Looking at change in a new light

Published 11:12 am Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I grew up in Shelby County during the most rapid growth period for any area in the history of Alabama.

As children we lived in the sticks. We played outside day or night.

The only outdoor lights came from the skies above.

Then things changed. Every day seemed to bring new people and businesses.

Still today there is a steady stream of people and businesses into our area.

According to census data, as of 2009, Shelby County’s population is 182,113. Since 2000, we have added almost 25 percent more people.

Nothing grows without changing. There cannot be gains without losses. That is the nature of growth.

Measured from its peak in November of 2007 to its bottom (so far) of March 9, the stock market lost half its value.

That is the way most of us look at it — measured from the top. But how did we get to that peak to begin with?

Over the last 30 years, the stock market has increased in value ten times over. Many of those single years it was up more than 20 percent, but we all remember 2008 as losing 37.5 percent.

Growing pains have been real and sometimes scary. Still, we have seen our wealth grow a lot faster than the costs of living. We are richer than our parents were, and they, in turn, were richer than their parents.

Growth, and the changes it brings, has always been present in our relatively free-market economy.

The dirt I used to play on has been covered with concrete. The same moon and stars shine in the skies above, but parking lot lights make them harder to see.

There is nothing wrong with growth. Progress has changed things for the better.

Investors should give at least some portion of their money the chance to grow faster than the cost of living.

We are wealthier now than any generation of Americans before us. We just need to remember how we got here.