Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

17 July 2013

The Obama Economic Stagnation and Real American Growth

As government takes control over more and more of the wealth of the nation, the economy staggers.  Obama is the quintessential Big Government man who has no appreciation for the fact that our real standard of living is improved not by government, but by private sector enterprises.  But improving most Americans standard of living takes time, and today very many Americans seem to want to benefit from government redistributions that will immediately transfer the wealth created by a minority to a majority less able or willing to create that wealth.  This is a short-sighted aim even for the immediate beneficiary, since redistribution results in the total wealth of the society becoming smaller over time than it would otherwise become.  It is also generally the case that those who think they will benefit from the forced transfer of wealth will fall victim to exaggerated promises and condemn their own children to a much more bleak future.  Others believe that some under-performing or disadvantaged Americans will be better off if forced transfers of wealth occur, but do not think that many such people will be better off over a greater part of their lives if the whole American economy grows healthily than if it does not.

If you are a 30-year-old American today, you are probably going to work until you are 70 years old.  The size of the American economy in 40 years will have a big impact on the quality of your retirement, not to mention many of the years between now and then.  Let us suppose you actually want your children to live in an economy that offers a much higher standard of living than we have now.  The median American mother is now 31 years old, which means that barring changes in that, her children will be having their own children a median 31 years from now.  Let us consider the size of the American economy 31 years from now under various growth rates to see how this newly long generation of 31 years will affect the next generation of children.

Of course we are interested in using real GDP numbers, not the nominal numbers affected by games played upon the money supply.  Unfortunately, the actual numbers reported by the government for real GDP are not fully corrected for inflation, but we will assume future numbers will be truthful.  In addition, in terms of its impact on our standard of living, we must be aware that the U.S. population has been growing by about 1% a year.  Thus, a real GDP growth of 2.0 %, the rate of GDP increase under the last four years under Obama, is really only a real per capita GDP of 1.0 %.  Note also that when America had much less government, it was able to sustain long-term real growth rates of 5 and 6%.  The following plot shows how the real, per capita size of an economy will grow over a generation of 31 years assuming a continued population growth rate of 1% a year.

So, assuming that the 2.0% growth rate under Obama is continued for 31 years, as one expects given his anti-business policies, the real per capita GDP will only be 36.1% larger then than now.  How incredibly disappointing that will be!  On the other hand, were the government to shrink considerably, we might easily average a real GDP growth rate of 5% a year and the real per capita GDP would be 3.373 times its present size in 31 years.  The Obama economy is easy to imagine and little different than the present economy.  The small government per capita economy would be two full U.S. present economies larger than the Obama economy and such a robust and innovative economy is really very difficult to imagine.  But, such an economy will make almost every American much, much richer and much, much more secure than we are now.  Such an economy is worlds better than the Obama economy in terms of our standard of living.

Note that each additional percent of real GDP growth makes more and more difference to the future economy.  This curve has a strong upward bend, so any act of the government that makes it harder for businesses to grow takes a great deal away from our future.  If government regulations and new mandates by law make it harder for a company to even manage to match its last years income, we all pay for this in the long run.  And no, I am not talking about when we will be dead.  I am talking about long before recent college graduates will retire and the entire lives of their children.

One really needs to think about it when the EPA says that generating a bit more CO2 than they want us to will just conceivably cause a fraction of a degree higher temperature in 87 years so we should give up one or two percent of future GDP growth for this reason.  The damage of doing that to all of us is certainly much greater than any damage to the environment.  Indeed, I have shown over and over that the science used to make these claims is bad and the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis is simply wrong.

Or take the wild claims of the EPA that mercury produced by coal-fired power plants has significant health consequences, so we should pay higher electricity costs to replace those power plants with much more expensive and unreliable power plants with their own environmental problems.  This EPA ruling also has important consequences for the growth rates of our economy.

We need to remember that every new paperwork requirement put on businesses also takes resources that they could otherwise be using to improve their products and services or their marketing efforts in a world market.  Businesses suffer greatly from the thousands of little cuts that unthinking state and federal legislators and state and federal bureaucrats just love to make, of course while acting as though they are saving the average American from some harm.

In fact, most of this is pretense.  Almost every business wants to improve the lives of its customers.  That is how they make money.  At least the majority who have no special favors from government do.  Yes, there are some state-regulated monopolies who are less well-behaved and there are crony mercantile companies such as Obama's green energy companies who are simply trying to take advantage of us.  But, these are companies corrupted by Big Government and eliminating it will also eliminate companies that no longer care to bring in customers on a voluntary basis for each others mutual benefit.

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