By Judd Gregg - 10/01/12 09:00 AM EDT
The President is campaigning, Congress is in recess, and Mitt Romney is on the road.
This could lead one to be rather pessimistic about our government and about our direction as a nation.
But let’s look at the bright side.
First, the country is poised for some really significant and positive events.
Within the foreseeable future, America is going to go from a nation that imports oil and gas at excessive rates to a nation that, if we wish, can export oil and gas.
This will represent one of the most significant economic and geopolitical events in our recent history.
We will actually be able to produce enough gas and oil, at very reasonable costs, that we will again be a nation where our energy production gives us a competitive advantage.
Instead of spending $700 billion a year to buy oil and gas from people who do not like us, we will be investing those funds right here. And we’ll be creating the jobs that go with this investment.
The only thing that can slow — but not stop — this extraordinary shift in our good fortunes will be the activist elites in the environmental community, who do not want any more carbon-based energy added to our supply chain.
Their claims about natural gas — that it threatens groundwater and the environment — are impossible to defend on the basis of facts.
But that has never abated their desire to pursue policies that, in the name of global purity, produce little environmental protection but lots of lost jobs.
They cannot win on this issue and we will move to energy independence based on the discoveries of vast amounts of domestic resources.
It is also true that America remains the place where the breakthrough ideas, and the products they generate, are still being generated in the world of commerce and technology.
We remain the place where the “Facebooks” are created and Apple’s pipeline of personal technology thrives.
This is because we remain the place where individual creativity is rewarded and built into the culture.
No other nation has this.
It continues to give us an exceptional value-added advantage.
Of course, it would be helpful if we had an educational system that was producing more people of talent and an immigration policy that encouraged talented people to come here and stay.
But even without this, we have that unique national character that energizes new ideas.
It is also true that in the area of medicine — which remains the largest expenditure of almost all industrialized nations — we continue to develop breakthrough devices and bio-tech medicines.
Even with big Pharma slowing and being challenged by overseas initiatives, America remains the place where the truly exceptional is occurring in medicine, especially in regions like New England and Texas.
Further, American business and investors have massive amounts of available funds that are liquid and are looking for the next opportunity.
There would be even more capital available if our multi-national companies could repatriate their overseas earnings at a reasonable cost. But even considering that ridiculous impediment, America is ready to invest.
The risk takers and entrepreneurs are at the starting line awaiting the gun.
On top of all this good news, compare our position to our competitors around the world. Europe has been borrowing to support its standard of living for years, and now the markets have caught up with it.
Its productivity cannot possibly keep up with its debt and it is headed for a long period of adjustment and reduction in standard of living.
China is about to have demographic issues of massive proportions as its “one child” policy drives it into an unsustainable situation.
Russia is still trying to deal with a nasty case of nasty people running the country. As a result, it seems to have no rule of law.
Brazil, although sound at the moment, can go through a populist shift that stifles economic activity, such as is now occurring in Argentina.
We know this because it has happened in the past. Of all the large developed and developing economies, America is the place to bet on, once again.
The only thing that stands in the way of all this good movement is the fiscal policies of the federal government.
Even there, we are beginning to see some glimmer of hope. More and more, there are serious and, hopefully, purposeful efforts to try to push towards a comprehensive resolution of our looming fiscal instability.
When this election is concluded, it is actually possible to see a pathway to a substantive agreement that will involve controlling entitlement spending and tax reform based on lower rates that encourage investment. Look around, being an American is good.
Judd Gregg is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Foreign Operations. He also is an international adviser to Goldman Sachs.