Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hope at our house this holiday and twins on the way

If you can find a copy of the Christmas double issue of The Economist magazine (PR Public Library has it) or have an online subscription, read Lexington's latest. Here is an excerpt:

Americans are in a funk. They should cheer up a bit.

DUMB and Dumber”, one of the modern classics of American comedy, tells the story of an affable idiot, Lloyd Christmas, who falls in love with a classy beauty, Mary Swanson. In one scene he asks her the chances of “a guy like you and a girl like me” ending up together. The answer is “Not good”. “Not good like one out of a hundred?” asks Lloyd. “More like one out of a million,” Mary replies. Lloyd pauses for a moment, then shoots back, “So you're telling me there's a chance?”

That is the American spirit. Americans have traditionally been much more optimistic than Europeans, and happier too. They believe that people determine their own destinies rather than being the mere playthings of fate. They also believe that their children will have a better life than they do.

This helps to explain the dynamism of the American economy. Americans regard failure—even bankruptcy—as a stone in the road rather than a damning verdict. It also helps to explain the appeal of the American experiment. “The American, by nature, is optimistic,” JFK once said. “He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly.” Europeans ask, “Why?” Americans ask, “Why not?”

But the past five years have produced a dramatic souring in the country's mood. Three-quarters of Americans now think that the country is “on the wrong track”. The number of people who are hostile to trade and immigration has risen sharply, as has the number who think that America should engage less in world affairs. Trust in government is half what it was in 2001. Both the president and Congress have bargain-basement approval ratings. And people are increasingly pessimistic about the future. Barely a third thinks that their children will be better off than they themselves are. The reason why the man with the message of hope, Barack Obama, and the man who hails from Hope, Mike Huckabee, are doing so well is that people think hope is in short supply...........

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