The United States is by far the wealthiest country in the world with a total 2020 GDP of $20.807 trillion. The next wealthiest country is China with a GDP of $14,861 trillion. Even on a per capita basis, the U.S. ranks 11th with a GDP PPP of $65,112. So based on this, things should be great, right? Unfortunately, when you look at other data, things are not so rosy.
- A yearly report published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network called the World Happiness Report indicates that between 2007 to 2017, the U.S. dropped from third place among the 23 OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) countries surveyed in 2007 to nineteenth place for the 34 OECD countries surveyed in 2017. Meanwhile the happiest countries surveyed in 2016 were (1) Norway; (2) Denmark; (3) Iceland, and (4) Switzerland. Our northern neighbor Canada ranked a high seventh place.
- A report which looks into a wider range of indicators of well-being than the World Happiness Report is called The Social Progress Index which is published by an organization called Social Progress Imperative, a U.S.-based nonprofit. The Social Progress Index ranked 128 countries based on 50 indicators such as personal rights, health and well-being, personal safety, and tolerance, in addition to GDP. Unfortunately, the results of this study are that in 2017, the U.S. ranked eighteenth overall but is losing ground. For comparison, Canada came in at number six.
- According to the Federal Reserve, in 2017, a millennial born in the 1980’s had family wealth that was 34 percent less than what earlier generations had.
- The stock market is one of the biggest wealth generators in the country. Unfortunately, about 85 percent of the stock market is owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans. The next wealthiest 10 percent own about 8 percent. This leaves about 7 percent for the remaining 80 percent of Americans. On top of that, about 25 percent of the stock market is owned by foreigners.
- There was an approximately 24 percent increase in suicides in this country between 1999 and 2014 according to the CDC. The increase for white, middle-aged males between 1999 and 2010 was an alarming 40 percent.
- We have a retirement crisis coming up with many Americans not having the means to retire at a reasonable age. This is due primarily to the elimination of pensions and the fact that only 32 percent of Americans had a 401(k) in 2017.
Our country is heading in the wrong direction and based on our overall wealth there is no reason for it. Unfortunately, our politicians do not seem to be able to change the direction that we are heading in. There is an old saying that goes, “When you do what you did, you get what you got.” Having only two political parties to choose from is ripping our country apart. The U.S. is one of only a few countries in the world to have a two-party political system and it is failing us.
As simple as it sounds, a third major centrist tie-breaker political party would allow us to solve all of our country’s problems. Plus, the government would start doing things that make sense because the centrist party would be the one to determine which policies get enacted. Based on recent polling data, over 60 percent of Americans and over 70 percent of millennials agree that we need a third major centrist political party.
Don’t buy into the “that will never happen” way of thinking that is so common regarding the formation of a third major political party. There are several fledgling efforts out there working to accomplish this such as the Alliance Party (theallianceparty.com), the Reform Party (reformparty.org), and Represent.Us. Besides supporting these groups, there are other things that you can do individually if you feel frustrated and frightened about what is going on in our country. Start a local group such a Facebook or Meetup group. If you are a student, start a group at your school or university. You can do something to help change the direction that our country is heading in.