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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

5 Key Challenges Facing Americans

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Life evolves in unexpected ways, so Americans frequently find themselves reacting to the changing social landscape.  Politics, economics and other sociological factors interact as prevailing attitudes change, resulting in significant shifts in our approach to life.  Making ends meet ranks high on our list of priorities, so our biggest challenges frequently involve employment opportunities and social mobility.  But there are other issues facing Americans, outside the day to day struggle to succeed.
Social divide within the United States and America's international standing are additional considerations to account for, which each underscore how perception and global interactions shape the challenges facing Americans.  As priorities continue to shift and the playing field changes for Americans, citizens and leaders share responsibility for restoring vitality to the U.S. economy and protecting important features of the American experience.  Some key challenges facing Americans include:

Economic Recovery
Economic recovery following the global recession continues to unfold in ambiguous ways.  Some argue that we have found firm ground once again, but there is little consensus among analysts that we are experiencing a robust turnaround in markets destroyed by the conditions experienced in recent years. 
The housing market has bounced back in some ways, and consistently low interest rates continue to prop-up availability.  But housing prices are increasing and financing is harder than ever to secure, including a recent strengthening of the income requirements for conventional mortgages.  Regional victories support favorable unemployment numbers, but improvements have not yet eclipsed targeted reductions in the number of people out of work.

Political Polarization
Fractional politics dominate the landscape; especially in the Federal Government, where Republicans and Democrats are staunchly divided on key issues.  Driven by force-fed health care legislation; the trend away from bipartisanship continues to stall legislative progress in important areas.  Regardless of which party controls the House and Senate, or wins the next presidential term, for that matter, elected leaders need to cross party lines more than they do today.  The stakes are too high for ideologues to steamroll public opinion, without including diverse points of view in the discussions.

Manufacturing and Trade
The United States has long been on a path away from self-sufficiency.  Instead of manufacturing the things we need to sustain high standards of living, we import far more then we export.  And we fail to recognize and regulate the value of trade, so America's consumer markets have become overrun with low cost alternatives to goods that were once proudly produced in the USA.  China, Mexico, and other regions have become primary producers of the things American consumers demand, including big-ticket items like cars and trucks.

Foreign Debt
In addition to turning to other countries to supply consumer essentials, the United States has increasingly sold assets to artificially prop-up its economy.  And foreign debt continues to spiral out of control in the US, as the country strives to maintain a standard of living beyond the means furnished by its economic output.  The United States carries more foreign debt than any other country, and the number recently eclipsed the GDP.

Social Ills
Crime and corrections are major concerns in America, as well as the underlying shortcomings leading to increased crime rates.  While some areas are seeing reductions in the number of violent offenses, drug abuse and corruption continue to plague countless regions of the United States.  In effect, the crime rate has not changed dramatically over the past two decades, but its ebb and flow has yielded particularly dangerous trends, at times.
Like many challenges facing Americans, controlling crime relies on strong economic foundations, which foster mobility and security.  By supporting access to jobs and education, leaders set the stage for overcoming many of society's shortcomings.
Many of America's most pressing concerns are tied to economics, including the country's need for jobs and employment-education.  Crossing party lines to craft meaningful pro-business legislation and making markets friendly for investors are two promising strategies for revitalizing faltering aspects of American society.  Economic growth and diminished reliance on foreign capital are also essential for long-term American prosperity.

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This guest post is contributed by Rebecca Gray, who writes for background check. She welcomes your comments at her email id: