Today was not a good day. In fact, it was a pretty bad day. When the stock market closed this afternoon at 4:30, the Dow Jones had dropped over 500 points. It was single worst decline since the market crash of 2008. Over the past two weeks, the Dow has lost about 10% of its value. Well, that’s the good news. The bad news? Tomorrow will bring more bad news as the Federal Government releases its unemployment statistics for the month of July. Many prognosticators anticipate the numbers will be feeble, at best. This brings up a question: What’s going on? Wasn’t this country in the midst of a recovery from The Great Recession of 2008-2009? Not being an economist and only a commentator on such things, it is hard to answer. But, the proof that this country has a long way to go to recovery, from the near financial collapse almost three years ago, is evident all around. Companies are not hiring. They are making money because of stagnant wages and cost cutting. That does little to help the struggling economy. If people are not employed, they do not spend money on anything but essentials. If people are only buying essentials, than luxury items like vacations, televisions, cars are not being purchased and languish on the shelves or sit empty. That is not a recovery.
Much has been written about the Republicans in Congress, more specifically, the Tea Party Republicans and their quest to ensure that Barack Obama is only a one term president. For all the hype about their quest, the fact remains, 60 House Republicans does not a double-dip recession make. Granted, it does not help the situation either. However, as easily as it is to blame all of the nation’s financial and economic woes on the Tea Party, it is a cop-out. Now is not the time to blame people. Now is not the time to call people or parties names. This nation is in a serious situation. Not just the debt, but with unemployment still high, wages not growing, schools failing and still involved in two major overseas conflicts, there are a lot of issues that must be resolved. The only way to do that is to work together. This is where name calling can begin, as the Republican Party, more specifically the Tea Party refuses to work with the President. That is unfortunate.
This nation did not succeed by a “go it alone” attitude. This nation did not prevail in two world wars because of one person or political party. This nation became great because there was a willingness to work together. To put differences aside to ensure that our society will continue and grow and be better than the next generation. There is little doubt that the Tea Party Republicans want only what is best for this nation. How they go about reaching that goal is a different story. What needs to be accomplished can not be done by just one man or woman. The President alone cannot rescue the nation and Congress alone cannot do it. It will take all of them and it will take the citizens of this nation.
During World War One and World War Two, the leaders of this nation asked all citizens to sacrifice something. Maybe it was going without sugar for a week. Maybe it was limiting the amount of gasoline one bought for the car. One thing is certain, this country has not been asked to sacrifice one thing in decades. Now is the time to do so. Now is the time to say to the richest American’s: “You have to pay a little more in taxes for the next few years.” Now is the time to say to our senior citizens who are more well off: “You have to wait an extra year to collect your Social Security.” The nation is at a moment in time when everyone should be willing to give something up. If a person lives next door to a coworker, now is the time to start carpooling to work at least once a week to save fuel. At this particular moment in our history, we have been given a chance to do something remarkable. We have been given a chance to show the world that America is still the land of opportunity. Citizens of this nation, today we are given a chance to repay the debt which we owe to our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers who fought so bravely on the beaches of Normandy, the trenches of France, the jungles of Vietnam and the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan.
But what about the large corporations and conglomerates? Now is the time for them to do something too. They must give back to this nation which allowed them to prosper. No longer should they be allowed to ship jobs overseas because of cheap labor. Jobs must be kept in our country. They must be made to pay ALL of their taxes; and if they continue to ship jobs to India and China, then they should be made to pay more in taxes. No, we cannot allow more companies to go out of business, yet we also cannot allow those who want to work sit on the sidelines anymore. If the Republican’s want a corporate driven recovery, it must be made so the corporations will have to hire our homegrown workforce. Otherwise, the jobs are still going to be shipped overseas and more and more Americans will lose a job to someone in China because labor is cheaper.
We have had our fun in the sun. The Golden Age of the 1990s is past. This is a new economic reality we are living in and we must adapt to it. That does not mean government is on out of the picture. We are nation created “for the people, by the people.” Government must do its part as well. Government has to increase training programs for those who are out of work. Government must put people at ease and assure the citizens that we will prosper once again. Our government must ensure that all people are treated fairly and equally; the child who has no parents and is in foster care has the same opportunities afforded him or her as the child of a millionaire. Both children should be given the same education and the same right to advance that education, without going into debt. This is what the government can do.
As the sunsets on this chaotic day, should it not be time to reflect on what we have been given? Whether rich or poor, black or white, straight or gay; we live in America. The streets here used to be paved with gold. Our fathers and forefathers came here to find a better life for our families and their children’s children. Is it not time to dust off those roads so the next generation can do better than the previous? It is time for us to start taking pride in the work we do and want to do better to set an example for those who are not yet born. It is time to stop making up excuses why we cannot achieve. It is time to think of reasons to achieve “a more perfect union.”