Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Ten Reasons to Look Forward

Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future is a new book making the case:
Drawing on a variety of social science data, Norberg points to ten ways the world has progressed over the last three centuries:

• Food is plentiful and cheap.
• Clean water and good sanitation are increasingly available.
• Life expectancy is longer.
• Poverty has fallen dramatically.
• War and violence blight fewer lives.
• Increasing wealth has benefited the environment.
• Literacy is widespread.
• People are increasingly free of arbitrary authority.
• Equality is increasingly experienced and demanded.
Some of these are overstated. (Not sure why only 9 ways are listed.)

The last two seem dubious. Ronald Reagan’s famous 1961 lament for lost American freedoms was: “We are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free”.

It sure seems to me that we are more and more bound by arbitrary authority, and that the American middle class is being split into rich and poor classes.

Here is an example, from the day's news:
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Web giants YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft will step up efforts to remove extremist content from their websites by creating a common database.

The companies will share 'hashes' - unique digital fingerprints they automatically assign to videos or photos - of extremist content they have removed from their websites to enable their peers to identify the same content on their platforms.
This seems like censorship from an arbitrary authority to me, and coordinated censorship of this sort did not exist before now.

A few years ago ppl could buy medical services and send a kid to college, without supplying income tax returns.

From today's NY Times:
The real economy more than doubled in size; ...

Yet for half of all Americans, their share of the total economic pie has shrunk significantly, new research has found.

This group — the approximately 117 million adults stuck on the lower half of the income ladder — “has been completely shut off from economic growth since the 1970s,” the team of economists found. “Even after taxes and transfers, there has been close to zero growth for working-age adults in the bottom 50 percent.”
I am not even sure that equality is increasingly demanded. I think that ppl are more accepting of economic inequality.

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