A speck of an island

Looking out at the sea from the shores of a speck of an island (St. Eustatius) in the Caribbean, I think of the many ways life is improving. For the islanders. For us in America. For millions of good people around the world.

A tiny island like this is a miniature world. The wondrous improvements it experiences are so like those we all enjoy. Simpler perhaps, but the same in nature.

For example, the island suffered war many times. The Dutch and English and French and Spanish and early Americans slugged it out in the 1700ís and 1800ís. Islands like this one Ů the colonies - were often the punching bags. This one was invaded again and again. It changed its flag as often as some people change underwear.

Today, peace. Holland owns the island. Nobody has been duking it out with Holland for some time. They donít dare. Fear of losing gouda cheese and tulip and daffodil bulbs is a mighty deterrent.

All those countries I listed are pretty much at peace. Ah, but the U.S. and Britain are at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes. But these are tiny wars. Compared with the wars of old they are. Significant. But tiny. And if you say to me that the loss of even one soldier or one civilian is too much, I will agree. But isnít it wonderful we have reached an era where we worry about a single life?

Think about our Civil War. And the World Wars. Life was so much cheaper. Made so by the massive slaughters. People were so numbed to slaughter that they only took notice when masses were killed. Isnít it wonderful we in the West cannot imagine how we would react to the news that 40,000 soldiers died this week.

Islands like this suffered horrible spells of poverty and despair over the centuries. At least their people did.

Today, they have far more stable economies. They are hooked up to the communication flow of the rest of the world. So they have warnings of changes elsewhere that will affect them. So now they have time to adapt.

We too have†a far more stable economy. Over the last 80 years economists have learned how to run the economy more sensibly. Used to be they pretended they knew what they were doing. Now they know Ů or at least they know a lot more than economists used to know.

They know how to control inflation better than they did. They know how to control the supply of money through the Federal Reserve. They know how to tax us. Well, they always knew HOW to tax us. My point is that they understand taxation more than they once did. Knowing this, they are better at taxing us Ů or not taxing us Ů in ways that help the economy. Rather than ways that cripple the economy.

One of the results is that our recessions are fewer. They are shallower. And depressions have slipped off the radar screen. People who lived in the 1800ís expected depressions. Expected them. Depressions that would crush farmers and business owners. Depressions that would fling millions into despair.

In ten thousand ways our world has improved. And continues to improve. In the advanced nations. And just as surely on specs in the Caribbean like St. Eustatius.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

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