Monday Mornings with Madison

There is So Much for which to be Thankful

At this time every year, Americans spend a day “giving thanks” for their many blessings.  Rightly so.  The New York Times recently published an editorial that said that “In many ways, there has never been a better time to be alive.”  The article acknowledged that, while there are certainly still many problems in the world, today “fewer among us are poor, fewer are hungry, fewer children are dying, and more men and women can read than ever before. In many countries, recognition of women’s and minority rights is now the norm. There is still much work to do, of course, but there is hope and there is progress.”

The article goes on to observe how people in struggling and violent parts of the world want to immigrate to richer, more peaceful nations such as the U.S.  That’s understandable.  Indeed, the U.S. has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world amongst capitalist countries.  The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the U.S. ranks 9th in the world.   And when the United Nations combined physical capital (machinery, buildings, infrastructure and so on), human capital (the population’s education and skills), and natural capital (including land, forests, fossil fuels and minerals), the U.S. ranked #1 as the richest nation on earth.

And yet, a Gallup poll this year showed that 71% of Americans were dissatisfied with the U.S. economy and 8 out of 10 felt the country was going in the wrong direction.  Those who live in the safest, most prosperous country on earth were feeling great uneasiness, bordering on hopelessness.  Why such anger and discontent in the world’s most affluent country?  What might account for the huge disconnect between America’s prosperity and the dissatisfaction most Americans feel?   Perhaps it’s a matter of gratitude?

Counting Blessings

Despite polls and perceptions to the contrary, there is so very much to be thankful for in the U.S.  Perhaps there is a need to spend more than one day a year counting blessings and giving thanks?   Here are 10 facts for which all American can be thankful.

  1. The U.S. is safer now than it was a quarter century ago.  Despite the 2014 Gallup poll that said 70% of Americans think the crime rate is increasing, in reality, America is actually getting safer. The national crime rate is about half of what it was at the peak in 1991.  And the U.S. population in that time increased from 210 Million to 320 Million.
  2. In 2013, the U.S. economy’s 20-year growth of $5 trillion was larger than any other country’s entire economy.  And that’s in spite of the 2008 Recession.
  3. America is a big, beautiful nation.  There is no other country on the face of the Earth with the natural resources and variety of climates and land types that the U.S. has. Beaches, mountains, deserts, valleys, prairies, tundra.  You name it — the U.S. has it.  And in terms of sheer size, the U.S. is the third largest nation in the world, after Russia and Canada.  Keep in mind though that, despite its size, Russia’s economy is still smaller than that of California.
  4. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. is currently enjoying 68 straight months of private sector job creation. That is the longest period of job creation in U.S. history since the Department of Labor has been keeping stats on job creation.
  5. The Dow Jones Industrial average reached an all-time high of 18,923 on November 15, 2016 (at the time of writing this article). Since most Americans have 401K retirement investments in the stock market, this growth benefits millions of middle class Americans.
  6. U.S. dependence on foreign oil has shrunk due to record domestic oil production and improved fuel efficiency standards.  In fact, U.S. oil production has reached record highs. The U.S. now produces so much oil that it exports more oil and gas than it imports.
  7. In the 2013–14 school year, the graduation rate for public high schools rose to an all-time high of 82%. That means about 4 out of 5 students graduated with a regular high school diploma within 4 years of the first time they started 9th grade.  As recently as 2002, it was 72.6%.
  8. Over the last 20 years, the average person’s life expectancy in the U.S. has gone up by three years.  Today, overall life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.8 years.
  9. The U.S. has 5,758 universities and colleges, second in the world only to India which has 8.407 universities.  (But India also has 1.33 Billion people vs. the U.S. population of 324 Million.)  And the U.S. has 52 of the top 100 universities in the world.  Many people around the world send their children to attend university in the U.S. because of the quality.
  10. The U.S. offers more opportunity and social mobility than any other country.  America has created a population of “self-made tycoons.” Only in America could Pierre Omidyar, whose parents are Iranian and who grew up in Paris, have started a company like eBay. Only in America could Vinod Khosla, the son of an Indian army officer, become a leading venture capitalist, the shaper of the technology industry, and a billionaire to boot.  Admittedly tycoons are not typical, but no country has created a better ladder than America for people to ascend from modest circumstances to success.

Regardless of politics or polls, there is so much for which to be thankful.  Whatever anyone may say or what impression the media may give, anyone living in the U.S. should be grateful for so much.  Grateful for living in a place so great-full.   That should make every day a day to give thanks.

Quote of the Week

“When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.” Kristin Armstrong


© 2016, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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