China is headed in the right direction, but our lot in life hasn't been dreadful, either. Our "so-called" prosperity helped survival rates for cancer patients rise and deaths caused by HIV and AIDS decrease. Life expectancy in the United States -- even while we welcomed immigrants from the poorest of nations -- increased from 77 to 78.5 last decade, matching the percentage growth of the '90s.Meanwhile, teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. have declined dramatically, and higher education enrollment has exploded, with 40 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 24 enrolled in college. Our "so-called" prosperity saw the gross domestic product rise from $9.7 trillion to $14 trillion last decade.
Still, the Pew poll shows that 50 percent of Americans believe the 2000s were a real downer, whereas only 16 percent of them think the same of the '70s. The '70s! I suppose that because there is a good chance most of us will be reliving that wondrous decade in the coming years, those poll numbers might change.
None of this is to say we don't have many genuine problems to deal with. Yet with all our tribulations, during the past 60 or so years (including the past 10) we have seen, in a historical context, unrivaled prosperity. Moreover, it's prosperity that's real.
As always, the state of the union will be just fine -- if only our so-called leaders in Washington would let it be.