The good news …

Sometimes the things we don't want to hear are things we should be delighted to hear … why is that?

October 12, 2013 

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BISHOP

Good news abounds these days but most people don't pay much attention to it, including the news media.

A month ago, the big story was the United States planning military action against Syria for using poison gas in its war against rebel forces. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry indicated that a U.S. attack was imminent, although few people seemed to think it was a good idea.

Recently, international experts began dismantling Syria's poison gas arsenals and the equipment necessary for producing the gas. United Nations experts are in Syria proceeding without interference, and so far the Syrians are cooperating. There is no longer talk of a U.S. military operation.

Also on the world news front, President Obama had talked on the phone with the new president of Iran. That doesn't seem to be earth-shaking, but it was the first time the leaders of the two nations have talked personally in more than 30 years. Iran's foreign minister has actually mentioned a "win-win" nuclear development plan which would allow Iran to continue developing peaceful uses but offer surer means of inspection to guard against military uses.

It's a tricky world, as we know, but both developments are positive after months -- even years -- of negative talk.

On the economic front, the most dramatic domestic development is that the federal deficit was 40 percent lower for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 than the deficit for the previous year. It was also the lowest since 2007, just before the Great Recession started. The final figures will be released this week, so watch for them if you can find them. They are likely to be in the $700 billion range, which as a percentage of the gross national product is in line with the early Clinton administration years, which turned into annual surpluses in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Did you hear about that, or are you just upset because the government is cutting employees and closing parks and monuments to convince taxpayers that money is short? Of course, the dominating news this week is the federal government shutdown, and who is to blame for it. The emphasis should be on how much better off the government is financially than it has been. But that's a story without much advantage to either political side. The Republicans certainly don't want to admit that all this talk about finances really isn't about higher deficits, and the Democrats seem a little wary of having surplus funds.

What remains critical for most Americans is the toll that unemployment and shrinking payrolls are taking on the economy and the nation in general. That's where the attention should be, along with a focus on quick and reasonable solutions. The money saved from not bombing Syria could now be used to build infrastructure in this country. Sometimes, it seems we just can't face the good news. It challenges too many of our cherished myths about the world.

Millard Grimes, editor of the Columbus Ledger from 1961-69 and founder of the Phenix Citizen, is author of "The Last Linotype: The Story of Georgia and Its Newspapers Since World War II." This article originally appeared in the Athens Banner-Herald.

Millard Grimes, editor of the Columbus Ledger from 1961-69 and founder of the Phenix Citizen, is author of "The Last Linotype: The Story of Georgia and Its Newspapers Since World War II." This article originally appeared in the Athens Banner-Herald.

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