The Week: Most Recent U.S. Economy:Bankrupt USA recent posts.en-usMon, 07 Jan 2013 06:20:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent U.S. Economy:Bankrupt USA from THE WEEKMon, 07 Jan 2013 06:20:00 -0500Welfare states are unfair states<img src="" /></P><p>Many liberals make welfare states sound like a dream. It's a style of government that rests upon a simple, perhaps even unassailable moral narrative&nbsp;&mdash; the balancing of self-interest with connected social interest. It's a system that allows for personal gain, but alleviates personal suffering. So what's the problem with welfare states?</p><p>Unfortunately, they are almost too many to count.</p><p>Ultimately, welfare states actually don't help people in need. Instead, they perpetuate empty, short-term remedies for social problems that require far deeper attention. In establishing a governing premise...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/tom-rogan" ><span class="byline">Tom Rogan</span></a>Mon, 07 Jan 2013 06:20:00 -0500Should fast-food workers be able to unionize?<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">On Thursday, fast-food workers at several nationwide chains in New York City said they were mad as hell and weren't going to take it anymore. They walked off the job, "firing the first salvo in what workplace experts say is the <strong>biggest effort to unionize fast-food workers ever undertaken in the United States</strong>," says Steven Greenhouse at <em>The New York Times</em>. The workers complain that McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, and others pay so little that they can barely afford food, clothing, transportation, and shelter. "It really is living in poverty," Raymond Lopez, a McDonald...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Thu, 29 Nov 2012 16:08:00 -0500What would happen if the U.S. went back to the gold standard?<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">"The gold standard has returned to mainstream U.S. politics for the first time in 30 years," say Robin Harding and Anna Fifeld at <em>The Financial Times</em>. The GOP is preparing to include a "gold commission" in its party platform that will investigate whether the value of the dollar should be linked to gold, a policy whose last vestiges were finally&nbsp;abandoned by President Richard Nixon in 1971. The last time that the Republican Party seriously revisited the gold standard was in 1981, when Ronald Reagan launched a similar commission that concluded a return to the gold standard was probably a bad...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 28 Aug 2012 08:07:00 -0400The dwindling wealth of the American family: By the numbers<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">The median American family &mdash; the exact middle between the wealthiest and the poorest &mdash; had the same amount of money in 2010 as it did in 1992, according to the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finance, an extensive and detailed look at American wealth undertaken every three years. While the latest data is 18 months old, it underscores the astonishing economic devastation wreaked by the Great Recession, which, beginning in 2007, swept away a chunk of the wealth accumulated since the early 1990s. (The Fed defines "wealth" as income plus assets &mdash; like homes, cars, and stocks...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 12 Jun 2012 12:17:00 -0400California's financial apocalypse: A concise guide<img src="" /></P><p>California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has some bad news: His cash-strapped state isn't $9.2 billion in the hole, as projected in January; the Golden State is actually facing a yawning $15.7 billion shortfall. And after years of aggressive budget-slashing and gridlock over increasing tax revenue, Brown doesn't have a lot of options on the table. "The fact is, California has been living beyond its means," he told reporters on Monday. "This is a day of reckoning, and we have to take the medicine." Here, a look at California's bitter pill:</p><p><strong>Why did the budget gap grow?<br /></strong>Tax revenue came in $4.3 billion lower...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 15 May 2012 09:45:00 -0400The American nightmare: What happened to economic mobility in the U.S.?<img src="" /></P><p>"If you work hard and play by the rules, you ought to have a decent life and a chance for your children to have a better one," President Bill Clinton once famously declared. Yet America is no longer the best place for those born poor to live out the American Dream. According to some studies, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and much of Western Europe offer their citizens a much higher degree of economic mobility. The impoverished in the U.S., on the other hand, are more likely to stay poor, while rich Americans stay rich &mdash; bad news for a country grounded in a much-vaunted "classless...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 16 Mar 2012 15:37:00 -0400Is California the next Greece?<img src="" /></P><p>"California is no longer the economic miracle it once was," says Bradley R. Schiller at the <em>Los Angeles Times</em>. Americans used to flock to the Golden State for its peerless standard of living and great schools. But now many businesses are packing up and moving out. California's unemployment rate, at 10.9 percent,&nbsp;is the third-highest in the country. Many of its cities are declaring bankruptcy. And the state budget, for the ninth time in 10 years, is billions of dollars in the red. "Many Americans fear the federal fiscal train wreck will turn us into Greece," say Michael J. Boskin and John F...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 15 Mar 2012 07:30:00 -0400Americans' growing dependency on food stamps<img src="" /></P><p><strong>What are food stamps?</strong><br />They're a form of aid provided by the federal government to low-income households to help them buy food. The term "food stamps" comes from the coupon-like stamps used during the "War on Poverty" in the 1960s, although they were phased out in 2004 in favor of plastic debit cards, which are refilled electronically each month. In 2008, the government rechristened the program Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. But most people still call it food stamps, and the program has become a political flash point since GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said in January...