Friday, June 13, 2008

If You're Not Happy, You're Not Paying Attention

Why do we live in Gloom-and-Doom Nation? Is it, as many of my callers insist, because everybody's broke and the Iraq war is a disaster? They must be right, because pollsters show most Americans agree--life sucks. Right?

Of course they're long as you ignore the facts.

There are so many positive stories from our ongoing success in Iraq that some of you are tired of hearing about it from me. In fact, our victory is so overwhelming that Democrats and other grumpy Americans are abandoning the "We lost" argument and switching to the "It's not worth it, anyway" complaint. But the fact remains that if President Bush had promised in 2003 that we would topple Saddam Hussein, bring an end to attacks on America and its facilities abroad, cripple Al Qaeda and place a functioning, democratically-elected government in Iraq--all while suffering fewer than 3500 combat deaths--he would have been mocked as a cockeyed optimist and dismissed as a hopeless Pollyanna

That's exactly what happened, and as a result he's called a hopeless failure.

Meanwhile, here at home, $4 gallon gasoline sucks and the economy is stumbling. But as Gregg Easterbrook points out in the Wall Street Journal, those are the two dark clouds in a sky filled with silver linings:

Unemployment is 5.5%, low by historical standards; income is rising slightly ahead of inflation; housing prices are down, but the typical house is still worth a third more than in 2000; 94% of Americans do not have threatened mortgages, and of those who do, most will keep their homes. Inflation was up in 2007, but this stands out because the 16 previous years were close to
inflation-free; living standards are the highest they have ever been, including living standards for the middle class and for the poor.

All forms of pollution other than greenhouse gases are in decline; cancer, heart disease and stroke incidence are declining; crime is in a long-term cycle of significant decline; education levels are at all-time highs...

Campaigning in Pennsylvania in April, Hillary Clinton said "We need to go back to the prosperity of the 1990s," a comment that drew loud, enthusiastic applause. Converted to today's dollars, per-capita income in the Keystone State is 23% higher than in 1990. People may think Pennsylvania was more prosperous in the past, but the state is better off today. The same can be said for most (needless to say, not all) parts of the country and most
demographics. Most are, right now, the best-off they have ever been.

Those are the facts, and yet we're still a nation of moaners. Why? Is it because we've become so spoiled in the past 20 years that we simply can't handle any adversity at all? Or is it because the Obama-friendly, Bush-hating media are determined to tell you that this is the "worst economy ever!," despite the facts?