David Harsanyi: Hope amid gloom and doom
For today's reading, allow me to offer you this article by David Harsanyi, the Denver Post's "token conservative" (although I think he's closer to libertarian) and author of a book with an important subject and a very long title: Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children Here's the article: Hope still abides amid the doom and gloom, David Harsanyi, Denver Post, 12/24/07 http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_7801170 With all the negativity and apprehension engulfing this nation, it's a wonder any of us can be thankful this year. Today's compliant American citizen trembles in fear at the slightest sign of peril. You know, if Osama doesn't get us, Chinese toys certainly will. All this doom and gloom has manifested in the rise of populist politics, an unfortunate movement that seizes on every morsel of bad news it can exploit for political power. You, on the other hand, are left to sit, curled up in the corner, agonizing over the proliferation of Mountain Dew, Mexican gardeners after your job, lead in your lipstick and polycarbonate bottles — whatever that is. Now, no one can deny that we're a nation dealing with a multitude of crucial problems. We are, after all, home to Miss South Carolina, Dennis Kucinich and "Dancing with the Stars." Still, it's no reason to panic. For instance, there is no doubt an economic slowdown is on the horizon — as it always is. (Rest assured that every Chicken Little will take credit for seeing it coming.) As of today, however, unemployment remains at near-historic lows. Nationally, wages rose 3.8 percent — a point in front of inflation — this past year. The current economic expansion is now in its 74th month, which, according to free-market economist Larry Kudlow, is 17 months longer than the average growth since World War II. Economic prosperity is a rather dull story, though. Clearly, the country would rather wring its germ-infested hands at the wondrous disaster that is the sisters Spears. How can we ignore such golden fodder? No study is yet available on how many women voluntarily shave their heads and attack paparazzi — though one is surely on the way. Yet, as the holier-than-thous sprint for microphones, ready to relay all the gory details of our moral collapse, one might point out that teenage pregnancies, though they rose slightly this past year, had fallen for 14 consecutive years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Criminal violence — despite all those first-person, super-violent video games and scary movies — has also declined dramatically since 1994. In the end, prosperity means more than the ability to watch pop stars descend into madness — although no one can deny its entertainment value. It also means security, comfort and enhanced health. The harbinger of economic collapse has been the tear-jerky subprime mortgage meltdown. Yet, with all the trouble, it might be worth remembering that nearly 70 percent of Americans own the home they live in. This fact brings stability, both economic and personal. And many of those folks will be paying off every last mortgage payment. According to the CDC, a child born in the United States should expect to live to around 78 years — if he or she meticulously avoids secondhand smoke and trans fats. A new high, life expectancy has risen from a mere 69 years in 1955. Then again, you may view this as simply horrible news once you get your first glimpse of your kid's college tuition. Unlike 20 years ago, nearly every kid seems to go to college. Ostensibly, this means kids will be better educated and less ignorant. Hopefully, they will live even longer and more prosperous lives. Just avoid red meat, mercury-infested fish and caffeine, etc. (though this could all change next week). Apparently, if they're to live forever, they will also be miserable. But I'm not sure why we're so unhappy. Perhaps change and uncertainly will always make us fearful of the future. Let's hope those college kids will be more resistant to scary studies and populist shock and awe. Through it all, there's only one thing they should remember: Try as you may, no one gets out alive. Oh, and Merry Christmas!
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