Fifty-seven percent of Americans say their standard of living is getting better, according to Gallup Daily tracking for the three-day period ending Feb. 4 — tying the highest three-day reading since Gallup began tracking the question in January 2008. Twenty-seven percent say their standard of living is getting worse and 15% say it is staying the same.
Americans’ optimism about their standard of living has been generally improving since the beginning of the new year. The trend also mirrors Americans’ increasing economic confidence.
Separately, 75% of Americans say they are satisfied with their standard of living. This percentage has been highly stable over time, but the current reading is on the high end of what Gallup has measured over the last five years.
On Twitter, I regularly peruse the people who retweet my tweets (try saying that five times fast). I was recently very pleased to come across Ashar Asif, a 15-year-old British-Pakistani liberal Muslim whose views are remarkably articulate, consistent and correct for someone of his age. I was very happy to speak with him on many issues of importance and hope to hear from him soon again.
What level/grade are you at in school?
I am in year 11, which is the same as grade 11 (last year of school) and this is a vital year for me as it conatins my GCSE (general certtficate for secondary education).
What do you hope to do professionally when you are an adult?
I hope to study medicine and then become a hospital doctor in our NHS (national health service) system.
Is your family very religious?
Well, my father became much more closer to God when i got admitted into hospital for typhoid and ever since then he has become more religious. Me personally, I am sort of religious but I wish I could be much more religious, like in the month of Ramadan, I am quite religious.
What made you become so politically motivated at a young age like fifteen?
I have been following the situation in Gaza and Palestine for quite some time and I followed British politics from when I was 10-11. But I have actually become more politically aware via Twitter about 6 months ago. I saw a person writing rubbish about Palestine and that has lead on to alot of things like Mid East issues, Islamophobia, in depth British politics, racism, the Ground Zero centre and Pakistan politics (which i have been following since I was 10, as my father is Pakistani).
Left and right wing politics have fractured perception of the Middle East, making it inconceivable for many to think that a liberal can oppose the theocratic regime in Iran and support freedom for Palestinians. What are your ideas for connecting these movements?
Unfortunately in Muslim countries the leaders are all corrupt, and the fact that our countries are corrupt means the country is in poverty and that means the education for the poor just isn’t present. I think that if these people are educated then those countries would have better governments, and therefore talks within Muslim countries would do them a world of good. A sort of World Muslim League or something will be good.
What do you think of British political leadership?
Well I think the British government is a JOKE. The coalition between the Lib Dems and Conservatives is also a joke, the Lib Dems had a decent manefesto, but because our Prime Minister is a Conservative, the Lib Dems have to sit back and do what ‘Master’ Cameron says in order for the Lib Dems to stay in power.
How would you assess the United Kingdom’s relationship with its Muslim population?
Generally the relations between Muslims and the UK general public are OK, but the BNP (British Nationalist Party) and groups like the EDL (English Defence League) are really trying to seperate us from the UK and even divide muslims.
What actions would you like to see the British government take?
I would LOVE to see the coalition disperse because the Conservatives just want to cut spending on everything possible: schools, hospitals, police forces and even our army, and as a result people like my dad (who is a doctor) are affected. I would rather see taxes on those who earn ridiculous amounts like hospital managers or those with high posts in the banking system.
What about the American government?
With the US, well, I think they should give Obama a louder voice. Funny thing is that if a reform is passed like the health care bill, the righties complain that it’s communist. Personally I HATE this whole every man for himself sort of thing which is unfortunately the ‘norm’ of American society.
How would you react to regime change in Iran by Israel or the United States?
I am ashamed to say i dont really have much of an oppinion about the Iran situation. I will read up on it and eventually build up an opinion, but what I have heard is that the Ahmadinejad admin. is quite oppressive. I have even heard that he forces the youngsters to have a particular hairstyle!
What do you think is a solution for Israel and Palestine? Two states? One amorphous secular state? Something else?
I would like to see a one state neither Arab nor Israeli, neither Muslim nor Jew. After all there are over 6 billion of us and like Jesse Jackson said, whether we like it or not we have to live with each other. We got to live with each other.
Is your family politically active?
My father is active in Pakistani politics and a little bit in British politics and my mother isn’t active but she is interested in it. My background is Pakistani, I was born in Ireland and I grew up in England and Wales.
How do you think Europeans, Americans and others can battle Islamic extremism without falling into the hands of the extreme Right?
First of all we must realise that extremist Islam has been so distorted that i goes against the majority of the fundamentals in Islam, so I would rather call it barbarianism or something to that effect. But the thing is groups like the Taliban have a common interest of the people in Pakistan, but however have extremist ‘extras’ like forcing Sharia laws etc. But really education within the muslim community world wide is vital.
But as far as Europe and US are concerned, they would need to help with these education projects. But the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan is just adding fuel to the fire. I think that as long as the Left is in power they must bring in bills which limit the ultra-Right;s ‘moving spce’ if you like. Groups such as the EDL, BNP, SIOE and the Tea Party Movement must be seen as the true terrorists along with the ‘Muslim’ extremists. I think Muslims and other ethinc minorities MUST be encouraged to take high power positions such as head of … or a member of parliament etc. because the norm of Muslim students is to study medicine or economics. Personally I will follow politics intensly in my university and working years if God blesses me with a long enough life. But another vital thing is that the EU, US and UN encourage talks with the Taliban and other Muslim organisations and try to rid all of their extremist values but encourage their pro-Islamic ideology.
But if you look at previous examples throughout history such as WWII or the KKK uprising or the Srebrinica massacre, all the victims of these atrocities didn’t have a voice and they didnt stand up to their oppressors and therefore many of them were killed (6 million RECORDED Jewish deaths, hundreds of blacks lynched by the KKK and thousands murdered in Serbia. But in the 60s, the blacks rose up and they had a voice and suddenly they started to become equal citizens and that’s what Muslims like myself and my friends and family need to do.