Footnotes: "The U.S. No Longer Makes the Grade"

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Publications and Resources

by David S. Mason

1 Luce’s essay appears online here.

2 Data from the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis show gross domestic product declining by 3.8 percent in 2008-09, the biggest decline since the 10.9 percent drop in 1946, during the post-war contraction. 

3 Floyd Norris, “A Bleak Outlook for Long-Term Growth,” The New York Times, Feb. 4, 2012, p. B3.


A typographical error in David S. Mason’s “The U.S. No Longer Makes the Grade” mistakes “inequality” for “equality.” The sentence (page 7, left column, second paragraph) should read: “A recent global study by the International Monetary Fund, for example, found that countries with strong economic growth tended to have greater income equality than those with weak growth and concluded that ‘sustainable economic reform is possible only when its benefits are widely shared.’”

4 For statistical evidence and documentation of this and other indicators of the U.S. decline, see my book, The End of the American Century (Rowman & Littlefield; revised paperback edition, 2009) and the associated blog.

5 Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher, “How U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work,” The New York Times, Jan. 22, 2012, p. A1 & A22.

6 Global public opinion polls conducted by the Pew Research Center show a majority of people in almost every country saying that the spread of U.S. ideas and customs is “bad” rather than “good.” See “Losing Global Public Opinion” in The End of the American Century, pp. 161-163.

7 For example, Pew opinion studies show that, except in some of the post-communist states, there is little enthusiasm around the world for “American-style democracy.” Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes, America Against the World: How We are Different and Why We are Disliked (N.Y.: Times Books, 2006).

8 Adam Liptak, “‘We the People’ Loses Followers,” The New York Times, Feb. 7, 2012, p. A1.

9 For an overview of this issue, see Rana Foroohar, “Whatever Happened to Upward Mobility?”  Time, Nov. 14, 2011.

10 See the annual polls on global “Opinion of the United States” by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

11 Bureau of Labor Statistics data show the unemployment rate at more than 8 percent for four straight years, 2009-12, the first time that has happened since the Depression era of 1929-41. and

12 See U.S. census data on historical poverty rates here.

13 In recent years, the share of national wealth controlled by the richest one percent is at the highest level since 1928. See the graphic in The New York Times, Oct. 25, 2011. Broader measures of inequality, like the Gini Index, are also the highest now since the Depression era.

14 Jennifer Liberto, “CEO Pay Is 380 Times Average Worker’s - AFL-CIO,” CNN Money, April 19, 2012.

15 Jeff Zeleny and Megan Thee-Brenan, “New Poll Finds a Deep Distrust of Government,” The New York Times, Oct. 26, 2011, p. A1.

16 “Not Fade Away: The Myth of American Decline,” The New Republic, Jan. 11, 2012; and The World America Made (N.Y.: Knopf, 2012).

17 Comparative studies by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Commonwealth Fund, for example, usually find the U.S. ranking last among developed countries in overall performance of the healthcare system. See, for example, the most recent Commonwealth Fund report.

18 For example, in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), U.S. students ranked 17th in reading, 23rd in science and 31st in math. (China-Shanghai ranked first in all three categories). “PISA 2009 Results: Executive Summary.”

19 Poverty rates in the European Union countries, even the newer and poorer ones, are about one-half to one-third the rates in the U.S., where the figure is about 17 percent by one measure. See Michael Forster and Marco Mira d’Ercole, Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries in the Second Half of the 1990s.  OECD Working Paper no. 22 (March 2005).

20 Ibid.

21 Andrew G. Berg and Jonathan D. Ostry, “Equality and Efficiency: Is There a Trade-off Between the Two or Do They Go Hand in Hand?” Finance and Development, September 2011, p. 15.

22 A broad measure of income inequality, used by the Census Bureau, is the Gini Index, which stood at about .37 in the 1940s, dipped to about .35 in the early 1970s, and began a steady rise afterwards, reaching a record high of .47 in 2010. See The End of the American Century,pp. 37-39; and footnote 13 above.

23 Matthew Ruben, "Forgive Us Our Trespasses? The Rise of Consumer Debt in Modern America.”

24 For statistics, based on Census Bureau data, see The End of the American Century, pp. 36-38.

25 David Rothkopf , Power, Inc.: The Epic Rivalry Between Big Business and Government and the Reckoning that Lies Ahead (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), cited in Time, Jan. 30, 2012, p. 46.

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