“Difficult Takes a Day, Impossible Takes a Week.”

— Jay-Z

OK, enough with this decline/fall, etc. of America rhetoric.

Does the US have major problems?  Yes

Do I think the US has more problems than most people think the US has?  Yes

 Chart Contributed to Seeking Alpha by Bespoke Investment Group

But the country hasn’t fallen yet, as evidenced by the chart above.  Some say it is like the cartoon where the object is standing above a non-existent ground, having already gone over the cliff, just waiting to notice it has nothing left to do but fall to the ground.

All that the problems do is show us areas where we can improve.  We have the human capital to fix all of our problems. We just need to make the economy a main priority now.  We can’t continue to argue about other things until the books are balanced, period. 

In the short run, we need to deal with tangible infrastructure, as well as intangible infrastructure (human capital), to ensure a solid foundation for the longer term.  In the longer run, we need to particularly focus on balancing expected cash inflows and outflows.

As for the latter, it’s not as impossible as some folks may believe. Fixing social security just requires some basic restructuring.  Lowering social security taxes is fairer and more efficient.  However, in order to ensure that lower upfront cost doesn’t bankrupt the system, wealthy retirees don’t need to get as much as one might think.

The key is to align incentives to ensure no one is aiming to be a part of the program.  As long as folks are incentivized to be wealthy enough to not need subsidization then a program can theoretically be sustainable.

Health care containment just requires some minor changes, such as a desire to eat a little healthier.  I was overweight during most of my youth, but once I learned about nutrition it was hardly impossible to adjust.  I am confident that other folks will find the transition doable as well.

Don’t worry, I realize the emotional qualitative issues that dominate the news (e.g. tax fairness) are important to many folks.  I have done plenty of research on these important issues, and am confident we have plenty of human capital to ensure these debates are dealt with sufficiently for all stakeholders.  But it won’t matter if we’re broke.  So let’s fix our finances first.

Relax, enjoy your weekend, everything’s going to be fine.

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