The "Are you better off now than four years ago?" slogan is back in use this political season.
I have another take on the "better off" question. Better, of course, is a relevant term. Your "better" might be my "worse." And where you started off might be just OK for you, but fantastic for your neighbor.
Economically speaking, we have room for improvement. Too many people are struggling financially now. And too many teachers and social workers and hospital workers are facing an artificially imposed budget ax.
But what about all of the GM workers who helped their company climb back to the top spot in global sales? Not to mention the dealers who sold those cars? And the drivers who bought them at really low interest rates? Might they say they are better off now?
What about the women who are now better protected against gender discrimination when it comes to their wages through the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act? Or all the credit card and loan consumers who are now protected from predatory lending and rate hikes?
When we invest in regular, working people, it pays off for our country.
And what about all of the non-monetary gains we've made?
What about the health care coverage that adult children (up to age 26) can now get through their parents' plans? That's more than 1 million twentysomethings – the age group that accounts for the majority of uninsured Americans – who now have access to the preventive services that could save exponentially down the road.
What about the folks who now can't be denied health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or have their coverage suddenly reduced due to the onset of illness? I bet the 62 percent or so of bankrupt families where illness and medical bills played a role would say that they would have been better off now, had health care reform been in place in time for them.
What about the 150,000 troops who have been brought home? I’m almost positive that they would say they are better off, along with their children, husbands and wives, parents, friends, etc.
We know we need to do more: we need clean air and water, we need a safe food supply, we need affordable colleges. But the bottom line, based on real data and real lives, shows that yes, as a country, we are definitely better off than we were four years ago.
The real question is: Are we going to be better off four years from now?
The choices we make this November will have a real, direct impact on our lives. With your help, I can go to Hartford and work for you. I promise I will fight for Stratford and do everything I can to help our town.
I'm running for office for a very simple, but very important reason: you.