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 02 Mar 2012 10:16:00 -0500America's 'bleak' child homelessness problem<img src="" /></P><p>More American children than ever before are now homeless, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Center on Family Homelessness. One out of every 45 kids in the U.S. is sleeping on the streets, or lives in a shelter, motel, or home where struggling families are doubled up. That's 1.6 million kids in all. What does this say about the effects of the Great Recession? Here, four key takeaways from this "bleak" report: <br /><br /><strong>1. The recession has hit harder than Hurricane Katrina</strong><br />This crisis is worse than the "historic spike in homelessness" the nation experienced after hurricanes Katrina and...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 14 Dec 2011 13:56:00 -0500The dollar bill: R.I.P.?<img src="" /></P><p>Americans have pointedly rejected $1 coins for decades, but that was when they could pay with a greenback instead. Now a new proposal to phase out the dollar bill in favor of a new $1 coin is afoot. The congressional "super committee" charged with slashing the deficit says that such a move would save the government about $5.6 billion over 30 years, citing a Government Accountability Office estimate. Is it really time to kill the bill? Here's what you should know:</p><p><strong>How would switching to coins save money?<br /></strong>It would actually cost more money at first: It costs about 15 cents to mint a $1 coin, versus...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 27 Oct 2011 10:32:00 -0400The American Dream moves to Denmark<img src="" /></P><p>Rick Santorum is not exactly an odds-on favorite in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. And perhaps that's why it was Santorum who felt free to articulate an important truth in the GOP candidates' debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday night.</p><p>"Believe it or not, studies have been done that show that in Western Europe, people at the lower parts of the income scale actually have a better mobility going up the ladder now than in America. "</p><p>Santorum was referring to studies like this one, conducted at the Brookings Institution by a group led by Isabel Sawhill:</p><p >Men born into the poorest...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/david-frum" ><span class="byline">David Frum</span></a>Wed, 19 Oct 2011 16:39:00 -0400What the FBI's Solyndra raid means: 3 theories<img src="" /></P><p>FBI agents raided the California headquarters of solar-panel maker Solyndra on Thursday, magnifying the Obama administration's embarrassment over $535 million in loan guarantees the now-bankrupt company received as part of Obama's push to create green jobs. Also plaguing the president: News that one of Solyndra's main investors, billionaire Obama fundraiser George Kaiser, had visited White House aides 16 times since 2004, suggesting that Kaiser may have tried to leverage his influence with Team Obama to win favors for his company. How damaging will this saga be to Obama &mdash; and to the alternative...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 09 Sep 2011 16:41:00 -0400The municipal bankruptcy epidemic: By the numbers<img src="" /></P><p>The federal government may have avoided defaulting on its debts, but many local governments&nbsp;probably won't be so lucky. Dozens of cities and counties across the country are struggling to make ends meet, after the recession and housing market collapse left them with dramatically reduced property tax revenue. As they struggle to pay off debts and financial obligations acquired during the boom years, they're also receiving less money from state government, and the feds. Here, a look at the plight of local governments, by the numbers:<br /><br /><strong>60</strong><br />Number of municipal bond defaults in 2010, totaling $2.24...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 04 Aug 2011 13:32:00 -0400Is the U.S. still due for a painful credit downgrade?<img src="" /></P><p>Now that the House has passed a debt deal, and the Senate is preparing to vote on it Tuesday, the end of the feud over raising the debt ceiling is finally in sight. But financial experts warn that the agreement, which slashes trillions in spending, won't necessarily prevent at least one of the big three credit rating agencies &mdash; Standard &amp; Poor's, Moody's, and Fitch &mdash; from downgrading America's top-notch AAA rating, a move that would make it more expensive for the government, and ordinary Americans, to borrow money. Should we all brace for a downgrade and the higher interest rates...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 02 Aug 2011 09:52:00 -04005 consequences of a U.S. credit downgrade<img src="" /></P><p>Businesses, investors, and local governments are bracing for the possibility that one of the big three ratings agencies will downgrade America's sterling AAA credit rating, as the Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling approaches with no solution in sight. Even if House Speaker John Boehner manages to get his debt plan through Congress, a downgrade remains likely, because the ratings agencies &mdash; Standard &amp; Poor's, Moody's, and Fitch &mdash; are looking for deeper spending cuts and a longer-term debt ceiling hike than Boehner has proposed. How would a downgrade affect Americans? Here...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 29 Jul 2011 10:04:00 -0400A U.S. credit downgrade: Inevitable?<img src="" /></P><p>After months of squabbling and dysfunction in Washington, D.C., a majority of economists think the U.S. will lose its sterling AAA credit rating from at least one of the big ratings agencies &mdash; Standard &amp; Poor's, Moody's, or Fitch &mdash; even if Democrats and Republicans strike a last-minute deal on raising the debt ceiling. Lawmakers have less than a week left to push the borrowing limit above $14.3 trillion before the government runs short of money to pay all of its bills. Is there any way to avoid a downgrade now?<br /><br /><strong>Yes. But Congress must stop playing politics: </strong>A credible deficit-reduction...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 27 Jul 2011 15:27:00 -0400