Wallow in the goop of pessimism

Are there any optimists left? Any positive thinkers?

If you listen to most candidates, you might not think so. If you read a lot of columnists and watch a lot of bobbing heads on tv, you might not think so.

Most of them blah blah about our problems. I grow weary of their pessimism.

They tell us the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Well, folks, it has always been headed in that direction. And it always will be. We will never run out of problems that are going to do us in.

However, when we study these problems through dark lenses we are less likely to see solutions. And there is a compelling reason why we should peer through lenses of optimism. That is that today we are better able to solve problems than at any time in history.

I guess my complaint with the candidates is that I don’t hear any of them say, in effect, “Sure, that is a problem. But with our technology and intelligence I’m certain we will overcome it.”



Instead we hear Armageddon-type predictions. Walter Mondale asked “Where’s the beef?” I would ask “Where’s the optimism?”

Take a realistic look at how life has improved in this country and this world for billions of people. People eat better. More of them live under liberty. More of them see their lives improving than at any time in the world’s history. The number who die in war goes down every decade. The percentage of us who are malnourished goes down and down.

The positive person says these are good trends. If we keep using our heads and resources the trends will continue and even more folks will live under decent conditions. The pessimist only looks at those who have not yet been helped. Or tells us the good trendlines will turn downward.

In this age of pessimism too many of us see only gloom ahead.

I nominate Jimmy Carter and Al Gore as the two most pessimistic leaders of the last 100 years. If you want to submerge yourself in bleakness read Carter’s speeches of old and of late. Read some of his books. Read the tome “Global 2000” he had his administration turn out in 1973. It was pure pessimism about energy, food, water, air, minerals. It projected gloom for just about everything it looked at. Few, if any of those predictions came about.

Carter’s solution to all the problems he saw? Hunker down and suffer.

He lost to Ronald Reagan because he was a pessimist and Reagan was an optimist.

If you believe conditions create the leaders you could have predicted the conditions would bring forth a Reagan. Because the conditions were bad at the time. And most of the leaders did nothing more than point at the conditions and moan. Reagan basically said that the best is yet to come.

How many candidates say that today? And how often will they say it? And how many of them believe it? Most are pessimistic.

Here is an example of that pessimism. The economy is slowing. Have you heard any candidate say “We have had decades of growth in our economy. The nation’s wealth has soared. Wealth around the world has soared. We gave birth to this growth with good thinking and smart tax policies. Yes, finally, our economy is slowing. With more good thinking and good policies I bet we can slip the economy into first gear again.”

Heard anything like that? Have you seen any similar attitude toward, egad, global warming? Toward energy supplies? Toward terrorism? Or have you mostly heard and seen negative comments and negative reporting and analysis?

Let the candidates and commentators wallow in the goop of pessimism. I prefer optimism. It does not solve all problems instantly. But it gets us to look in the direction where we will find solutions and improvements.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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