Americans figure out how to thrive in lean times


America has its mojo back as more and more people learn to survive and even thrive in lean times.

There’s a national spirit of resiliency we have that I see when talking to people about opportunities they’re seizing when opening their own business, or coming up with new ways to live and put food on the table.

As I travel around the country, I love to tell people that manufacturing is not dead in America. It’s actually roaring back. But the jobs are not coming back at the same rate because so much manufacturing today is automated, requiring fewer and fewer actual people to run a factory.

Still, the good news is that we will once again be the exporting machine we were in the 20th century. We’re selling more and more to other countries. That speaks to our ability to continually reinvent ourselves. So despite the slower job growth, we figure out how to survive and then how to prosper.

As a country, we’ve been through a tough number of years where we thought prosperity was in the rear view mirror. But that’s not true at all. I mean, just look at Detroit.

I remember about three years ago being on a military base talking to young members of our armed forces about how they handle their money. I recall speaking with one husband of a soldier who was commuting to Detroit for work. He was wondering if he should buy some of the houses that were selling for $6,000 or $8,000.

I told the guy, “No, don’t even think about it. Detroit is never coming back.” Well, I was wrong. Even Motown is showing stirrings of life and vitality today.

The thing is, we as Americans underestimate ourselves after having spent much of the 20th century overestimating ourselves. We’ve got to remember that we have a lot of mojo in this country and it’s because of us and the way we tick as Americans. We have so much to offer the world and we’re doing it.

Editor’s note: Today’s broadcast originated from Janesville, Wisc., during a special Town Hall forum on economic recovery.  Special thanks to affiliate WCLO-AM 1230 for sponsoring the event.

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