So much on our minds, but what to make of it all?

Greenwich-Voices-JohnsonThere are so many compelling topics to discuss and the summer has barely begun.

There’s the Voting Rights Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, the deficit, the Zimmerman trial, President Obama’s trip to Africa, the Snowden affair, the employment numbers, student loan rates, filibusters in Texas, Syria and Egypt, to name some.

But instead of picking just one, I decided to share my comments on a few of them.

With respect to the Voting Rights Act, the rejection of key portions of the law by the Supreme Court is devastating. However, this decision will end up being the biggest voter turnout development in 50 years. For one thing, the ruling was rendered exactly two months before the 50th anniversary on Aug. 24, 2013 of the March on Washington led by civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who championed the original law.

The resulting proposed changes in some state voting statutes will backfire on the GOP legislators who are pushing them through, because they’ll rally the American people everywhere, not only in the original Southern states that spurred the Voting Rights Act.

The Supreme Court’s decision striking down Section 3 of California’s so-called Defense of Marriage Act confirms a basic freedom. Marriage equality is affirmed. Love wins. Love always wins, even if not right away.

As to the deficit, it turns out that President Obama, the “big spender,” has actually reduced the deficit faster than at any time since the period immediately following World War II.

The Office of Management and Budget indicates that the deficit will drop to $759 billion, which is $214 billion below the president’s original budget. The forecasted 2013 deficit will be 4.7% of GDP, down from 10.1% just four years ago. Furthermore, the current budget is forecasted to reduce that percentage to 2% by 2023. Only about 20% of this reduction comes from the sequester cuts.

In other words, they don’t make that big of a difference, and if that’s the case, then why is there so much emphasis on them? Shouldn’t we just be doing the right thing?

The trial of George Zimmerman is all over the news because it feeds America’s seemingly insatiable appetite for racial hysteria, which is constantly fed by ratings-hungry news media outlets but also willingly mainlined by many in their audiences.

Is this tragic episode a case of racism? Racial stereotyping? Anger management? Bullying? Are they all the same? Does it matter? To help answer these questions, flip the script various ways and insert yourself. Try to make sense of it in a bigger context. Most people simply want justice to prevail.

President Obama’s trip to Africa was strategically important. China is all over Africa and America needs to make its presence felt in order to be competitive there. Africa is a continent of opportunity not only for Africans but the world. America benefits by helping Africans build up and optimize Africa. In any case, learning Chinese right about now will be time well invested.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States job growth has averaged 202,000 over the last six months, up from 180,000 during the previous six months. The unemployment rate remained constant, because more folks started looking for work. Hourly pay increased by $0.10 an hour to $24.01, which is higher than a year ago by 2.2% and outpaced inflation.

On the other hand, most of those new jobs were in low-paying sectors. How much better would these numbers look if jobs bills hadn’t been obstructed by Congress? Wouldn’t it make sense to take some of the deficit reduction savings and focus those funds toward creating more jobs?

Though much work remains, these developments sound like progress to me.


Claude Johnson is a local business owner, author and former Democratic candidate for the Connecticut General Assembly. You may follow him on Twitter @claudejohnson and @blackfives.

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