14% of Americans Believe That the Country is Moving in the Right Direction
According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, only 14% of Americans surveyed believe that the country is headed in the right direction. This doesn't refer to just the economy or the war in Iraq, but things in general. This ties for the lowest rating in the last three decades, which is quite a feat considering that the past three decades have included some pretty somber and trying times, including the early 80's (oil crisis, economic stagflation) and early 90's (recession).
When you look around, it's not hard to see why Americans are so depressed about the future. Rapidly dropping home values in many regions of the United States that is sapping trillions of dollars of net worth from Americans. A never-ending, money-sucking war in Iraq. Spiraling oil and commodity prices. Higher food prices. Rising unemployment. A falling stock market. Shattered confidence in the current administration. Uncertainty over the coming presidential election. Natural disasters (floods, earthquakes, etc). Continuing concerns over terrorism. Continuing concerns over countries such as Iran, Russia and China. The war in Afghanistan. An increasing number of high-profile, publicly funded bailouts (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc). A weak dollar. I could go on and on, but you get the point.
It's easy to see why many people would be depressed about the country's future right now. What is there really to be optimistic about right now, if you are an average American? Your job is likely less secure. Your monthly expenses are likely quite a bit higher due to increases in oil, heating and food prices. Your home is likely worth much less than it was a few years ago. There is a good chance that you are carrying more credit card and unsecured debt. Again, the list goes on and on.
The big question is - are our current problems worse than anything that we have ever faced before, or will we rebound and recover, as we have before?
In the past hundred years, the US (and the rest of the world) has faced some pretty stiff challenges. You had the Depression in the 1930s. You had the oil crisis (and subsequent spiraling interest rates) in the early 1980s. You had the post Gulf War recession in the early 90s. You had the Savings and Loan crisis. You had the collapse of Russia. You had 9/11. You had the bursting of the tech bubble in early 2000. You had the Vietnam War, the Korean War and the Cold War. These were all challenging times, economically and otherwise, for the United States and the rest of the world.
Each time the economy recovered, and optimism returned. Who would have thought that the United States would be so confident and optimistic in the mid 80's, following what happened at the turn of the decade? Who would have thought that the stock market would soar to such dizzying heights in the late 90's, considering all of the pessimism and disillusionment of the early 90's? Who would have thought, back in the 1930s, that the United States was about to embark on a decades-long upwards march that would result in the United States becoming the most powerful and wealthy country in the world? Who would have predicted the astonishing increase in real estate values post 9/11?
Americans are pessimistic now, but it won't take much until people are looking at the world through rose-colored glasses again. A change in administrations is something that always inspires optimism, and it will surely happen again this time around (if Obama wins). Things are bad, to be sure - however, things are never as good as they seem, and never quite as bad as they seem. If real estate markets halt their collapse, oil prices continue to drop and the dollar continues to recover, then you will see some optimism seeping back into these opinion polls. My personal belief is that the United States will recover and a new era of optimism will take hold. It won't be easy, and it won't be quick, but it will happen. Maybe it will be different this time, but I don't think so.
Source: U.S. Satisfaction Down to 14%, Just Shy of All-Time Low
Filed under: The Economic Meltdown | General Knowledge