Saturday, July 2, 2011

Time for Fireworks

A big holiday for us is here:  Independence Day.  The day to celebrate America and everything our great nation stands for (plus we get to see lots of cool fireworks).  It’s a pretty big deal around here, enough so that it’s a Federal holiday and (most of us) get a paid day off.  And with this big holi-day-off comes some really monumental decisions: like if you want a hamburger or a hot dog (or, for those true patriots, both).  Do you want your BBQ sauce to have a ketchup or mustard base or are you a mayo person instead?  To get a dessert that’s red, white, and blue will you use blue Jello or food dye (and what about the 50 stars)?

Since the founding out this great nation, we’ve grown a lot (and not just in the size of our waistbands).   Since 1776 we’ve added more states, more territories, more people, and more money to our national debt.  We also have more options to choose from for just about everything.  McDonalds or Burger King?  Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme?  American Idol or The Voice?  The list goes on.  Americans have fought hard for the “freedoms” and “liberties” we have today “from sea to shining sea.”  Just think: where would we be if George Washington didn’t feel like crossing the Delaware in the cold middle of winter?  Or if members of the Continental Congress were nothing but a bunch of British loyalists?

As appreciation for all this freedom, you may wonder how we can give back in a way that shows just how much we value our American pride.  Here’s an idea:  let’s finish Mount Rushmore.  Then build monuments to celebrate our history in every national park.  Then build more bridges and highways as a way to “keep America growing.”  Let’s celebrate America at its foundation, literally, by giving some life to our construction industry.  Data released Friday shows construction spending, which many see as an indicator of economic expansion (if people are confident, they are more likely to invest in building more homes and businesses for example), continued to decrease in May (by 0.6% over April and by 7.1% over last year).  Even before adjusting for natural price increases, year over year construction spending has decreased substantially since the recession began (in May the annual rate of total construction spending was 2/3 of what it was in December 2007).  You may think this is your checkbook over the last few years, but it’s actually an important economic statistic:

According to the Food Network, this weekend Americans are expected to consume over 150 million hot dogs during 74 million cookouts.  That is very patriotic, our Founding Father’s would be so proud.  Go on and have your feast of American Independence.  And after we finish growing our waistbands a little more let’s turn back to growing our nation by laying the foundation for future economic expansion.  Happy Independence Day!

(Census Bureau, NBER, Food Network)

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