Over the last 200 years the world population has increased 7x while the wealth per capita increased 10x- for a 70x increase in wealth consumed. This is dwarfed by the better performers like Britain, Japan, Sweden and of course the US. All of this has happened through a compounding of knowledge- ideas having sex- with new institutions that have allowed –even propelled- this knowledge to flourish. Very little of this incredible enrichment was ever predicted. We are dealing with the same physical resources that was at the disposal of the caveman. (paraphrased from Deidre McCloskey’s Bourgeois Equality)
Most of the poorest have access to technology that the wealthiest could not have dreamed of two generations ago. Higher life expectancy, better food and medicine, efficient energy and transportation, and communication and information technology that the richest CEO could not have dreamed of when most of us graduated high school. There are far fewer deaths from war and we are also living in the most peaceful period in spite of the paranoia and fears generated by a media looking to appeal to consumers and politicians who wish to leverage our fears into their power. Crime is also much lower.
Globalization, technology, debt, taxes and the other obstacles we are obsessing on are short term variants and relatively minor hurdles as long as knowledge keeps expanding. And it is.
It is amazing how much this incredible progress happened during a century with two of the most destructive and violent wars known to history. Politics is proving wholly unable to keep up with the pace of change. The more knowledge gets decentralized the worse that centralized government will be able to meet our needs. I think we are witnessing that problem with this election.
The left thinks that we are just one tax increase away from social justice. The right thinks we are just one tax cut away from prosperity. Both are wrong, and both dream of return to a period that no longer exists by enacting policies that no longer work. (Yuval Levin, The Fractured Republic)
We spend too much time dwelling on problems instead of pursuing opportunities. We know very little about our world in 10 years or even 5 years, but I bet we will be obsessing on very different problems then. Given the path we are on and the arc of history I bet we will be far better off than any of us can imagine.