We are nearing the end of a very difficult time in the life of our country. From late in 2008 until now we have been headed into and then out of several very difficult economic years. Unemployment went sky high and consumer spending dropped off of the table. Today, we are almost back to normal with spending but, unfortunately, unemployment still hangs on at around 6.4 percent. That is several percentage points better than it was but we are not out of the woods yet. And to a person who is out of work the job market is, indeed, daunting.
    Unemployment is still too high. However, taking an optimistic perspective, we can report that 93.6 percent of those who want jobs have them. Match that with any country in Europe and know that they would be pleased to trade places with us. Jobs are available. Just look at the want ads. Yes, the job market is changing and our work force needs to be constantly upgraded and re-trained. But isn’t that exactly why we created the technical college system?
     Let’s admit that those of us living out here in main street America can’t influence much of what is going on with unemployment. We can’t suddenly create a new industry and hire large numbers of people. We can, however, take control of our own state of mind. So much of what ails America is in our state of mind. If we want to be sick we can make ourselves so. If we have infirmities, and we all do, we can give in to them, or not. If we want to see the glass as half full instead of half empty we can.
       The “yes, but” people have been working overtime telling us we are in big trouble as a country. Do you think we are worse off than when we had the double digit unemployment of the early ‘80s? Do you think it is worse than the unemployment malaise of the late ‘50s? Do you think it is worse than the problems of the ‘30s, the time of the Great Depression?
     Don’t get me wrong, unemployment is a serious problem. But we handled the problems of the ‘30s, the ‘50s and the ‘80s, and we will handle this problem as well. Try to remember that it is an election year and no one ever won an incumbent’s seat in Congress by telling us how well everything is going.
   President Franklin D. Roosevelt, told us two generations ago that, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He was right then and he would still be right today. We are perfectly capable of “down thinking” ourselves into another recession or “up-thinking” ourselves out of one. So what we need right now is some strong trust in our system, and a full boat load of optimism.      

    Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. Contact him at presnet@presnet.net.