Stop with the negative thinking. I’ve heard enough gloom and doom lately. There’s definitely a widespread malaise. With consumer confidence sagging, home prices falling, the stock market dropping, the dollar declining, gasoline prices surging, the Iraqi War continuing, and Afghanistan flaring, there is a never-ending supply of reasons for negativity.
There are doomsayers in every decade. In 1961, the British historian, Arnold J. Toynbee, who studied the rise and fall of civilizations, wrote, “Of the 22 civilizations that have appeared in history, 19 of them collapsed when they reached the moral state the United States is in now.” In 1988, another British historian, Paul M. Kennedy expanded upon Toynbee by stressing that those nations that overextend their budgets and military commitments will likely decline. Kennedy cited Spain in the 16th century, France in 17th century, England in the 18th century, and Germany in the early 19th century. The United States ascended to become a “supreme power” following the two world wars. British historians can’t wait for the demise of our country.
But before we dig a hole and crawl into it, we should look at the brighter side of our economy from a broader perspective over a longer period of time. According to the conservative Club for Growth which promotes economic freedom, we have witnessed unprecedented growth over the last 25 years. Consider that in 1982, economic output was $5.1 trillion. In 2007, economic output was $11.3 trillion. Per capita output was $22,400 in 1982 and last year it was $37,807. The service sector has skyrocketed from $1 trillion in 1982 to $5.5 trillion in 2006. In the 1980s, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 825, today it is well over 11,000. In 1983, 19 percent of American households owned stock; in 2005, over 50 percent were investors. In 1989, median family net worth was $69,000; in 2004, it was $93,000.
Furthermore, more Americans own their homes, have cars, color televisions (many with flat screens), and air conditioning than ever before. While there were only 9.8 million cable subscribers in 1975, there were 65 million in 2006; 2.1 million personal computers in 1985 and 243 million in 2007; 340 cell phone subscribers in 1985 and over 243 million in 2007. And the United States is not alone with its economic growth; countries around the world are also experiencing expansion.
We are fortunate to live in the Charlotte region with its continuing economic growth, supporting our real estate market and increasing employment opportunities. Our location, our quality work force, our business strength, our utilities, our educational institutions, our health care facilities, our transportation systems and our governmental units are all aligned to support even greater economic expansion and we are purposeful in attracting new growth opportunities to our area.
This is a critical election year. We have the opportunity to evaluate presidential candidates and their leadership teams who will guide our country for at least the next four years. The future of our nation will be dramatically affected by our choices. We have faced challenges to our economic competitiveness in the past. We need leaders who will reassert our ability to confront our obstacles, assess them and surmount them, and exert the American spirit for enterprise to restore our competitive capacity.
This is not a year to be depressed; it is time to turn things around. Get involved and participate in the election process. Regardless of your party affiliation, it is essential that you learn all you can; express your concerns and your opinion when the opportunity arises. You can make a difference. Do more than just vote. Get active now!