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