Let’s assume the coronavirus has been brought under control and we’re back to “near normal,” with a reliable, widely available vaccine that renders COVID-19 no more severe than the flu.
Now is the time for our nation to finally include everyone in the American dream.
Old attitudes between the races may be changing. Today’s peaceful protests include more diversity, bringing us closer to the belief, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Many of our neighborhoods are in serious disrepair, with no opportunity for positive growth. Too often, residents of these neighborhoods have lost the desire to improve their living conditions. The government that was supposed to help them has failed miserably. Laws are not enforced and politicians (not all) elected because they promised to turn things around lied and quickly enriched themselves. There’s no reason for them to believe things will get better.
In some of these neighborhoods, members of the younger generation witness crime, drug use and prostitution. Some become enthralled with the cash the “kingpins” flash. But others escape the shackles of a depressed neighborhood and go on to become nurses, doctors, lawyers or professional athletes. They’re the lucky ones — with a lot of self-determination and desire to go along with help from family, friends and government.
As these examples suggest, government is not the only solution to all the problems in these neighborhoods. Residents also have responsibilities. First, they must believe they deserve to live in clean, respectable and safe neighborhoods. Taking a stand requires courage — especially in crime-ridden areas — but they must understand what goes on in their neighborhoods reflects (not always fairly) on them as well.
Our government must work as intended for all the people. People must learn to trust the government to do as it promises. Then, people and the government must do as each has promised. Then and only then can we all realize the American dream.
The key to building an inclusive economic future starts with building individual and family wealth. The most obvious place to build wealth is home ownership. But this avenue has been closed to marginalized citizens for a long time, people of color in particular. Redlining, the systemic practice by the federal government and the private sector to deny certain citizens to buy and live in certain neighborhoods, is now illegal. However, many marginalized minorities still cannot realize that aspect of the American dream.
The coronavirus pandemic further widened the wealth gap for marginalized minorities, who are generally the last ones to be hired and are on the bottom rung of the wage and salary ladder. They are also the first to be laid off due to economic downturns.
As bad as the pandemic’s effect on the economy has been, the conditions it has created provide a unique chance to start anew, with more equitable opportunities. Good-paying jobs that offer stability, provide financial security and build wealth are keys to our economic future. But everyone must have an equal opportunity to participate.
The nation’s infrastructure desperately needs upgrading and repair; electric grids must be rebuilt, and many more constructed; more hospitals, kiosks and clinics are needed.
There’s also a need for more doctors, nurses, caregivers, lawyers, truck drivers, teachers and architects — just to name a few. All these jobs will provide stable economic opportunities going forward.
The federal government working with private sector investments will stretch our tax dollars far beyond what we now imagine, leading the country to a robust economic future that includes everyone.
To quote Joe Biden, “Let’s do this. Together.”