Every quarter, Bruce Mehlman sends to clients and friends an always thought-provoking presentation deck, which I routinely spend several hours going through, page by page, two or three times, to squeeze every last insight out of it. While Mehlman’s day job is as a lobbyist, he’s one of the most astute observers on political, economic, and social trends both nationally and globally. Most importantly, his decks are filled with data and graphics, but in a form that even we mortals can understand.

His latest argues that over these first two decades of the 21st century, the United States and the world have developed four major addictions. Each affords us great upsides, but their downsides are increasingly unsustainable.

The first addiction Mehlman addresses is an excessive dependency on China. On the upside, China’s enormous workforce and efficient production has lowered the prices that Americans pay for goods, keeping inflation down. Plus, the Chinese market for U.S. goods and services has become critical for Western business, and China is playing an increasingly important role in world finance. A recent study by the

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