Which of the following 10 statements is false?
1) The teen pregnancy rate is near an all-time low.
2) The abortion rate is at an all-time low.
3) Government funding helps prevent roughly 800,000 abortions a year.
4) The rate of violent crime has been falling for the past few decades.
5) The much-discussed deficit has begun to decrease and stabilize.
6) The divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and has been falling ever since.
7) Since the Sept. 11, 2011 attacks, the number of Americans killed by Muslim-American terrorists is almost nonexistent. More people have died falling off sidewalks.
8) After bottoming out in early 2009, the stock market has since soared, returning a few trillion dollars in value to the holdings of everyday Americans, including those who have 401ks and other popular retirement accounts.
9) South Carolina’s educational system showed good progress on a recent national study.
10) Issac Bailey scored 3 TDs in the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Sunday.
You guessed it.
Only No. 10 is false. (It’s sort of true only in the dark recesses of my mind.)
Teenage girls are having babies at a decreased rate, the rate of abortion reached a milestone low without much fanfare and couples in my generation are remaining married longer than those in my parents’ generation.
There are signs of life in the housing market and stock market and the beginnings of a thaw in consumer lending by banks.
We are not on a downward spiral to more violence, despite 9/11, Sandy Hook and national rankings that always over-estimate how dangerous Myrtle Beach supposedly is.
It’s hard to know any of this because of the persistent headlines that focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right in the world.
It’s one of the unfortunate hazards of trying to bring problems into public awareness so more progress can be made.
It’s necessary to drum up public support, but it can also unnecessarily increase public fears about … just about everything.
The world isn’t perfect.
In an ideal world, there would be no teen and unwanted pregnancies and abortions.
The unemployment rate would be below 6 percent and falling instead of stuck just below 8 percent.
The growth of the stock market would be outpaced by the growth of the everyday American’s paycheck.
The achievement gap in schools would have been eliminated.
The long-term fiscal outlook, which hinges on rising health care costs, would be brighter.
There remain a lot of problems to fix and hurdles to clear.
That’s why we must continue to fuss and debate and agitate and inform.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop every now and again and assess – and even celebrate – the progress we’ve already made.