Economic Growth

On Thanksgiving, Take a Moment to Focus on the Good News

It will help us feel grateful for our lives.

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At a time when our country seems as divided as ever and many are talking as if the end times are coming, it's more important than ever to look at what we should be thankful for.

Unemployment is at its lowest level in nearly 50 years. Poverty is down, too. Since 1990, average life expectancy in the United States increased from 75.4 to 78.6 years. Our workplaces are also safer, as demonstrated by the 30 percent decline in the rate of workplace deaths from 1992 to 2017 and a 69 percent drop in the rate of workplace injury and illness.

Our cities and country as a whole are safer, with crime rates falling dramatically. In fact, Washington, D.C. experienced an incredible increase among the world's safest cities ranking. It jumped from the 23rd safest city in the world in 2017 to number 7 in 2019. Negative indicators, such as teen pregnancies and abortion rates, are also declining.

While some argue that real wages have been stagnant for several decades—when measured with the correct inflation deflator and adjusted for fringe benefits, taxes, and transfers—real incomes of ordinary Americans have unquestionably increased. The same is true of real median household income, especially after adjusting for household size.

While millions of manufacturing and other "middle-skill" jobs have disappeared, that decline has been more than offset by an increase in the number of high-skilled jobs. In fact, a look at the data reveals that while the middle class has indeed thinned out, it's because more and more Americans are joining the upper class, a phenomenon that we should applaud. Meanwhile, the share of the low-income households has shrunk over the years.

Few of us realize how much better off we are today than were our grandparents and great-grandparents. For all the negative talk about how families struggle to survive on their current wages compared with prior decades, the fact is that this notion has more to do with our rising expectations of what we should be able to consume than with any genuine decline in our ability to consume. Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for instance, shows that if the average worker today wanted to achieve the living standard of 1950, he or she would only need to work for 11 weeks annually. To achieve the living standard of 1975, one would only need to work 23 weeks.

Of course, most people don't choose to work so few weeks. We instead work most of the year to increase our relative standard of living compared to prior years. As economist David Autor explains in his research that asks, "Will automation take away our jobs?" (the answer is no), "Material abundance has never eliminated perceived scarcity." In other words, the fact that most of us don't realize how much more we have than those who came before us doesn't negate the fact that we are incredibly lucky.

Our lives, especially those of lower-income workers, would get even better if state and local governments eliminated some of the policies that artificially obstruct access to better labor markets. Land and zoning regulations are great examples. These rules play an oversized role in increasing housing costs in higher-wage areas, making it harder for low-income workers to move and improve their situation.

Likewise, occupational-licensing statutes raise barriers separating workers from better jobs. These requirements obstruct interstate mobility, as licenses typically can't be transferred across jurisdictions. They also increase the price of goods and services like child care, which hurts parents who wish to stay in the work force.

There are too many examples to list in this column. Yet removing just the barriers mentioned here would lead to more opportunities and better lives for those who are now frozen out of the gains enjoyed by many.

The truth is that if you look for bad news, you can easily find it. Some trends, such as the hike in opioid overdoses and teenage suicides or the fact that some workers have permanently dropped out of the labor force, are sources of real concern. However, looking for bad news is what most of us do most of the year. During this time of Thanksgiving, we should take a moment to focus on the good news. It will help us feel grateful for our lives.

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  1. You know what would lead to more opportunities and better lives for those who are now frozen out of the gains enjoyed by many? Prohibiting government from initiating force.

  2. Hope for a better World and better life for people from all over the World!

  3. You know who else focused on good news?

    1. Professor Farnsworth?

    2. Jehovah’s Witnesses?

    3. Matthew, Mark, John, and Ringo?

  4. In other words, the fact that most of us don’t realize how much more we have than those who came before us doesn’t negate the fact that we are incredibly lucky.

    I am always careful on Thanksgiving to take the time to think of the things we take for granted that others can only dream of and to be grateful for those things. One of the things I am most grateful for today is that Festivus is only a few weeks away. I can’t wait. I got a lotta problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it.

  5. I am making 10,000 Dollar at home own laptop .Just do work online 4 to 6 hour proparly . so i make my family happy and u can do  ……..  Read More

  6. “Unemployment is at its lowest level in nearly 50 years.”

    In the #DrumpfRecession that’s actually a bad sign. As economics expert AOC has explained, unemployment is low because everyone is working 2 or 3 jobs just to survive.

    Of course, that’s not the only evidence of the abysmal state of the economy. As Koch / Reason libertarians, we’re primarily concerned with increasing the net worths of the richest people on the planet. And that isn’t happening in the high-tariff / low-immigration Drumpf economy. For instance our billionaire benefactor Charles Koch continues to stagnate in the $58,000,000,000 to $62,000,000,000 range. Unacceptable!

    #WorstEconomyEver
    #IMissObama

    1. “Negative indicators, such as teen pregnancies and abortion rates, are also declining.”

      Again, declining abortion rates are also a troubling sign. They prove that Drumpf is literally turning this country into The Handmaid’s Tale by denying access to abortion care.

      #EveryStreetShouldHaveAPlannedParenthood

    2. everyone is working 2 or 3 jobs just to survive
      We also come home to work many more uncompensated jobs.

  7. Come on, De Rugy, you are never going to get any votes and clicks blathering about how good we have it. Between availability bias, schadenfreude, righteous superiority, and just plain lack of rational cognitive ability, the average human gets off on doom and tragedy. And obviously, politicians and media have recognized (and weaponized) Bad News in order to both entertain and direct the masses.

