Finding purpose and a tale of two cities

By Reade Brower | Jan 11, 2018

With a new year, it is time to reflect on where we are as a nation, who we want to be as a person, and figure out how they mesh.

The rush to tax reform left Republicans on a high as 2017 ended. The claim is it will fuel an already highly accelerated economy. The concern is that trickle-down doesn't work and that tax reform will have short-term gains for the middle class, bigger ones for the elite and corporations, and it will generate larger deficits, burdening the middle class, creating a larger chasm between haves and have- nots.

The giddiness is subsiding as President Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are into a cat fight that some say will galvanize a fractured Republican party. The president seems to have the upper hand and might win back some conservative members of his party.

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It is a "tale of two cities" when it comes to giving credit where credit is due. Our president loves to take credit for anything good. Last week he took credit for a good airline industry safety report and for bringing North Korea and South Korea to the talking table. It is unclear what he had to do with either of them.

With the booming economy, it is more complicated. Should he get credit for the robust economy; if so, how much?

While it might be a tossup, I'll give the edge to Trump. Financial deregulation and "sweet dreams come true" tax cuts for corporations have created excitement, added fuel to an economy that was picking up before Trump took office.

Looking at facts, there are two stories. On the one hand, the unemployment rate has dropped to 4.1 percent (a 17-year low) and his pro-business policies have led to confidence and high expectations among businesses. That has spilled over to consumers, who have spurred 3-percent growth the last two quarters, much higher than during the Obama recovery years. The new jobs average of 175,000 a month is lower than Obama's last year in 2016, a 190,000 jobs a month average. While this might seem trivial, when Obama came into the White House he inherited an economy that was losing 800,000 jobs a month, while Trump took over an economy on the rise.

With consumer confidence rising, the stock market has skyrocketed more than 7,000 points. On the other hand, Obama took over a Dow average that was spiraling down and was half its previous high, less than 8,000. During his term he doubled it, cutting unemployment and creating a steadier ship.

This economic thrust is about consumer confidence, therefore the nod to Trump by a whisker with a proviso: my confidence is not high that what he is doing is sustainable (time will tell), and I agree with Lawrence Summers (former director of Economic Council during some of the Obama years), who says Trump inherited a stable economy, that while not robust, was sustainable.

"As for now," Summers says in the Washington Post; "the stock market boom; that's an unsustainable 'sugar high.'" He adds, "Investors are giddy over Trump's deregulation and the GOP's deficit-busting tax cuts for corporations. But productivity growth remains slow, and so does wage growth for the middle class. The so-called boom is built on a 'weak foundation.'"

According to an article in The Week, "most economists said Trump had little to do with the rebound," but the article acknowledges most citizens don't understand the nuances of economic policy and "associate the weight of their purse with the man in the White House, so if the economy was slumping, everyone would be blaming Trump."

The article concludes, "Since the economy is doing so well, it's only fair to say that 'this is Trump's economy.'"

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On the personal side; finding oneself is a lifelong pursuit with year breaks and birthdays time to reflect.

As a person with wanderlust, adventure is an even-year tradition and a trek must be fitted in somewhere this year.

Finding a purposeful life is top of the list in pursuit of happiness; what purpose is up to each individual to seek, find and then execute.

The Hyde School of Bath tells its students, faculty and parents that each of us is gifted with "a unique potential that will determine our destiny." A heavy thought: what is unique potential and how does one use it for the common good?

Here are other highlights for a happy life from their newsletter:

1) Find your passion

2) Put the time in to do a job well

3) Rely on the strong spirit when facing adversity

4) Life is moments, not masterpieces

5) To fail doesn't mean you are a failure

6) Rely on each other; use community and don't go it alone

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“Not all those who wander are lost.”

--- J.R.R. Tolkien, novelist and philologist (1892-1973)

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