In response to Donald Trump’s new campaign book “Crippled America” and its opening sentence stating that “America needs to start winning again,” we recently took a look at some of the ways America is already winning.
But even though American believe theirs is “the greatest nation on earth”, it is still a country with many problems, although several of these might not be part of Trump’s campaign program.
America's bridges, roads, and dams are in bad shape. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the US needs $3.6 trillion in infrastructure investment by the end of the decade, and the highest score they gave on their most recent infrastructure report card was a B+. Ten of the sixteen categories received a grade of D or D-.
Despite the bad state of its infrastructure, public spending on construction has been down since the financial crisis.
America continues to struggle on international tests of high school student achievement. American 15-year-olds had the 17th highest average reading scores among the 34 OECD nations in the 2012 PISA international examination.
Education costs are also rising, with the real average cost of a year of college, including tuition, fees, room, and board, more than doubling since the 1970s. That rising cost of college pushes the American Dream out of reach for many.
Because of a combination of an ageing population and residual effects from the financial crisis and Great Recession, a smaller percentage of Americans are working or looking for work than at any time since 1977.
The United States has become more unequal over time. The Gini Index, a commonly used measure of income inequality among households, has steadily risen since the late 1960s.
America's income distribution is more unequal than that of other countries, as can be seen in this chart of Gini indexes of post-tax income for the OECD countries and Russia.
The top 1% have taken an ever larger percentage of America's income since the 1980s, and their income share is now at levels not seen since the 1920s.
A big driver of rising inequality in the last few decades is the divergence in real incomes for those at the top and everyone else. While the top 0.01% has seen huge income gains since 1980, wages for the bottom 90% have remained flat.
America is also more violent than its peers, with the fourth highest homicide rate among the OECD nations.
America also has some health problems. The US is tied with Chile for the 8th lowest life expectancy at birth among OECD nations.
We pay a lot for these less than ideal health outcomes. The United States has by far the highest per capita health care spending in the OECD.
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