News reports often give the impression that human beings have wrecked the earth, the middle class is disappearing, and the world is getting more dangerous.
"We are destroying the planet," Michael Moore says on CNN. MSNBC says that "the middle class is disappearing." The media warn us about things like a "deadly Ebola outbreak."
This negativity comes from the way humans are wired by evolution, says Reason Editor in Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward.
She tells John Stossel: "If you are a caveman who hears a little rustling in the weeds, and you say, 'Oh, it's probably fine,' the other guy who says, 'It's probably a tiger,' that's the guy who lives. That guy was our ancestors."
But our instincts are wrong, she says. We needn't be so scared.
The cover of the August/September 2019 issue of Reason features a glass that's completely full. Inside the magazine, you'll read about how there is less war and more food. And we're healthier, while working safer and more fulfilling jobs.
Mangu-Ward points out that today we have medical breakthroughs that would've once been called miracles. Deaf children receive cochlear implants that allow them to hear for the first time. Artificial limbs "allow the lame to walk."
"These are things that, in another era, would have caused the founding of an entire religion!" says Mangu-Ward.
Stossel pushes back: "What about this constant complaint from the media?…The middle class is shrinking."
"Mostly it's because people are getting richer," Mangu-Ward responds.
She's right. A graph in Reason shows that about 50 years ago, 53 percent of people were middle-income, making between $35,000 and $100,000 per year. Although that statistic has since fallen to 42 percent, the reason is that many people moved into upper-income brackets. The share making more than $100,000 rose from 8 percent to almost 28 percent. (These numbers are inflation-adjusted.)
"Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death are All on the Decline," was the subtitle of another article in the issue.
"You wouldn't know that watching news programs," Stossel said.
"That's right, and yet it's absolutely true," added Mangu-Ward.
Even with the rise in terrorism, she notes, "There are fewer wars and fewer people die in those wars than has ever been true in the past."
Stossel pushes back again: "Lately, life expectancy dropped a bit."
"Overall, that is the tiniest blip," Mangu-Ward replies. The long-term trend is still up.
An article titled "How Work Got Good"argues that people are more fulfilled in modern jobs.
"A couple hundred years ago, work was dangerous," Mangu-Ward adds. "It was very easy to die at work…work was extremely boring, even for people that had good jobs. Jobs are pretty interesting now, and they mostly don't kill you, and we should be grateful for that."
But there are problems, and Reason's editors understand that. The back half of the magazine is filled with the bad news: misery in Venezuela, threats to an open internet, the new popularity of socialism.
"Everything that's bad is politics, everything that's good is the market." Mangu-Ward argues. "Life gets better. We have the opportunity to look to a future where those trends will continue—if we can just manage to keep politicians from screwing it up."
The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.