I was moaning along with my Saturday morning friends about the usual miserable state of world affairs when I remembered to bring up my blog from last week – How bad are the 21st-century military disasters? That post demonstrated that on a year-to-year military death-toll count, As horrible as the world presently is, it is only 1/30 as bad as the 20th century.
I then brought up the question, “What is better about modern life?” In a few minutes we came up with an abundance of specific things, and of course I took notes. People live longer, more goodies available, smoking laws keep smoke at a distance, car safety with standard seat belts, and better roads and highway dividers. Better medical care with eye care, hearing aids, artificial limbs, cholesterol drugs, vaccines, disease suppression, antidepressants, legal marijuana. Social improvements like disabled access, worker safety, women’s rights, LGBT liberalization, GoPros on cops, animal rights, children’s safety. Better access to information, like Google and Wikipedia, social media, foreign news sources. Better clothing materials that are more comfortable and protective. Better foods, better tasting, healthier, ice-cream is better, fewer water-borne disease. Access to education, interesting jobs, safer work, home ownership, fire safety, building codes, air conditioning, house paint. Better and safer cars, and airplanes, easy foreign travel. And of course a batch of computer-chip derivative goodies – computers, cell phones, cameras, movie-cameras, health monitors, internet, Skype. Higher production values on all media.
There must be lots more good things, so when I got home a web search was performed with shocking results. It was difficult to find a list of specific positive things about modern life. There are general references to “standard of living“, but I didn’t find a list like the list of specific improvements. Here is Wikipedia’s take on Standard of living in the United States, but it mostly about money. This paragraph from Investopedia is good, but its statements are general rather than specific.
“The standard of living includes factors such as income, quality and availability of employment, class disparity, poverty rate, quality and affordability of housing, hours of work required to purchase necessities, gross domestic product, inflation rate, number of vacation days per year, affordable (or free) access to quality healthcare, quality and availability of education, life expectancy, incidence of disease, cost of goods and services, infrastructure, national economic growth, economic and political stability, political and religious freedom, environmental quality, climate and safety. The standard of living is closely related to quality of life.”
People have more free time, but they must choose what they want to do.