3 years ago at a restaurant in Charlotte, I was talking to a good friend. Let’s call him Bob here. Bob and I have always had positive and enjoyable conversations. Having travelled across the 7 seas, Bob possesses a good knowledge of the world and he quite respects people.
Bob is a successful person with his ventures, including serving in the Marines, building a large MNC, having played for the PGA and most of all, a beautiful married life. Bob’s 5 children are college graduates with good grades while he paid their college fees without any loans (Very unlikely in the US). They all have good jobs now and are happily married. When I first met him around 4 years ago, he was interested to know about me and hear my story. As I unfolded to him about my software business in India, customers in 50+ countries and foray into the US to build branch operations, he sarcastically mentioned: “You are a different type of Indian, you are not here to steal jobs but rather create jobs”, to which I laughingly nodded.
Over the course of time, Bob and I are not only friends but have a healthy business relationship as well. So once he asked me, “Anoop, how do you see America from your perspective? And what are our pressing problems, in your observations?”
Considering Bob was looking for an honest answer in my perspective, I narrated a scenario to him: Assume, I am making $300Million a month but my wife spends $300Million +$1 every month. I might own the latest model Tesla or Lamborghini or a really expensive house and people would know me for it. But only I would know that my debt is going up $1 per month. In a way, I am like the America of today, with a high national debt.
Check this url for the current national debt http://www.usdebtclock.org/
Most of the money in US is now either with corporates or obtained via investments from China or Japan. We have problems that need to be unrooted from the basic level.
If you are living in a good neighborhood, chances are you have access to well rated public schools. While public schools offer free education, the college education is way too expensive in the USA unlike some other countries, so the average student debt passing out of college is high.
I did a little research on the tuition fee rise in the past 20 years: Average tuition fee, room, board fees in 1975 for non-profit 4 year course was $16,213 while the same in 2015 is $43,921. Source: collegeboard.org
It does make sense that the economy, technologies, cost of living changed from 1975 to 2015, but do we need all our students to come out with such a high debt? Did the rise in cost occur as due to high pay outs to qualified teachers or colleges / universities don’t have money and are going broke?
Truth is, the salaries of teaching staff in most of the universities have not risen out of proportions for the past 30 years, though in colleges in some cities there is a high percentage growth based on their specialty and qualifications. Yet average payouts haven’t gone up crazy high.
Now, are these colleges or universities going broke in finances? Let’s do this statistics – apart from the money that colleges make via tuition fees, they make more via college sports as they do not need to pay their players; they give them scholarships.
I am not rooting that colleges should be free but based on the revenue they make in the US; they should be able to reduce the cost of college education by 15% for all Americans. As more talented/ skilled students pass out from colleges, more is their employability. The reduction in student college debt becomes a huge sigh of relief for the young minds. Not to forget, the whole process focuses on creating a talent pool, reducing unemployment in USA and reducing dependence on migrated workers.
Also, We need better methods to keep students in college, and not drop out. Last time I checked, Gaston County where I live has a high percentage of student drop outs, almost the highest in North Carolina.
The Medical Insurance
If hospitals are non-profit, then why are medical bills so high and having a medical insurance system so confusing and expensive?
In my opinion, this whole system is messed up. Insurance is kind of a gamble. Companies take money from everybody per month with an assumption that not everyone will fall sick and make claims the same day? In a worst case scenario if that happens, then most of the companies will go bankrupt from their costs?
My knowledge on insurance is minimal but I just hope this is fixed up or at least made less confusing for laymen.
Startups / Entrepreneurship
The proper legal method for a business man (living outside USA) to set up shop in USA to create employment here is now quite an expensive and time consuming process compared to countries like Canada, UK or Australia. Entrepreneurs from other countries who want to build and create employment in the US must be encouraged. Supporting startups and promoting entrepreneurs to create more jobs should not be restricted within selected states only. It must be adopted in every state, where government should support budding entrepreneurs by providing them an eco-system to build innovative products, offer tax breaks etc.
USA enjoys playing the World cop and helping other countries at war (for both good and bad reasons). Yet when I last checked, USA still holds the rank #1 for the most hated country in the world. Politics gets crazy everywhere, but do we really need to burn trillions of dollars of tax money?
Many financially capable countries shut their eyes when US spends more money outside. A few years ago, news reported that TSA is running out of money and if the President doesn’t sanction something overnight, the whole process is going to fail.
We need to stop acting that “We are the Greatest country in the world”, but try hard to make Her the greatest country in the World again. I believe fixing the Education system is the first step in reaching this goal.
Everything expressed in this article are my personal observations and opinions. No offense meant.
As usual, open to comments and criticism.