July 4, 2010
July 4th means beaches, barbecues and ball games.
Nothing is wrong with that. Not at all. In fact, we’re really looking forward to it.
But this day ought to involve something more. It’s Independence Day, and we’re supposed to reflect, at least for a moment, on the great experiment in democracy that is America.
In this regard, we want to pose a question: What is the general condition of our nation in terms of the economy, the environment, our security and the health of our democracy?
With a distinctly New York emphasis, here is our quick assessment:
With regard to the economy, while there is general prosperity in the land, it’s still the case that an extraordinary number of people are out of work – almost 10 percent. The recovery from one of the nation’s worst economic recessions has been very slow, especially in New York. Moreover, the sobering reality is that the majority of our young people are still leaving the state for what is perceived to be better opportunity elsewhere.
With regard to the environment, there have been clear advances in the quality of the air and water in many regions of the nation, including New York, but there is still the specter of global warming. We know some people still ridicule that concept, but as the thermometer hits triple digits this weekend, they might want to think again.
With regard to our national security, there hasn’t been a successful attack on the United States since 9-11, but the terrorists continue to try, with New York City being the main target. We now have 190,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The wars have cost of $1 trillion and 5,560 lives. (And if you’re tempted to complain about the heat this weekend, remember that our troops patrolling in Kandahar face even hotter conditions while wearing 45 pounds of equipment and dodging enemy fire.)
With regard to our democracy, we all lament the sorry state of political discourse in New York and the nation. We cry out for strong and principled leadership. Actually, we cry out for basic competence and for civil, semi-intelligent discourse, but again and again we are disappointed.
Against this sobering assessment, we’d offer a word of encouragement: The quality for which New Yorkers are rightfully known is pluck. We don’t let anything keep us down. We can bitch with the best, but we never give up hope.