Saturday, January 5, 2013

Trying to be prophetic before knowing who won

I write this without knowing the results of Tuesday’s general election, so I am something at a disadvantage when it comes to figuring out what we need to do next as a country.

I’m convinced, however, that the average American is fairly uninformed when it comes to knowing basic facts about our country. So, as we try to figure out how to solve some of the problems, we have to have at least a foundation of knowledge:

–We have been involved in Afghanistan – in war – since 2001. That’s 12 years. And this substantial exercise in nation-building is on credit. Cost: $1.2 trillion. More than 2,000 of our soldiers have been killed and thousands more wounded. The war in Afghanistan has been a major contributor to our growing money problems.

–According to the Daily Beast, a conservative online news site, “49 percent of Americans live in a household that receives a government entitlement for ‘health care’ through Medicaid or Medicare, ‘food’ through stamps, disability, Social Security, or a ‘housing’ assistance program.” The Daily Beast says the gap between “promises and anticipated funds for Social Security is $8.6 trillion for the next 75 years. For Medicare, it’s $27 trillion.”

–According to the Associated Press, nearly one in two Americans is considered either “low income” or “poor.” Still, Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told the AP he questioned whether some of those people are actually suffering. “There’s no doubt the recession has thrown a lot of people out of work and incomes have fallen,” Rector said. “As we come out of recession, it will be important that these (entitlement) programs promote self-sufficiency rather than dependence and encourage people to look for work.”

–A USA Today story reports, meanwhile, that one in eight Americans visited a food bank in 2010, while the Feeding America website reports that more than six million households utilized a food bank one or more times in 2011.

–Romney was right when he said repeatedly on the stump that 46 million Americans are receiving food stamps. That number includes college students, many of whom will be poor after graduation as well. Two-thirds of American college graduates carry an average debt of $26,000 for the cost of their education.

–According to the Center for Responsive Politics, $6 billion will have been spent on this year’s elections. That includes nearly $1 billion attributed to Super PACs, which are not directly connected to any particular campaign or political party. They just get to throw money around without having to answer to anyone.

–U.S. federal aid to the world totaled more than $52 billion in 2010. World aid provided by the U.S. private sector totaled $71 billion. (To put those numbers in perspective, the cost of a new high school in Dover has been estimated to be between $30 million and $40 million, including the land.)
–Changes to the nation’s health care laws threaten local control of small community hospitals, along with the care given to senior citizens by physicians, who lose money on every Medicare/Medicaid patient they treat.

–Nearly 8 percent of the work force is unemployed. Thousands of people have dropped out of the work force simply because they cannot find a job to suit their skills. Many manufacturing jobs have disappeared and will never return. Buy an Apple product? It will ship from China.

So, the attack ads have stopped, the robocalls have ended and the political signs have been removed. Thank goodness it’s over.

I hope our country finds some peace in the next four years. I hope the president and Congress find some middle ground.

Read more from Dick Farrell at

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