A set of standards that spin doctors don’t want you to see
The year is 1975. The alarm clock is set for 5 a.m. The gas station opens at 7 a.m. If you get there two hours early, you will be near the front of the line waiting to purchase the $5 limit of gasoline.
The gas only costs 80 cents a gallon … if you can get it. There is an oil embargo courtesy of the Mideast fuel kings that has the country at a near standstill in an energy crisis.
The year is, well, this could be a lot of years. Unemployment rates are hovering in the high single digits percentage, much too high. Job opportunity is much too low. Pay growth for those with jobs is so meager the practicality of working is questioned.
The year is, well, again, this could be a lot of years. The income gap between those who work and those who pay people to work is growing to the point where not enough people believe in the core of the American Dream. The result is sagging enthusiasm for education among those who need it the most. That creates neighborhoods and cultures engulfed in despair.
The month is … just about any month. The Middle East is on fire. Iran has a heavy hand on the day-to-day lever of chaos. Israel is under siege. Terrorism and oppressive government override freedom and order. And the whole world wonders when this hell on Earth will encapsule the rest of the planet.
And now it is 2020.
There is no gas line. And while the cost at the pump is not cheap, it is closer to $2 a gallon than the $4 a gallon it was a few years back. You can power your house on natural gas and electricity at a reasonable price. Wind, nuclear and solar power are adding to the range of energy capability that is the envy of the world.
The United States is a net exporter of oil. The country is energy independent, which puts it in a position of great strength rather than dependency in foreign policy situations.
None of this is at an environmental cost. Engineering science has, in recent decades, made natural gas and nuclear power safer than ever. Air pollution is down 7 percent in the past four years. The nation’s carbon footprint is trending down, not up.
Energy independence leads to precedent-setting developments in the Middle East. A recent alliance of countries recognizing Israel as an equal nation in that region shows great promise of growing to the point where Iran and Hamas may soon be lone wolves of insurrection. They are no longer the ones blocking peace; they are the ones being cornered by it.
Consider what was in 2020 before COVID, which we all pray is gone in coming months, took over our lives.
Unemployment hovered at 3 percent. That is not a misprint. It is an historic low.
The median family income had risen to $68,000 in the past four years, during which time 4 million people were taken out of poverty. The average family’s income growth in that time frame was between $6,000 and $8,000. The percentage of income growth had risen for lower and middle-income people at a faster rate than income for the higher-income classes, precisely what everyone has been preaching about for decades.
Unemployment for blacks and Hispanics was at all-time lows, helped in part by an Enterprise Zone initiative in lower-income neighborhoods.
Consider other developments that have been pushed into the deep recesses of our brains by COVID – such as second chance legislation that is the first criminal justice reform in a quarter century. Consider permanent funding subsidies to historically Black colleges and universities, a needed initiative bolstering higher education for minority students.
In what world are these things not considered good news?
Ruminate, for a second, on why these things are suddenly pushed into the unimportant bin by a media that previously obsessed over them. Muse over how all these things happen if we are such a hateful country suppressing certain people rather than promoting the pursuit of happiness for all people.
The short answer is that the bar set by advancements of the past four years, pre-COVID, does not exist in a country where oppression is promoted.
You don’t have to like who is responsible for these things. That doesn’t mean those things were not the reality of where this country was before a once-in-a-century occurrence in late January.
People are free to allow media-generated hate to obscure reality. And they can cast votes based on that doctored view. But it is insanity to vote without acknowledging a higher bar of what this country can be has been set in the past four years.
And our country would be best served if that bar remains the standard when the COVID crisis ends in coming months.
David F. Troisi is retired as editor of the Sun-Gazette.