Sunday’s New York Times (1/19/2020) is incredibly negative about life in the U.S. today. Consider the following opinion pieces in the Sunday Review section:
- The Injustice of This Moment Is Not an Aberration by Michelle Alexander which deplores mass incarceration, mass deportation and the rise of white nationalism.
- We Don’t Understand China’s Power by David Leonhardt which claims that as China continues to move forward, the United States is slipping into reverse.
- How Did Americans Lose Faith in Everything? by Yuval Levin who claims that we are living through a social crisis of isolation, alienation and despair which has sent suicide rates climbing and driven an epidemic of opioid abuse.
These authors are addressing serious problems in our country. But what I observe in Omaha NE is that the economy is booming and there is a huge labor shortage. For example, our local Target store is now hiring at a starting salary of $13 per hour. This is economic opportunity in action!
For an optimistic national perspective, see the recent Wall Street Journal editorial The Economy’s Inequality Dividend which points out that:
- The current jobless rate of 3.5% is the lowest in 50 years. The labor participation rate (currently 63.2%) has grown steadily for five years.
- During the last three years wages for the bottom 10% of earners over age 25 rose an average of 5.9% annually and even faster (6.1%) for workers without a high school degree.
- The black unemployment rate of 5.5% is the lowest that has ever been recorded. The poverty rates for blacks (20.8%) and for Hispanics (17.6%) are also the lowest ever recorded.
- In 2019 forty million fewer people lived in households receiving government assistance than in 2016 and the food stamp rolls have shrunk by 9.5 million in the last three years.
- Between 2016 and 2018 the number of taxpayers earning less than $25,000 declined 5% while increasing 8% for those making between $100,000 and $200,000.
Conclusion. There are both good and undesirable aspects of life in today’s America. Although I tend to accentuate the positive, I am aware of the less fortunate members of our society and support programs designed to give them a lift.
I’m afraid that the NY Times has fallen prey to a severe, contagious illness called “Ain’t It Awful.” Along with Let Me Hold Your Coat, If It Weren’t For You, and I’m Only Trying to Help You among others, these games were described by Eric Berne, M.D. in his book GAMES PEOPLE PLAY published in 1964. He popularised the book as a handbook for translational analysis, a form of psychotherapy. Written in the style of Irma Bombeck, the small book is fun the read. Don’t despair, everyone knows about these games in their own life including my own.
I appreciate the economic view of our nation’s capability to survive. In an age of especially prominent Machiavelian tactics among the nations of our worldwide community, a strong economy may be the best strategy to eventually solve our nation’s loss of social cohesion.
Somebody should tell the NYT about the 1964 book Games People Play and point out to them that many people can see through their constant badmouthing of America. Nevertheless the NYT is seen by many as the official news organ for progressive America and so I want to know what they are saying.
The good news is that there is lots of economic opportunity for those looking for it.