Not sure where politicians are leading us

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Harry Truman once said, “No man should be allowed to be president who doesn’t understand hogs.”

I chuckled when I read that quote, knowing that the greediest in the herd of pigs will grow at an alarming rate, while the weaker in the bunch will be beaten and trampled with an alarming intensity by the bigger hogs, and will likely not survive unless an observant farmer pulls the smaller hog out and places it in a protective pen.

Reading the published journal entries of Harry S. Truman makes me wonder what he would say about today’s economy. The appalling truth is that the United States is suffering worse than ever economically, with the rich most definitely getting richer and the middle class falling deeper toward the poverty line than ever before.

Cost of war

Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has weighed in on the mess we are in. After having read the report released by the Congressional Research Service regarding the cost of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, placed at $700 billion, Stiglitz has been widely quoted as saying that does not nearly cover the true cost.

The Congressional Research Service tab, which translates the cost of the war to $400 million a day, Stiglitz said, has not taken into account costly rehabilitation for seriously injured veterans, replacement of military hardware and the value of things the U.S. could have produced with that money over the past seven years.

Stiglitz estimates that the tab is well over $2 trillion when all of this is figured in.

The number of Americans living in poverty in 2001, stood at 31.6 million. As of the first quarter of 2008, 36.5 million Americans are now classified as living in poverty.

The USDA released reports back in 2001, of the number of Americans going hungry at 31 million. Today, that USDA figure stands at 38.2 million. Along with this, the increase in home foreclosures since 2006, is 68 percent, so the suffering continues to grow in this country.

National debt

Truman would most likely be shocked speechless to read that the U.S. national debt in 2001, was $5.7 trillion, and in early 2008, it is reported to be $9.2 trillion.

Corporate profits and the wealthiest among us continue to thrive in spite of it all.

Corporate profits (before tax) stood at $719.2 billion in 2001. Today, that profit figure is reportedly $1,769.5 billion. The net worth of the wealthiest 1 percent of the U.S. population was $186 billion in 2001. That figure has soared to $816 billion.

The number of billionaires living in the U.S. was 186 in 2001. That elite group has grown to 415 individuals to date, with their combined wealth tallying up to $3.5 trillion. The average salary of the top 500 corporate executive officers in 2007, was reportedly $15.2 million.

Average incomes

During the time frame from 2001 to 2008, the median pretax household income in the United States went from $49,158 to $48,201. During that time, the total number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. fell from 17.3 million to 14.2 million.

Many displaced manufacturing workers were forced to take minimum-wage jobs with no insurance coverage benefits when they were unable to find any other employment. Many struggled to purchase prescribed medications after having lost desperately needed health coverage.

During this same time, pharmaceutical company profits rose from $30 billion to $80 billion.

What once made American great was the lovely truth that those who worked hard could prosper. This is no longer the case, and it is way past time to be forcing those who wish to lead this country to answer for it.

Just exactly where are they leading us?

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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