Better than Ever

by on December 13, 2006

Kirk Douglas warns young people that the world is going to hell:

THE WORLD IS IN A MESS and you are inheriting it. Generation Y, you are on the cusp. You are the group facing many problems: abject poverty, global warming, genocide, Aids, and suicide bombers to name a few. These problems exist, and the world is silent. We have done very little to solve these problems. Now, we leave it to you. You have to fix it because the situation is intolerable.

My old boss David Boaz sets the record straight:

let’s take a closer look at the problems the long-lived actor identifies. Abject poverty? Sure, but nothing like 1916, when Douglas was born. The percentage of people who are “absolutely poor” has fallen from 80% of the world’s population in 1820 to 50% around Douglas’s birth to just over 20% now. The average person in the developed world has a real income about five times as high as the average person 50 years ago. People in India and China have mostly – though not all – moved out of the back-breaking poverty that their ancestors knew for centuries. In America’s inner cities, the level of actual deprivation is far less than in generations past, though hopelessness and despair remain serious challenges…

Since ancient times people have worried that our best days were behind us, that things were getting worse, that we were running out of resources, that our morals had declined. And yet, at least since the rise of liberalism and the Industrial Revolution, the statistics tell us that things are getting better, that – as the subtitle of a new book puts it, “we’re living longer, healthier, more comfortable lives on a cleaner planet.” Somebody needs to send Kirk Douglas a copy of that book, The Improving State of the World by Indur Goklany.

Amen to that.

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