[Editor's Note: In Matthew 5:14, Jesus told his listeners, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden." The founders of America, carrying what they felt was the truth, wanted to create something special with this new land, the Americas. Being mostly Puritan, they felt that America was God's country, a "Shining City upon a Hill," to echo the Bible (Winthrop).]
WTF happened? Colin Cuttress, a lawyer with experience from the UN, gives some interesting insight here, albeit in his "casual" voice, starting in 2008;
by Colin Cuttress
The big economic problem in the USA, is largely unknown
Whilst low interest rates do lead to lower savings and bubble markets, the housing bubble was not the primary reason for the financial crisis of 2008. Even more fundamentally, from a macroeconomic perspective, was America's inability to absorb the surplus economies of Germany and China and return the cash efficiently. Capitalism is a zero-sum game; someone wins and someone loses.
One of the only intelligent things Trump did say in his whole campaign was speaking to the bad trade deal America has with China. It would not be enough for me to vote for him though; he's too behind on virtually every other issue, and even on trade he didn't have a plan for shifting America's allocation/production to areas of high export potential. Hillary on the other hand at least had ideas about what areas and sectors to invest in so she receives my endorsement. She's also the more presidential of the two. I give Trump marks for trying though with no experience, and for making us think about things we normally take for granted even if he was absolutely crass at times--he's definitely an "entrepreneur".
Industry creates wealth
We mustn't fundamentally misunderstand the mechanics of competition. Firstly, industry creates wealth, new products and technologies, and that is so whether ownership is private or public. Germany, for example, represents 1 percent of the world's population and around 10 percent of the world's exports, which would imply the average German is 10 times as efficient and productive as the average individual, and yet it is considered more socialistic than the United States. So it isn't capitalism that creates, it's industry. Capitalism can accentuate industry through competition, but it is a categorically different concept.
Capitalism is fine: property rights promote industry and investment for the better, contract rights provide certainty for future bargains and exchanges and reduce ambiguities for future litigation, pride in ownership, personal service, the drive to innovate and be the best--all good things. The British, with economists from Adam Smith and David Ricardo to John Maynard Keynes and Niall Ferguson, have for years been ahead of the US on the nature of capitalism. It's also interesting that the most capitalistic, industrialized areas of the United States voted for Hillary while the less developed, less educated and more illiterate rural agrarian areas supported Trump. Trump was born in democratic New York; he's not at all representative of the people who voted him in.
Put the You back in value
Not only have countries like Germany been showing the US up economically, but Germany shows that being the best means not outsourcing. The benefits of comparative advantage mustn't be outweighted by excessive outsourcing leading to the economy's inability to produce incomes sufficient to buy what is produced and maintain a reasonable standard of living. When we buy German, from Mercedes and Porsche to audio-systems and coffeemakers, we pay a premium. Americans pay a premium. Yet when you go to Vienna, London, Amsterdam or Berlin you don't see too many people driving Fords and GMs. Virtually none, I know.
With blacks not even being able to play Major League Baseball until 1947, the Americans have always been behind GB, Europe, Canada and Australia socially, but they have been losing economically too. It could be the year 2050 or 2080 before the US is at where many countries are now. China has been building its surplus economy also through sinking prices below average variable cost to eliminate American competitors. China and Germany's gains are inextricably linked to America losing (at least economically, we already know America is not competitive as a country socially). About 30,000 to 35,000 people die each year due to gun crimes. Not exactly a productive use of your labour force. And how many of the ones who don't get shot are illiterate and uneducated? We are seeing a country that has not invested in its people.
A Beacon of Opportunity, a Shining city upon a hill, a very very very far largely distant hill...
Before the Internet and social media, a lot of what people knew of Americans was from TV, books and radio. Lots of pictures of skyscrapers in New York probably made it seem like a beacon of opportunity. You look at a picture or listen to a fairly intelligent Hollywood actor and probably thought America was really something. Now with modern social media, people can see for themselves just how uneducated and behind they are. The average European prostitute probably has more on the ball than the average American professor; certainly would know more about world affairs. How will Americans compete with the brains of Germany, the Netherlands, the Japanese--countries that invest in their people and continue to innovate? Economic and social progress are inextricably linked and that's why America is behind both economically and socially. Even British Tories or Canadian Conservatives understand this. American politicians fight over issues virtually all other countries in the developed world take for granted....