THE BLOG
07/30/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Pessimism: I'll Drink to That!

Have you traded in Newsweek for UsWeekly yet? Stopped watching the local 11 o'clock news in favor of The Daily Show? Maybe even skip the entire front section of the newspaper to leap right into the Sports section?

Don't panic. You are not alone! These are simply all signs that you've been overwhelmed by rising fuel prices, falling home equity, mounting bad news in the Middle East and yes, even the specter that Madonna could be divorcing.

In fact, just last week The Conference Board which has tracked Americans mood swings since 1967, released figures showing that consumer confidence has reached an all time low. Sobering, but in light of the latest media coverage, hardly surprising news.

However, I would offer that the best way to shake us out of this nationwide malaise is the malaise itself, without which we are likely not compelled to make positive strides for a brighter future. The alarms have sounded and Americans are springing into action. Yes my friends, pessimism is the harbinger for optimism!

For example, take the rising costs of a barrel of oil. It's no secret that for decades, Americans have enjoyed some of the best gasoline prices this side of Riyadh. And where has that gotten us? Likely behind the wheel of petro guzzling Chevy Trailblazer, scoffing at mass transportation and global warming. Is it any wonder that Ford just announced SUV sales down -55% versus last year? But sales of the more fuel efficient Ford Focus were up +53% - and total hybrid vehicles sold in America have doubled in the last 12 months.

Did you know that Americans drink more bottled water per capita than any nation in the world? Unfortunately, we only recycle less than 5% of those bottles and send 100 million petroleum-based, PET plastic bottles into our landfills... every day! Fortunately, Americans are discovering that using a reusable bottle and tap water makes sense - both for bank accounts and the environment. In a recent study by Morgan Stanley, 25% of consumers said they are reducing their bottled beverage consumption in favor of tap water to minimize their impact on the environment. I'd say the glass is half full!

From opting out of the Kyoto Treaty to the quagmire that is Iraq, our nation has an international image crisis to go along with a serious case of the blues. However, I am quite optimistic to think that America is on the brink of breaking a color barrier that most thought was impossible in their lifetime. In hindsight, is it any wonder that Barack Obama has beaten a heavily favored opponent in the primary and now holds a sizable lead in the race to be our next President ...based on a campaign calling for hope?

Pass over that half-filled glass. I'll drink to the future!