Last Call: Stop ringing the bells!

Last Call
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marcfrey150Stop ringing the bells! I was just about to write another cheesy note, full of clichés like, “This is the time to count our blessings and give to somebody that needs it more than ourselves.” While I encourage you to do that, the very smart readers of Last Call already know that, and are not looking for me to state the obvious.

So I was wondering what makes readers come back to this page, and why it solicits spontaneous reader comments from all walks of life. Maybe it’s because I write from the heart, maybe because I try to cut through the noise and try to put issues into perspective or provoke my readers to think about a topic in new terms. Whatever it is, I feel grateful for the opportunity and the feedback I receive.

Let’s face it: 2012 has been a tough year. All the talk about the Greeks drowning the Eurozone, the dispute about health care reform and who should pay what taxes, the constant unrest in the Middle East, the hottest summer on U.S. record affecting farmers in large parts of the country, Superstorm Sandy causing ten thousands of people to be homeless, and an economic recovery that feels slower than molasses isn’t exactly the stuff that puts you in festive mood.

Yet encouraging things are happening! But because news channels and local newspapers focus on the negative, the positive facts often get drowned out.

Three fundamental realities suggest that 2013 could shape up to be a hopeful year:

1. Energy independence is now almost a reality. The U.S. has produced 83 percent of the energy it consumed, but don’t give the President all the credit. While he has directed billions of dollars towards the development of renewable energies, it is the private sector that made it happen. By developing new drilling techniques, we have accessed new gas and oil reserves, cutting imports by 25 percent compared to 4 years ago, in turn creating an estimated 500,000 new jobs.

2. The U.S. is once again a competitive manufacturing base. Bob Lutz said during his recent visit to Hilton Head, “Not only are we globally competitive, but are now producing some of the best vehicles in the world, giving us the ability to export cars into new markets like China.”  But it is not only U.S. brands that are exporting cars from the U.S.; German and Japanese carmakers are doing the same. In 2011, BMW exported 87,000 X3s from its Spartanburg  plant. The total export of U.S. manufactured automobiles is an estimated 1.65 million units and growing.

3. We are adding new jobs. Finding a good full-time job is still no easy task, and the uncertainty regarding  healthcare reform is making employers nervous. Despite that, the positive trend line continues. As an example, South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped from 9.1 to 8.6 percent last month, the biggest drop of any state. Nationally, 23 of the 50 states reported less than 7 percent unemployment rate.

Sure, we still have a long road to go, but it feels reassuring that we can go into the New Year knowing that the nation’s journey to an economic recovery is taking hold.

On a local level, it has been noticeable that we are investing in improving our infrastructure. From hotel renovations to bike paths, and new roads to affordable housing developments, the Lowcountry is shaping up. This past year, the Lowcountry has felt very much alive and full of people that exude optimism. It has to be a sign that they feel better about the future.

So in the spirit of Christmas, let’s reach across the aisle (and the isle) and continue our journey to a strong nation and a strong community.

I personally would like to thank our advertisers. Without your support, Monthly could not be the “Voice of the Lowcountry” and could not play a role in connecting us all.

All the best wishes for a successful 2013!