Are We Doomed?

How about that for an attention-grabbing headline? “Are We Doomed?” It does seem that way at times. Nationally, we seem stuck on stupid with policies that encourage people not to work combined with the endless partisan wrangling. It’s soul-sucking. It feels like we’re in a circular firing squad shooting each other while squandering our future prosperity. This is a common sentiment: Poll after poll show that Americans don’t think our country is on the right path. Worse, a majority believe that America will decline in the decades ahead. But, but…

…as quarrelsome as we can be, Americans are also resilient. While I can be as cranky as the next person about short-term issues, I’m still an optimist about America’s future. Maybe I’m in denial, but I don’t think so.   

As evidence, I point to a recent opinion piece by thinker and author Joel Kotkin, executive editor of It is titled “America’s Glass Half-empty or Half-full?” In it Kotkin cites several long-term trends that play to our advantage. They are in the areas of the economy, environment and demography.

Before going there, Kotkin first offers his opinion on why the nation is so glum. Among his observations are fiscal policies that support the affluent without helping main street and discouraged workers that have dropped out of the labor force

Then he offers up five reasons for optimism, which are:

  • All other countries are in worse shape. So, while we are not charging ahead to stake out a strong national competitive advantage, nobody else is either.
  • America’s energy revolution has been a game-changer.
  • America is enjoying a manufacturing resurgence.
  • We have big demographic advantages. While we are aging rapidly, America is aging less rapidly than most other countries. Our national birth rate is high enough to avoid a demographic implosion with the attendant economic decline.
  • And finally, and this may be a shocker, Kotkin says we enjoy the blessings of federalism. The dysfunction of the federal government makes this one seem implausible, but he makes the point that our national strength originates from the 50 experiments we call states and the larger regions of the country.

So, there you go. I’d suggest that you take a moment to read Kotkin’s article. You can click on the title above. It will shift your perspective from the gloom and doom news of the day to a happier place.