SIMPSON: What happened to the land of opportunity?

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

Remember when President Obama told the American people stimulus money would help create three to four million jobs? This promise had a nice ring to it, but has not proven true. After spending billions, we still have record levels of unemployment. People are drawing unemployment, are on welfare and the middle class is suffering financial hardship. Youngsters out of school can't find summer work.

Some young people still want to work and earn their own way even though many have had their lives made easy by protective parents.

Old timers who recall the Great Depression tell us they played sandlot football without pads and helmets. They played more outdoors not having TVs, computers, iPads and the like. Schools were not overloaded with counselors, and kids with problems resolved them without benefit of therapists. Children most often had to earn their spending money or do without. Movie money was earned by delivering newspapers, collecting and selling scrap, cutting wood, mowing lawns or running errands.

For 25 cents spading a garden helped when a young person wanted some ice cream or a Coke. Mrs. Lombardo was quick to let you know when you threw her newspaper in the bushes or ditch or when you arrived too late for her to read her paper with coffee and breakfast.

Kids today don't carry as many papers as they once did. There are fewer jobs, routes are more congested and adults driving automobiles are paper deliverers.

You may know someone out of work who has been drawing welfare and attending job fairs. Their jobs have disappeared and may never return. Some won't accept work outside their profession, even though work can be found if aggressively sought.

A senior acquaintance told me he had several flat tires on his mowers, made call after call and could find no one willing to fix them. He was told, "We don't do that kind of work."

Why work when unemployment benefits are available?

It doesn't appear that there are available jobs for all who need them. Too many have been outsourced to cheaper labor markets. Retraining may be necessary. Jobs programs may have to be established. Small businesses may have to be encouraged.

Americans are angry and wonder about their future. Not being able to maintain the once established standard of living causes stress. Once optimistic Americans have become apprehensive. As capital and technology go global, American workers -- including youngsters -- feel the impact of global competition. The American Dream is fading, and we may be losing the title of "land of opportunity."

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.