Humankind is presently enjoying the longest period free of armed conflict among major powers in history. This is mostly due to the fact of mutually-assured annihilation from a nuclear confrontation. We are also enjoying an unprecedented period of economic prosperity from a globalized free-market economy plus a substantially reduced world poverty rate. Add to this the eradication of formerly lethal diseases such as smallpox and polio and we find life expectancy has almost doubled over the last two centuries. In short, we have never had it so good.
After recovery from the Great (Bush) Recession our national income (GDP) and private-sector job creation have steadily climbed. Yet we elected a president who convinced us our country was going to hell in a hand-basket and only he had the magic formula to save it.
Our foreign policy in the last half of the 20th century was dominated by thwarting the Soviet’s goal of a communist world empire. But although the USSR collapsed over two decades ago due to communism’s inborn failures, we have yet to enjoy the peace dividend we were promised. And we don’t seem to feel any more secure today than we did during the Cold War era. But considering today’s realities, we should be sitting on top of the world. What’s wrong?
Although Americans still talk a lot about poverty, we have little absolute poverty today, only relative poverty. Ironically, a major concern is our out-of-control obesity epidemic. And overeating is particularly prevalent among low-income people who, maybe for the first time in their lives, have plenty to eat. Are they celebrating by killing themselves with a knife and fork, victims of their own success?
Crime? At social gatherings, in churches, in barber shops and on the streets I constantly hear talk about our supposed out-of-control crime wave. Many Americans actually believe they are potential victims of rampaging violence. But according to FBI and state statistics our crime rate been reduced by almost half over the past several decades. Why all the misinformation?
I think many people have abandoned critical thinking and are allowing spin doctors, especially the one in the White House, to do their thinking for them. But there is no excuse today for anyone with a computer or with access to one being misinformed. But nowadays people seem less impressed by what is said and more by how it is said; swayed more by style than substance. In our neck of the woods especially, we see spell-binding, stem-winding con men on our TV screens and sometimes even in our pulpits who are able to seduce us because nobody cares enough to check on who they really are or the accuracy of what they are telling us.
I would like to ask our readers to crank up their computers and check the national crime rate figures over the past thirty years to see if our crime rate is actually headed out of control or just the opposite. But for heaven’s sake, ignore Ringgold’s! For some reason Ringgold’s crime rate is frequently off the charts. Considering the fact that this area has so few immigrants or minorities on which to blame it, what’s going on here? Have our good ole boys suddenly turned into bad ole boys?
George B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.