To listen to some media outlets, you’d think the United States is on the verge of collapse and our society doomed to hell. Here are 6 charts that I think demonstrate why that narrative is wrong (click for larger view):
A note on each, briefly, in order:
- Americans are signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, despite a disastrous roll-out. We now have a system in place to deliver affordable health insurance to the vast majority of Americans. The system will only get better as we work to correct flaws instead of an all-out war to eliminate it.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average is hitting all-time highs. On March 6, 2009, the stock market closed at 6443.27. It is currently well over 16,000 and rising.
- The unemployment rate has dropped to 6.3%. This is the lowest level since 2008.
- The percentage of uninsured is now at 13.4%, according to Gallup. This is the lowest rate Gallup has recorded since they began asking this question in 2008.
- High school graduation rates are hitting new milestones. Researchers predict a 90% graduation rate by 2020. African American and Hispanic students have seen tremendous gains.
- Teen pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates are at all-time lows.
The Bad News
Things are not all roses, however. Here are the two charts I think might mean the naysayers are right, in the long-term:
We have a real problem with wealth inequality in this country, and it’s getting worse. Our founding fathers knew that to concentrate power in the hands of a few was a recipe for disaster. Now more than ever, wealth and money is power. Those with power continue to lobby for favorable laws that give them even more, increase their lobbying, and add more power/wealth/influence. Rinse, repeat.
The system is being manipulated to reward those who hoard their wealth, allowing it to continue growing exponentially. In the meantime, there is little incentive for companies to create jobs, raise wages of the average worker, or put long-term advantages over short-term gains.
A rising tide is supposed to lift all boats. For too long, our rising tide has only lifted the luxury yachts. That being said, the sky is nowhere near falling. Remember that the next time someone complains about ‘kids these days’ or the current state of society. We’re actually doing alright!