"The world is such a mess, I can't sleep anymore."
"Relax, Chicken Little."
"But the war in Iraq is going badly. The Middle East is a powder keg. Terrorists are surely plotting another attack in America. We're all doomed."
"Sure, we have challenges in the Middle East and with terrorism. There is always some kind of evil in the world trying to rear its ugly head — Nazism, Communism, Totalitarianism. We've successfully faced down these evils before. Despite our current partisan woes, I'm confident we'll do so again."
"But socialism is on the rise. Look at Hugo Chavez in Venezuela!"
"Chavez is an aberration to the larger trend. Michael Barone says that democracy, thanks to support from America, has been spreading about the globe for years. Latin America, the Philippines, Indonesia and almost all of East Asia are democratic. If we can help democracy flourish in Afghanistan and Iraq, who knows where it might spread."
"But our deficit is high. We need to raise taxes to cover runaway spending."
"Our government does spend too much, but high taxes aren't the answer — low taxes are. Every time America has cut taxes, tax receipts have gone up. The concept is so effective, a low-tax fever has been spreading throughout the world. Russia's income tax is a flat 13 percent, Poland's a flat 19 percent and Serbia's a flat 10 percent."
"But as the Baby Boom generation ages, how are we going to pay for Social Security and Medicare?"
"By applying the creativity and innovation that former communist countries are using. Slovakia is funding its retirement system through personal savings accounts, a simple concept that has proved to be very effective in other parts of the world. With sound leadership, such ideas can happen in America."
"But an obesity epidemic is under way in America. Our kids are so fat, they may be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents."
"America has become so wealthy that many families can go out to eat on a regular basis. Many restaurant foods, however, are loaded with calories. Many manufactured snacks and treats are also loaded with calories. Parents need to make better choices on what to feed their children, but the fact is the average lifespan in America continues to climb, and most people born today can look forward to a long, healthy life."
"But our culture is in decline. Look at the garbage on television."
"But our culture fully embraces freedom — real, genuine openness. Freedom opens the floodgates of everything that is bad in the human heart, but it also opens the floodgates to everything that is good. Technology has made hundreds of television channels available in the average home. These channels reflect all that is right and wrong and good and bad in the human heart."
"But how can you be so optimistic with so many things going so wrong?"
"But how can you be pessimistic with so many things going so right? In a relatively short period of time, the American experiment has unleashed the most productive, energetic, prosperous nation in the history of mankind. It has created a gregarious and generous people, and the countries that emulate its ideals are beginning to enjoy the physical, mental and spiritual prosperity that is the envy of the world."
"But if what you say is true, why do I think the world is such a mess?"
"There are challenges, to be sure, but too many Americans lack perspective. Too many Americans enjoy so much freedom and opportunity, they take what they have for granted. They ignore real problems and challenges and contrive silly ones. They praise people who are truly evil and demonize people, flawed though they may be, who are trying to do good. They lack the ability to discern. And if America doesn't regain its perspective, it will lose the overwhelming blessings it continues to receive."
"But isn't that something to worry about?"
"It's keeping me up at night."