Norm, your are joking, right. We are at 18% right now, especially given the way the numbers are now defined vs the way they were in the 1970s and this "underemployed" nonsense. The fact is everything good can be explained by two words: MONETARY POLICY. And the current monetary policy is not sustainable...we are simply delaying the inevitable. Just wait when the government (i.e.the fed) has to take out the phony supports. You will not want to be owning this or any other bank stock then. Just gold. then when asset prices plummet and all the foreign investors who are salivating at the dreary price of the dollar get caught with their pants down, then you move back in.
Your doom and gloom forecast is not justified. Yes, the construction industry is at rock bottom. Our manufacturing industry has substantially declined. There is major abuse in our social programs costing us hundreds of billions of dollars each year. We're currently running a $1.1 trillion deficit per year without war costs. All these things are fixable. I'm optimistic that American business will show our politicians how to be good citizens and stop partisan politics. As a country American business is one of our key competitive advantages and is the major reason we're a great nation.
If this country is going down the "rat-hole" as you suggest why has disposable income per person in 2005 dollars more than double since 1970: 1970 - $15151, 1980 - $18855, $23557, 2000 -$28886 and 2010 - $32446. Now maybe on a medium basis it is not as favorable because many families do not understand and emphasize the importance of education to their kids while the situation in dramatically opposite in Asia. That's a choice they have made and if they want to live in poverty because they're not competitive with the labor force worldwide so be it.
Bottom line is that I disagree with your opinions because they are not supported by fact. I think if you spent more time researching your subject matter your opinions might be different. But then again, I think you're lazy and unambitious.