Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Reflections on an Ungrateful Nation

by Nomad

In free countries, it is natural to complain about how the nation is being run. The public must hold high standards when it comes to the kind of government it expects. However, that shouldn't mean being blind when things are done properly. It should not mean refusing to give credit when it is due.

Not long ago I saw this newspaper clipping (on the left) and it started me thinking about the negative attitude of so many Americans.

"The hardest arithmetic to master," said Eric Hoffer, "is that which enables us to count our blessings."  
When you listen to people talking you start to wonder how this nation became such a collection of complainers and pampered brats.  

A recent poll by USA Today/Pew Research Center shows Americans say the biggest problem facing the country today is the state of the economy. And yet, so many Americans still seem ungrateful even as things have begun looking brighter on that front. 
After some somewhat less than sterling numbers at the beginning of the year, analysts saw the U.S. labor market "snap back from another brutal winter with a return to healthy job growth." Last month, initial claims for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in 15 years. 

After a crash in the price of crude oil, gasoline prices fell to their lowest levels in years but have seen a sustainable rise in recent weeks. Most of that increase is due to turmoil in Yemen and possible disruptions to oil supplies. 
Even a reasonable price for oil isn't such a bad thing. Not since America is now no longer a dependent oil importer but the world’s largest producer of natural gas in 2010, as well also the world’s largest producer of petroleum since 2014.

In January of this year, there was even serious talk about manufacturing jobs returning to the US from China. That's shift- marginal at the moment- is based not on phony patriotism but on simple market driven forces.  As one source reports:
Wages are stable, for example, while China’s have soared. The U.S. energy boom has reduced natural gas prices and kept a lid on electricity costs. Plus, more companies want to protect designs from overseas copycats, keep closer tabs on quality control and avoid potential disruption in supply chains that span oceans.
And that comes from the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal. Compare that to the Bush era,  a time when hundreds of thousands of jobs disappeared overseas. It wasn't just coincidence either. It was a direct result of disastrous policy. This is how the US Treasury Secretary John Snow portrayed the loss of the manufacturing sector in 2004. 
The outsourcing of U.S. jobs is part of trade... and there can’t be any doubt about the fact that trade makes the economy stronger.”  
Yet, in spite of  incredible turnaround, President Obama's critics still are not satisfied. When Pew Research Center asked Americans to describe the president in one word,
Top negative responses included words like

  • incompetent
  • dictator 
  • idiot/stupid  
  • liar
  • arrogant  
  • disappointing 
  • failure
Despite some fairly impressive accomplishments, only about half of the public think Obama is doing a good job. According to a recent Gallup poll, Obama's approval rating is still at only 47% and 48% disapprove of his performance.

With the exception of Eisenhower and Kennedy, Obama's lowest approval rating (41%) was still far above any of his predecessors, including the conservative icon Ronald Reagan. (His lowest marks came in 1983 and it was a mere 35%)
Nevertheless,  a  majority of voters in this country are convinced that President Obama is a failure and a dictator. 

How ungrateful is that? It's really pretty incredible when you think about it. Americans have never expected perfect presidents in the past, at least not until Obama became its elected leader.

Historians will no doubt look back and wonder what on earth was the American public thinking.
Or whether they lost that capacity altogether.