Monday, December 30, 2019

How Do We Reconcile the Fact That the World Has Been Getting Significantly Better Over Time With Being on the Left?

I personally don't have any difficulty with this but I realize that many people do. For those in the latter camp I recommend this article by Nicholas Kristof. The data are solid and he has some good arguments. And while you're at it, point your browser at the site Our World in Data (from which Kristof gets most of his data) and take a look. What you see there may surprise you.
“If you were given the opportunity to choose the time you were born in, it’d be pretty risky to choose a time in any of the thousands of generations in the past,” noted Max Roser, an Oxford University economist who runs the Our World in Data website. “Almost everyone lived in poverty, hunger was widespread and famines common.”
But … but … but President Trump! But climate change! War in Yemen! Starvation in Venezuela! Risk of nuclear war with North Korea. …
All those are important concerns, and that’s why I write about them regularly. Yet I fear that the news media and the humanitarian world focus so relentlessly on the bad news that we leave the public believing that every trend is going in the wrong direction. A majority of Americans say in polls that the share of the world population living in poverty is increasing — yet one of the trends of the last 50 years has been a huge reduction in global poverty.
As recently as 1981, 42 percent of the planet’s population endured “extreme poverty,” defined by the United Nations as living on less than about $2 a day. That portion has plunged to less than 10 percent of the world’s population now.....
You may feel uncomfortable reading this. It can seem tasteless, misleading or counterproductive to hail progress when there is still so much wrong with the world. I get that. In addition, the numbers are subject to debate and the 2019 figures are based on extrapolation. But I worry that deep pessimism about the state of the world is paralyzing rather than empowering; excessive pessimism can leave people feeling not just hopeless but also helpless.....
“Three things are true at the same time,” [Roser] added. “The world is much better, the world is awful, the world can be much better.”
That about sums it up.
For humanity over all, life just keeps getting better.

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