Election Day 2020
Photo (c) BBC
Today is Election Day in the United States, and voting stations will open soon. While most opinion polls show Joe Biden with a national lead over Donald Trump, the Electoral College system means that the election will be decided in a few mid-sized battleground states, notably Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio. (I’m calling Texas and Florida for Trump in this forecast).
I believe that Biden will win the national vote, but that the electoral vote will be affected by the kind of blatant voter suppression and legal challenges to vote counting we have seen from various pro-Trump groups in recent weeks. As such, the outcome will be challenged, and I fully expect to see examples of voter intimidation and violence in this week.
I do not expect a result to be announced tonight, given the record number of mail-in and early ballots that have been submitted.
Were the United States a “standard” democracy, without gerrymandered districts, disenfranchised felons, active voter suppression, fake voting collection boxes and no Electoral College, I would have no problem calling the election for Biden. Right now, I believe Trump has a minority chance of stealing it.
Whatever the result of the election, the fundamental problems of the United States remain:
US Federal Public Debt has reached $ 27.2 trillion on a GDP of $ 21.2 trillion, according to US Debt Clock. If we add State and Local Public Debt, then the debt-to-GDP ratio is 143.7% and the public expenditure-to-GDP ratio is 47.2%. These are at the upper range of the debt and expenditure levels in the OECD.
Despite this, policy outcomes in the United States continue to shock. In 2019, there were 34 million Americans living in poverty, according to the US Census Bureau. This is a rate of 10.5% of the population, and was a decline over 2018. When measured against racial group, however, the black poverty rate was 18.8% while the Hispanic rate was 15.7%, compared with a white poverty rate of 9.1%.
While the US population has reached 330 million, only 147.7 million are actively employed. The number of Americans over 65 years of age was 52 million in 2018 (16% of the population) and is expected to double by 2060. Over 65 million Americans are expected to receive social security benefits in 2020. As the number of people actively employed falls, and as the number of retirees grows, it becomes increasingly more expensive to balance the Federal Budget: higher taxes (and lower benefits) will become the norm in the future.
According to the US Center for Disease Control, 32.8 million Americans under 65 have no access to healthcare insurance or coverage. Costs of healthcare are absurdly high: some 8.3% of Americans over the age of 18 had no access to healthcare due to cost. This number is almost certainly an under-estimate.
The American Society of Civil Engineers issued a grade of “D+” for US infrastructure in 2017 and estimated there would be a $ 2 trillion funding gap to 2025.
Inequality has reached record levels in the United States. According to the US Federal Reserve, in Q2 2020, the top 1% owned $ 34.23 trillion in wealth in the United States. The Bottom 50% owned just $ 2 trillion. The percentile of 50 – 90% owned $ 32.65 trillion. And the 90-99% percentile owned an astounding $ 43.1 trillion. So we are really reaching French Revolution levels of inequality as defined by ownership of wealth. And we all know how that ended.
Finally, the problems of the United States have been apparent for years now. They are not improving: they are only becoming worse.
A long time ago, I blogged on Philip Atticus about the intersection of politics, finance and economics in Greece, Europe and the United States. It’s funny, looking back, how little has changed.
11 February 2017
20 January 2017
10 October 2016
12 September 2016
Whatever you vote, whatever you profess, I wish you the benefits of your convictions, today and always.
And I hope that others do not have to pay too much for them.