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Am I the only one who thinks it's crazy that the U.S. is about to sabotage its own economy?

Don't believe the hype:The U.S. budget deficit isn't as bad as you might think.

Am I the only one who thinks it's crazy that the U.S. is about to sabotage its own economy?

To hear business journalist Joe Weisenthal tell it, deficits are about growth, not spending and taxes. It's best to compare deficits as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) to get a more accurate picture of how deeply indebted the country is. If you owe someone $100 but make $50,000 a year, your personal economy isn't going broke. But if you owe someone $10,000 and you only make $50,000 a year, then you've got problems.

Even the unemployment rate reflects this. When it's high, deficits run higher as a percentage of GDP, probably from the employer of last resort, the U.S. government, doing everything it can to help the struggling private sector by spending where it cannot in order to stimulate the economy. This chart by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows that when times are tough, the government spending gets going.



Look at that blue line! Spending is seriously on the decline, despite what some political figures and pundits would like you to believe.



If this graph projection by the financial blog Calculated Risk is any indicator, then America's fiscal future looks pretty bright. That is, if it doesn't sequester and shuts itself down back into recession.
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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