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The Case for Economic Recovery

By Marty Nemko

Of course, a strong case can be made for the U.S. economy staying stuck in reverse:

* Globalization, which is moving ever-growing numbers of jobs overseas.

* A growing gap between the skills required in the modern workplace and those held by graduates of our schools and colleges.

* The public's beginning to heed the message that materialism doesn't buy happiness. No spending; no economic turnaround.

* An ever-higher percentage of children born into disadvantaged environments.

* America's porous borders and willingness to provide social services to illegal immigrants.

* The threat of terrorism. This is the era of miniaturized war, in which a single person with a vial of genetically mutated virus can kill a million people. Many experts believe that such undetectability and increased foreign enmity toward America makes the question of bioterrorism in the US not if, but when.

But such pessimism flies in the face of thousands of years of humankind's successes. We have triumphed over the Great Plague, the Dark Ages, World Wars, even MTV.

Beyond this general faith in humankind, there are more specific arguments for a turnaround:

* An economy succeeds on the quality of its people, and many of the world's most talented and adventurous people continue to flock here because the US offers exceptional opportunities to use one's talents. A budding scientist from Beijing can come to the US to learn at the world's best universities, often getting paid to do so. Afterward, that person can work in the US for many of the world's best companies, government agencies, non-profits, and/or become self-employed.

* The economy will boom again. The Internet remains an extremely efficient way for businesses and consumers to buy goods and services, and the premier vehicle for obtaining information. Dot.coms failed because they hyped weak products, because static ads on websites were ineffective, and, importantly, because the public, having come to expect a free Internet, resisted paying for the benefits the Net provides. The public, however, will soon be willing to pay. If, for instance, charged a user fee, wouldn't you pay?

* Biotech discoveries will allow doctors to diagnose individuals' predispositions to disease and develop customized preventions and treatments. These expensive must-haves will create many new jobs and pump money into the economy.

* Changing demographics, an ever more liberal media, and motor voter registration will result in an increase in Democratic legislatures and in turn, increased spending on education and other social services for Americans, and for legal and illegal immigrants. Most notable here will be national health care. Providing health care for the 40+ million uninsured will create many thousands of new jobs.

* Harvard's Shoshana Zuboff and James Maxmin argue in their new book, "The Support Economy," that spending on ultimately minimally rewarding material goods such as too-large houses and overpriced status cars will continue to decline, but will be replaced by purchasing services to improve our quality of life such as: personal chefs, companions for seniors, tutors for our children, and personal assistants to free us up from mundane chores.

* Increased American efforts to strike against terrorism worldwide and the resulting nation building will create American jobs.

Of course, no one knows, with much certainty, if and when the economy will turn around. Indeed, ask five world-class economists to predict the future, you'll get at least a few different answers. But, it's too easy to get caught up in the short-term pessimism that, these days, is pervasive. Considering the case for economic recovery can help you plan your future and brighten your today.

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