Archive for Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thankful and optimistic, too

November 20, 2008

We are just entering the holiday season and it seems to me that there are a couple of gifts that we all could use. In fact, there is tremendous shortage of both in our modern world. Now, I’m not talking about something that you buy at the store, but something that comes within.

First, I think we need to be thankful for much in our lives. We live in a free country and, for the most part, we are in charge of our lives. Personally, I’m thankful for all the great things we take for granted such as food, warmth, shelter and security. This is the greatest country the world has ever known and despite the present economy, there remain many, many opportunities.

I’m glad that I’m in good health and am retired. A few years back, I would have said that I’m thankful for good health and the opportunity to be in a business I loved. I’m thankful for a loving and supportive wife of nearly 50 years, wonderful children and outstanding grandchildren. My list goes on and on and it would take far too much space to list all the wonderful things in my life.

There is one other gift that I would suggest and that would be a major dose of optimism. Yes, I know that the economy is very tough now. We have people in our community who have lost jobs and suffered through foreclosures, yet I believe the economy will rebound and be stronger than ever.

Yes, I know, there are many who might wonder if I’ve lost my senses. Well, my prediction is based on history and personal experience. I know what it is like to lose a job through no fault of your own and to worry about how you are going to take care of you family. I know because I was there once and because the economy was suffering in the late 1960s. When I couldn’t get a job, I decided to follow my dream and go into the weekly newspaper business. That was one of the best choices I ever made and I had a long and enjoyable career. I hope that those who are now out of work will have the same good fortune I had and find a new career or job which is more rewarding than the one that was lost.

Beyond that, I believe if you check history you will find ample reason for optimism. Look at the stock market over the past century and you’ll find that it is up and down more than a rollercoaster. Yet, each time it has rebounded, it has reached a higher level than before. I keep thinking about that each time that I check the value of my stock. While it is tough to believe sometimes, history tells us that the market and, hence the economy, will return.

When it comes to the economy, there have been many dips and recessions in my lifetime. When I got out of college in 1959, the economy was sluggish. The nation’s economy rebounded and the 1960s were fairly prosperous. Yet, during that decade the nation struggled with change and anti-war protests. The country was able to once again recreate itself. However, by the early 1970s, the U.S. faced a variety of crises including runaway inflation. Do you remember the “WIN-Whip Inflation Now” pins that we wore as part of a national publicity push to restore confidence? There were other problems, too. The oil embargo led to long lines at the gas pumps. Probably the biggest crises may have come when President Nixon resigned and the nation peacefully moved to a new administration.

The economy continued to bounce up and down. When we moved to Bonner Springs in the late 1970s, inflation was rampant and the cost of home loans was out of sight. An eight or nine percent interest rate for 30 years was considered great and it wasn’t long before home loans reached mid-double digits. Certificates of deposit rates soared too and locally reached 11 or 12 percent. The auto industry faltered as Americans wanted smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles and turned to foreign manufacturers. Despite all of that, the economy was back before the decade ended.

However, those good times didn’t last forever and an economic slowdown in early 1990 resulted in the first President Bush losing his re-election bid. As has always been the case, the economy was back and much of the 1990s was prosperous. However, that ended with corporate greed and terrorist attacks. Make no mistake, prosperity will return.

Some famously predicted problems never happened. Do you remember Y2K? Well, it was supposed to gridlock the nation for months, yet it turned out to be Y2Nothing.

Yes, I am optimistic because our nation has always handled its problems, because we are resilient. After each crisis, the nation comes back stronger than ever and this will happen again.

Please join me in having a happy and optimistic Thanksgiving and holiday season.

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