The U.S. Economy is a mess. If I have heard that comment once during the political campaign I have heard it a dozen times, maybe three dozen. In 2008, the stock market was in the 9,000 range, unemployment was approaching 8 percent, and we were fighting two wars in the mid-east. In addition, several of our largest industries were facing bankruptcy and key financial institutions were facing insolvency. We were, indeed, facing a serious economic situation. However, today the stock market is in the 18,000 range, unemployment is below 5 percent, and most of our soldiers are home. General Motors and Chrysler are doing fine and the banking industry just celebrated their best financial year since before the Great Recession.
I let a nice lady bait me into a discussion of U.S. economics last week. I thought quoting the statistics of how well we have recovered would end the discussion. Her response? “You don’t believe all those numbers do you?” As is often true in political and/or economic related discussions, reason is an early casualty.
Reducing taxes will stimulate our economy and help us eliminate the national debt. This seems to be a “standard” of the campaign trail. However, both the Bureau of labor Statistics and the Tax Policy Center show that for the past 60 years whenever tax rates were the highest more jobs were created than when tax rates were lowest. Our highest tax period was from the mid-50s to the early 80s. During that period, the government created the Interstate Highway System, made massive investments in education and science, created small-business incubators and built bridges to the rest of the world for trade. The results were major developments in science and business; major improvements in the education and health industries; 50 years of economic growth; and the highest living standard in the world.
Surely, I’m not the only one who believes that America has never stopped being great. I know that Proverbs of the Old Testament tell us that “Pride goeth before destruction.” Still, I have traveled the globe and everywhere I went I carried a goodly amount of American pride with me. Let’s review the facts and you can correct me if you think I am wrong.
Who created for the world the United Nations that still makes its home in New York City? Note the presence under its umbrella of UNICEF and The World Bank who share benevolent services and money with countries around the globe? Who rebuilt all of Europe and Asia following the great wars?
Anywhere in the world where there is a disaster four out of five aid workers, medical doctors, fire and rescue personnel on the scene working with the people are from the U.S. It always amazes me that wherever the tragedy occurs, within hours it is Americans who suddenly appear with picks and shovels, white coats and stethoscopes, hot food and encouragement. That didn’t start just last week, though we tend to forget each time until the next. Who leads the world in providing humanitarian aid after earthquakes and hurricanes? Who indeed, the people of the United States of America, that’s who, the country built on the great ideal, the country that continues to fall short of its promise but is head and shoulders above every other that ever existed in taking care of the needs of hurting people both here at home and around the world.
When the chips are down you can count on Americans. A great people make a great country.
I enjoy watching the rough and tumble of politics that we get into every four years, like now. Campaign slogans stand out over the years such as “I like Ike,” “Change we can believe in,” “Make us Proud Again,” or even “Ross for Boss.” Unfortunately, every time I hear “Make American Great Again,” my mind rebels and says, “Wait a minute, AMERICA HAS NEVER STOPPED BEING GREAT.”
Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. You will find Hopkins’ latest book, “Journey to Gettysburg,” on Amazon.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.