Stockton, California recently filed bankruptcy.  It’s the largest city in US history to do so.  The mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania recently declared his town’s broke too.  The mayor felt he had little choice but to take drastic measures to offset their devastating 16.8 million dollar shortfall.  Since the city can’t pay its bills, the mayor proclaimed he and every city employee would have their compensation slashed to the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Is that the new norm we’re faced with?

84,000 US jobs were created in the month of June, but 85,000 individuals went on Social Security disability at the same time.  Many of the unemployed are finding out there are no jobs to be had and when their 99 weeks of unemployment compensation runs out, they file for disability.

8 million Americans are on Social Security disability and a record 45 million are on food stamps.

Is that the new lowly norm?

Public perception used to be it was shameful to be on welfare and food stamps – is mediocrity now the norm?

Many have said Barack Obama is “scary.”  Name one president, you can recall, who’s been labeled that?  I can think of several presidents who were defined by many things, but never one who was considered to be frightening.

One can only surmise what President Obama will go down in history as, but will a label of the food stamp president, or a deficit shattering spendthrift ever stick?

Is a mediocre pursuit of happiness the new norm for America?

Is trifleness the new norm when it comes to education as well?  Is it to be expected that half of all college grads can’t find work even though they’ve spent thousands of dollars, and went in debt to do so, to obtain a degree that may or may not suffice anymore?

What does it say about our culture when Rutgers University offers a course in “Underwater basket weaving,” that Montclair State University offers a class titled “How to watch television,” or that Occidental College offers credits for attending a course called “Stupidity?”

Society has fallen prey to a progressively bent logic, which isn’t really progressive at all but regressive, that says everyone gets a trophy.  To say all children must be dealt the same rewards, that none should suffer any measure of sensory failure, is a damning venture that has caused more harm than good.

When my brother’s stepson was young, he would constantly say: “I’m special, cause grandma says so!”  He may be well thought of by those close to him, but an insurmountable many more don’t see it that way.

I’m sure many have failed to recognize the socialist plight that has plagued us.  In reality, not all are the same.  There can only be one Super Bowl winner in a given year, one World Series champion, or one NBA winner crowned.

Society now suffers from the entitlement syndrome our children were taught.  Many kids think once they get out of college a well-paying job is just waiting for them, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

For many Americans, it’s not in their DNA to do just enough to get by.  Yet, for many more they see life as mediocre at best and the entitlement stigma they feel they deserve has attached itself.  For many, to just exist in life is fine and it can become a reality if they only relent to the entangling dependence government offers.

With the results we’re seeing manifested in Washington, D.C. one can only conclude that mediocrity is the new norm – if that’s so, the American dream is dead.  However, I believe there are scores of those who won’t allow that idealization of what America is to just wither.

The American dream imparts that hard work and determination isn’t some novelty and success can be accomplished by anyone.  Pride resides in many across the land and to have a President whose ideology isn’t that is a notion that will be pushed back by a majority who do believe in a dream.

America is truly an astonishing place and although she may have lost her way that fair Lady has by no means doused that flame of liberty in a muddied pond of hopelessness.

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at

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