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Finneran: America’s Birthday

Friday, July 06, 2018


It’s America’s birthday week. And the family is fighting…………..

Welcome to family feud.

In the words of the immortal Rodney King, “why can’t we all just get along?”

Our politics might be highly flammable stuff but here’s what I see every day:

A nation hard at work. Relatively low unemployment is always good news and that is particularly true in America where we often choose to measure our sense of self by way of meaningful and rewarding work. “Help wanted” signs abound and wages are on the rise. While all good things must come to an end—the law of economic cycles has not been repealed—let’s acknowledge that an almost ten-year recovery from the pit of 2008 has been a good thing for the nation.
A nation in good health. America’s health consciousness has never been higher. We exercise more. We eat less. We drink less. We’ve moved far away from the smoking habits of our fathers.

Our lifespan statistics do not measure up against a few other developed nations for three reasons. First, we are a very heterogenous nation. We do not enjoy the homogeneity of a Sweden or a France. Their homogeneity confers certain advantages. Our remarkable human variety introduces complexities in our health care. Second, we suffer from a high level of youth violence. Guns and knives are often in the mix of this peculiarly American phenomenon. And those young adult fatalities can badly skew lifespan statistics. Third, our opiod crisis has a similar effect on healthcare statistics. The heart-breaking loss of hundreds of young people each year can cloud the picture of American healthcare. The fact remains that for the average American, life has never been so good. Our doctors and nurses, our medicines, our hospitals, our research and discovery, and our surgical tools and techniques are the envy of the world.

A nation which protects its resources. Our waters are clean. Our air is clear. There is no retreat from the environmental goals and gains of the past fifty years. The clean-up of Boston Harbor is a great local example of progress made and progress sustained. Once an open sewer, the harbor is now clean, green, swimmable, and loaded with healthy marine life. Fresh striper anyone?

Socially, culturally, spiritually, and daily, most normal Americans get along fairly well with each other. Please note the word “normal” in my observation. I am NOT talking about the screaming fools brought to you on television. They are paid for their fake belligerence. They are hucksters. Nor am I talking about the welter of fools on our college campuses. Brain-dead and frightened administrators, lunatic fringe faculty, and pampered, privileged, highly ignorant students are most emphatically not normal. Rather it’s you and I, our black and brown neighbors, and our LGBQT friends who are normal. Whether it’s at the gym, on the train, at work, or at play, there is more social and racial engagement than ever before. There is more perfectly calm acceptance of each other than ever before.

So, it’s Happy Birthday to America. We’ve never been perfect but we are pretty darn good. We’ve never matched our ideals with our actions, but we’re getting better all the time. To live, work, and play in America is to win life’s lottery.

Happy Birthday America.

Tom Finneran is the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, served as the head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and was a longstanding radio voice in Boston radio


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