Finger Lakes Times (Geneva) columnist Peter Mitchell asked “If we’re not a great country now, when were we great, and what will take to get is back there?” in this week’s column titled “The ‘Make America Great’ Myth”.
First Mitchell identified four issues that relate to living a good life:
- the ability to work and support yourself and family
- a stable economy
- a safe environment
- the ability to be accepted regardless of what segment of the population you belong to
Then he found facts and information about those topics:
- Mitchell points to the unemployment rate of 5% and that it was around 8% when President Bush left office and a whopping 10.4% during the Reagan’s term.
(Go to this graph to see the unemployment rates from President Truman through President Obama (September, 2015) You will see that the rate was 8.3 when he became President, it went up to 9.9% in November, 2009, and in September, 2015 it was 5%).
- He reminds us that the inflation rate during the Obama years has averaged around 2%. In the 1980’s it hit 12%, and was 5% when President Bush (41) left office.
(Go to this graph to see the Average Annual Inflation by Decade (1913 to 2015). The years from 2010-2015 was 1.86%, the lowest since the 1950’s rate of 1.82%. The 1970’s it was 7.25% and the 1980 was 5.82%)
- Mitchell reports that the Stock Market was at 490s the year he was born, 824 in 1980, and over 1600 now.
(Go to this graph to see the Dow Jones Average from each month from 1915 to the present.)
- Mitchell, after looking at FBI figures, concludes that the the crime rates are “the lowest since almost before I was born”. He doesn’t say when he was born.
The table that I found with data from 1970-2014 shows that from 1975-1996 the number of crimes each year per 100,000 population was in the 5k-5.9k range (5.0K in ’77 to 5.9K in ’91). It dropped in 1997-2003 from 4.9K in ’97 to 4.1K in 2003. Then from 2004 to 2013 it dropped from 3.9K to 3.1K. In 2014 the crime rate in the United States was 2,971 per 100,000 people (about half of it’s peak in 1991.)
- Mitchell’s final point dealt with social issues. He said, “I don’t recall hearing minority leaders ever talking about turning the clock back to the ’50s, ’60s or the ’70s. Now that I think about it I don’t hear the social reformists saying let’s go back to the 80’s or 90’s either.”
Reminiscing is a common activity. We like to think of the past. Some would rather be back in the good ole days, and others appreciate how far we have advanced since then. The politicians are not only proclaiming that the sky is falling, but they are paying millions of dollars to convince us that they are the only one who can stop the sky from falling.
We have to remember that from Day One of the Obama White House the republican leaders vowed not to let Obama succeed. They wanted to make him a one term President. They were against paying our Country’s bills. They closed the government down because of Obamacare. They disguised anti-environmental legislation as job producers. They approved the sequester which hurt the social programs and the military. They un-sponsored their bills when the President announced that he supported them. The House voted to defund Homeland Security.
Despite the do-nothing congress (see chart below), we have been able to lower unemployment, inflation and crime rates, and greatly increased Dow Jones Average. Despite republican led states that have tried to force their conservative values (Pro-Life, Anti-Marriage Equality, disenfranchising voters, etc) onto the rest of America, the Courts have generally sided against them and more for individual freedoms. Race problems are more out in the open for the whole country to see, which a small step for culturally change.
Of course, we still have work to do. We need to look forward, not backward. We don’t need to Make America Great Again. We need to Keep American Great!
Thanks for this post! Fear mongering seems to work for some (more since Barack Obama took office). I agree our country has improved under Obama’s presidency. The US has a much better standing in the world, and his diplomatic efforts with Russia, Syria, and now with the Iran Nuclear Deal, there’s more hope for peace.
Great post. When will the USA be a great country? When EVERY CHILD can feel safe in his own neighborhood. When every parent does not have to worry about violence in the street or the quality of the public school.
“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children”. Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
I do have one small area of disagreement. I don’t think the GOP is pushing “conservative” values at all. I think they are pushing reactionary values. Racist values. Anti-scientific thiinking. The GOP is now controlled by the people Barry Goldwater (Mr Conservative) warned us about. The religious fanatics.
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