By Joe Rector

The end of 2015 has come and gone; we’ve struck out on the new year, but I wonder just how much promise it holds. With just a bit of observation, some might say that this country has lost its way. That includes the country as a whole and the citizens as individuals.

The concentration of wealth continues to be limited to a minute percentage of the population. Wages for the common man have “flat-lined.” According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, a person who makes $22.41 per hour has the same buying power as a person who made $4.03 in 1973.

Since 2000, weekly wages have fallen 3.7% among workers in the lowest earnings jobs. However, for people near the top, wages have risen 9.7%. (Bureau of Labor Statistics). The old saying that the “rich get richer while the poor get poorer” continues to ring true. The hope that life can improve for millions seems to be nothing more than a pipedream. How fair is it that so few control so much? Yes, people should be able to prosper, but not on the backs of the masses.

The cry that “It’s not my fault” has reached the court system. Witness the case of the teen in Texas who escaped punishment for killing 4 people because he drove under the influence. His defense was that he was too affluent to know what was right and wrong. Just writing it seems absurd. When the young man continues to do things that are a violation of his probation, he and his mom simply jump in a car and escape to Mexico. When they are caught, it’s announced that he might not receive harsher punishment because of his age. The idea that nothing is an individual’s fault is being further reinforced; it’s not a giant leap to see a future where no one is punished for anything.

Along the same lines, the country has witnessed some terrible examples of poor judgment by law enforcement. Stories of young people who are gunned down by cowboy cops air on our nightly news. Crowds hit the streets to protest, but some participate only to have an excuse to loot and rob. The cry “Black lives matter” goes up. I agree, but at the same time, I shout that all lives matter, and that includes police officers. We can’t condemn the entire law enforcement community for the acts of a few morons no more than we can blame the entire black community for the wrongs of a few individuals.

Immigration is a hot-button issue that divides our nation. Too many illegal immigrants are flooding into the country; something must stop them. However, those who come to the country aren’t just south of the border; Asian folk are coming to the U.S. to give birth to their children so that they have citizenship here. Gaming the system like that has to stop. At the same time, sowing seeds of fear is destructive too. We can’t build a wall to keep everyone out. For one thing, the cost is prohibitive. It won’t stop the flow of folks; it will only slow it until new ways to get in are found. A more logical solution must be created,

I believe in the Second Amendment; however, I don’t see any sanity in allowing anyone to possess an assault weapon that fires too many bullets in too few seconds. Some places impose restrictions on the carrying and ownership of guns while other places encourage folks to “strap ‘em on!” It makes sense to have folks register guns and to have sellers licensed so they have to run checks on buyers. Banning people on a list of suspected terrorists from owning a gun is simple common sense, not a denial of rights.

Am I the only one who thinks we’ve lost our way? Let’s hope that 2016 finds our country committed to addressing the real problems. Let’s pray that both sides of the aisle in Congress will work together to come up with solutions that help folks. Finally, let’s bow our heads and ask for the good Lord to lead us in the right direction.