In 2004 I predicted in a nationally televised conference in Washington, DC, that the US would be a Third World country in 20 years. Noam Chomsky says we are already there now in 2015. Here is a recent quote from Chomsky:
"Look around the country. This country is falling apart. Even when you come back from Argentina to the United States it looks like a third world country, and when you come back from Europe even more so. The infrastructure is collapsing. Nothing works. The transportation system doesn't work. The health system is a total scandal--twice the per capita cost of other countries and not very good outcomes. Point by point. The schools are declining ..."
Another indication of a third world country is large inequality in the distribution of income and wealth. According to the CIA itself, the United States now has one of the worst distributions of income of all countries in the world. The distribution of income in the US is worse than in Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, UK, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Yemen.
The concentration of US income and wealth in the hands of the very rich is a new development in my lifetime. I ascribe it to two things. One is the offshoring of American jobs. Offshoring moved high productivity, high-value-added American jobs to countries where the excess supply of labor results in wages well below labor's contribution to the value of output. The lower labor costs abroad transform what had been higher American wages and salaries and, thereby, US household incomes, into corporate profits, bonuses for corporate executives, and capital gains for shareholders, and in the dismantling of the ladders of upward mobility that had made the US an "opportunity society."
The other cause of the extreme inequality that now prevails in the US is what Michael Hudson calls the financialization of the economy that permits banks to redirect income away from driving the economy to the payment of interest in service of debt issued by the banks.
Both of these developments maximize income and wealth for the One Percent at the expense of the population and economy.
As Michael Hudson and I have discovered, neoliberal economics is blind to reality and serves to justify the destruction of the economic prospects of the Western World. It remains to be seen if Russia and China can develop a different economics or whether these rising superpowers will fall victim to the "junk economics" that has destroyed the West. With so many Chinese and Russian economists educated in the US tradition, the prospects of Russia and China might not be any better than ours.
The entire world could go down the tubes together.