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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Can America Be Fixed?

Can America Be Fixed? | Foreign Affairs: "Studies show that the political divisions in Washington are at their worst since the years following the Civil War. Twice in the last three years, the world's leading power -- with the largest economy, the global reserve currency, and a dominant leadership role in all international institutions -- has come close to committing economic suicide. The American economy remains extremely dynamic. But one has to wonder whether the U.S. political system is capable of making the changes that will ensure continued success in a world of greater global competition and technological change. Is the current predicament, in other words, really a crisis of democracy? . . . The danger for Western democracies is not death but sclerosis. The daunting challenges they face -- budgetary pressures, political paralysis, demographic stress -- point to slow growth rather than collapse. Muddling through the crisis will mean that these countries stay rich but slowly and steadily drift to the margins of the world. Quarrels over how to divide a smaller pie may spark some political conflict and turmoil but will produce mostly resignation to a less energetic, interesting, and productive future. There once was an advanced industrial democracy that could not reform. It went from dominating the world economy to growing for two decades at the anemic average rate of just 0.8 percent. Many members of its aging, well-educated population continued to live pleasant lives, but they left an increasingly barren legacy for future generations. Its debt burden is now staggering, and its per capita income has dropped to 24th in the world and is falling. If the Americans and the Europeans fail to get their acts together, their future will be easy to see. All they have to do is look at Japan."


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