America’s decline

President Trump, in his inaugural address, used the phrase “American carnage” to describe his country. FT columnist Martin Sandbu agrees with Mr Trump’s assessment, but finds nothing in his policies that might lead to improvement.

American decline is not a figment of Mr Trump’s imagination. The US economy has left large numbers of people with stagnant wages for decades. It is an economy in which millions fewer people have a job than at the peak in 2000, and which still leaves tens of millions without secure, decent healthcare.

It is an economy dotted with towns that were thriving within living memory, but have been devastated by the loss of factory jobs — lost because automation made plants too productive to need as much human labour as before, or because a failure to automate made them uncompetitive against rivals.

Above all, it is an economy in which centuries-old progress against mortality has gone in reverse for middle-aged low-educated Americans, who are dying from the afflictions of broken lives and broken communities: drug overdoses, liver disease and suicide.

Martin Sandbu, “An enfeebled America stands alone“, Financial Times, 19 July 2017 (gated paywall).

Mr Sandbu also criticizes – less severely – policies of the UK, Germany, France and Italy, while praising policies implemented by the EU, Japan and – most notably – Canada:

Canada’s reconsecration of its globalist destiny matches its ambitious welcome of refugees.


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