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How to make it better?

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By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

First, I am talking about the economy and I have the answer: It is highly unlikely that anytime in the future that the basic economic measurements can be better than they are now. Going back as far as Herbert Hoover, one struggles to find basic economic statistics better than now.

Take unemployment. The only years better than what we are experiencing are 1929 (right before the crash), 1943-45 (the boom years of World War II), 1947, 1952 and 1966-69 (the boom years of Vietnam). Since I have been in the working world – close to 50 years – times have never been better.

The black unemployment rate has never been better than 2018-19. Legal, lawful immigrants by the numbers per Homeland Security for 2017 were 1,127,167. Years higher than this number: 2016, 2009, 2006, 1991, 1990, 1914, 1913 and 1907. These are raw numbers, not percentages. I cannot find a good, comparable number for 2018, yet.

These numbers – at least the recent year numbers – don’t seem to square with Pew Research, which I believe is a well-respected search organization (see their information at…).

Don’t know quite what to say here, but to say that our current admission of lawful immigrants matches the recent past.

Violent crime in the United States peaked in 1991 and has been on a decline ever since.
Motor vehicle deaths peaked in 1941 and again in 1972. They have been on a decline ever since, but we still kill nominally 40,000 people per year in vehicle accidents. On a per-capita basis, they have gone down drastically.

As for the matters above, I seriously doubt any presidential candidate can make them better. Remember these times, they are the best you are likely to ever see (except perhaps autonomous vehicles may improve the traffic statistics).

National debt. The national debt is out of control and has been for decades. The only president who has presided over long-term stable or declining debt in recent decades has been Bill Clinton. Some argue he got a dividend from the end of the Cold War, others disagree.

I don’t blame either political party or any president for this. I blame all of us for dipping our hands in the till and taking a little here and a little there with tax breaks, energy breaks (I got over $20,000 in tax breaks when I put solar panels on my house), farm subsidies and the like. We are all guilty.

The only ones I know who may not be guilty in this respect are my Mennonite and Amish friends. They pay their bills, including taxes (it is a false rumor that they don’t pay taxes) and take care of their own poor, sick and dying.

The only president who presided over a country with zero debt – the country owed no one anything – was Andrew Jackson. From George Washington to Donald Trump, Andrew Jackson is the sole one.

Second, there are the services governments provide us. From the bureau of motor vehicles to the IRS to Social Security, the services reflect what one would expect from monopolies, which is what they are. It is illegal for the private sector to create monopolies, but the local, state and federal governments do it all the time.

We can make things better here. Allow competing bureaucracies. I have mentioned this example before – allow New Jersey, for instance, to compete for motor vehicle services in Kentucky. Allow any competent department to do this across state lines. Things will get better. Eliminate the monopolies, or if you can’t eliminate them, eliminate the services they provide.

I do not understand why citizens tolerate the poor service they get from government organizations. We should all be raising Cain about them.

I don’t know how to make the economic numbers better, and I doubt anyone else does either. We may have trouble making government services better, but one thing we can do is not allow any more government services to spawn and grow; choke off the existing and do not allow new ones.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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