Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005: Improving by leaps and bounds

2005 was an interesting year - one of natural disasters, historic foreign elections, and "complicated political situations," as Ben Shapiro writes in an excellent year-end op-ed piece. But "amidst all the political turmoil," Shapiro says, "something grand happened this year: America's situation in the world improved by leaps and bounds."

With three remarkably successful elections, 2005 may have been the key year for democracy in Iraq: "In less than three years, America and its allies have turned Iraq from a radical terrorist-funding dictatorship capable of threatening its neighbors into a laboratory of democracy in the Middle East. And 2005 was the turning point."

In the broader war on terror, "Since Sept. 11, law enforcement has broken up terrorist cells in New York, Oregon, California, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio, thanks to instruments like the Patriot Act. Terrorists caught overseas were mined for information -- information that has been extremely useful, as in the case of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, a top al-Qaeda mastermind."

Domestically, "At the end of 2004, our economy was growing steadily. The unemployment rate had dropped over the course of the year, but many questioned if employment levels would continue to rise..."

They did. "In October 2005, the unemployment rate dropped below 5 percent for the first time since August 2001, and as of December, it is now hovering at 5 percent." Meanwhile,
Over the past two years and four months, the economy has created 4.2 million new jobs. Labor productivity continued to rise this year, as it has risen every quarter since the first quarter of 2001; the productivity rate is currently rising faster than it has in 40 years. In the third quarter of 2005, the gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 4.1 percent, a solid indicator of economic health. Since 2002, the economy has created 2.3 million additional minority homeowners. And the holiday season this year was incredibly successful, with retail spending up 8.7 percent from the same period last year. All of this despite the economic effects of the continued War on Terror and the costs of a massive hurricane wiping one of America's largest cities from the map. Our economy remains vibrant and continues to grow.

Despite recent tragedies, things are better for America now than they were last year, Shapiro says. We're moving in the right direction. That's something that too few Americans seem to realize.

Update: See CWA's "Victories" list for 2005.

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