Pick any colloquialism that suits; the bloom is off the rose, Elvis has left the building, that dog no longer hunts, no lead left in the pencil, the halcyon days of American dominance is becoming, figuratively speaking, nothing but a memory. Yeah, we can still kick anyone’s ass in a stand up fight, for whatever that is worth. And yes, the world still looks to us to clean up their messes or lend weight to a moral argument in chastising the latest super bully, but in the last few decades the rest of the world has found their sea legs and has adopted their own views of national exceptionalism. I, for one, welcome any autonomy they find under their pillow and applaud their pursuit of self-reliance. Doing their own heavy lifting frees us up to focus on what is best for us. Looking inward, supporting yourself in all things, trade, defense, national character, border security, each nation should fend for itself and join in alliances only when beneficial to that country in the pursuit of its own interests.
Americans can no longer take for granted that we dominate in all things. Although we still do some things pretty well; unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit, creating wealth, having the best universities, science/technology/engineering/medical innovation, entertainment, social networking, porn, possessing guns, beer (sorry Germany, but we have more kinds of beer and more breweries than anywhere) diversity, but other cherished accomplishments, those things previously viewed as American as apple pie, have fallen by the roadside.
First, the good news; in creating/saving wealth we still dominate.
Average household wealth varies widely across OECD countries, ranging from a low of $4,429 in Turkey to a high of $176,076 in the United States. Across the entire OECD, the average household wealth was $90,570.
This stat is eroded a bit by the fact that most Americans are still ruled by instant gratification and easy credit; hence their savings rate is pretty bad.
$176,000 isn’t even close to what most people will need once they stop working.
Now, the bad news; our economic ranking among other nations keeps dropping
Economic freedom has increased around the world during the last 30 years, capitalism has proven to be a smashing success. Here is how economic freedom is actually measured;
The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of private property. Economic freedom is measured in five different areas: (1) size of government, (2) legal structure and security of property rights, (3) access to sound money, (4) freedom to trade internationally, and (5) regulation of credit, labour, and business.
The analysis shows that living in an economically free country plays a greater role in one’s life satisfaction than does income, age, employment or even a country’s political system.
Economic freedom promotes educational achievement, which segues to the next area of diminished American gains, the fruits of our public education system;
The last chart is the 2018 World Happiness Index. happiness – or well-being – is subjective and notoriously difficult to quantify. General health, satisfaction with how the government works and whether it odious or harmonious to citizens living out their lives as they choose, societal norms that conform to their views, quality of life, all these are thrown into the blender;
It is interesting that many nations rank high on all these “efficiency” charts. Their attitudes on free trade, civil liberties, property rights, freedom of the press, less intrusive government using fewer regulations and lower taxes to allow its citizen greater wealth prosperity, promotes the individual and his own pursuit of excellence.
The Nordic nations score high on the happiness index, I guess people do like to be taken care of. The U.S. has increasing fallen year after year on the happiness index, I guess money can’t buy happiness after all. Lack of confidence/control in our government is a reason, ever-increasing obesity, substance abuse, depression; all these erode contentment and promote stress.
I suspect that in both education and happiness, we will continue our downward slide. But there is no excuse for us to suck as economic freedom. Rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets, there are the very pillars on which our nation was built. We can and must do better in this regard.