Do Not Get Mad: Focus!

i'm mad as hellEverywhere you look, the media is telling us how angry, disaffected and totally bummed out the American electorate is. We are not happy with anything. We are behaving like infants with colic. Why? Why are we so ridiculously upset?

Fox News and the rest of the conservative media have been telling us for the last eight years that Barack Obama is a failure. He has not only failed to move the country forward, but he is actively working to drive the country into the abyss. President Obama hates the military. His policies have hampered and crippled big business. Wall Street is a shadow of its former self because of the policies of Barack Obama. ObamaCare has ruined healthcare and killed jobs. Nothing is better. Everything is worse. Billionaire Donald Trump’s campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again,” which clearly implies that America is not great now.

Hogwash! If we roll the clock back to 2008/2009, we see the American economy careening down the hillside as if in a Road Runner cartoon. We were losing 600,000 jobs per month. We were going over the cliff and were going to crash land like Wiley Coyote on the desert floor. Splat! Barack Obama and the Democrats prevented certain disaster. There was the stimulus and multiple other measures instituted in spite of heavy Republican opposition and, for the most part, every single one of his measures worked. The economy turned around. 5.6 million Americans have found work over the last two years. The economy has had 70 months of positive private-sector job growth. This is great. This is nothing to be upset or pout about. If George W. Bush had accomplished this feat, we would never hear the end of how great he is.

In spite of all the bellyaching and whining, ObamaCare has pretty much done what it was supposed to do. Remember, as ObamaCare was being crafted, blue dog Democrats and Republicans worked hard behind the scenes to limit the scope and effectiveness of this legislation. Instead, ObamaCare was supposed to be a small safety net for middle-class Americans who could not afford healthcare. This health-care legislation would also help some lower-class or poor Americans who had full-time employment. Approximately 12 million Americans have gotten insurance through ObamaCare. One of the best things about ObamaCare is that it has eliminated crappy healthcare insurance (Remember that Americans paid for some healthcare insurance that really did not cover any hospital expenses.) Nonpartisan economic think tanks have found no evidence that ObamaCare has killed jobs, nor forced widespread cuts in workers’ hours, which was widely forecast by conservatives. This is another win!

Now, I am not saying that everything is wonderful and that we should all hold hands and sing Kumbaya as we walk into the sunset. Instead, I think it is important for us to focus on real problems and work for real solutions. Wage stagnation is a real problem. The average American is making the same or less than they were making five, 10, 15 years ago. The reason for this is multifactorial. This is not a new phenomenon under President Obama. This happened under George W. Bush. Manufacturing jobs have packed up and gone to Mexico, Malaysia and other Third World countries. The jobs that are left are in healthcare, which pays pretty well, and in the service sector, which pays fairly poorly. The other thing that we have to take into account is the fact that unions help put more money into the pockets of the average American. Over the last 20-30 years, unions have been crushed by big business and Republicans. So, if you want to be mad, this is something to be mad about. Americans are more productive than ever, yet we seem to be rewarded less and less for our productivity. The only people who are getting rewarded are those in the financial sector and the top 1%.

College tuition is another reason for Americans to be frustrated and angry. There was a time, not too long ago, when the government subsidized a good portion of college tuition. In the 1960s, 1970s and through the mid-1980s, state college was affordable to almost everybody. Suddenly, the government began to slash those generous subsidies. College tuition began to skyrocket. Students began to take out more and more loans and acquire more and more debt. When you graduate from school and owe $50,000 or $100,000 in debt, you will spend the next 15 or 20 years trying to pay off that debt. You really cannot afford a house. You really cannot afford a reliable car. You are simply drowning in debt. The fact that only a few politicians are seriously putting out plans to attack this huge American problem is pitiful. Without an education, it is hard to get out of poverty. Education is the key. If we are really the land of opportunity, then we have to tackle this education problem.

When you are mad, really mad, your judgment is clouded. You make epically poor decisions, like voting for someone who is known more for firing Americans than for hiring Americans. Once we settle down and take a deep breath, we find out that America is actually heading in the right direction. The economy is creating plenty of jobs. We just need to figure out how to get those jobs to pay more. We need education and housing to be affordable. We need our society to be more racially just. We can fix these problems. We need to learn how to compromise and work together. It is that simple.