The economy: How much does the Interlock cost us?

This past week I’ve been going over the section covering the economy.  So far there have only been minor edits, not complete rewrites like the ones in past Highlights.  The section is long, so I’m just going to give you the links instead of reposting the whole thing.  It’s currently divided into four parts:

  1. The Economy
  2. Fundamentals of economic growth
  3. Stages of economic growth
  4. The economy in the Interlock

At the moment, the section covers basic economic development theory on how economic growth occurs in general, and specifically how the Interlock is acting as a set of drag-anchors on the US economy.  However, there’s a lot more that can be said on the subject.  I’m working on that, and on expanding the amount of actual data and references in the section.

For now, I’d like to pose an Under Construction-ish question:  How much are the other parts of the Interlock holding our economy back?  Put another way, how much faster would our economy be growing if we could magically reduce corruption, fix the justice system, boost education quality and graduation rates, revamp immigration, repair our infrastructure, etc.?

I realize that this question involves waving the magical-hypothetical wand and envisioning a “perfect” system in order to compare it to our current one, but I think a lot of people overlook or underestimate the magnitude of the damage we’re doing to ourselves.  Completely fixing all of those problems is, obviously, a pipe-dream, but reducing their severity by 50% would still have a huge impact – and it’s hard to appreciate just how much of an impact that would be without having a good idea of how much damage is being done.

For example, I know that McKinsey, the global consulting giant, has calculated that our failure to reform our educational system costs us at least $1.3 trillion per year, and that the ASCE’s estimates of economic damage from neglected infrastructure are $3.1 trillion in lost GDP between 2013 and 2020.  Each of the other parts of the Interlock has some kind of negative impact on the economy (some of which I’ve pointed out in the pages on the Interlock’s impact on the economy), and these costs all add up.

How many trillions of dollars are we losing because we lack the political will to fix these things?  How much has our growth been stunted because we’re entrapped by the status quo?  While it can be a bit disheartening to realize just how much we’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot, it’s also critical to appreciating how much even minor fixes could improve our economic outlook.

I’m on the hunt for more and better data, but I have only one set of eyeballs, so help would be welcome.  If you can point me to an article or other source that has any cost estimates about the damage caused by various parts of the Interlock, I’d love to hear from you.


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