Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's still getting better!

Amidst all the bad news on our struggling economy, and with expectations of greater government interference with our economic freedom, it was refreshing to some across a little good news.

"The Good News From a Bad Year: Things are still getting better all the time" by Radley Balko.

Here's some of the points made in the article:

Crime rates are still falling. (Sex crimes are down, too.)

The divorce rate is at its lowest point in four decades.

Americans once again set a record for life expectancy. The same CDC report noted that mortality rates for eight of the 10 leading causes of death in America dropped in 2006.

Juvenile crime dropped.

Americans work on average eight fewer hours than we did in the 1960s. We're spending more money per person on recreation.

I found the reference to this article on the blog of Johan Norberg, author of In Defense of Global Capitalism. He apologized for not posting much recently as he is finishing up a book on the current economic crisis. (The deadline was 1/16/09 and his son has the chicken pox!) Though to be published in March, it unfortunately will be in Swedish. We'll have to wait a bit longer for the English version. I am looking forward to what he will have to say. As I posted on him before, he has an optimistic take on the state of the world and gives a lot of the credit to the steady increase in economic freedom.

Every once in awhile, it's good to remember that that in the long run, things really have been getting better.


Burgess Laughlin said...

I am only a beginning student of the history of the Enlightenment period in Europe. One characteristic of that period that stands out is the continuation of scientific and other forms of progress--amidst recurring plagues, wars, and economic debacles.

The point is that the "forces" that drive some forms of progress are coming from a different wellspring than the man-made problems.

Knowing that allows me to be somewhat hopeful. But it would likewise be a mistake to slip into thinking that progress is inevitable. It isn't. It has causes--ultimately, the freedom to act rationally.

Beth said...

Hi Burgess,

Thanks for your point that progress is not inevitable. Of course not--otherwise there would not have been the Dark Ages after Rome and other such set backs which have occurred throughout history. Progress is not automatic nor inevitable, but I still think that from a "big picture" point of view, the overall trend, so far, has been toward greater freedom and a higher standard of living. Improving our understanding of why and how is a large part of what I am trying to do with this blog and why I chose its theme: "Wealth is not the problem. Poverty is the problem. Wealth is the solution."
The inquiry then needs to be: what are the conditions which foster wealth (both spiritual and material.) And for that, I like your formula: the freedom to act rationally.