Here’s the formula: compare life for the typical person today to 30, 100, 300 years ago. The things we take for granted to today would have been an unimaginable blessing back then. I get a kick out of that story line every time I see it.
The latest in a long line of examples is from Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek: Capitalism: The Greatest Engine of Equality. He ponders what a man from 1700 would think of a visit to Bill Gates. Just about every one of the astounding things observed by the visitor from 1700 is also available to almost every person living in the U.S.
(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)
The driving force behind all of this?
And property rights.
And a functional legal system.
And a functional democracy.
Read the full article. A few things that would have been beyond the wildest dream 300 years ago:
People today in sharp contrast to 300 years ago:
[exquisitely few people in the US ever] worry about starving to death
they bathe daily
they have several changes of clean clothes
they have clean and healthy teeth
diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis, tetanus, and pertussis present no substantial risks
[a woman’s] chances of dying during childbirth are about one-sixtieth what they would have been in 1700
child born … is about 40 times more likely than a pre-industrial child to survive infancy
[it is a very rare home that doesn’t have] a household refrigerator and freezer (not to mention microwave ovens, dishwashers, and televisions)
they effortlessly converse with people miles or oceans away;
that they can, whenever and wherever they please, listen to a Mozart string quartet, a Verdi opera, or Frank Sinatra singing of romance.
All of those are things that are normal today.
You can do the same comparison to 1900, 1950, 1980, or 1990 and it sounds like a miracle.
There’s no better time to be alive in all of history than today.