The United States Isn’t A Wealthy Nation

Several of the Bernie bots were sharing more economic ignorance spouted by their preferred presidential candidate. This time it was Bernie saying that the United States is the only wealthy country that doesn’t guarantee health insurance. How can he claim a nation that is tens of trillions of dollars in debt is wealthy? It’s the kind of lunacy only made possible through political doublespeak. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and debt is wealth!

The United States is at that point where it has stretched itself so thin for so long that it can no longer even keep up the appearance of wealth. Like the man who used an extensive line of credit to buy his mansion that was just foreclosed and Ferrari that was just repossessed, the United States is no longer able to even maintain what it already purchased. A good illustration of this is the transportation infrastructure:

Imagine you’re driving. Maybe on the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago, or down Interstate 95 through New Haven, or I-94 in Milwaukee. Chances are you’ll encounter a truck-swallowing pothole, or lanes strewn with orange cones, or traffic at a standstill. After all, Illinois, Connecticut, and Wisconsin have the worst roads in the nation. And the Highway Trust Fund — the source for most federal spending on roads, bridges, highways, tunnels, and public transit — is almost out of money. Again.


The fund’s primary source of revenue is the federal fuel tax of 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel. That tax hasn’t gone up since 1993, and isn’t pegged to inflation. A dollar in 1993 is worth only 60 cents today. If the gas tax had kept up with inflation, it would be 30 cents a gallon today and pull in nearly twice the amount of revenue. The tax brings in around $34 billion each year, but while that seems like a lot of money, it barely scratches the surface of what’s needed to maintain the nation’s highways in a state of good repair.

The federal government spends roughly $50 billion annually on infrastructure, leaving a $16 billion hole in the Highway Trust Fund. Over the last decade, Congress has signed off on a series of short-term extensions to prevent the fund from completely drying up. The one just approved by the Senate would mark the 36th such funding extension for the fund since 2009.

The article argues that the gas tax needs to be increased to pay for infrastructure maintenance. If this was a new problem that arose in a wealthy nation a simple gas tax increase might be enough of a bandage. But the infrastructure has been in decay for decades so the costs of fixing everything is so astronomically high that it’s not even a feasible project anymore:

So what needs fixing? Almost everything. Today, more than 60,000 bridges in the United States are considered structurally deficient, according to the Department of Transportation, and 32 percent of US major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. In its most recent report, the ASCE gave the nation’s overall infrastructure — everything from airports to wastewater — a D+. The US would need to spend an estimated $3.6 trillion by 2020 to bring its infrastructure into decent shape. That’s more than one-third the nation’s entire gross domestic product.

Emphasis mine. The infrastructure is in such a dilapidated state that the federal government would need to steal one-third of the entire nation’s gross domestic product just to bring it up to date in four years. That, ladies and gentlemen, is point where your income can’t even pay off the interest on your debt. And it’s only one of a practically uncountable number of government programs. No amount of additional plunder will allow the United States to get back on its feet.

People saying the United States is a wealthy nation should be laughed at. When they use that claim to justify creating yet another government program that will add more debt they should be publicly shamed. Their names should become common insults. Instead of saying “You’re an idiot,” the new insult should be, “OK, Bernie Sanders.”

The empire is collapsing. No amount of voting will save it, thankfully.