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Kyle, Texas
January 4, 2017     Hays Free Press
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January 4, 2017

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Hays Free Press January 4, 2017 Page 3A QUOTE OF THE WEEK "Health insurance companies continue to raise premiums, and if the government doesn't pay for the tax credits then no one will be able to afford health insurance independently." - Kit Abney Spelca, Senior Director of Eligibility Services with Communicare Collaborative Hays Free Press January 4, 2017 Page 3A As the Obama administration draws to a close, this is a good time to reflect on the accomplishments and failures of our outgoing president. In my eyes, he has been both a wonderful president and a terrible one at the same time. His accomplishments have been magnificent, but his failures have been disastrous. In this article, I would like to offer what I regard as his three greatest achievements among many. You can of course make your own list. In my next article, I would like to point out what I see as his three greatest failures. His single greatest achievement as president is one for which he gets very little credit. When President Obama took office, the economy was in free fall, thanks to the subprime mortgage rip-off, which rocked the markets in October of 2008. By the time Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, our national economy was losing nearly a million jobs a month. Major investment firms had tanked. The Dew- Jones index had fallen dramatically, and would eventually shed a full 50% of its value. There was widespread suffering. Millions of Americans were losing their homes, their jobs, and their dreams. Fox News was certain that Obama's "socialist" policies would only make matters worse. They had a daily show called the Scenario Room (or something like that), predicting doom and gloom. They forecast that the Dew would fall to 2800, and tried their best to exploit the fears they were stoking, by selling us gold. But in March of 2009, the Dew bottomed at around 6600, and began an upward trek that continues to this day. A year or two later, a joint study by Moody's Institute and Princeton University concluded that it was the actions and policies of the Obama administration that had not only turned America's economy around, but had narrowly prevented a global financial meltdown. Not just a national meltdown. Global. So his single greatest achievement lay in the nearly unimaginable horrors you didn't see happen. In short, Obama saved the world. Every one of us owes him a huge debt of thanks for that. His second great achievement as I see it, is the recovery. His stewardship 000 God and Country by Phil Jones of the economy has resulted in 78 consecutive months of net job growth, an achievement no other President can claim. The Dew has more than tripled from its low of 6600, reached all-time highs, and is now flirting with the 20,000 mark. When he took office, he was faced with a choice of the Devil or the Deep Blue Sea. He could either focus on getting people employed again, or he could focus on balancing the budget, which his predecessor had left about $1.2 trillion in the hole. To his everlasting credit, he chose to save the people, not the money, so the deficit in his first year spiked to an all-time high. But since then, unemployment has steadily fallen every year of the Obama administration. After his first year in office, so has the deficit, down by about a trillion dollars over the last six years. Although the fruits of the recovery have not been broadly shared, the sustained and ongoing Obama recovery is a truly remarkable fiscal feat. His third great achievement is simply his integrity and grace. In the face of the most vicious villification and vituperation I have ever seen directed at a President of the United States - a slander that began even before he took office - and in the face of obstinate, politically-motivated obstruction from the opposition - not to mention quite a bit of overt racism - he remained unflappable and composed. Alone among all American presidents of my now-lengthy lifetime, Barack Obama's administration has been remarkably free of scandal. No sexual intrigue, just a faithful family man who loves his wife. No financial scandals connected to himself or any of his cabinet. If you want to see what class and integrity look like, look at a picture of Barack Obama. Phil Jones is a local columnist who makes his living teaching math to kids with "learning disabilities", especially dyslexia and ADHD. He writes original songs through the nonprofit Sunrise Ministries. djones2032@austin. "Can you believe some jerk told me it was rude to talk on my cellphone inside the movie the- ater?" "Well, sir, he did have a point. In the era of cell- phones and social media, too many people are so consumed with their own needs, they're trampling civil society." '~h, put a cork in it." "Look, there have been times in human history when barbarians ruled and manners didn't. But what really ruled during these periods were self- ishness and impulsive- hess." ..... "You're going to have to explain." ',Did you know the word 'etiquette' origi- nated under Henry XIV in the 1600s? Proper etiquette and manners define what social behav- ior is and isn't proper." "I ain't following rules of behavior drafted up by snooty old French people." "Then perhaps I can reference someone nearer and dearer to your heart: As a teenag- er, George Washington hand-copied 'The 'Rules of Civility,' a list started by French Jesuits in the 1590s that was translat- ed into English around Guest Column by Tom Purcell 1640." "His mother probably put him up to it." "The fact of the matter is that America has been more mannerly in the past than it is now. Until the 1960s, children were taught good manners in school. Adults defined themselves as ladies or gentlemen based on how well they practiced good etiquette - how consid- erate they were of their fellow human beings." "Hey, my old lady grew up in that era and she don't know nothing about etiquette. We went to the ballet once and she forgot the sandwiches." "But today, sir, civility is coming unraveled at the seams. People are rude, impatient and inconsiderate. Some say the lack of civility is caused by our fast-paced society. Others suggest that new technology is making it easier to be rude." "Yeah, yeah." "But I say it's also because we're living more isolated lives. We're get- ting more wrapped up in ourselves. And that is bad for our society." "Who are you, Miss Manners?" "To be honest, sir, Miss Manners speaks good sense. She, Judith Martin, says that manners and etiquette are the philo- sophical basis of civiliza- tion. She says that people must have a common language of behavior that restrains their impulses. This is how we prevent our communal lives from being abrasive, unpleas- ant, and even explosive." "Sounds like some- thing that nutty lady would say." "Martin says that our legal system was origi- nally intended to ptmish serious conflict involving the loss of life, limb or property, but now courts are forced to handle disputes that the proper use of etiquette used to prevent." "I ain't following." "She says that what used to be an insult, for instance, is now called slander. What used to be meanness is now called hate speech. And what used to be boorishness is now called sexual harassment. If our rules of etiquette were stron- ger, you see, fewer people would engage in actions that are now considered crimes." "You think so, huh?" "It's really not so complicated, sir. A civil society is one in which people are concerned for their fellow man. Man- ners and etiquette are a conscious way of exercis- ing this concern." "You're losing me." "Look, we need to remember to say 'please' and 'thank you.' We need to open the door for strangers. We should turn off the cellphones at the movies and inside restaurants. At dinner, we shouldn't eat until the host does, we should never put our elbows on the table, and we should dab our mouths with the napkin, never wipe." "'Napkin'? What is this thing you call 'napkin'?" "I see we have our work cut out for us." Tom Purcell is author of"Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood" and "Wicked Is the Whiskey," and is a Pittsburgh Tri- bune-Review humor col- umnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. jj" O./LC45LC. 2 /..,o- /t, Barton Publications, Inc. News tips: Opinions: 113 W. Center St., Kyle, TX 78640 512-268-7862 Publisher Cyndy Slovak-Barton News and Sports Editor Moses Lees III Reporters Samantha Smith, Logan McCullough Columnists Bartee Haile, Chris Winslow, Pauline Tom, Phil Jones Proofreaders Jane Kirkham Marketing Director Tracy Mack Marketing Specialists James Darby, Pam Patino Production Manager David White Production Assistant Christine Thorpe Circulation/Classifieds David White Distribution Gabe Ornelas Tanya Ornelas + I !l i li: