As I've watched American prosperity and society change over the last 30-40 years, I've come to believe the following are the cause of the economic stagnation/depression that just gets worse each decade:
- Americans went gung ho into promoting cultural and ethnic diversity wiping away the uniformity of the 50's/60's replacing it with gigantic mess where no one talks to each other any more because they have nothing in common. Many recent research studies suggest that culturally/ethnically diverse societies find it much more difficult to unify or agree on common values or solutions to national problems. Is diversity good? Yes.... Was it in the long run good for America, maybe not.
- Education became politicized and focused on test scores and indoctrinating rather than teaching thinking and self sufficiency, partly this is a result of the widespread adoption of public schools and the removal of educational choice for families...local communities used to determine educational standards and parents used to have the primary responsibility for teaching their kids, not lowest common denominator schools that politicians manipulate the educational standards to ensure future generations will be one gigantic monolothic low paid workforce that can't provide for itself and yet will continue to vote for the polticians ruining the education of their kids.
- Lawyers -- there is a reason everyone hates them, but 40-50 years ago there were much fewer of them....legal crap everywhere began to spread in the 80's and now nearly anyone in power has a law degree, a degree which trains them to think not as engineers/doers but in terms of win/lose where one's only responsibility is to take care of oneself and his/her client.
- population growth -- yes, there are many states in the country that are underpopulated...but the areas where everyone wants to live are vastly overcrowded and the resources/environment are suffering greatly....it's not healthy for the mind or body...constant stress and overworking. Back when things were much more rural and there was a smaller population, people naturally cooperated with each other more.
- Public Debt -- whatever you think about the threat of future fiscal collapse, every $ removed from the economy for debt or interest payments is one less $ that goes into the broader economy to stimulate business or invest in infrastructure. We're on collapsing spiral here on way or another.
So, short of everyone suddenly deciding to handle all these big issues much differently than we have the last 40 years, I don't have much hope of any significant improvement. Technology and productivity increases help...but we've been relying on them for too long and if the pace of technological improvement slows down - our economy will get much worse.