02PubPenOh, America. What are we doing? The news coming out of Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend was heartbreaking. One dead and 19 injured. Fistfights. Screaming matches. Hatred. Violence. Why?

This past May, the Charlottesville City Council voted to sell a statue of Robert E. Lee. A judge issued an injunction preventing the city from moving it for six months. In another vote, the city also chose to rename Lee and Jackson parks.

People showed up to protest while others showed up to protest the protests. It was not a peaceable assembly. Not even close. Lesson learned: Trying to adapt American history to align with 21st-century political correctness will always be an irresponsible and explosive undertaking with catastrophic consequences.

There is no outrunning our past, and with all the critical issues facing our nation, this is what we keep coming back to? Apparently, moving forward is not something we’ve figured out, either. There is so much work to do, so many issues to be resolved and so many ways we could come together as a nation to move our country forward in a positive way. In an American way.

According to pewresearch.org, the most recent (2015) Program for International Student Assessment, one of the largest cross-national tests, placed the U.S. at 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development placed us 30th in math and 19th in science.

America used to lead the world academically. In a competitive worldwide job market, this does not bode well for the future of our youth as they enter the workforce.

At the end of fiscal year 2017, our nation’s debt is estimated to be $20.4 trillion. That is the how much the U.S. will owe its creditors on Sept. 30. This number doesn’t include state or local debt. Individually, we aren’t much better. Check out these statistics based on data from the U.S. Census bureau and the Federal Reserve:

• Average American household debt: $5,700. Average for balance-carrying households: $16,048.

• Total outstanding U.S. consumer  debt: $3.4 trillion. Total revolving debt:  $929 billion.

• More than 38 percent of all households carry some sort of credit card debt.

• Households with the lowest net worth (zero or negative) hold an average of $10,308 in credit card debt.

• The Northeast and west coast hold the highest average credit card debt — both averaging over $8,000.

Add to these statistics the fact that Americans owe more than $1.4 trillion in student loan debt (across 44 million borrowers), and our financial outlook is grim.

Then there is health care. Why, as one of the richest and most technologically advanced countries in the world, are we still trying to figure out how to provide high-quality, affordable health care to all our citizens? Add to this list food deserts (areas where it is difficult to buy affordable, fresh, healthy food), which the USDA says “have become a big problem because while food deserts are often short on whole food providers, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, instead, they are heavy on local quickie marts that provide a wealth of processed, sugar- and fat-laden foods that are known contributors to our nation’s obesity epidemic.”

Add America’s opioid epidemic and the affected families. Add the immigration crisis we face. And all this is within  our borders.

Put all these things together and the sheer total number of our country’s  misplaced priorities will have your  head spinning.

Our leaders in Washington aren’t helping. Case in point: Mitch McConnell, the U.S. Senate Majority Leader from Kentucky. Recently, McConnell and President Donald Trump clashed over critical remarks McConnel made at a local Rotary Club concerning the ill-fated health care bill. McConnell said the president had “excessive expectations” on how things are accomplished in Washington, D.C.

In other words, career politicians like McConnell, who has been in Congress since 1984, have lost all sense of urgency, priority and loyalty to the president, their party and the American people. All they care about is looking out for themselves, and McConnell is typical of the self-serving bureaucrats that make up Congress on both sides of the aisle.

Until the American people say, “enough is enough,” we can only expect more of the same. You don’t have to be of any specific political persuasion to want America to be great again. It is great. We need to keep it that way.

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

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