Cynicism about the future is widespread in America these days, a new survey finds. January polling conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 54 percent of respondents expected the American way of life to suffer over the coming decades. In a separate December study, only 23 percent of respondents expected American life to improve in the coming years. Here is the full survey. But a recent piece by Joel Kotkin over at New Geography sheds some positive light on such doom and gloom, and reminds us that things don’t look so bad for America after all:
For all the concern expressed about the “end of the car era,” the U.S. auto industry is doing pretty well, in fact, selling vehicles at about the levels experienced before the Great Recession. General Motors, nearly dead five years ago, is now investing $1.3 billion to upgrade five Midwest factories. New auto plants, particularly those of European and Asian carmakers, are being erected across the South. But the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing is about more than cars; there also is huge investment in other industries, notably in pharmaceuticals and refining, notably tied to the energy revolution.Critically, the vast supplies of oil and, most importantly, natural gas, are pushing down manufacturing costs well below those imposed on Asian and European firms. This is where industrial jobs have been growing the fastest, and are likely to expand in years ahead. In fact, U.S. industrial and energy production has driven U.S. exports to a record level, one clear sign that the nation’s competitiveness is beginning to move beyond our traditional strengths in entertainment, services and agriculture.
Read the whole thing. The history of the Western economic progress cyclically includes transitional periods of chaos, disruption, and displacement, after which society emerges much richer than it went in. We are in that kind of period now. Though things may seem dark, there are already signs for those who have eyes to see that our most prosperous days are ahead of us.