31 December 2009


It is hard to believe we are already a decade into the 21st century. For those of us who have been around awhile it is the future, but it hasn’t turned out quite as anyone expected because such things are unpredictable. We certainly live in a time of technological wonders, particular in personal communications. But personal computers and cell phones have been around since the 1980’s, though in a more primitive form. The main difference for consumers is in audio-visual areas as a result of an increase of processing power. On the other hand we’ve gone nowhere in space for decades except for discoveries in the universe that the Hubble telescope has revealed. Medical progress has been exceptional, largely due to the now-threatened American health care system.

The economy, on the other hand has largely flatlined for most people. The stock market is more or less where it was when the decade began and many people feel they have made little material progress. But growth will almost certainly resume in the near future on a more sustainable basis provided that inflation does not spin out of control, which is almost inevitable unless the government slashes spending and stops printing money.

We can look back on a happier time at the turn of the century, when celebrations around the world occurred magnificently without incident. Then our biggest worry was Y2K, before the arrival of the age of terror in 2001. Yet as awful as terrorism is, the war is asymmetrical and no standing army threatens us anywhere. The “American century” is far from over, really beginning only after World War II. It has been a time in which the world has enjoyed unprecedented progress and prosperity thanks largely to the American umbrella. No more benevolent power has ever dominated world. This should continue well into this century if we intelligently address our current problems, which will happen over time as long as we remain an open society. All that troubles us should balance out in the long run for nothing is more resilient than a free society, and so I end this year on a somewhat optimistic note.

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