Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit has a sharp piece up at USA Today about improvements in living standards and material resources that always get ignored in political discussions. Sure, there's a lot of bad ju-ju out there, but would you really want to turn back time?
When I was a kid, I walked home past fallout shelters stocked against nuclear armageddon. Nowadays, we worry about terrorists getting a nuke or two or hacking our power grid, but bad as that stuff is, it's a far cry from the Strangelovian nightmare we faced a few decades ago.
And despite economic stagnation, in many ways, today's Americans are richer than the original super-rich tycoon, John D. Rockefeller. Noting the absence of antibiotics, reliable birth control, air conditioning, on-demand music, television, contact lenses, dental care, jet travel, etc., economist Don Boudreaux comments: "Honestly, I wouldn't be remotely tempted to quit the 2016 me so that I could be a one-billion-dollar-richer me in 1916. This fact means that, by
1916 standards, I am today more than a billionaire. It means, at least given my preferences, I am today materially richer than was John D. Rockefeller in 1916. And if, as I think is true, my preferences here are not unusual, then nearly every middle-class American today is richer than was America's richest man a mere 100 years ago."
Read the whole thing. Reynolds does a good job of looking at the international context especially. The really big story of the 21st century is how quickly global poverty and misery in declining.
Well, the pessimist in me insists that I'm so fucking poor compared to what I'd be in 2116 I can barely stand it all!
The prompt for Reynold's column is the great website HumanProgress.org, which is run by Marian Tupy of the Cato Institute. Reason.com runs weekly articles, archived here, by Tupy and his crew. Among recent topics: "Political Freedom On the Rise Around the World Despite Naysayers" and "Living Standards Up Since The Fall of Communism."
Last year, Reason interviewed Human Progress's Marian Tupy, during which he took issue with Pope Francis's fundamentally mistaken view of poverty declines and the role of global capitalism.