I’ve been grumpy the last few days because of obvious external happenings, and last night I didn’t get enough sleep. Many pleasant things happened since getting up and I now feel fairly near my normal ebullient state. So, perhaps now is a time to list our public blessings again. That’s a refrain I’ve quoted a few times this last month, but haven’t done enough with it here on the Probaway blog.
Some things that are measurably better about our present situation.
Our life expectancy is approximately eighty years here in the developed world, and it’s almost as good everywhere else. That is an ultimate measure of the goodness of living now because it encompasses all of the good and bad things that can be happening to humanity as a whole.
World population is expanding, which is a close correlate of life expectancy, and it’s measuring the same things but in a slightly different way. It would be possible in a stable or even diminishing population to have great life duration without having many children, and so the population could be decreasing while living conditions for everyone were ideal. But, for a population to be expanding means that in aggregate things are on average good for the group.
Communicable diseases of the early twentieth century were the cause of death of most people. Tuberculosis was number one, and it’s now rare. I endured whooping cough, scarlet fever, mumps, measles, yearly colds, and my grandmother had smallpox, and escaping an epidemic of cholera in Illinois was my dad’s family’s reason for moving West … the list is longer, but you get the idea. Most kids these days get vaccinations which hurt for a minute, instead of the disease which hurt much worse for a week and then they died. All of that tolerated misery is just words to most of the modern voting public.
The total number of people killed in armed combat has been very low compared to the 20th century. There were about two-hundred-million people killed during that century and that averages out to two million per year. During Obama’s eight-year administration there were less than a million and that’s on a triple population basis. A simple multiplication would have expected forty-eight million during those eight years. (8 years x 2 million per year x 3 triple population base = 48 million) Things have been remarkably more peaceful than last century.
A hundred years ago, automobiles and even dirt roads to run them on were barely existent and it was a newsworthy accomplishment to drive from New York to San Francisco, and it took weeks to do it. Now we fly that route in a few hours, and in a few more hours to almost anywhere on Earth.
On the lighter side of how much better things are – A hundred years ago, in 1916, there were only silent black and white movies, and not many of those. Now we have thousands of high-definition full-color movies, and football games, etc, all of which are easily available from various distributors. Only a few years ago information was from newspapers and network TV and was filtered by the local publisher’s biases. Now, we have the internet, and we can choose a bias to fit our own preconceptions.
People complain about the unfair distribution of all of these things, but most of the bounties listed above are free or almost free merely by living in a modern country. Next year’s howl of unfair will probably be about the kid next door having a great Oculus Rift VR instead of a crappy cardboard thing that only uses your cell-phone and doesn’t have any good games.
But it’s time to complain because the fix is in and we are getting screwed!