The False Positive

When news cycles centered on the latest ramblings from the angry Creamsicle on the Republican ticket fade into obscurity, occasionally actual issues get discussed in Presidential Election 2016. There’s immigration, turbulence in the Middle East and differing visions about the future of the economy. Those on the right see it as troubled and in need of a shot in the arm; those on the left and others – including Vikas Bajaj of the Los Angeles Times – think the American economy is perfectly fine.[1]

It is not. For young people like myself and people who seek to immigrate from abroad, things could not possibly be in any worse shape.

To be fair to Bajaj, the economy does look good on paper. The Dow Jones Industrial average has never been higher[2] and 156,000 jobs were added in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.[3] However good they may be, these statistics have had no visible effect on my life.

As an aspiring U.S. citizen, I’m strangled by current policy which makes coming here dramatically ridiculous and extremely costly. If employers wanted to sponsor me for a Green Card, it can cost them more than $6,000 in fees to the federal government. In complicated cases, the expenses run up to more than $10000 dollars.[4] I guess the Statue of Liberty was lying to me, huh?

On the millennial side, things aren’t any better. Twenty eight percent of my generation still doesn’t have a full-time job, half of us live with our parents[5] and personally, I have about $50000 in student debts. I don’t know how I’ll manage to pay it off and it scares me.

The nation’s economic status has been “resilient” for a tiny group. This country might as well be thought of as the “Kingdom of the Few” instead of the “Land of the Free.” If, as Bajaj writes, “policy makers” want to make sure we stay “strong,” a few things need to be done.

First, it needs to be easier for people to immigrate here legally. It should not be as wildly expensive as it is now. Being a man with one college degree and soon a second, I should have no problem coming here to live long term and should not feel pressure to get married to do so.

Second, existing law should be revised so that if Americans want to declare bankruptcy to discharge their unpayable student loans, they should be able to do so. Not just in the narrow set of circumstances that the law currently allows.[6] It is morally reprehensible to maintain this status quo.

I doubt these changes will happen. Because, much like Mr. Bajaj, the nation’s political leaders are not where I am at in life, they don’t understand my struggles and many never even attempt to.

[1] http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/10/07/the-economy-is-strong-but-slowing/?ref=opinion “The Economy is Strong but Slowing” Visited October 08, 2016.

[2] http://money.cnn.com/2016/07/12/investing/dow-stock-new-high-record/ “Stocks have never been Higher” Visited October 08, 2016.

[3] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf “The Employment Situation – September 2016” Visited October 08, 2016.

[4] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-01-20/coming-to-america-its-going-to-cost-you “Coming to America? It’s going to Cost You” Visited October 08, 2016.

[5] http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/presidential-campaign/260526-millennial-unemployment-the-crisis-the-candidates “Millennial Unemployment: The Crisis the Candidates Ignore” Visited October 08, 2016.

[6] http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/student-loan-ranger/2014/08/13/debunking-the-student-loan-bankruptcy-myth “Debunking the Student Loan Bankruptcy Myth” Visited October 08, 2016.

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