Do More with our Wealth

Today, 65 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track and in decline.  They think the economy is in bad shape and they are worse off than what they used to be.

The news and the media are full of everything bad that is affecting us.  In actuality, we have never had it so good.  Unemployment is at an all-time low, the lowest it has been since 1969. Wages are up. The stock market makes new highs nearly every day.  Our 401Ks are growing beyond expectations.  People have money in their savings accounts, and their credit card balances are at all-time lows.  Our home values are increasing.  Interest rates are unbelievably low and credit is readily available.  Stores and markets are brimming with goods and services.  Amazon and internet stores are driving prices on goods down daily.  UPS and FedEx trucks run down our streets every day.

Thirty years ago, I got a 10 percent annual mortgage for my home and was happy to get such a cheap mortgage.  Today the interest rate on my mortgage is 2.9 percent.  Gasoline and fuel oil were so expensive compared to wages at that time that I bought a chain saw to use wood to supplement the cost of heating my house.  In those days cars needed a valve job at about 85,000 miles and were probably rusted out at about the same time.  Today cars easily go 200,000 miles with prudent maintenance and rust is uncommon.  Air travel was a luxury and people rarely took vacations out of state. Fifteen years ago, I bought a 42-inch flat-screen TV for $2500 dollars.  Today a much better 65-inch flat-screen TV costs $450 dollars. Now I have a Dick Tracy wrist watch and carry a computer with internet capability in my pocket.

Yes, there are people who are not participants in the good times.  If they perhaps have health or mental problems, expansion of Medicaid and Medicare would improve their situation.  Our children and grandchildren are having a hard time with their student loan debt and assembling a down payment for their first home. With interest rates at historic lows, programs to encourage first-time home buyers should be made more readily available.

With that in mind, we should not let the stressful, divisive, unpleasant state of our politics keep us from recognizing that we have vast resources and a history of meeting crises with calm; and, with the resolve of one nation, indivisible, things will get even better.

We are a rich and prosperous country. We can do more to help those in need.