A recent editorial in The Florida Times-Union titled “Quality of our lives continues to rise” read like a piece of propaganda from the Cold War era.
Amidst the Times-Union editorial’s celebratory tone, there was no mention of the 200,000 opioid drug overdose fatalities since 2000 in America that are now described as “deaths of despair.”
Or the fact that hourly wages of middle-wage workers in the United States have been essentially stagnant since 1979.
Or that both income and wealth inequality in the United States has reached record levels.
MORE WOES IN TODAY’S AMERICA
Or that the household median net worth of Americans in 2016 was $21,000 less than it was in 2004.
Or that the child poverty rate in the United States is higher than almost every other industrial society.
Or that 600,000 Americans declare bankruptcy each year as a result of medical bills.
Or that American political scientists have questioned whether the United States can still be accurately described as a democracy.
And so on.
Instead the Times-Union editorial asked us to celebrate the fact that since 1984, the ownership rates for material goods — air conditioners, cell phones, washers and dryers — has increased.
In reality, however, that only raised another inconvenient fact:
Given that America’s wage growth has been stagnant for many years, the purchase of these material goods has been chiefly driven by massive levels of debt.
Remarkably, the Times-Union editorial also totally failed to mention the damage caused by the debt-fueled financial crisis of 2008 (from which huge numbers of Americans are still recovering).
And despite the so-called current economic “recovery” in America, household debt — mortgage, credit card, student loan, auto loan, etc. — has reached a record $13 trillion, which is $280 billion above its previous peak in 2008.
WHERE IS THE CALL TO ACTION?
In short, very little has actually changed in our country.
In fact, things seem to be getting worse.
Given these social problems and conditions in the face of a failing political-economic system, a call to action should be in order.
Instead, The Florida Times-Union’s Pollyannaish editorial did a disservice to readers by encouraging complacency — while reducing the quality of life in the United States to the acquisition of material objects.