I have been undergoing just such an assessment of my own views lately as I feel completely out of sync with the general perception that the country is going to hell in a hand basket. While the media and Republicans continue their total freak-out about Ebola and ISIS and many Democrats feel the need to distance themselves from President Obama's "toxic" record, here's what I'm noticing:
- The unemployment rate has finally dipped below 6% and is within .04% of 5.5% - the rate which many economists consider full employment,
- We are in the midst of the longest period of private sector job growth in this country's history,
- The number of people who are uninsured is dropping - while the rise of health care costs has slowed,
- The federal deficit is less than half of what it was in 2009,
- Crime is down at the same time that the number of people in prison is decreasing,
- Over half of the U.S. population now lives in a state with marriage equality,
- Due to effective worldwide sanctions, Iran is still at the negotiating table on their development of nuclear weapons and Putin has quieted Russia's incursions into Ukraine, and
- Afghanistan has just completed its first transfer of power via elections in the country's history.
Then today I read this on a topic that is near and dear to my heart.
More U.S. high school students are staying in school, according to newly released data from the Census Bureau, as the national dropout rate reached a record low last year. Just 7% of the nation’s 18-to-24 year olds had dropped out of high school, continuing a steady decline in the nation’s dropout rate since 2000, when 12% of youth were dropouts.As I continue to absorb this kind of news I find myself shaking my head and wondering WTF is wrong with us that we're not noticing these positive developments. I get that there's still a lot of work to do, but on almost every data point, we're making significant progress.
The decline in the national dropout rate has been driven, in part, by substantially fewer Hispanic and black youth dropping out of school (the non-Hispanic white dropout rate has not fallen as sharply). Although Hispanics still have the highest dropout rate among all major racial and ethnic groups, it reached a record-low of 14% in 2013, compared with 32% of Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds who were dropouts in 2000...
The dropout rate for black youth also was at a record low in 2013 (8%) and has fallen by nearly half since 2000 (15%).
It seems clear to me that this country is engaging in one pretty massive freak-out. I'll let you pick your target about who/what is to blame for that. But some dank cave of the American id has certainly been tapped in to lately. All I know is that I'll just keep letting my little light shine.