Doom & Gloom
Because of the bearish bias I've had toward the economy and US financial markets in the past few years some might call me a "doom and gloomer". First, it is true that I closed my long positions in 2000 and avoided the losses that many other investors suffered during the last bear market. And admittedly I did NOT benefit as much as I would have liked in the bull market from 2002-2007 as I've been focused more on conservative investing and protecting my wealth. But I do NOT consider myself a "doom and gloomer"; this became especially apparent recently when I debated a bunch of TRUE doom and gloomers who seem to think anyone with even the slightest optimism for the future is "closed minded". These same people could not even come up with a single invention from the last 10 years that has made their lives better or more productive.
Anyway, I think a lot of people (not only the doom and gloomers) would benefit by just thinking about where we’ve come from in the last 100 years or longer. My living standard is much higher than my parents living standard was at my age, and my grandparents grew up on farms. My ancestors came to this country with almost nothing, they worked harder than you could imagine just to build their own houses, raise animals, and grow their own food. The picture at the top of this post is an actual photo of my ancestors at harvest time. They had little to save (and you think savings is low now!). They got up before dawn, labored until after dusk, and worked 6 days a week (the five day work week is a relatively new idea actually, did you know the stock market was even open on Saturdays up until the 1950's?). They built wagons on the side for extra income. They had to pool their money together in order to take care of the elderly and the widows because back then there were no welfare checks from the government (or social security or medicare). Yes, this communist living kept them alive. Incidentally, the town (and its history) that my ancestors built has been very nicely preserved.
With technological advancement, things are getting easier and easier for humans every year - if you can’t see this, you need to take a big step back to look at the big picture, where we were in the not so distant past, and where we are heading. Are you better off than your grand parents?
This chain of technological advancement will only stop if there is some mega catastrophe that destroys the Earth, and it isn’t likely to be global warming or “peak oil”. Anyway, we will eventually reach the point where virtually everything is mechanized and energy is free, no one will have to “work” in any traditional sense, and perhaps even the concept of money will not exist. This is where we are headed. I am not saying it will happen soon, I’m only saying this is where we are headed. If you are interested in “futurism” I highly recommend you check out “Robotic Nation” by Marshall Brain.
As for the doom and gloomers that can’t think of any inventions from the last 10 years that have made life better or more productive - again, wake up and open your eyes, you are looking at one right now! While the internet wasn’t invented in the last 10 years, it has certainly led to massive benefits to millions of businesses and individuals over the last 10 years. I can say that I have personally benefited tremendously. Costs of investing, research, communication, marketing, etc. have plunged as a result of the internet. I get my phone service over the internet, I pay my bills over the internet, I do my research over the internet for everything from the news to entertainment, personal projects, home improvement, investments, shopping, and more. The internet allows me to work remotely, to send pictures and videos instantly to anyone in the world for "free", and to easily communicate with millions of people all over the world. Other recent inventions that either improve quality of life or productivity include automated self checkout, high definition televisions, high definition content, robotic massage chairs, terabyte hard drives, cheap reliable database software, high speed computers, tarter control toothpaste, early detection and elimination of cancer, delicious abundance and variety of prepared foods and restaurants, state of the art entertainment (compare movie special effects for example from today to that of 10,20,30,40 years ago).
I could go on but if you couldn’t think of a single thing then you probably have your head buried so deep in pessimism that you can’t see anything else. Don't get me wrong, this country could be heading for economic turmoil, possibly even another depression, but the future is still VERY bright. In light of all that has happened in the last couple hundred years, even the Great Depression was really only a "blip" in the grand scheme of things. We will come out of any negative economic events stronger than before, and the relentless push of technological innovation will continue undaunted in ANY environment.