Thank God 2010 is almost over

Curtis Powers

Thank God this semester and this year are almost over. It’s been a tough one for many Americans and the ISU community.

While economists have declared the recession over, many are still suffering the effects of it, especially men as roughly 75 percent of the jobs lost due to the recession were male-dominated.

It is especially depressing for many workers who’ve been without jobs for more than a year. They see many corporations posting record profits. They see that more than 25 percent of the 400 richest people in America come from the banking/investment industry — the same industry that played a major role in the recession.

And all of that may have been possible due to our political system. I haven’t read it yet, but Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – -and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by elite academics Paul Pierson (UC-Berkeley) and Jacob Hacker (Yale) may provide some answers to the “why,” if the Amazon reviews are any indication.

Our nation is also facing a ballooning debt caused by deficit spending from both Republicans and Democrats. I saw a recent credit report from a leading Chinese credit rating agency that downgraded the U.S. to an A+/negative from a AA/negative bond rating.

They don’t think we intend on repaying our debt, which shouldn’t surprise anyone after the recent quantitative easing measure by the Fed. Quantitative easing means we’re printing money, money we don’t have — $600 billion of it — to artificially inflate our currency.

It is quite ironic that we accuse China of manipulating the yuan when we’re quite content on doing the same thing with the dollar. Do as we say and not as we do I suppose.

The only thing worse than that news is that American people aren’t really taking this seriously. They like the Deficit Commission recommendations so long as it doesn’t affect their favorite program.

That means it will be difficult to actually reduce the deficit because politicians generally lack the spine to make the tough decisions and face the fallout.

Therefore, high unemployment plus profiteers plus systematic political flaws plus massive debt plus lack of sacrificial spirit concerning the debt equals a time bomb of atomic bomb proportions.

And to add the cherry on top, the TSA — Touching Sensitive Areas as theologian Doug Wilson calls it — instituted new groping and molestation measures Nov. 1. How this doesn’t violate the Fourth Amendment’s provision against unreasonable search and seizure, I have no idea.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

However, the whole TSA fiasco does provide some good entertainment as Saturday Night Live demonstrated, “It’s our business to touch yours.”

It’s also been a tough year for the ISU community.

We’ve had eight student deaths. We sustained massive budget cuts that cost people jobs and got programs cut. We had a record flood that destroyed peoples’ houses and caused countless damage to other property.

And I almost forgot about the whole Big 12 fiasco. We were almost left without a conference, which not only would have affected our sports teams but the Ames economy and research efforts. Fortunately, the efforts of President Gregory Geoffroy and Athletic Director Jamie Pollard helped keep it together — and thank you, Texas, for deciding not to leave, too.

But for as a bad as things have been, there is always hope for the future. Think about all the things that went right this year.

The Ames community showed remarkable resolve and did a great job in responding to the flood. The city government demonstrated that the famous quote by Ronald Reagan on government ineptitude doesn’t apply to all governments.

As noted before, the ISU administration has done a pretty good job as well.

As for the Feds? I’m not sure. I think the Health Care Reform Bill passing was positive. I’m not sure it’s the solution, but health care is by far the biggest problem facing the nation considering future costs.

And I’m not sure the Republicans have shown any ability to actually govern well and fix the health care problem outside of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. So I’m hopeful that the bill passing will force the Republicans to actually deal with the problem instead of leaving it alone until it destroys our nation’s finances.

I’m also optimistic from Lisa Murkowski’s successful write-in campaign in Alaska beating the Sarah Palin-backed Joe Miller. It gives me hope that the American people are smart — most spelled her name right — and thus, we won’t actually elect Palin.

Maybe the GOP will even nominate someone who is somewhat intelligent, can actually govern and even finish out their terms like former and current governors Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty or Mitch Daniels. Maybe even Ron Paul. We’ll have to wait and see on that though.

Being that this is my last column before the break, I will wish you a happy holiday season and hope that your 2011 is better than your 2010.