11 Good Things in 2011
This year of 2011 may well be remembered as a low point, with the sluggish economy, political gridlock, and high poverty rates. But a number of good things happened as well! To wit:
- Across the political spectrum, from the Tea Party to the Occupy movement, people are getting more involved in politics. (This could be because our representatives are becoming increasingly different from us.)
- People are once again saving money. Outstanding household debt is down 5% from its peak in 2008.
- Violent crime has decreased dramatically.
- Teen birth rates are once again on the decline after a blip of increase between 2005 and 2007. Rates are at record lows and have declined for all racial and ethnic groups.
- The war in Iraq is over—our troops are coming home!
- Harold Camping was wrong: The world did not end on October 21.
- Eligibility for food stamps has been expanded, so more people in need have access to food.
- Unemployment is on the decline (although long-term unemployment is still a cause for concern).
- Technology is providing access to education for millions who never would have had such opportunities in the past.
- Use of public transportation is on the rise. According to the Met Council, public use of mass transit increased by 18.7% over the decade. This reduces congestion, pollution, and wear on our infrastructure. Bicycle commuting is also increasing, and Minneapolis has one of the highest rates in the country.
- And to close out the year, Minnesota has received some significant grants for our youngest learners: More than $90 million additional dollars will be targeted towards early learning, thanks primarily to grants from the U.S. Department of Education for Race to the Top and the Northside Achievement Zone.
Best wishes to you and yours for a safe, happy, and healthy 2012!