I doubt whether many of the people who lived in various “golden ages” realized what was going on. I doubt that many proclaimed during the Renaissance “Hey, ain’t this era wunnerful?”
Good chance that many of them complained about progress that occurred all around them. Or about the changes that came with the progress. And the adjustments people had to make. That seems the case to me today.
Often I ask people how they feel the country is doing economically. Or how people around the world are doing.
Rarely does anyone express glee at what is going on. Mostly they complain. Not so much about themselves. Instead, they tell me our economy is rotten. They tell me the rich are getting richer around the world, while the poor suffer more than ever.
There are none so blind.
Economist David Hale proclaimed in an article in the Wall Street Journal recently that we live in the best global economy ever. Ever. He reckons the world economy is experiencing a level of growth unsurpassed in human history.
Think about the significance of that. While you are at it, two cents of support for economic growth. (Because some critics are against it.) The poor of India will never see their living standards rise unless there is economic growth in that country. Economic growth is good for the well being of people. No, not everyone becomes a millionaire. But even if they are on the dole all their life, the dole gets better when the economy does.
Back to “the best global economy ever.” Next year probably only four countries will suffer negative growth. All the rest will have growth in their output. Nearly 120 of them will have growth of 4 per cent or better. Many will have 7 to 10 per cent growth. If you dig into economic history you will find nothing as far reaching as this economic explosion we live in.
You will never find an era when such a high proportion of the earth’s peoples enjoyed a standard of living so much better than their parents did. You will never find an era when so many expected their own lives to improve within the next few years. Or an era when so many folks were lifted above the starvation - or near starvation - level.
If I taught economics I would remind students every day that the world ain’t never seen anything like this.
Few of our teachers or pundits make such proclamations. Worse, few have any idea what brought this about.
Yes, many technologies contributed to this boom. And scientists learned how to dramatically increase food production. And computers helped everyone work more efficiently. And economists learned how to keep economies from soaring then plunging. And they learned how to better stimulate their economies.
However, there were a few immense contributions that tower over the others. They were concepts. They made the others more effective. The largest of these was that when people enjoy freedom they will do better for themselves. And collectively they will improve the lot of the community.
By “freedom” I mean the freedom to buy and sell and own. The freedom to move house, to change jobs, to go to school or not. The freedom to pursue your life in accordance with your values. The freedom to live with a minimum of interference from government.
These are ancient concepts. Adam Smith advocated many of them in the mid-1700’s. Thomas Jefferson promoted such concepts. In our era, Milton Friedman made a career of promoting economic freedom, the freedom to choose. And, bless him, Ronald Reagan promoted such ideas in the political and global arena.
He campaigned endlessly for the destruction of the system that offered the very opposite. He called for the communists to free the countless people they enslaved in China and the Soviet Union. His defense buildup and firmness helped to doom the Soviet system and hasten its bankruptcy.
Today, compared with then, nearly 2 billion people are free. Being free, they are lifting their standards of living at a breathtaking pace.
If you care about the well being of people I hope you can appreciate what miraculous times we live in. And the best is yet to come.
From Tom ... as in Morgan.
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