Things Are Looking Up, America!
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – I was talking to my friend Tom the other day, and he was bumming me out pretty good. He always does. He's a downbeat guy, possibly because his options are so far underwater he'd get the bends trying to retrieve them. He also reads the newspaper far too much, I think.

Anyhow, he was in a good mood that morning because of what had just happened to his friend Andy. It seems that Andy was standing in the doorway to his office when one of the acoustic tiles that make up the ceiling fell straight down and hit him on the head. Only one tile fell, and it was the one directly above him, and it simply detached from its moorings as if designed to do so, and hit him smack on the noggin.

"You can make of that what you will," said Tom. "But I think it sort of shows where things are going for everybody these days."

It's that kind of attitude that produces negative vibrations, and I, for one, think it's time we shook ourselves out, stood up straight, and headed off in another direction. It's time, in short, to get positive.

Remember positive? It's what we were all about until sometime in 1999, when those crazy nimrods started trying to scare us about Y2K, with a side order of global warming. Well, the millennium has come and gone, and this is the coldest winter I can remember. All the bad stuff swirling around us is made up of things nobody prognosticated. In other words, the doom-and-gloom meisters haven't any more idea of what's going to happen than you or I do. So why not be optimistic? We have good, solid reasons to be.

First, the recession is over. I saw that on TV and in the newspapers. The economic picture is so good that a huge number of people have given up looking for jobs and aren't even being counted in the unemployment rolls. I have a mental image of all these people who don't even need to be engaging in the humiliating process of looking for work--sunning themselves on beaches, sleeping late every morning, rising at noon to enjoy a delicious brunch ... More and more Americans are doing exactly that, and I think that's reason enough to put on a happy face.

Next, the stock market is in the toilet--and you know what that means: upside and nothing but. Take Microsoft. Please. But seriously, I bought it when it was around 90, and now it's in the 40s. It has to go up from there, and just the thought has me whistling a happy tune. I must say I also enjoyed the $8.47 I got from Microsoft as a dividend last month.

Third, we seem to be over the worst of the white-collar crime and creative accounting of the past few years. The really bad guys are going to jail, except for those who aren't, and the days of corporations overstating earnings and inflating the value of their securities are over, thank goodness. Do you think that's in some way related to how stale, flat, and unprofitable the market is these days? Banish that thought! I'm going to focus on the corporate responsibility busting out all over and on how nobody is getting rich quick on greasy stock options anymore, except for those who are, and maybe that could be you or me! Because if you got options this year, they were probably issued at a pathetically low price!

Also, did you know that you're doing better than you think? I saw a column that said that if you make more than $60,000 a year, you're in the top rank of the nation's earners. That means that if you're reading this, you're probably considered rich by somebody. Even more positive for readers of this magazine, tax cuts for the very rich, the moderately rich, and the modestly rich seem a pretty sure thing, since our President views them as a solution to everything but eczema.

And finally, I guess, there's this war.

And aside from that, we have a lot of entertaining reality stuff on television, and the Oscars are coming up pretty soon, and we're the last superpower on the planet, which makes things kind of toasty, and baseball is right around the corner, and if baseball is here, can spring be far behind?

And then there's this war.

That, and the fact that the jug-eared guy who runs Homeland Security keeps coming on the news to scare people. Why does he do that? He never has any solid advice. Be careful. Who's not careful at this point? What's the function of those news briefings, anyway? To show us that somebody is on the job color-coding our level of danger? That guy really harshes my mellow, and I don't appreciate it.

And then there's this war, you know? That would be a real acoustic tile on the head, wouldn't it? ...

But what's the point of obsessing about that? There's so much good going on and a whole lot more to look forward to.

What, we worry? I think not! Life's too short!