Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

'There Is a Silver Lining': Spirits were lifted a bit by Fareed Zakaria's article about a positive outlook for the gloomy economy. "I'd forgotten there is always a bright side, but your sunshine-yellow cover was a nice reminder," a reader said. "He deftly explained how we got into this mess, how it will affect us and how we can make some tough changes for the better," added another. One reader followed Zakaria's lead in pointing to positives: "This crisis is forcing countries and corporations worldwide to cooperate in unprecedented ways. That is, indeed, a very bright side."

On 'Ready, Aim, Fire!' "I look at negative campaign ads through the lens of the Leo Aikman quote 'You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.' The more negative the ad, the less likely I am to vote for that candidate."
Marc Eisen
Monroe Township, N.J.

What Good Can Come From Crisis?
After I read Fareed Zakaria's elegantly concise and wonderfully encouraging views on our current financial meltdown ("There Is a Silver Lining," Oct. 20), the odd thought arose that perhaps one day we will actually look back with gratitude on the disastrous policies pursued by the current administration. How could this possibly be? By seeing that, ultimately, they served as a profound and desperately needed wake-up call for everyone to step back, take a deep breath, look clearly at things as they are, figure out how we got here and look ahead intent on applying the lessons learned with humility, determination, courage and wisdom.
Dale E. Buonocore
Warren, Pa.

In essence, Fareed Zakaria is saying it's time for America to grow up. We're learning the hard way that financial indicators don't always go up, debts eventually have be paid, taxes can't be indefinitely avoided, wealth doesn't always trickle down, and government isn't always the problem but in some instances can provide the best solution. It's time to elect leaders who are honest about shared sacrifices that need to be made, and for everyone to work cooperatively, locally and worldwide, to ensure a better life for the most people.
Arlen Grossman
Monterey, Calif.

As a member of generation X, I do not share Fareed Zakaria's rosy assessment of America's future. I foresee a country racked by climate change because the generations before me didn't even acknowledge the greenhouse effect until it was too late. I foresee an economy ravaged by $10 trillion of debt because the generations before thought it was fine to buy now and pay later. And I foresee a Social Security program run into the ground because people were too selfish and greedy to do what was necessary to keep it solvent. On behalf of my generation, a sincere "thanks" to all the Americans who ate like kings and made sure we'll get only scraps.
Andrew Lyons
Los Angeles, Calif.

I agree with Fareed Zakaria that the government should provide more incentives to save money. But the idea of saving for the future requires a mind-set sadly lacking in today's society. As everyone knows, it's all about image these days, which is very deceiving. Your neighbor might drive an expensive car and wear designer clothes, but you don't know that he's up to his eyeballs in debt, has zero money in the bank, is living on credit cards and has a second mortgage on that gigantic house. Meanwhile, your other neighbor drives a 10-year-old car but has $50,000 in the bank. People need to change their perceptions about spending versus saving, and hopefully this financial crisis has provided the necessary incentive.
Keren Nacionales Metz
Las Vegas, Nev.

Is Renting Better Than Owning?
I take exception to one line in Zachary Karabell's otherwise well-crafted article ("End of the 'Ownership Society'," Oct. 20). He says, "We all bear some burden for the current morass." For years I chose to live in a ratty, drafty rental unit in Santa Ana, Calif., rather than, as I could have easily done, buy a $750,000 Newport Beach house through a zero-down sub-prime mortgage, perfectly aware that in a few years I wouldn't be able to make the payments and would just walk away. There are likely millions of Americans who took the high road and whose reward now appears to be the privilege of bailing out those who took the other path, all while the government's bailout plan continues to artificially prop up home prices beyond their reach. For those of us truly getting the shaft in this whole deal, please don't add insult to fleecing by suggesting we are also responsible for this debacle.
Phil Loubere
Murfreesboro, Tenn.

In "The Trouble with Homeownership" (Oct. 20), Robert Shiller suggests that instead of buying a home, a better strategy would be to diversify and "put your money into stocks, bonds … and then use the income to rent." Now, there's a brilliant idea. Anyone following that strategy in the last year would not have enough money left to rent a closet. Owning a home is the closest thing there is to a recession-proof investment. If you don't intend to move and your interest rate is fixed, you're pretty much unaffected by fluctuations in real-estate values or the stock market. And homeowners paint, landscape, fix the roof, sweep the sidewalk. Most renters don't bother with upkeep any more than someone who rents a car checks the tire pressure or changes the oil.
Rose Cohen
Woodland Hills, Calif.

Last Call at the British Pub
George Orwell saw it coming. In 1943 he predicted with regret that the rising price of beer due to excessive taxation and the public's preference for the "solitary, mechanical" pleasures of radio and the cinema would steadily erode the popularity of pub life ("Hoist One Last Glass," Oct. 20). Today we can add TV, the Internet, smoking bans and stiff DUI penalties that can cost offenders their licenses. With no designated driver, people are reluctant to drive out for a drink, which is bad for village pubs dependent on drop-ins from neighboring towns. There's no better place to soak up culture than the pub, but it's no wonder many Brits are now choosing to do their drinking at home. Cheers!
Frederick Stokeld
Arlington, Va.