December 29, 2016

GREAT AND GETTING BETTER:

You're Wrong: All Isn't Getting Worse (Carter Eskew, Dec. 28th, 2016, Washington Post)

What if Americans' failure to know the facts about progress becomes in itself a barrier to further progress?

That is the message of some recent findings by "Our World in Data," an online publication of the University of Oxford. Since 1930, the global rate of extreme poverty has fallen from 75 percent to 10 percent. The literacy rate has increased from 30 percent to 85 percent. Child mortality has been reduced by a factor of 10. Democracy has flourished; colonialism has almost disappeared. Education rates have soared, and population growth has slowed to the point where it could be zero by the end of the century.

The article goes on to blame the media for creating the impression that the world is headed to hell, when in reality life is vastly and relatively better for almost everyone in the world. That is a familiar and not very helpful criticism: The media has always specialized, and, presumably always will, in not just news, but also bad news. But the study's interpretation is more on point when it calls for greater historical perspective: "Freedom is impossible without faith in free people. And if we are not aware of our history and falsely believe the opposite of what is true we risk losing faith in each other." In other words, our suspicious pessimism, built on false premises, only fosters more suspicious pessimism.

All you really n3eed to know about how easy life has become is that the two great problems we face are : (1) obesity, because food is too plentiful and cheap; and, (2) the end of employment, because machines create wealth more efficiently than we do.
Posted by at December 29, 2016 6:14 AM

  

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