By Bryant Gray
The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of the Davis Clipper.
We are constantly pelted with “bad news:” war, rumors of war, economic catastrophes, wasteful government, corrupt business practices, etc. Maybe we need a set of earplugs and a pair of blinders.
For example, last week the stock market closed on a positive monthly note, but the focus was on the final trading day, which saw a more than 200-point drop for the Dow Jones Industrials. Immediately, I heard people saying, “It’s about time the market dropped since the economy is in the dumpster,” and “With our country’s deficit and unemployment problems, it’s no wonder there’s little confidence for the future,” and even, “Hey, another drop like this and I won’t be able to retire until I’m 80!”
I can understand the reason so many people are despondent, especially with the infighting between political parties and the heated claims of a divided government. But I also recall a booklet published by the Hartford Financial Services Group that included headlines from our recent history.
“The U.S. is going broke” Р You can hear the same screams today, yet that headline first appeared in Time magazine in March 1972, 41 years ago. “Social Security’s coming crisis” Р We hear this weekly, yet that headline came from the Washington Post in 1974. “There’s no way out of this unemployment crunch”: - Sorry, but this headline came from a news magazine in 1983. “Exploding federal debt: why so dangerous” Р The Tea Party wasn’t even around in 1984 when that headline appeared. “Further and maybe bigger federal bailouts ahead” Р Time magazine ran this headline in 1989, a long time before the controversy over the Bush-Obama bank bailouts.
And the headlines keep coming: “Social Security short of money” (1990), “Can anyone spare a job?” (1993), and “Entitlements gone wild” (2011).
Today’s “bad news is nothing new. It has been our country’s companion since those austere pilgrims suspiciously eyed the natives and a long time before Sen. Mike Lee and his fanatic ilk decided that government was Public Enemy No. One.
Yet the country hasn’t wilted under the heat of negativity. Remember that first headline above from 1972? If you had invested $10,000 in the S&P 500 Broad Stock Index in the next year and reinvested the dividends, you would have a nest egg of more than $425,000 today. Not bad amid the clutter of reports about economic meltdowns and mounting unemployment and skyrocketing spending.
This isn’t to suggest that we don’t have challenges. We need to patch the Social Security and Medicare systems, wisely focus on government needs rather than wants and adjust the tax system to more accurately reflect the modern economy.
But neither should we have knee-jerk reactions to reports of coming calamity. As a former Republican leader told me today, “All we need is for Pres. Obama to call the Senate and the House majority and minority leaders to a closed-door ‘sit-down’ at Camp David Р and tell them they won’t be allowed to leave the building until they hammer out a compromise.”
The result: Solutions instead of shrieks about coming doom.