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There are things to be thankful for this year

By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor

By the time most of you read this column, thoughts of finalizing your Thanksgiving holiday will be probably foremost in your minds.
Perhaps you're headed off to a relative's house or perhaps everyone is coming to your place. Of course, for a number of you, the Norman Rockwell image of the family around a table eyeing a roast turkey and its traditional side dishes might not be something you can accomplish this year.
Do we have things for which to be thankful this year? I'd like to think so, and according to John Zogby's polling organization, there is a more favorable spirit in the nation.
"The mood of Americans has improved in the past month, with an increase in the number of likely voters who now view the country as headed in the right direction," a new Reuters/Zogby telephone poll shows.
"The Reuters/Zogby Index, which measures overall American confidence, has increased to 93.3 from 89.7 in October. The Reuters/Zogby Index includes 10 poll questions that gauge perception of the state of the country and the economy. The telephone survey of 1,014 likely voters nationwide was conducted Nov. 13-15, 2008. It carries a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points."
Could it be just the election? Maybe, and maybe some people are summoning up the courage to trudge through the many problems that have beset this country in the last year and this poll reflects that.
Our foreclosure rates in Western Massachusetts are lower than the eastern part of the state according to www.Realtytrac.com and our state is nowhere in the trouble that Arizona, Nevada and Florida find themselves in.
And this news came out Oct. 16 from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development: "Massachusetts' unemployment rate remains well below the national average at 5.3 percent, though up slightly from 5.2 percent according to preliminary estimates for September released today by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
"The Massachusetts unemployment rate remains nearly a full percentage point below the national rate, which was unchanged at 6.1 percent in September. The Massachusetts rate has been below the national average each month since June 2007."
Well, that's good as well.
Hey, I'm not kidding you or myself. Times are tough out there. This country has gone from being the largest exporter of finished goods at the end of the Carter Administration to the world's biggest debtor nation. Ronald Reagan started this country down the road we now find ourselves. It will take years to reverse the effects of bad economic policies and corporate greed.
But I'm just a patriot enough to think we can indeed do just that and bring back a country with a solid middle class and the pathways to allow people to better themselves.
Somehow the words of another American president, Franklin Roosevelt, seem appropriate at this time of year.
From his first inaugural address: "I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves, which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days."
Happy Thanksgiving.
This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to mdobbs@thereminder.com or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.


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