… airlines that lack serious competition in various markets didn't gouge the public.
… teachers received more admiration and respect from students and their parents.
… more working people would save seriously for their Golden Years (an estimated one-third of the U.S. population saves zero for retirement).
… Lindsay Lohan was never heard from again.
… Wall Street "high rollers" had greater legal and financial accountability for the financial market abuses of recent years.
… politicians were elected based on experience and ability, not on who can spend the most money and sling the most mud.
… we could make real progress in "clean burn" coal technology.
… the Administration was more focused on providing incentives for wealth creation and less focused on wealth redistribution.
… there were less irritating ways to bring buyers and sellers together than junk mail, spam, pop-up ads, telemarketing, and endless TV commercials.
… market corrections of various types were a little less painful.
… the national news media would run positive stories more than once every so often.
… U.S. firefighters, police officers, and military personnel received our respect ALL of the time.
… our national campaign season was much shorter and less exhausting … for candidates AND voters.
… Johnny Carson was still king of late-night.
… "government" would recognize that it is there to serve the people, and not the other way around.
… the unique combination of liberals, moderates, and conservatives elected to Congress last November could actually work together to address this nation's ills.
… American military personnel could see their families more often.
… solid Mexican economic growth would provide more good jobs at home.
… members of Congress had to participate in the same health care program as the one being dumped on the American people.
… "old fashioned" common courtesy between people made a big comeback.
… the problems in schools today were still spit wads, gum chewing, and truancy, as opposed to bullying, drug use, and pregnancy.
… we actually got serious about U.S. energy independence with a program geared to (1) conservation, (2) alternative sources of energy, (3) access to much more oil and natural gas in Alaska and on the Continental Shelf, and (4) developing massive deposits of oil shale and shale gas across the nation.
… each long-term member of Congress was required to take a year off, start a new business with limited funding, meet a payroll, and then deal with the complexities and hassles THEY have created.
… the outcome of many lawsuits was determined more by the facts and less by who has the deepest pockets.
… the role of "peacekeeper" wasn't associated with so much violence.
… many spoiled and pampered athletes in MLB, the NFL, the NBA, and the NHL had to get regular jobs at regular wages (at least for awhile).
… we would all keep in mind that despite the problems and challenges we face in the U.S., this is still the greatest country in the world.
Jeff Thredgold is the chief economist for Zions Bank and founder of Thredgold Economic Associates, a professional speaking and economic consulting firm. Visit www.thredgold.com.