An ode to what's right in today's America
You’d never know it from all the naysayers, but, really, we’re not doing that poorly, folks. Not in Oregon and not in America.
We’re one heck of a lot better off than we were five years ago, when a housing and mortgage crash sent the economy into freefall. So what’s with the dour public temper?
America has prospered as a forward-looking, forward-thinking place where single-minded optimists forge ahead to find a way. Are we going to let it become a backward-looking, backward-thinking place where pessimists declare every new human venture dead on arrival, doomed to certain failure? It seems like it sometimes, as a chorus of critics inevitably finds fault with each new idea, cause, development or endeavor.
Here at home, Oregon’s revenue picture took such an uptick this spring that lawmakers were able to pump a river of new money into school budgets without hiking taxes or shorting police, parks and the like. Nike is embarking on a huge expansion, Portland is laying the groundwork for a new convention hotel, the Newberg-Dundee Bypass is underway, the Granary District is undergoing a glorious renaissance and it seems as if a new winery pops up every week.
Looking at the big picture, the nation added 175,000 jobs in May and 195,000 in June. The unemployment rate has fallen below 8 percent on both state and national levels.
Hourly pay took a jump in June. The stock market has been soaring. Home prices are on a tear, turning a lot of upside-down homeowners right-side-up again. Old foreclosures are flushing through the system without new ones arising in their stead. Mortgage interest remains at near-record lows, and lenders have loosened their grip. Housing starts are on the rise again.
When the economy tanked, presidents Bush and Obama collaborated on the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which drew bipartisan support in Congress but also blistering criticism that has continued virtually unabated. TARP disbursed $418 billion the critics widely predicted federal coffers would never see again. But already, years ahead of schedule, 93 percent has been repaid — with interest. Auto sales are taking off, and America’s Big Three, two of which were bailed out by the feds, are grabbing a good share of the action.
Even consumer confidence is up. According to Bloomberg, “Figures showed Americans were the most optimistic in five years, buoyed by rising property prices and an improving job outlook.”
But none of this seems to be reflected in what passes for news or political discourse. It even seems mostly missing from social media rantings.
Out in the stew of media our modern society has produced, nitpickers and naysayers seem to ever prevail. There is always a reason why this won’t work and that won’t fly, why this leader is evil and that one is corrupt, why we are all doomed to some terrible fate, be it God’s wrath or global warming.
Let’s take a moment to look on the bright side. There might actually be something to that American ingenuity thing.