When I began writing this comment, according to the US debt clock (https://www.usdebtclock.org/):
- US National Debt = $27.8 trillion dollars; and
- US Workforce = 150 million workers (125 million full-time).
Dividing the US National Debt by the total number of US workers reveals that every working US citizen owes $185,333 to the US government—just to cover the principal amount of the loan.
Dividing the Debt by the total US population reveals that every person in the US owes $83,998 to the US government—merely to cover the principal amount of the loan.
These computations ignore:
- interest on this debt, which is climbing like a rocket (see debt clock);
- a possible two-trillion-dollar stimulus proposal being discussed presently, which would bring the current debt before interest to $198,000 per working American, and $89,739 per American.
- the average US State debt of $3,705 per citizen (see debt clock); and
- the average US “Local” debt of 6,342 per citizen (see debt clock).
These computations also fail to consider that many jobs which exist today are in jeopardy due to factors such as:
- the “work from home” movement renders office complexes and supportive industries (e.g., insurance, utilities and services, plant/office equipment, furniture and maintenance, food services; security) unnecessary;
- it is unclear how many brick-and-mortar business stores, restaurants and entertainment venues will survive the Pandemic, particularly in light of vaccine efficacy and logistical shortcomings, and manifold virus mutations which are occurring world-wide;
- advances being made in robotics, artificial intelligence and automation will increasingly replace human labor in agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation;
- litigated increases in the minimum hourly wage will motivate expanded development and adoption of automation.
The computations also ignore the enormous infrastructure needs of America: bridges, dams, roads, utility infrastructure (water, gas and power); daunting ecological crises associated with climate change threatening land, air, and water creatures and plants (diversity of life forms is diminishing rapidly), as well as low-lying and costal developments; increasing industrial contamination of air, water, and land; increasing international aggression and conflict; and unsustainable population growth.
But, I digress… The basic point is:
- The trajectory of the American debt is increasing, and the number of Americans possessing capabilities which cannot (will not) readily be automated is decreasing.
I wonder, can this situation be sustainably reversed, such that debt is decreasing and jobs are increasing?
At least the leaders have a short-term plan: print and give-away money to people (“for free”) so they can buy, buy, buy!
Paul R. Yarnold, Ph.D.
January 15, 2021