Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Break's Over. What's Next?

After a much-needed Labor Day break, just about everyone in America is getting back to work today. The media is also back at it, with the beginning of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. So far, many of our colleagues still appear to be suffering a hangover from the liefest of the RNC. Instead of getting back to real reporting, they're still trotting out sloppy leftover work -  especially when it comes to one particular question: Is America better off now than it was four years ago?

Since our fellow journalists don't seem to be able to get back to work yet, let's see what we can do to pick up the slack.

To start with, in September of 2008, America was deeply entrenched in two wars, with no serious end in sight. Possible scenarios to leave Iraq had been tentatively drawn, but those plans were not set in stone. It was still a crime to serve your nation in the military, and be honest about your sexual orientation. And there was virtually no chance for you to keep your health care coverage if you lost your job.

Speaking of jobs, the U.S. economy had taken a massive dive as well. The American job market was losing between 400,000 and 500,000 jobs a month in September 2008. America would lose more than 800,000 jobs a month before President Obama took office in late January 2009.

Four years ago this month - specifically, September 14, 2008 - one of the biggest banks in the world, Lehman Brothers, effectively blew up and  filed for bankruptcy protection. On the same day, Merrill Lynch, another massive financial organization, committed Wall Street suicide, gutting itself and selling to Bank of America to avoid a complete destruction of the financial foundations of America.

That was four years ago.

Four years later, America is out of Iraq, and while there have been snags, the U.S. timetable to leave Afghanistan by 2014 is still on schedule. DADT - Don't Ask Don't Tell - is D-E-A-D. So is Osama bin Laden, the real mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. The Affordable Care Act - the ACA, also known as ObamaCare - is on its way to full implementation, with millions of Americans added to the insurance rolls of privately owned insurance companies, not under government controlled insurance.

The jobs situation continues to improve, and has for most of the last three years. America is now averaging about 150,000 jobs gained monthly- most in the private sector - versus the 450,000 jobs we lost in September 2008. The economy isn't on the brink either, with GDP growth of 1.7%. Much to the chagrin of the pathological liar, GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan, U.S. business bankruptcies are down by 22 percent from 2011, and personal bankruptcies are down by 11 percent.

In short, no - things are not perfect. They're not where most Americans want them to be, let alone President Obama and Democratic leaders. But in answer to the incredibly stupid question, "Is America better off now than it was four years ago at this time?"

Yes. America is in a FAR better place, no thanks to Republicans in Congress, or the austerity economics schemes they support, like that of the Romney/Ryan plan.

If you want to know what the story is that the Democrats need to tell this week? This is it.

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