPEC had recently raised its gas prices. "This country is in serious trouble."

In other interviews including the Piers Morgan talk program on CNN, Trump blamed the Chinese for our declining economy. He said he has Chinese friends that tell him that “the Chinese can't believe how stupid our leaders are? He said they are laughing behind our backs, why? There is no free trade? There is one way to solve the problem no matter what these idiot politicians tell you. If China puts a 25% tariff on our goods, we need to put a 25% tariff on their goods. Not 2%, which is happening now?" If China doesn't like it, good, please do America a favor? Please fight us (America) on this issue?

The Donald also believes we are no longer respected as a political force [unless you count the ability to militarily take down regimes] because we are not forceful enough and don't act with integrity in speaking out against anti-US rhetoric; we generally try to placate leaders who are not and never will be our friends. We also are totally beholding to OPEC because of our dependence on foreign oil. There can be no doubt he is correct on this point. Ever since the mullahs overthrew the Shah of Iran and took American hostages we've talked about oil independence. That was almost 40 years ago. Like most problems we face as a nation "we kick the can down the road."  The result is we can't afford to alienate those who really don't like our respect our culture because we would risk having gas prices of $5 per gallon or more.

We have become largely dependent on the Chinese to finance about $1 trillion of our debt. Rather than getting our economic house in order, we borrow and spend; borrow some more and spend some more. We've spent trillions of "stimulus" money since 2008. We're still mired in an economic slump with troubling rates of  unemployment, under-employment and discouraged workers. There are no signs we'll climb out of the doldrums any time soon. This past week it was reported that GDP for the fourth quarter has been revised downward from 3.3% to 2.8%. That is a 15% decline from the estimated GDP growth.  That, in itself, should show us that we still have a long way to go, and let's not forget the fourth quarter always increases because of hiring during the holiday season.

The solutions to our problems will not come easy. They will take courage guided by moral principles of right and wrong. I will discuss my thoughts in my next blog but let my leave you with one thought. David Start Jordan wrote in The Philosophy of Despair: "Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it."