    Even Thanksgiving has become a threatening battle ground. Check out all the articles about how to survive the existential threat of dining with people who might disagree–and how better to avoid them anyway.

    1. Check out all the articles about how to survive the existential threat of dining with people who might disagree–and how better to avoid them anyway.

      I believe she did mention the rising suicide rate. One of the good parts of Global Warming misreported as a bad part – fewer snowflakes.

  8. Thanksgiving is a particularly American holiday because it reveals our enthusiasm for a particularly American feature–our enthusiasm for gratitude.

    It’s not just that we have a day where everyone, even the poorest among us, are expected to count their blessings, however meager, and be thankful for what they have. It’s also that we despise ingrates–and fear being seen as ungrateful ourselves.

    A women from Russia once pointed out how different Americans are from Russians in that way. We thank the waitress for bringing us water, we thank the waitress for taking our order, we thank the waitress for bringing our food, and just to be sure they don’t think we’re ungrateful, we leave them a big tip and say, “thank you” as we walk out the door.

    When you’re watching football later today, notice how the teams try to show how grateful they are to those who’ve volunteered to serve in our military. Yes, thank you for your service. Is there anything worse in the American mind than someone who is ungrateful for the voluntary service of others? That’s why Kaepernick is persona non grata around the NFL with the fans. No matter whatever else he was trying to do, he made himself appear to be ungrateful.

    Some people seem to think that average Americans don’t have any culture. We only get it from immigrants and their influence, but that’s wrong. Our thankfulness is a big feature of our national character, and it’s an important one. It helps make us immune to the temptations of socialism. All socialism, in its essence violates not only the biblical commandment, “Thou shalt not steal”. It also violates the commandment against envy, “Thou shalt not covet”. In secular, anti-socialist terms, you know what the opposite of covetousness is?

    That’s right. It’s thankfulness.

    I’m so thankful to live in a country where I can still enjoy the fruit of my labor and share it with the thankful people I know and love during the holidays. I’m thankful we have a national holiday that celebrates the antidote to socialist envy. Be sure to county your blessings today–especially if you’re within earshot of the envious–and make sure to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Nothing could be more insidiously capitalist, libertarian, and American.

    1. When you’re watching football later today, notice how the teams try to show how grateful they are to those who’ve volunteered to serve in our military.

      By kneeling during the national anthem, raising a fist in a display of black nationalism, and declaring the team owners equivalent to 18th century slaveholders.

      You should be thankful you were blessed with the unique ability to bend over far enough to stick your head up your own ass.

      1. “By kneeling during the national anthem, raising a fist in a display of black nationalism, and declaring the team owners equivalent to 18th century slaveholders.”

        Are you not aware that they’re not really doing that anymore?

        Only three players continue to kneel during the anthem, and none of them are playing today.

        And if you don’t see in Atlanta, Dallas, and Detroit, today, I’ll eat my Redskins hat.

        1. “And if you don’t see [displays of patriotism] in Atlanta, Dallas, and Detroit, today, I’ll eat my Redskins hat.”

          —-Ken Shultz

          Fixed!

          1. Nah, your still a passive aggressive racist. Enjoy your violence

            1. You really gotta stop mistaking your screen for a mirror.
              Maybe turn the brightness up

    2. Good observation, ken, and well put

    3. Thank you Ken!

    4. You’re wasting your time, Ken. Many of your people here are just a bunch of self-absorbed Objectivist psychopaths who wouldn’t know gratitude if it bit them on the backside! Libertarianism to them is all about being a selfish little shit and doing whatever ya want, not love of God and Country. I’ll take the “alt-right” over these soulless creeps anyday…

  9. And we have pieces of shit like you doing everything you possibly can to make every material condition of modern life worse, whether through mass migration, increased taxes, increased welfare expenditure, increased cartelization and monopolization of industry, wildly inflationary monetary policy that destroys savings and enables increased cartelization and monopolization of industry, increased political power being vested in unelected bureaucrats, decreased legal protections for workers, contractors and small businessmen, increased legal immunities for colossal global corporations, and total subjugation of American to the whims of supranational global governing bodies.

    Fuck you and your bullshit pretenses. I’ll be thankful when you’re hanging from a lamp post.

    1. If you think De Rugy supports any of that in any of her work, you’re an ignoramus.

    2. I sincerely and truly hope have a happy and joyful day, today and and all the days to come!

    3. Here’s a link to de Rugy’s work here for the last ten years.

      https://reason.com/search/de+rugy/

      So us what you’re talking about or you’re a liar.

  10. I completely agree with the lines that the same is true of real median household income, especially after adjusting for household size and yes America does have its own culture just like any other country like India or Canada and students also learn
    time table and a lot of other things from culture

  11. Some more good news. The Supreme Court of Canada leads the way in granting freedom to it’s citizens:

    “In a free and democratic society, no one should accept — or expect to be subjected to — unjustified state intrusions.”

    “An unlawful arrest — even for a short time — cannot be considered one of the ‘ordinary annoyances, anxieties and fears that people living in society routinely … accept,’”

    https://globalnews.ca/news/6233399/supreme-court-montreal-escalator-handrail-ruling/

  12. Some trends, such as the hike in opioid overdoses and teenage suicides or the fact that some workers have permanently dropped out of the labor force, are sources of real concern. However, looking for bad news is what most of us do most of the year

    The latter leads to the former…

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