America is doing just fine five years after the 9/11 attacks. There have been a lot of inconveniences, but no subsequent attack.
Our economy took a big hit, both in paying for the attacks and in subsequent military and intelligence spending, but we’ve created more than a million more jobs in our economy, and the stock market (both the Dow and the Nasdaq) are up substantially since the attacks.
The day before the attacks, the Dow Jones average was at 9,605 and the Nasdaq was at 1,695. Today the Dow’s over 11,300 and the Nasdaq is over 2,100. Overall, we’ve added, $2 trillion to our economy through our hard work and determination.
So does this mean our Republic and our economy can overcome any attack? Yes!
That may sound naïve. But let’s think of the worst that could possibly happen: Terrorists getting nukes. If terrorists nuked New York, Washington, D.C., L.A., Chicago, Miami and Dallas tomorrow, we'd take a horrendous hit. But we’d still exist as a nation.
So how could the political, business and financial hubs of the nation be destroyed without the country folding? Here’s another one-word answer: Decentralization.
Unlike other nations, even unlike other democracies, our social, political and economic underpinnings are not dependent upon or controlled by a centralized authority. They begin with the individual. The central authority draws its strength and direction from the individual, not the other way around. The central authority is merely a reflection of the individual, families of individuals, communities and states.
Even when it comes to the vital issue of security, it starts with the power of one. Yes, of course we have a strong military and police forces. But the Constitution recognizes that the defense of the United States begins with the individual, who is empowered with Second Amendment rights to protect his life, his property and his freedom. If the central authority were to be destroyed in a flash, every citizen has the authority to defend their own rights, as laid out in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Now to the economy. Our economy is the strongest in the world because it, too, is modeled after this decentralized model. Obviously, the free market is more productive than any socialist model. But our economy is even more dynamic than European economies, which draw their strength from a relatively few companies that are usually controlled by a small number of super rich families. What guides our economy is what economist Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction.” Companies and rich families dissolve relatively quickly here, clearing the path for more dynamic and more innovative companies and designs.
I do a show with the folks at Forbes Magazine [“Forbes on Fox,” every Saturday morning at 11 a.m. ET]. And every year Forbes publishes a list of the world’s richest people. Of the world’s 793 billionaires, 371 are from the U.S., most of whom did not inherit their wealth. Indeed, what’s most remarkable about rich Americans is not how many of them there are, but how quickly family fortunes disappear. Sure, there are the Rockefellers and Kennedys that have wealth for several generations. But most rich folks here cannot buy a seat in some controlling elite, like they do in other cultures. They eventually die out, or are beaten out, in our free market.
And that’s the not too secret secret to our success: Our Republic and our economy will survive precisely because we are a republic. We are a nation of individuals and communities, the blend of which cements the center. Politicians and corporate executives may think that they're at the center of our economy. But at the core of our economy, at the core of our nation, are those that have always been and those that can never be killed off by terrorism: The People.
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David Asman is the host of "Forbes on FOX" which airs on the FOX News Channel, Saturdays at 11 a.m. ET.