David von Drehle begs to differ with fellow Time writer Fareed Zakaria's gloomy view of America's future. These doomsayers have been around since the country was in diapers, and the modern ones love to "cherry-pick dismal statistics from here and there to create an overall image of decline," von Drehle writes in his rebuttal essay. "If you collect enough symptoms, you can make a strong-sounding case that the country is indeed quite sick. But fallen trees don't prove the forest is dying." He calls most of the commonly cited problems "overblown," including income inequality. That's more an "illusion" caused by changes in the tax code than anything else, he argues.
Fixing the tax code will help, but not much because "the main force flattening income growth for most Americans" is the massive force of globalization. And "contrary to what you may hear, the US is doing pretty well at riding that whirlwind," he writes. "Wages may have stagnated, but the US hasn't. America's inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs, and workers have answered the sudden glut of cheap labor around the world by leading an astonishing revolution in productivity." So let the doomsayers do their thing. But with "further hard work and sacrifice (goaded by the spur of our relentless self-doubt) the US will do just fine in the world it has shaped." Full column here, or click for Zakaria's column here.