Congratulate yourself. Give yourself a nice pat on the bank. Somehow or other you survived 2021. And I mean that in every aspect, not only money but health and career and family and friends. Not everyone made it through this year, after all. And some barely survived.
While you may not be better off, may not have found a rewarding job, may still be worried about how you’ll put food on the table or pay the rent — you survived. So take a deep breath and look forward to the New Year.
Around the New Year, columns like this are typically filled with exhortations to make resolutions — whether about managing your money more wisely or losing weight. Not this time. Just stop and take a quick look around. You may not have solved all your problems, but at least for this past year you survived them.
The world is a mess. One long war is over, but the innocent people are still suffering. Our country created trillions of dollars of new money to help the needy, but too much of it was hijacked by unemployment scamsters. The politicians who typically compete to offer freebies and buy votes have decided to steal them instead, either through the invisible tax of inflation or by rigging the ballot process.
Yet America remains the most generous nation ever, giving $450 billion to charity in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic that devastated the entire economy. We will likely top that record in 2021. And that giving was mostly done without tax incentives.
Still, the television airwaves are filled at this season with requests for aid — for homeless children living on the street and for discarded pets living in the cold. And for hospitals that treat sick children and for food banks that feed families. And for homeless veterans who fought our wars and for young girls traded for sex. Have we turned a blind eye to those pleas for help because we view everything through a political lens?
Can we count our blessings and yet forget to subtract our social obligations? Can we complain about taxes on required minimum distributions when many families have a minimum of food and shelter? This is not about politics or economics. It’s about how our national obsession with the political economy seems to have blinded us to the real economy.
America is not about redistribution of wealth. It is about growing the economic pie so everyone can participate and prosper. America is about law and rules and fair markets and sound money. It’s about equality of opportunity, not of results. But equality starts at the earliest age — with healthy young children who get a good education.
You’ve heard this all before. This is not a new message. Congratulations on surviving 2021 — the second year of the pandemic. Pat yourself on the back. And then look ahead — and around. Look ahead to all the possibilities of the New Year. And look around to see how you can help bring the promise of America to those you are willing to see.
Don’t look away. If you’re dismayed by all the negativity in the air, take action and add some positivity. Give something of yourself — if not money, then time and compassion. If you don’t know where to start, check the good causes at CharityNavigator.org.
The more you give, the more you get.