Happy new year, and decade.
If war does not interrupt the trend, welcome the continued dawning of a golden age.
At the end of 2019 I wrote here that things aren’t nearly as bad as the ratings-or-vote-driven hysterical pronouncements say. A recent column by Matt Ridley in The UK Spectator pointed out that We’ve just had the best decade in human history. Seriously.
Others made a comparable point and yet the claim is so contrary to the dominant doom and gloom story that it begs for a closer look.
First, though, why are the vast majority of our celebrities crying doom?
One of the most candid political confessions ever was by then-U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. At the apex of his career he confessed to journalist Gail Sheehy, writing for Vanity Fair, "I think you can write a psychological profile of me that says I found a way to immerse my insecurities in a cause large enough to justify whatever I wanted it to."
Postulating, "a cause large enough to justify whatever I wanted it to" provides enormous privilege: power, glory, and semi-impunity.
Newt’s big reveal was strategic. Not neurotic.
Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his and the late Amos Tversky’s discoveries of how human nature reacts to uncertainty and risk. People work a lot harder to avoid a loss than for a comparable gain. More than twice as hard.
We’re risk averse. So if you wish to get elected to high or higher office, or boost your ratings, forecast an onrushing catastrophe. Then cast yourself as the hero who can, perhaps uniquely, save the world.
It was ever thus. Yet it has become a more regular thing. Michael Bloomberg justified his late entry into the 2020 presidential race by presenting President Trump as an "existential threat."
This is the way the world ends? Not with a bang but with a tweet?
Panic is the driver of the politico-media complex’s game.
Now, let’s think about the unthinkable. The facts.
Could Ridley be right? Could a golden age be dawning?
The evidence is overwhelming that the state of this world of sin and woe is, on balance, getting better. And has been doing that for decades.
As The (UK) Spectator observed in, "Glad Tidings" published in 2012:
"It may not feel like it, but 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world. That sounds like an extravagant claim, but it is borne out by evidence. Never has there been less hunger, less disease or more prosperity. The West remains in the economic doldrums, but most developing countries are charging ahead, and people are being lifted out of poverty at the fastest rate ever recorded. The death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low. We are living in a golden age."
Steven Pinker and Andrew Mack provide a defining state of the world 2014 summation in Slate.com in "The World Is Not Falling Apart" revealed:
"Violence Against Women. … Rates of rape or sexual assault and of violence against intimate partners have been sinking for decades, and are now a quarter or less of their peaks in the past."
"Violence Against Children. … “Of 50 trends in exposure examined, there were 27 significant declines and no significant increases between 2003 and 2011."
"Democratization. … [T]he democracy craze has decelerated of late but shows no signs of going into reverse. … A majority of the world’s countries today are democratic. …"
"Genocide and Other Mass Killings of Civilians. … By any standard, the world is nowhere near as genocidal as it was during its peak in the 1940. . . . "
"War. …In a historically unprecedented development, the number of interstate wars has plummeted since 1945, and the most destructive kind of war, in which great powers or developed states fight each other, has vanished altogether. …"
Tim Worstall, on Forbes.com, 2016: "… all Americans are simply hugely, gargantuanly, richer than any but the fewest, most privileged, of our forefathers."
David Harsanyi, a senior editor at The Federalist (2019), observed, in part:
"Nearly every quantifiable measure of human existence is improving. The retreat of socialism — exactly the kind of system environmentalists would like to bring back to fight global warming — has led to extraordinary gains in the most important aspects of human existence over the past 30-40 years."
"Capitalism is eradicating extreme poverty."
"It’s eliminating child mortality."
"It’s increasing life expectancy."
"It’s mitigated conflicts — both internal and external."
"It’s keeping us safer."
"It has made education more accessible."
Peace permitting, a golden age of dignity, prosperity, ecology beckons. Conjured through mere capitalism? Lacks drama. Makes for boring journalism, and for dull politics.
Yet facts are stubborn things.
Welcome to the dawn of a golden age.
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $83T. He served as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House, has worked closely with the Congress and two cabinet agencies, and has published over a million words on politics and policy in the mainstream media, as a distinguished professional blogger, and as the author of the internationally award-winning cult classic book "The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World." He has served as senior advisor, economics, to APIA as an advocate of the gold standard, senior counselor to the Chamber of Digital Commerce and serves as general counsel to Frax.finance, a stablecoin venture. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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