P resident Barack Obama gave his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night. However, many of us probably have our own takes that likely differ from those of President Obama.

Here's my two cents.

Looking at the U.S. today, there are some hopeful signs, as well as some strongly disturbing concerns with various issues at hand.

If we focus on social issues, the change in attitudes towards gays is encouraging. One can now imagine a time when gays will finally have full human rights in the United States.

It also appears that Congress and the White House are beginning to take immigration reform seriously. It is amazing to hear some Republican congressional leaders talk about granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants.

However, the following items raise serious doubts about our economic/governmental system.

For example, despite some recent improvements in the economy, the unemployment rate is still high at 7.9 percent. Too many people are stuck in low-wage jobs with little hope of advancement and no job security.

Banks continue to foreclose, sometimes illegally, on homes. More than 16 percent of our population lives in poverty, including 20 percent of our children. Almost 16 percent of our population also lacks health insurance. In addition, large numbers of students face substantial debts upon leaving college.

Faith in the justice system has weakened since none of the Wall Street criminals involved in the widespread fraud that led to the 2008 collapse were prosecuted. Instead, Wall Street reaped huge benefits from its crimes and subsequent bailout.


In addition, Michelle Alexander's book "The New Jim Crow" points out the incredible level of racial bias in the justice system.

President George W. Bush shredded the Constitution and ignored international law. President Obama, with congressional complicity, has continued and expanded Bush's crimes. For more, see http://informationclearinghouse.info/article33847.htm and http://ccrjustice.org/the911decade/declineofdemocracy.

In addition, the U.S. is still:

1. Waging a futile campaign in Afghanistan;

2. Supporting Israeli theft of Palestinian land and oppression of Palestinians;

3. Conducting cyber and economic warfare against Iran; and

4. Wasting hundreds of billions in corporate welfare to the military-industrial complex, money that could fund domestic programs.

Last, but certainly not least, are the looming and interlinked crises of widespread water shortages and climate change. Despite overwhelming evidence, the developed world continues its pursuit of short-term profit at the expense of today's youth and future generations.

If positive change is to occur, youth must get involved now.