My eternal optimism for the New Year is with the American people. It is not with a newly controlled Congress or the battered leadership in the White House.
Optimism has always been the soul and spirit of successful Americans, buttressed by a backbone of resiliency. Americans in 2007 will continue to improve their lives, their communities and the economy despite the incremental setbacks imposed by Congress, and the inability of the administration to achieve breakthrough legislation on the big issues that matter the most. The big issues will not change in the coming year – namely, national security, sustaining a vibrant economy, restructuring Social Security and Medicare and runaway government spending.
The Americans who will improve their lives in the coming year are the ones who will not fall for the political rhetoric. They will see their present situation as an opportunity to take another positive step forward. Democrats continue to trumpet that this vibrant economy, low unemployment, home ownership at an all-time high and higher average wages are only helping the rich. They consistently illustrate the old saying that numbers don’t lie, but liars use numbers. Sometimes, the liars don’t use any numbers at all.
This vibrant economy will give some workers a boost to their company-sponsored retirement plan in the New Year, and it will give some workers an opportunity to participate in a retirement plan for the first time. Low unemployment means nearly everyone who chooses to work will have a job. For those who choose to work two jobs to get that first home or send their children to college, the New Year will bring some new hope. These optimistic families are not waiting for a new tuition tax deduction from Uncle Sam.
Higher average wages are driven more by those who choose to work a little harder, and more consistently, than they are driven by those who choose to stay stuck in class warfare neutral, or those waiting for an increase in the minimum wage. Granted, some people will be worse off in 2007 because of circumstances beyond their control, but there is no government agency called the “Department of Happy” to make their dreams come true.
For those Americans who believe in pursuing their happiness rather than waiting for another incremental crumb from Washington, D.C., and for those who look for the best in circumstances rather than the worst, 2007 will be a Happy New Year.
Unfortunately, the new Congress will give us another New Year filled with old ideas, despite the promises of a new direction. They will kill the proposed 700-mile fence along our southern border, offer an amnesty program for illegal aliens, raise the minimum wage, increase Social Security taxes, slow down economic growth by allowing the current tax rates to expire, tell businesses how to compensate their employees and tell oil companies what to charge for gasoline.
Hope and optimism will also spread throughout the world in 2007. The hanging of Saddam Hussein will provide optimistic Iraqis and oppressed people throughout the Middle East the will to proceed with their dreams of democracy and self-determination. As President Bush stated after Saddam’s death, “This would not have been possible without the Iraqi people's determination to create a society governed by the rule of law.” Peace may not yet flow like a river throughout the world, but hope and optimism will spread like wildfire.
Without hope in the prospect for success and a brighter future, we as individuals and as a nation are without purpose and vision. Hope is the basis for all achievements, great and small. This great nation was built on the shoulders of those filled with hope, and those who believed in a better tomorrow despite the obstacles. We can force Congress to unshackle us from the chains of economic slavery and allow all citizens the opportunity to achieve economic freedom.
Until we have inspired leadership in the White House and a new attitude about the future of this country in Congress, we can only expect minimal achievements inside the Washington Beltway in another New Year. Since most of us live outside the Washington Beltway, there will always be new hope and a happy 2007.
Let’s wish everyone a Happy New Year. Wishing people Happy New Year is not a wish for instant prosperity. It is a hope for a new attitude, new opportunities and new achievements.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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