We Americans are writing off the future


The United States will not have a good future unless we Americans today invest in schools, scientific research and physical infrastructure.  The top chart shows how much less we spend today, as a fraction of our national wealth, than an earlier generation did immediately following World War Two.  The “gross” investment is total spending on the future; the “net” investment is what was spent over and above what was needed for maintenance of what we had.

The bottom chart shows the projections of the various budget plans before Congress.  Only the “Congressional Progressive Caucus” proposes an increase in investment.

I don’t have a target figure of what percentage of GDP we ought to be investing in the future, but I think that the “net” figure on the first chart ought to be greater than 1 percent.  It is perilously close to a minus figure, which means we are not spending enough to keep up with deterioration.

The United States as a nation invests a lot in improving our technology for surveillance and waging war.  We need science, education, transportation and communication, and we ought to be investing in that as well.

Click on How Washington Is Wrecking the Future for the source of the charts and commentary by Matthew O’Brien of The Atlantic.   While our political leaders are shortsighted, so are executives of corporations who squander their capital on executive compensation and boosting quarterly profits instead of investing in the future.

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