Investor's Business Daily is bullish on 2006 and bullish on America:
The New Year: Despite natural disasters and the casualties of war, Americans say 2005 was better than 2004 - and a huge majority expect things to improve again in 2006. Truth is, things are better the world over. Throughout its history, our country has distinguished itself by a pragmatic optimism. Other countries see global warming and plan for economic contraction; we question the science of those who forecast inevitable doom, while at the same time ponder the benefits of less ice providing a navigable Northwest Passage.
Leaders of other nations bemoan a global gap between rich and poor and call for the redistribution of wealth; our leader sees a link between poverty and the lack of political and economic freedom, and in the case of Iraq takes bold action to help the cause of liberty.
A new Quinnipiac University poll of about 1,200 registered voters found the hopefulness of Americans as unflappable as ever - with no rose-colored glasses in sight.
Fifty-three percent thought 2005 was better for them personally than 2004; only 33% thought it was worse. Among those ages 18 through 29, 68% thought 2005 was better for them than 2004; only 24% called it worse. With 4.5 million new jobs in the last 2 1/2 years, GDP growth over 4% and a 5% unemployment rate, those numbers shouldn't be a great shock.
As to the future, 79% thought the new year would be better for them personally, with only 10% predicting a worsening. Of 18- to 29-year-olds, the number rose to 93%, with only 3% pessimistic about 2006. For those in their 30s and early 40s, 85% thought the near future would be bright. At the same time, only 36% of those polled thought 2006 would be a more peaceful place than this year, with 52% believing it would be less peaceful. True to form, Americans are cognizant of the challenges facing the world, but we understand the hope and opportunities that come with freedom. And while the world may indeed see more war, there are far fewer armed conflicts today than 15 years ago.
A big reason is that freedom is on the march. There were 45 unfree countries in 2005, down four from 2004 and the fewest in more than a decade. The world has a great deal to celebrate. Incomes are up worldwide, and they continue to rise. Life spans are up, from an average of under 50 years at the beginning of the 20th century in the U.S. to 77 today - an increase exceeding 50%. Life expectancy was around 40 years in China and India a half-century ago; today it's well above 60.
2005 may have seen a great city submerged by what must have seemed like a second Noah's flood, and we saw government officials fall short in their response to the year's calamities. But we also saw our government play a historic role in bringing the nuts and bolts of democracy to a nation and a culture on the other side of the world. There's a common bond between the rescue workers who risked their lives to save those stranded on rooftops in post-Katrina New Orleans and the soldiers taking risks patrolling the streets of Baghdad on Election Day. They all chose to put their lives second to the lives and livelihoods of others.
The advanced technology that accurately predicts the paths of hurricanes, saving thousands through timely evacuation, could - like so much of the new inventions and discoveries we take for granted - only have come from an economy and society based on liberty. And it's the prosperity provided by a free-market economy that lets us afford to build a military that defends our liberties and even liberates those living under a regime that for many years actively threatened our freedoms.
Free people are the key to a better life for all people in all places. As we wish one another a Happy New Year, we cherish the many blessings we enjoy as Americans. As Americans, we can also be proud that we have given others elsewhere the tools that can make their New Year the happiest ever.
Religious, political, and economic freedom, plus private ownership of property are the four pillars upon which this country was built and the four reasons why life here is so much better than it is anywhere else in the world where these principles are not honored. As we take our first steps into 2006 we should remind ourselves to be vigilant against those abroad who would deprive us of those four pillars by violence and those at home who would weaken and erode them through judicial activism and legislative overreaching.