John Block Reports: How Lucky We Are

OFW Law founding principal Richard L. Frank fills in for former USDA Secretary John R. Block on John Block Reports.

August in Washington, D.C. – 100 degrees, 100 percent humidity…and I’m still grateful to be here. Have you seen the headlines lately? Syria: “100,000 dead; 2.5 million displaced; chemical weapons used against their own population.” Egypt: “Military takeover; Civil war possible.” “Women routinely raped and genital mutilation continues in parts of Africa and Asia.” India: “23 children die after eating free school lunch.”

Have you considered lately just how lucky we are – Americans living in this Promised Land in 2013? We live in the most prosperous nation in the history of the world. While we are coming out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, unemployment is slowly dropping – now below 8 percent – and average household income in the U.S. has grown to over $50,000. Farm production and income are up with the U.S. still the major supplier of food to an increasingly hungry world.

Sure, things could be better, but we have very good schools, for the most part excellent healthcare, and a free democratic society that is still the envy of the world. We have the luxury to take electricity, water, and safe quality food for granted.

What can we do better? First, we must continue to be the leader of the free world but not the world’s policeman. We are out of Iraq and getting out of Afghanistan. The results in both instances have been significant losses of blood and treasure…yes, some reduction in terrorism, but little improvement in the lives and welfare of those we sought to help. We are properly staying out of the proxy civil war in Syria and should be careful about getting into another war any time soon.

Second, we must seriously continue the process of reducing our debt. Congress is cutting costs from the discretionary budget but remains paralyzed in any effort towards seriously cutting entitlements. Our current spending frenzy is not sustainable. The across-the-board cuts, or sequestration, have actually worked well despite all the dire predictions. The economy continues to improve. The American public wants the deficit addressed. Responsible politicians must show the bravery to follow through. This Fall, we will see these issues play out again during the debt ceiling debate.

Third, we need a farm bill that balances the farm program with food assistance. It is better to develop new jobs than it is to increase the number of food stamp recipients. On the other hand, farm programs for those with high incomes no longer make sense.

So, stop – take a deep breath and smell the roses. It’s time to enjoy and appreciate the time and place we are living in during this, our lifetime in America.

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