God Bless America

Can We Stop Wringing Hands?


Economy Hand Wringing

The August jobs report said that we added a net of “only” 235,000 jobs. That’s a big decrease from the 962,000 added in June and 1.05 million added in July. That has caused innumerable hand wringers to wail, sob and bemoan a looming catastrophe in our economy.

The truth is that our economy is continuing to expand, albeit at a slower rate in August. Unemployment went down from 5.4% to 5.2% in August and – did I mention? – a net of 235,000 people found jobs and employers found 235,000 employees. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has regained all the losses due to the pandemic.

Of course, there are lots of factors related to the pandemic that affect our economy, including ever-more people working from home, which impacts lunch revenues at restaurants and gym memberships. It also includes the economic impact of all the people who are not traveling due to Covid, as well as the enormous supply chain disruptions of the past 18 months due to Covid. Still, our economy is expanding.

The slowdown follows perfectly the immense expansion of sickness and death due to the Delta variant. If we really want to keep the economy growing robustly, all we have to do is to follow the direction of the CDC to curb the pandemic. It’s as simple as that.

Take that, economy hand wringers!

Immigration Hand Wringing

You know where you were and who you were with when you learned what had happened on 9/11. The horrific images are burned into your brain and your heart and perhaps passion still rises in you when you see those painful pictures. Maybe you remember our senators and congressmen on the steps of the Capitol Building late that day, singing God Bless America in an impromptu, non-partisan, heartfelt song of solidarity. You can see that again here. In an odd contemporary way, that was a most peculiar moment.

Israel Bellin was born in Telochin, Russian Empire in 1888. He arrived in this country with his family at age five. Fourteen years later he published his first song and went on to become one of America’s most prolific and beloved songwriters. His name was misprinted on a piece of sheet music from one of his early works as “I. Berlin” and the name stuck. Irving Berlin wrote God Bless America in 1918 during WW I and it has been a national favorite ever since, with many believing it should be our national anthem.

The peculiarity is that Berlin was a Jewish immigrant raised in poverty. There was no job waiting for his father when the family arrived at Ellis Island and Berlin had to drop out of school at age eleven to help support the family. According to a large segment of our politicians and citizens today, the only thing that would make him an acceptable immigrant is that he was White.

What would happen to this poor, non-Christian immigrant under today’s discriminatory immigration laws?  And, more to the point, how many others, who could contribute so much to this country, are being kept out now? What would they build here?

Under today’s immigration paranoia would we have Sergey Brin from Russia to co-found Google? Or Hamdi Ulukaya who left Turkey and founded Chobani Yogurt? Would we have jeans to wear if Levi Strauss had been forced to stay in Germany? Would we have the microprocessors that power everything that uses electrons if Andy Grove hadn’t come from Hungary and remade Intel? Would you be able to sell that baby crib on eBay if Pierre Omidyar’s Iranian family had been forced to stay in France?

Would members of Congress have God Bless America to sing if Berlin’s family were to apply to immigrate today?

Take that, paranoid immigration hand wringers!

Afghanistan Exit Hand Wringing

Other than the permanent hard right Biden detractors, nearly everyone agrees that ending our war in Afghanistan and bringing home our troops and extracting the Afghans who helped us was and is the right thing to do. As the president said, the alternative was to continue to bleed people and money with no possibility of any gain. He was not willing to put yet another generation of our best into harms way for nothing.

The main criticism has been over the messy exit that left 100 – 200 Americans and thousands of Afghan helpers and their families in Afghanistan. That is truly awful and even some Democrats have been critical, while the hard line accusers and demonizers, the Trumpyist of Trumpists, want Biden impeached. Don’t bother looking for valid reasoning there.

There’s just one thing: Not a single one of the denigraters has an idea for how the extraction process could have worked better. Not one. All they have is fatuous, flamboyant criticism. That brings to mind the admonition to either lead, follow or get out of the way. Perhaps we should have a congressional rule like that.

Some have said that we should have started the evacuation sooner, but that would only have generated the chaos at an earlier date. Some have said that we should have stayed there to prop up the charade of an Afghan government, but that would just prolong the bleeding and dying and deepen the bottomless money pit. Some say Trump should have included the Afghan government in the negotiations with the Taliban to underscore its legitimacy. They’re right, but that wouldn’t have prevented the chaos.

Got a better idea? Glad to hear it. Post it below. But let’s stop this national hand wringing over a war that we should have exited many years ago. Better yet: We should not have invaded that country at all. There were other ways to get bin Laden. In fact, George W. Bush turned down two of them before starting that war.

Take that, Afghanistan exit hand wringers!

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Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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