Look Forward by Looking Back

​Ten years ago I published an article informing those in their 70’s, that many would live to be 100. I thought the column would be viewed as good news but the responses I received were generally the opposite. One man summed up what several others had said with these words: “With all the trouble in the world, my retired friends and I were at least comforted in knowing that we only had about 10 years left. Your article on longevity effectively committed us to 30 more years of investing hell.” He then closed by saying, “Can you please give us some words of hope?”
I responded to him in my next column, as follows in part here:
“Perhaps the best way to find hope for the next thirty years is to look backwards and see what has happened since 1980. During the past 30 years we have suffered through 4 recessions. Unemployment hit 10.8% (1982). We fought several wars. We had a president nearly assassinated. Control of the government bounced from Democrat to Republican and back several times. Terrorists attacked New York, forever changing the way we view our own security. Earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes wreaked billions in damages. Junk bonds, Savings and Loan Collapses and several market crashes left us with plenty to worry about. Surely, we have been through difficult times.
Yet, despite all the trials, we have been privileged to enjoy an unprecedented boom in both the economy as well as the quality of our lives. This was made possible by once unimaginable advances in technology and medicine that have made life safer, easier and more enjoyable.” I ended by saying, “Thinking of all the advancements of the past 30 years, what might the next 30 years hold? New industries will emerge, new technologies will make today’s amazing gadgets obsolete and young entrepreneurs will continue to find ways to make our lives better. All this growth will fuel the investment futures of those who still believe in America. Since 1776 we have survived 47 recessions. I see no reason why we can’t manage a few more.”
I had great hopes back then but today I marvel at how the reality of the past 10 years has surpassed even my most optimistic dreams in 2010. We have self-driving electric cars, watches that track our fitness and pay our bills, delivery trucks that bring us anything we want in one day or dinner from a local restaurant in one hour, the ability to speak face to face with someone anywhere in the world – for free, and my favorite of all – robotic vacuums, and countless other wonderful modern conveniences. On top of that, we have free education available on every possible topic on the internet. What a wonderful time we live in.
Technology continues to advance at an increasing rate, so to my now 80-year-old readers from 2010 I say, I hope you have your seatbelt on because I believe the best is yet to come. Those are my words of hope for 2020.