The latest job numbers and other data show the economy of the United States is thriving, which is good news for its citizenry. Americans’ standard of living overall is the best it has ever been; our parents and grandparents could never dream of today’s conveniences, technological advances, and prosperity.

As America improves on so many levels, many young people, especially on college campuses, are convinced evil and oppression lurks from every direction. In fact, many students believe the earth itself faces an existential threat, no doubt since many adults are telling them. So many colleges, which should be bastions of learning and free expression, are narrow-minded and bereft of world realities.

The latest economic data showed that the U.S. added more than 266,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate stands at a mere 3.5 percent of the workforce, a figure that has not been experienced in the lifetime of anyone under 60 years of age. The unemployment rates for black and Latino Americans also stand at record lows, revealing genuine progress across-the-board.

Americans of all income levels also are experiencing real wage growth, up by 3.1 percent in the last year. For months there have been more unfilled jobs (over 7 million) than unemployed Americans.

America’s environment also is thriving. The air and water quality is the best it has been, reflecting decades of steady improvement. Carbon emissions, assuming they matter, have declined in recent years, but for an uptick in 2018.

America also is at peace. While thousands of troops remain deployed overseas, including hot spots in the Middle East, we are not in any major conflict. While the terrorist threat remains, it has much receded in recent years.

Of course, the present day prosperity is hardly free of problems. Our nation is $23 trillion in debt with no sign of reversing. Injustices remain, though hardly on the scale of state-sanctioned discrimination of past generations. Thousands of Americans are dying annually of opioids. A college education is disgustingly overpriced, leading many students to incur burdensome debts, and the nation’s birthrate is declining at a concerning rate (no, Prince Harry, we need more people, not fewer, to sustain the future).

Still, we live in prosperous times, and another way to confirm that is to glance at some of the news and issues that occupy space, particularly on pampered college campuses.

Thousands of college students are convinced they are surrounded and threatened by racism, sexism, homophobia and environmental doom.  And now they are given “safe spaces” on many campuses.

A prominent example was the recent Harvard-Yale football game being interrupted at halftime when thousands of students stormed the field to protest climate change. They were disruptive, but sacrificed nothing. No doubt it felt good, like it mattered somehow.

A better cause for all of us would be to spread America’s prosperity to the developing world. Yet, the very climate policies demanded by the Ivy League students with too much free time are most threatening to the betterment of the poorest on the planet, as CFACT has described.

Other disconnected behavior on college campuses is the uncivilized treatment of certain guest speakers. Arthur Laffer, a pioneering economist, was recently hounded out of Binghamton University in New York as students hurled insults of “fascist” and “racist” and prevented him from speaking. Heather MacDonald, an accomplished writer on social policy, was accused of promoting “hate speech” by students and faculty at Holy Cross and Bucknell universities. The list goes on with such incidents.

In reality, for most (not all) past and present students, college life is as sheltered and carefree an existence as one will have in a lifetime. You get the best of both worlds: hybrid independence from mom and dad, food in the cafeteria and a dorm to live. Other than midterms and finals week, college life for most is a cakewalk.

Students and their adult professors who are bellowing about oppression need to get out of the sheltered, paranoid groupthink in which they are living, expand their horizons and deal properly with different perspectives and knowledge. People will disagree with you for your entire life; it doesn’t make them evil. There are more mature ways to respond.

In our parents’ and grandparents’ lifetimes, Americans faced real oppression and discrimination. Young people were being drafted to fight and die in wars halfway across the globe. Hunger and lack of medical care were far more pervasive among Americans. Our environment was dirtier.

Today’s college students who are protesting climate, or attacking speakers with whom they disagree, are trivializing genuine problems of America’s past while ignoring the tangible progress from which we now benefit.


  • CFACT Ed

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  • Peter Murphy

    Peter Murphy is Senior Fellow at CFACT. He has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Governor George Pataki. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26 Website: