Americans must have a clear picture of what is happening

To the editor:

I cover financial markets for a living, and I’ve become accustomed to encountering dreary data about the current condition of the United States. I could provide an entire book’s worth of data, but someone has already done that work for me, and he’s even running for president in 2020. I’m writing this because, politics aside, I want to make sure everyone, especially those closest to me, has a clear picture of what’s happening in America and what is ahead.

Andrew Yang is an entrepreneur who’s traveled the country, mostly because of his organization Venture For America that aims to start new businesses in places like Cleveland and Detroit, and by doing so he’s encountered the dreary trends I alluded to on a firsthand basis. In his book “The War On Normal People,” Yang provides us with countless statistics about what automation and job-loss has done to cities across the country: rising rates of suicide and addiction (did you know the average life expectancy in the U.S. has actually declined in recent years?); increasing reliance on disability benefits (did you know more people are on disability than work construction?); since 2000 we’ve lost 5 million manufacturing jobs (did you know half of manufacturing workers that lost their jobs never returned to work, even as we wasted millions on millions in retraining programs?).

New business formation is at multi-decade lows. More than half Americans don’t have $500 on hand for an unexpected bill. We spend twice as much on healthcare compared to other industrialized countries to worse results. The list goes on and on.

The problem is only set to get worse as Amazon, Tesla, and other giant corporations prepare to unleash a range of services powered by artificial intelligence which in the next few years will threaten the most common jobs in the country: truck drivers (most common job in 29 states), retail workers, call center workers, fast food workers, and even some white collar jobs, such as entry level law work.

I won’t be getting into any arguments about who you or anyone else should vote for in 2020 or any election. However, I have to at least try and show people that we’re currently on the wrong path, and things are set to get worse unless we actually compel our government to take wise and meaningful action. Even as GDP and stock market prices rise thanks to increasing efficiency in our corporations, more and more Americans are going to be pushed to the sideline. Don’t take my word for it, however. Read Mr. Yang’s book, or listen to any of the interviews he’s done in recent months. The numbers tell the whole story. All you have to do is look.

JOSH SELWAY,

Salem

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