But let’s look at the more crucial areas of our lives. For example, let’s consider whether or not our nation is – to use President Obama’s terminology - “a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, (and) secure their retirement…”
It was a very provocative and important moment when the President raised this question on December 6th, during his now-famous speech at Osawatomie, Kansas. And yet he never really answered it, at least not in any concise way. He didn’t say “no, America is not a country where these things can be achieved” (which would have been a false answer), and he didn’t say “yes, America is that kind of place” either.
What President Obama did was to use the framing of his question to make several political assertions. For example, anyone who disagrees with his policies – namely the congressional Republicans – is guilty of leaving helpless American individuals to “fend for themselves” (whatever that means). The fact that most Americans are struggling economically while some are not, is evidence of both injustice AND of – there was that dreaded word again - “inequality.” And the only solution to fixing the inequality is for President Obama to have more control over how people’s money gets spent; hence the “need” for higher taxes and more government funded programs.
When I hear the President spout his inequality and injustice rhetoric like this, it often causes me to think of – believe it or not – Governor Sarah Palin. Ms. Palin and I actually share a whole lot in common: we are essentially the same age (she was born 2 days before me in February of 1964); we were both raised in humble, white, middle class, west coast, protestant Evangelical, 2 parent households; her father was a public school teacher and my mother was a public school secretary; and we each graduated from the type of west coast state university that Ivy Leaguers scoff at.
I don’t know Governor Palin’s net worth – nor do I need to know – but if book sales figures are any indication, I suspect she’s much closer to “financial independence” than I am right now. But here is where adult reality sets-in: despite how similar and “equal” our lives have been, Sarah Palin and I are presumably quite “unequal” these days in terms of our financial assets, yet there is absolutely no injustice in this situation.
Times are tough right now. And while some governmental policies can make matters better, others can certainly make things worse. Americans should resolve to make 2012 a year for renewal, and a year for growing up.
And may the renewal begin with a wholesale rejection of petty political rhetoric – the kind that plays to our child-like jealousies and envy.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.
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