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We’ve had it pretty good this decade

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POSTED December 31, 2009 2:48 a.m.

Ten years ago the hottest ticket in Manteca was to the Party of the Century at Kelley Brothers.

The 900 tickets sold out weeks in advance. People were literally dancing in the street – well actually in a tent erected in the middle of South Grant next to Kelley Brothers – to Prince’s “1999.”

Everyone was more than optimistic despite efforts of doomsayers warning the world was coming to an end thanks to the Y2K bug.

The recession that started in 1989 and deepened in the early 1990s had finally come to an end.

The pain of the double-whammy – Spreckels Sugar’s closing in January 1996 and the flooding of 70 square miles southwest of Manteca in January 1997 – was starting to fade.

Fast forward to today.

This economic downturn – dubbed The Great Recession – was more painful than the last. Unemployment is at a record high 14 percent in Manteca. Thousands of people lost their homes compared to dozens in the early 1990s when prices last took a dive. Living big comes with a big price that has to be paid sooner or later.

Back on Dec. 31, 2009 most of us never gave a thought to the World Trade Center, September  11 was just another date on the calendar, and cell phones weren’t multi-media devices that can double as projectors.

There are a lot of bad things that have happened in the past 10 years. But like always, the good ends up outweighing the bad.

Ten years ago home ownership for most people who worked and lived in Manteca wasn’t completely out of the question but it was getting there.

Now frugal 20 Something couples and singles of all ages that make as little as $25,000 a year have become homeowners.

Manteca changed after the confetti hit the floor and champagne glasses were emptied a decade ago.

Not everyone embraces change. Life, though, is about change. Nothing remains constant.

Tonight, most of us will look back on 2009 and say enough is enough. Yet we can all find a lot of good even among the bad. Perhaps you met the love of your life, were blessed with the miracle of birth, or had your faith restored in humanity.

There’s a lot of good out there. Even with the worst economy since the Depression, people stepped up to help others through donations to non-profits and personal outreach. There was more than one instance this Christmas of people adopting entire families by forgoing their own Christmas gift exchange. Yes, there are still a lot of people out there hurting but it has got to give you hope to know that when push comes to shove we are not as self-centered as we fear.

We are slowly adjusting to the new realities. City workers are taking pay cuts, police and teachers are working harder. We all are working harder while often making less.

It is time again for Manteca to re-invent itself from how the city and school districts run to businesses and households.

If we learned our lessons from the excess of the decade that is about to close and remember what we held important as we watched the World

Trade Center came tumbling down on the fateful morning of Sept. 11, 2001, then the next 10-year benchmark may have us looking back content with what has unfolded.

Some may ask what we have to celebrate tonight.

The answer is simple: Life, liberty, and a future.
Despite all that has gone wrong, the first decade of the 21st century in the overall scheme of civilization has been pretty darn good.

The swine flu beats the heck out of the plague. Besides, let’s not forget that polio – once the scourge of young people worldwide including the United States just 60 years ago – has been brought to the brink of extinction this decade.

Twelve percent unemployment in California sure is a lot better than the Great Depression. If you had the opportunity to get plopped down in the middle of one or the other, trust me, you’d take The Great Recession.

The War on Terrorism may worry or inconvenience you but compared to what this country went through even on the home front during World War II it is a walk in the park.

Paying more for college is painful but it beats the choice that most young Americans had in the early 20th century which was working on the farm, working as a laborer, mining coal, or toiling in sweat shops.

When all is said and done, we’ve had it pretty good this decade.

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