A recent editorial, originally from the New York Daily News and printed in the ֱ-Tribune, gave an upbeat evaluation of the economy. Even the headline should have made us feel great: ֱAgainst the odds, the economy is humming.ֱ

The editorial continues, ֱThe numbers arenֱt just good, theyֱre persistently above expectations and well above gloomy predictions that we would surely be in a recession by now . . .ֱ

And yet we donֱt feel better, do we?

Congress seemed poised to finally ֱ yes ֱ finally reach some kind of agreement on a policy for immigration ֱ an issue thatֱs been plaguing us, instilling fear now for decades, and seems only to be getting worse. Polls show itֱs the No. 1 issue among voters, so wouldnֱt it make sense to put something in place? Maybe not, because it would rob Republicans of a key campaign issue. Or was the deal that bad? Who knows.

Labor unrest continues to dominate the news locally. The region has seen multiple strikes among public employees particularly, but others also. And yet, according to the above cited editorial, ֱreal wages of the lowest paid workers have risen significantly in the past couple of years, and Bidenֱs pro-labor government has helped propel some of the most robust labor gains in decades.ֱ

While union activity represents something important in worker mentality, there does seem to be a pattern of unhappiness. That indicates a profound dissatisfaction with current economic conditions. Can we reasonably ask ourselves why? Many people ֱ one might even say a large percentage of the working middle class ֱ for one reason or another, seem to feel that the economy simply isnֱt working for them. Some of the unrest can be attributed to the persistent high costs of housing and child care. Many young families seeing those high costs, and trying to buy a home, are also paying student loans.

President Joe Biden promised some relief there, and made a run at it until the Supreme Court struck down his efforts. Once again, a sense of frustration.

In an interview with several folks in Ohio, where the first of a cluster of new Intel factories producing microchips is underway, there is a general positive buzz about this latest development.

ֱAs the largest single private-sector investment in Ohio history, the initial phase of the project is expected to create 3,000 Intel jobs, 7,000 construction jobs over the course of the build, and support tens of thousands of additional local long-term jobs across a broad ecosystem of suppliers and partners,ֱ according to an Intel Newsroom reporter last August.

What youֱre not hearing in press reports is that the impetus for this large investment, and in fact one of its prime movers, has been the Chips and Science Act, a federal program of large-scale tax incentives that is the brainchild of the Biden administration.

One of the Ohioans interviewed said, ֱOh, I never connected it to President Biden.ֱ

But the fact is that there is a resilience in the workplace for Americans, but lots and lots of us arenֱt aware of it, or choose to ignore it. Or, weֱre seeing the great divide, where Americaֱs middle class is disappearing in so many sectors from technology to healthcare, to manufacturing and business, to education. Or, all we see is that weֱre falling farther and farther behind and prosperity that some, like the CEO of Steward Health Care on his $40 million yacht, enjoy.

President Bidenֱs approval numbers have been dropping, despite what heֱs done to address many of the things that voters asked him to do. Some of that clearly is his age and the way he comes across to voters. But consumer prices are coming back down; at least, thatֱs what Iֱm seeing in the grocery stores. Gasoline prices are down from almost $5 per gallon to just under $3 in two years. Unemployment has been at historic lows, the minimum wage is growing, and advances are being made in energy efficiency to combat climate change.

The Middle East is bubbling over once again. One person writing to The ֱ-Tribune Opinion page wrote when listing Donald Trumpֱs achievements: ֱMiddle East peace.ֱ Iֱm not sure on what planet that person lives. Does anyone remember ISIS in Syria, or the killing of a key Iranian commander during that period? Weֱre seeing payback for that in the form of Iran-backed terrorists all over the region: Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthi in Yemen. The Shiֱites, the Sunnis, the Kurds. These are people who have been fighting tribal wars for centuries. We just tend to forget that detail.

Biden was instrumental in getting many of the hostages in the Middle East released, and heֱs working effectively with some of the regionֱs leaders.

The possibility of a Biden-Trump rematch fills few of us with delight and anticipation. Our elected officials become the public faces of either prosperity or angst. I understand that, because most of us live in the present. But we donֱt always see prosperity in the present ֱ we look back at it.

The 1950s were Ozzie and Harriet, not Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare. The 1980s were the glory of the Reagan years, not the S & L meltdown or Iran-Contra. We donֱt always figure out what led up to where we are now. But, if weֱre going to be ֱadvancedֱ citizens, we really need to think not just in the present, but long term, to reflect back about five, 10, or 20 years ago and learn from those lessons. And we need to think about where we want to be in five or 10 years.

Many try to project to the next generation. Thatֱs really hard to do, though, when we feel stuck and unhappy.

We canֱt look back at $2/ gallon gas as an accomplishment, because we were stuck at home, wearing face masks. Remember it all, not just what we want to remember.

As the T-shirt says, ֱDonֱt look back ֱ youֱre not going that way.ֱ

Tom Walters is a retired music teacher and school arts administrator. He retired as fine arts director for the Methuen Public Schools, and is a past president of the Mass. Music Educators Association. He lives in Londonderry. Reach him at tomwalters729@gmail.com.

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