LETTER: Life’s not perfect, but it’s better

To the editor:

Remember our lives exactly four years ago? For many, it’s very hard to do. Hospitals were overrun, lacking the equipment and medicines to prevent people from dying. Make-shift triage centers were set up in parking lots, warehouses and sports stadiums. Refrigerated trucks were used as mobile morgues. Kids were out of school, and their parents were out of work. People hoarded toilet paper, and that was just the beginning of shortages, supply chain disruptions and price increases that have persisted even to this day.

Well over 900,000 Americans died during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Put aside the humanitarian aspect, and focus on the economic impact.

The first three years of the Donald Trump administration had the same relatively flat unemployment levels (below 5%) as the previous Barack Obama years (after recovering from the Great Recession). During 2020, Trump’s final year of office, unemployment skyrocketed from 4.4% in March to 14.8% in April. It has declined during the Joe Biden administration to under 4% for the past two years, lower than pre-pandemic levels. Not so with prices and inflation. At least not entirely - yet.

The good news is that inflation is receding. After jumping to 9.1% in the summer of 2022, it has steadily declined to around 3.2% currently.

Voters hate inflation, particularly at the grocery store (corporate greed has continued to drive up prices). People shouldn’t blame the president. It’s the Federal Reserve’s job to set interest rates to fight inflation, which greatly impacts prices. To slow price increases, central banks have had to raise interest rates which makes loans, credit card payments and mortgages more expensive.

So, blame the Fed if you want, but also thank the Fed for avoiding another “great” recession. Thank President Biden and his bipartisan congressional initiatives that stimulated our economy back from the pandemic better than any other nation.

After accounting for inflation, the median American household real total wealth increased 37% from 2019 to 2022.

Regarding ongoing complaints about oil prices, there’s only so much a president can do. U.S. domestic crude oil production reached record levels last year. Remember, gas was super cheap four years ago because of excess supply. No one was driving. They had nowhere to go. Quarantine was the word of the day.

So, how are you doing, personally, compared to four years ago? Is everything perfect? No, but give it serious thought between now and when you vote in November.

Jan Koch, Shawano