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Saturday, June 2, 2018

IS THE USA IN TAILSPIN?

Day 30 of the Puna Eruption, and there is now a first death.  A despondent man in a shelter committed suicide.  Otherwise, 87 homes have now been destroyed and flows continued to Kapoho:


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There is a new book, Tailspin, by Steven Brill.  A quote from Amazon:

In this revelatory narrative covering the years 1967 to 2017, Steven Brill gives us a stunningly cogent picture of the broken system at the heart of our society. He shows us how, over the last half-century, America's core values--meritocracy, innovation, due process, free speech, and even democracy itself--have somehow managed to power its decline into dysfunction. They have isolated our best and brightest, whose positions at the top have never been more secure or more remote. The result has been an erosion of responsibility and accountability, an epidemic of shortsightedness, an increasingly hollow economic and political center, and millions of Americans gripped by apathy and hopelessness. By examining the people and forces behind the rise of big-money lobbying, legal and financial engineering, the demise of private-sector unions, and a hamstrung bureaucracy, Brill answers the question on everyone's mind: How did we end up this way? Finally, he introduces us to those working quietly and effectively to repair the damages. At once a diagnosis of our national ills, a history of their development, and a prescription for a brighter future, Tailspin is a work of riveting journalism--and a welcome antidote to political despair.

A few other facts:
  • While inflation-adjusted middle-class wages have been constant for the past 40 years, the income of the top 1% has gone up by 300%.
  • While the USA is the richest country, we have the third highest poverty rate of the 36 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.
  • Within the OECD, our students rank #30 in math and #19 in science.
  • Our airports are an embarrassment, with the general infrastructure in shambles...and getting worse.
We can't blame Donald Trump for the above, but can decry his meager victories that are worsening this already terrible condition.  If his track record can be an indicator, the United States of America is in trouble.  Tailspin, interestingly enough, is not all about a once great America getting worse.  Brill suggests there is an undercurrent of do-gooders in growing organizations committed to righting things.  But Trump, most definitely, is not among them.

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