On Tuesday, January 20, President Barack Obama delivered his sixth annual State of the Union address, which focused on a large range of various issues and topics in the United States. This included national security, health care, the criminal justice system, immigration, the economy, and many other topics currently in the political limelight. He kept an upbeat tone throughout his entire speech, and in regard to the economic problems America has faced, Obama declared that “the shadow of crisis has passed.”
However, there are clearly still plenty of issues to focus one, many of which are relevant to SLVHS students more than they may realize at first. For example, Obama continues to press on the idea of raising the minimum wage. A lot of people rely on minimum wage jobs to support their families, to which he said “If you truly believe you could work-full time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it.” If the minimum wage were to increase, this could could help many families in poverty. Plus, it would mean that high school students could earn more money for their jobs. Nevertheless, many people argue that minimum wage jobs are not designed to support families in the first place.
Obama also said that students are doing better than ever before. High school graduation rates have increased and more and more people are graduating from college. Still, higher education has become more mandatory for getting a job. “So that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams,” Obama has proposed to make the first two years of attending a community college free for anyone.
He recognized the improvement of gay rights in his speech as well. Although the rights of homosexuals are still in process of developing, gay marriage in now legal in thirty-seven states. Of course, there is more progress to be made, but considering all of the controversy and homophobia in America, this is a huge step.
In fact, the issues of equal rights is mentioned a lot in this speech. Early on in his address, for example, Obama talked about dismantling the wage gap between men and women. According to the AAUW (American Association of University Women), though, the pay gap has barely moved in a decade. Women earn 78 percent of what men earn. Likewise, the issues of racism continues to linger in America, especially in the criminal justice system. This is yet another issue that Obama squeezed into his speech.
Finally, he wants to “protect a free and open Internet.” There actually is some debate over this, specifically who should have power over the Internet. Yet overall, Obama wishes for Internet access to be available for any community and for any classroom so that the people of the U.S. can continue to build and discover new things.
Of course, there are dozens of other subjects that he mentioned in his State of the Union address. Despite the fact that the address is an hour long, it is worth watching. The speech is very relevant and important for understanding the state of this country today, and Obama acknowledges many important and interesting problems. However, as Obama said, “these ideas won’t make everybody rich, or relieve every hardship. That’s not the job of government.”