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America's 13 deficits: Part 1 [The US' biggest economic problem is unemployment]

• Paul Rosenberg
he United States' most significant economic problem is mass unemployment, not its current deficit or its long-term debt. This is something that both mainstream economists and the general public overwhelmingly agree upon. And yet, for more than a year now, talk about deficits has dominated our politics. President Obama is belatedly trying to shift the focus back to unemployment, and creating jobs to bring unemployment down. 

But the focus on deficits has become so obsessive it's impossible to really move on without putting them into context. Surprisingly, one way to do that is simply to go all in, and look at everything in terms of deficits - up to and including our deficit of jobs that pay enough to live on. I'm writing as an American, writing about America. But, the principles involved here are universal - not just because the US has such a powerful influence on the rest of the world economy, but because ultimately all societies must deal with meeting similar needs. 

In this accounting, there are five kinds of deficits: financial, physical, structural/functional, cognitive and political. I will deal with the first kind here in Part 1, but the others - though more difficult to quantify - are equally important for the national well-being, and ultimately, even our survival.


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