As someone who has retired within the last year, I find myself looking back on my life and comparing my childhood to the childhood we experience today. No, I don't mean passing notes in class instead of texting, or having fun on playground equipment that is now considered too dangerous.
What are we, the generation that experienced lead poisoning to a far greater extent than any other, leaving those who come after us? What are they inheriting?
- Yearly record-breaking heat waves, so severe that lives are at risk world-wide. Crops are impacted, sea levels are encroaching on some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Cause: Clinging to fossil fuel policies we've known since the 70s were not sustainable and would lead to exactly the kinds of climate conditions we are currently experiencing. Our current administration is at least attempting to confront this with intelligent policies regarding the Keystone XL pipeline, sensibly refusing petroleum leases and drilling on government land, especially natural preserves that are the best hope of fighting climate change. Not to mention enticements to big finance for finding alternatives to this deadly consumption of unsafe fuel.
- Rising crime and murder rates, not only in major cities but even in rural areas. There are now millions of military-style AR-15 weapons in circulation, manufactured by around 500 companies. They are marketed with such slogans as "Gear for your daily gunfight." The problem is so pervasive that even a ban on them now would have little effect without confiscating existing weapons, and that won't happen, even though it's a perfectly viable solution, one that ought to be obvious and not dangerous.
- The constant and daily deluge of misinformation about the security of our borders. Often characterized as "masses" of people illegally crossing the border, the reality is that illegal crossings are at record lows.
- Misinformation about other subjects such as illegal drug overdose deaths, quoting fanciful statistics and even then don't begin to approach the deaths over the last few decades from our own prescription drug manufacturers which pumped out opioids like candy while enjoying government subsidies and protections that one of our two major political parties still fights vehemently for.
Some will point to the Reagan-esque "Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?" Meaning are you happy with the current rate of inflation and the cost of goods? These folks conveniently ignore that the prosperity they enjoyed 4 years ago was largely due to the lasting impact of President Obama's policies in 8 years in office. The economy we see today is the result of President Trump's destructive and incoherent policies that are now coming home to roost.
President Biden and Congress are doing their best to recover, but they are still hampered by the half of Congress determined to say "No" to anything sensible. The economy will turn around, but it is large and unwieldy and does not change course, for example, the day a new president takes office.
When I hear that we should pack the Supreme Court, I remember that it was conservatives who for years refused to hold hearings on nominees at all levels of the federal judiciary so that they could pack the courts when they got into power.
When I hear that free speech is being censored, I am reminded that it's conservatives who want to ban teaching about critical subjects around sex and politics, and even remove such subjects from our public libraries.
When I hear complaints of police being vilified, I recall that it's the right that doesn't see a problem with police shooting a black man 36 times while he was running away.
These are not the views of people even concerned with solutions. They are the views of people who want to perpetuate problems for their own sake and their own need to force their limited viewpoints on all of us.