"The country is divided. The political rhetoric is getting worse. The world seems to be in a mess."
"Relax, my friend. If you step back from the noise and emotion, you'll realize things are pretty good."
"Pretty good? Democrats and Republicans are fighting like cats and dogs. Half the country sides with one party as it demonizes the other. President Trump calls Democrats in Congress nasty names as Democrats call him even nastier names."
"That is regrettably true. The political hyperbole is awfully intense. But, believe it or not, it has been worse. Google the name-calling Thomas Jefferson and John Adams used against each other during the presidential campaign of 1800!"
"But the rich are getting richer, thanks to Trump's tax plan!"
"Ah, more hyperbole from politicians. Look, thanks to the recent tax-system overhaul, corporate taxes have been reduced and U.S.-based companies doing business overseas are bringing billions in overseas profits back to America. Combined with Trump's undoing of hundreds of overzealous regulations that have been inhibiting investment and growth, the economy is booming."
"But Democrats in Congress are saying that average guys like me will end up with crumbs at the expense of the fat cats."
"The truth is that, because of tax reform, many companies are giving employees bonuses and pay raises. They are announcing plans for new plants and hiring thousands more Americans. And have you looked at your paycheck recently? Now that the new tax-cut rules are active, the vast majority of workers are seeing a decent bump in take-home pay. A thousand bucks or two is more than crumbs."
"But socialism is on the rise. Look at the younger generations in America who, surveys show, think capitalism is bad."
"We'll see how so many Bernie Sanders supporters respond to a robust American economy that produces good-paying jobs that will finally allow them to move out of Mom and Dad's basement. Meanwhile, capitalism and democracy have been spreading across the globe in recent years. Latin America, the Philippines, Indonesia and almost all of East Asia are democratic."
"Which benefits them how?"
"According to philosopher Michael Novak, 'capitalism better helps the poor to escape from poverty than any other system. ... (C)apitalism is a necessary condition for the actual success of democracy.' You see, as the world flourishes economically, millions will have better lives."
"But North Korea has gone rogue with its missiles. The Middle East is a powder keg. Terrorist incidents are increasing around the world. We're all doomed."
"Sure, we have challenges in North Korea, unrest in the Middle East and global terrorism. There is always some kind of evil in our fast-changing world trying to rear its ugly head — Nazism, communism, totalitarianism, a rogue dictator somewhere. We've successfully faced down such challenges before. I'm confident our best strategic thinkers will have the wisdom to do so again."
"But as the baby-boom generation ages, how are we going to pay for Social Security and Medicare and other rapidly growing entitlements?"
"By applying the creativity and innovation that former communist countries are using. Slovakia is funding retirement through personal savings accounts, a simple concept that has proved to be very effective in other parts of the world. With robust economic growth and creative leadership, we can solve our problems in America."
"But our culture is in decline. Look at the garbage on television and the web."
"But this is really a sign that our culture fully embraces freedom — real, genuine openness. Freedom opens the floodgates to everything that is bad in the human heart, an abundance of which is available through technology, but it also opens the floodgates to everything that is good."
"How can you be so optimistic with so many things going so wrong?"
"How can you be so pessimistic with so many things going so right? In a relatively short time, the American experiment has unleashed the most productive, energetic, prosperous nation in the history of mankind. It has created a gregarious and generous people, and the countries that emulate its ideals are beginning to enjoy physical, mental and spiritual prosperity that is the envy of the world. The fact is, things are pretty good in the world and going to get better."
Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc.