The State of Our Union

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As President Gerald Ford told Congress and the American people in 1975, “The State of our Union is not good.”

The same can be said as I sit here in the Desert and look out across our land from sea to shining sea in July of 2015, 40 years, a generation, later.

The country is at its most divisive since the mid 1960s. The country is nearly as torn as it was in the mid 1860s. But so far, insurrection, taking up arms, has not occurred.

For the past few years there have been calls by some quarters to secede once more from the Union. There was a movement, including an online campaign with thousands of signatures, for Texas, which once was a republic in its own right, to pull out of the national association of states and return to the time of Sam Houston.

At times over this last year, where many of us had thought the racial divide was giving into the melting pot, we have learned that there is a segment out there where we have a white America and a black America. There is an abyss between suburban, small town and rural areas of the country and the inner cities and areas of urban concentration.

Even between suburbia and rural, small town communities there is a divide.  The more liberal occupy urban America and much of suburbia, while conservatives claim rural and small town America.

Each day we turn on the television and go online with trepidation wondering if we will be dismayed, our hearts torn, by yet another mass killing or disaster. Each day we wonder if a rogue country will launch the bomb.

Radicalism is growing and not just with those pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. Some threats are homegrown. Some threats are white supremacists, black power enthusiasts, free nationalist anarchists and so on.

Crime may be down over all, but police are backing off from serving and protecting. In many parts of the country – urban areas predominantly – police are under fire, afraid doing their job will lead to being arrested.

Politicians are playing to our baser nature, garnering large crowds. Politicians are playing on our fears to keep us in an uproar. Politicians have forgotten their duty to do best for the nation and not for their personal careers.

Then there are the millions going about life, ignoring it all. If it does not knock on their door, these millions stay in blissful ignorance, dashing toward the cliff and destruction.

These millions will wake up, but will it be too late?

While the annual budget deficit may continue to track downward, not a word about the national debt of $18 trillion plus and growing. Not a word about the generations to come already buried in red ink. We run merrily along from bubble to bubble, from crash to crash.

Yes, my friends, the State of our Union is not good.

From the Cornfield, should the national anthem be changed to “God Bless America, Again”?

Or have we traveled to far down the road of perdition where even the Almighty cannot intervene?

Mythic Middle Class?

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Is the idea of a powerful and well-populated middle class easily obtainable with hard work a myth or is it provable fact?

That was the focus of a recent study by Pew Research looking at the middle class on a global level. The truth revealed showed more hope than reality.

While here in the US, most people consider themselves middle class, a 56% majority would be considered high income around the world. Yet, inside our borders, low income outdistances middle class and high income by a large margin. The same is shown globally.

Per the US government, poverty level in the nation for a family of four was $23,0021. The study covers the period from 2001 to 2011. The median income in the US was down to $51,939 in 2013 compared to a mean of $55,562 in 2001 before the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

Comparing US income to the rest of the world only 7% of Americans are middle class with only 3% being in poverty. What a difference when we see our lives in America and then look at the lives of those around the globe.

This is not to say there are not issues with poverty and income equality in America the Beautiful. Yet, when put into perspective, America and its citizens are blessed or lucky or any phrase you want to use.

Low income families dominate in the US and not the middle class. There are more of us near the poverty level for our nation than there are of us who think we are middle class. And it is not getting any better or easier to rise into the ranks of the middle class.

While there have been thousands of jobs created over the past few years, the majority of the jobs being created are either low paying or part-time positions. Income, wages, have remained static making mobility nearly non-existent. The disparity between the ones at the top of the economic ladder and those trying to get on the first rung continues to grow.

Check out the full study from Pew: A Global Middle Class Is More Promise Thank Reality.

From the Cornfield, it is not enough to work hard. There must also be the opportunity to move up with a company or business. There must be jobs created which provide a more desirable income base.

Crowing about the number of jobs created is hollow unless those jobs are full-time and pay more than what one can receive on unemployment or temporary aid. When the under-employed and those who have dropped out of the labor market can’t see daylight or reason to hold on, hope itself becomes a myth.

The middle class in America will remain mythic until those wanting a good-paying position can find openings for sustainable opportunities.

With the presidential election campaigns launched, a main concern Americans will be looking at is the position of the candidates on the economy, how to rid the country of the financial sluggishness and a program to create the type of jobs with the income Americans need.