Monday, September 10, 2012

Who Is Better Off Than They Were Four Years Ago?

Who is better off than they were four years ago?

- Gays are better off. Their rights and dignity were acknowledged by their president when he spoke up in favor of gay marriage. More tangibly, Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed. America is better off when we live up to our principles by including the last group of Americans to be denied the rights of full citizenship....and our military is better off for being able to utilize their talents.

- The Dream kids are better off - like the young girl who spoke at the Democratic Convention. She graduated as valedictorian of her class at 16 and went on to earn a double major in college. Now she doesn't have to worry that every knock on her door is the deportation police coming to send her back to a country she doesn't even remember. And America is better off because she's going to contribute to our society.

- Children (and soon to be adults) with pre-existing conditions are better off because insurance companies can no longer deny them coverage. And people with illnesses requiring long, expensive treatment are better off because insurance companies can no long apply a lifetime cap to their coverage. America is better off because we are not a country that let's children and the ill suffer and/or die in the name of insurance company profits.

- Soldiers and their families are better off because one war is over and the other is winding down. And our wounded warriors are better off because their benefits and treatment have been strengthened by the Obama administration. America is naturally better off when we honor our obligations to our veterans.

- Women are better off because Equal Pay for Equal Work is now the law and because they have been guaranteed access to contraceptives to be able to plan their own families (unless they live in bright red states with politicians who have passed legislation to limit their privileges). All of America is better off because, of course, women aren't just stand-alone individuals but mothers and wives and sisters and daughters.

- Rich people are better off because their stock portfolios have roughly doubled since President Obama took office. America is better off when rich people are better off because they start business and produce products and hire employees, although they haven't exactly been standing up in the last few years.

- Middle class people are better off for the same reason....higher value in their 401Ks. America is better off because the middle-class is its backbone.

- Auto workers and all those other businesses that depend on auto workers are better off because the auto industry was saved. America, as a whole, is better off with a thriving auto industry because it bleeds into every part of our society. Auto workers buy homes and cars and carpets and television sets and send their kids to college.

The four and a half million people who have found jobs since 2008 are better off. Of course, we'd like to see that number much higher but still, small monthly job gains is better than large monthly job losses. It goes without saying that America is better off for every job created.

College students are better off because their interest rates have been lowered and the banks eliminated as the middle man in student loans. The more college degrees and skilled workers the nation creates, the better off all of us are.

Working families are better off because they have more money in their pockets thanks to the payroll tax cut and a higher child deduction. America is better off because working families spend those extra dollars to boost the economy instead of tucking them away in Swiss bank accounts.

The elderly are better off because the Paul Ryan budget didn't pass, starting the process of turning Medicare into a voucher system. My mother is 93 and suffers from dementia. I can imagine sending her out with a voucher to purchase her own insurance from a plethora of confusing (and not always honest) insurance offerings. Of course, I'd try to do it for her but what about the Moms who don't have me? And, yes, America is definitely better off when its seniors are secure!

The N.R.A. and gun dealers are better off because they are selling more guns and ammunition to paranoid Republicans than ever before. I don't know if that is a net gain for America but guns are part of the economy too so presumably more have been hired to run bullet-making punch presses.

We actually have more wells pumping oil in America than we did under George Bush and we have deported more illegal aliens (concentrating on criminals) so, presumably the "drill, baby, drill" crowd and the "papers, please" gang are better off though I don't expect they'll acknowledge it.

We have work to do and a long way to go but we are on an upward path. Not every individual is better off today than they were four years ago but almost every group is....even most Republicans.