Yesterday, I went to the mall. This is not a new occurrence. I go to the mall almost every day. It is where the grocery store and the office supply store are, as well as the Starbucks and many, many restaurants. To get to the mall, I ride for about 10 minutes on a mini-bus, filled with people heading in my direction. Yesterday, the driver stopped on the way to fill up his tires. The compressor was owned by a guy who had set up a little business for himself on the side of the road. That’s also no big deal.
It’s an election year. That must mean it’s time for Congressional representatives to announce support for ridiculous Constitutional amendments and for state leaders to instill fear in the population by creating all sorts of boogeymen, like (imaginary) undocumented Mexicans running roughshod in the Arizona desert, beheading (imaginary) poor, unsuspecting, hardworking, freedom-loving, salt of the earth Americans.
Which has me wondering: why is discussing problems and solutions like grown ups so unpalatable in America?
I should make clear from the outset that I am not an economist. So this post is more of a question for those of you out there who actually know something about the way economies, and more specifically financial investments, work.
When I want to learn about something, I generally start with my good friend, the Google. Depending on how much I want to know, it can stop there, or lead me to the local public library. Sometimes, when I want to know a lot about one particular thing, I even head for one of the university libraries in town.
They get six years of free reign during which they drive the country into a ditch. Not just any ditch, either--a snow-filled ditch with a pond of thin ice at the bottom, far, far away from the nearest gas station.
Then, they start losing. So, instead of asking themselves why they are losing, they double down, and lose some more.
Right after the election was over, I started a series of posts called Stuff I Learned, about the history of American presidents, as I read a book called The American Presidency. I didn't get very far into the book, and now I can't find it. I'm not all that worried about finishing, not being a fan of non-fiction.
So, at least for now, I won't be sharing with you the stuff I learned about American history. Instead, I'm hoping you'll share with me stuff you already know, because I'm confused.
80 inmates still at Gitmo, most charged with nothing since placement there over a decade ago - many scheduled for release 7 years ago, but never released; others essentially sentenced to life without trial or release. Is Col. Jessup still defending American Way up on that wall?
We probably can't stand the truth. How many of us realized that in defending Saudi Arabia - right, that Saudi Arabia - we were capturing many of Gitmo's residents from Yemen? Not quite the Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan triad we might expect. When Trump says he'd do more than waterboarding, the awful fact is we've tortured much worse. Which candidate is likely to actually provide release?
Unemployment? Yes, 2 or 3 percent of the working-age population has dropped out of the labor force, but the headline unemployment rate is 5 percent. Wages? They've been stagnant since the turn of the century, but the average family still makes close to $70,000, more than nearly any other country in the world. Health care? Our system is a mess, but 90 percent of the country has insurance coverage. Dissatisfaction with the system? According to Gallup, even among those with incomes under $30,000, only 27 percent are dissatisfied with their personal lives. Like it or not, you don't build a revolution on top of an economy like this. Period.