That’s a pretty convenient time to release bad news, the Friday after Thanksgiving. And this news was bad.
- 15% of our 3rd graders are fat, compared to 17% nationwide. Mainly I think this is a symptom (not saying no) of the bad parenting disease.
- 24% of our students are using condoms during sex, compared with 38% in Montana, which is still lower than the 40% that most American students are at.
- 18% of our citizens live in poverty, which is higher than the 15% in Montana and the 14% in the country. If we can’t solve this problem here, we can’t solve it nationally. That’s not acceptable.
- 58% of a renter's income is going to rent. That's terrible. No wonder why our local economy is so bad - no one can put money into it.
We're in such a vicious and downward cycle right now, I'm not sure if we can pull out. Jobs go, bad jobs come. Taxes increase, wages are stagnant and hours decline.
It's getting harder and harder for our citizens to make a living here, and more and more people have to move away. The tax base crumbles and the government services we have begin to feel pinched as their funding dries up.
Our school leadership is failing us and citizens are more depressed than ever. Is it any wonder? What hope is there, and what hope is there on the horizon? That hope's been in the White House for 6 years, and it hasn't done one damn bit of good - my life is worse than ever!
What will be done? Don't ask the mayor - he's too busy suing the water company. Don't ask the county - they're too busy building parks.
If you're a worker, just be quiet and serve the rich that are moving in. That's your fate, a servant. And be damn happy that we got rid of indentured servitude and debtor's prisons. (Instead we give you Capitol One and bankruptcy court)
This could change, but that requires leadership and will, and both are sorely lacking from Missoula. It's enough to make you depressed.
- 24% of our high schoolers and middle schoolers are depressed for two weeks or longer each year.
- 31% of men at UM are depressed or angry, and 35% of women are…at least once each year.
Now, I get angry and depressed each day – I’m a writer. While I’m sure I’m not as angry and depressed as writers coming from the UM Creative Writing Program (can you imagine going into debt for that?), but I have my moments.
Does that mean college students are having it bad, worse than just a week here and there, perhaps before finals or after a particularly hard night of drinking?
It might have something to do with our astronomical rates for teen drinking and drug use. (36% for drinking, up from the 34% national average...I don't even want to get into the abysmal drug numbers (3% heroin use among students?))
But then I think that’s just a larger symptom (self-medicating) of the larger disease, which in this case is the decay of the American Dream.
And the death of the American Dream is happening faster in Missoula County than in most of the rest of the country.