Social Indicators: We are witnessing a remarkable cultural renewal in America. Violent crime rates remain at the lowest levels in the history of the Bureau of Justice Statistics' survey (which started in 1973). We are experiencing the sharpest decline in teen crime in modern history. Property crimes are near the lowest levels in the history of the federal survey. Welfare caseloads have declined almost 60 percent since 1996. Both the abortion rate and ratio are at the lowest levels we have seen in the 30-year period these data have been tracked. African American and Hispanic fourth-graders posted the highest reading and math scores in the history of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test. The use of illegal drugs by teens has dropped 19 percent since 2001, while the use of hallucinogens such as LSD and ecstasy has declined by more than half. The teen birth rate has fallen for a dozen consecutive years. The percentage of high school students who reported having had sex is significantly lower than in the early 1990s. The divorce rate has fallen steadily for over a decade. And teen smoking has dropped by almost 50 percent since the late '90s....
The Economy : The American economy is the strongest in the world and growing faster than that of any other major industrialized country. It grew at an annual rate of 5.3 percent in the first quarter -- the fastest growth in 2 1/2 years. It has added more than 5.3 million jobs since the summer of 2003, and employment is near an all-time high. The unemployment rate (4.6 percent) is well below the average for each of the past four decades. Mortgage rates remain near historical lows, homeownership remains near a record high, and sales of new and existing homes reached record levels in 2005. Real disposable personal income has risen almost 13 percent since President Bush took office; and core inflation rose just 2.3 percent over the past 12 months. The Dow Jones industrial average has risen from under 7300 in 2002 to above 11,000 for most of this year. Tax revenues are at an all-time high -- and so is total household net worth.
National Security : Perhaps no nation has ever been as dominant as the United States is today -- and we are using our military power to promote great purposes. As a reference point, it's worth recalling that the 1930s and early-'40s were regarded by many as the twilight of freedom. Democratic societies were threatened both internally (by a depression) and externally (by Nazism and fascism). There were only a dozen or so democracies on the planet.
Today we are witnessing one of the swiftest advances of freedom in history. In the past four years more than 110 million people have joined the ranks of the free -- and for the first time freedom is taking root in the Middle East. Once ruled by cruel dictatorships, the people of Afghanistan and Iraq are now governed by constitutions and are participating in national elections. The governments of the two countries once provided safe haven to terrorists; now they are engaged in a mortal struggle against them. This struggle is longer and harder than any of us would wish, but by any standard or precedent of history, Afghanistan and Iraq have made remarkable political progress. Kuwait's parliament has granted full political rights to women. Arab intellectuals are pushing for a rapid acceleration of democratic reform. After almost 30 years, Syrian troops left Lebanon in response to the Cedar Revolution. And Libya has abandoned its program of weapons of mass destruction. The biggest nuclear-smuggling ring in history, run by Pakistan's A.Q. Khan, is being rolled up. The government of Pakistan has cast its lot with us against al-Qaeda.
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