Obama faces a hard task

Published 10:40 pm Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This Election Day provided a historic moment. A majority of the voters of the county have elected a president of color. Pundits will write for days about the implications of this election. Historians will provide us with an analysis in years to come about how far we have come.

Amid the celebration and the joyfulness, we should all remember that the work will become harder now. Winning the race is just a part of the journey.

Barack Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States, where 28 million people will use government food stamps to buy basic groceries, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s the highest level since the government introduced the food stamp program in the 1960s.

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The cost of feeding a low-income family of four has risen by 6 cents within the last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but the amount of food stamps hasn’t gone up with the cost of living.

Add to the basic poverty level the fact that there is no longer a labor market rife with a skilled labor force, which allows for a modest raise in wages. Instead, a few skilled laborers receive high wages and the rest can’t bargain for higher pay. It is this gap that many believe is behind the nation’s poor economy. And why? Education.

In the 1970s, the U.S. was ahead of every nation in education. It’s productivity was increased. But during the last 30 to 35 years, education has become a fixture on the shelf.

The reason?

James Heckman of the University of Chicago’s research shows the decline of high school graduates since the late 1960s and into the 1970s is the result of the decline of the family environment — not high tuition costs; not failing schools.

Not all the political promises in the world can help this nation’s ills overnight. One man cannot do this alone. It will take time and cooperation with Congress to bring back America.

So while we are celebrating; while our hopes rise, we should not lose sight of the task ahead. We cannot take our eyes off the goals — strong families, better educational levels and economic parity — that led so many to vote for Obama.

The work begins now. Our prayers and our support are with our newly elected leader as he prepares to take office in January.