Readers here know that while I don’t hedge on matters of principle (theft is theft and murder is murder: notwithstanding fancy hats, titles, offices, uniforms, badges, flowing robes, marble columns or oak veneer), there’ nonetheless a practical streak in me that acknowledges there’s little option but to charge straight ahead and do one’s very best to not be defeated by evil.
So in that vein, I’m happy to report that while not all it could have been, the body (human race) may perhaps be growing at a more rapid pace than the parasite (the state, worldwide) sucking away its life’s blood.
I’m going to break down this article into two parts: predictions and actual observations.
First, the predictions, which I’d frame thusly: this is some of what was envisioned and predicted to happen by those so-called experts who possessed political influence because of the very nature of those predictions; i.e., doom, gloom, and catastrophe — primarily the result of relatively free markets and profit motives, advocating the necessity of a growing, more powerful, and more intrusive state.
- And I will never forget that era’s "educational" films of what life would be like in the year 2000. Played on clanky 16-millimeter projectors, they showed images of people walking down the streets of Manhattan with masks on, so they could avoid breathing the poison gases our industrial society was spewing.
- A group of scientists calling themselves the Club of Rome issued a report called "Limits to Growth." It explained that lifeboat Earth had become so weighed down with humans that we were running out of food, minerals, forests, water, energy and just about everything else that we need for survival.
- Paul Ehrlich’s best-selling book "The Population Bomb" (1968) gave England a 50-50 chance of surviving into the 21st century.
- In 1980, Jimmy Carter released the "Global 2000 Report," which declared that life on Earth was getting worse in every measurable way.
There were tons more. Tons. It’s a simple formula. Gather data, apply it out of context, and make invalid inferences to project a future of doom. Then call for intervention by those who’d like to get elected to wield political power over your life. The fools will line up for miles. It’s really the modern day equivalent of how the church came to gain so much power over people’s lives centuries ago. A reader of average intelligence ought to be able to see how the exact same formula applies; with every earthquake, flood, volcanic eruption, and hurricane providing false confirmation that judgment is at hand, and that salvation through divinely appointed authority is one’s only viable hope.
Now to some of the actual observations.
- A new United Nations report called "State of the Future" concludes: "People around the world are becoming healthier, wealthier, better educated, more peaceful, more connected, and they are living longer."
- World-wide illiteracy rates have fallen by half since 1970 and now stand at an all-time low of 18%.
- More people live in free countries than ever before.
- The average human being today will live 50% longer in 2025 than one born in 1955.
- In 1981, 40% of the world’s population lived on less than $1 a day. Now that percentage is only 25%, adjusted for inflation.
- And at current rates of growth, "world poverty will be cut in half between 2000 and 2015"–which is arguably one of the greatest triumphs in human history.
- Trade and technology are closing the global "digital divide," and the report notes hopefully that soon laptop computers will cost $100 and almost every schoolchild will be a mouse click away from the Internet.
- Human beings aren’t reproducing like Norwegian field mice. Demographers now say that in the second half of this century, the human population will stabilize and then fall. If we use the same absurd extrapolation techniques demographers used in the 1970s, Japan, with its current low birth rate, will have only a few thousand citizens left in 300 years.
So, good news for humanity, bad news for the end-of-the-world industry. Stephen Moore concludes:
To what do we owe this improvement? Capitalism, according to the U.N. Free trade is rightly recognized as the engine of global prosperity in recent years.
I take special pleasure in reciting all of this global betterment because my first professional job was working with the "doom-slaying" economist Julian Simon. Starting 30 years ago, Simon (who died in 1998) told anyone who would listen–which wasn’t many people–that the faddish declinism of that era was bunk. He called the "Global 2000" report "globaloney." Armed with an arsenal of factual missiles, he showed that life on Earth was getting better, and that the combination of free markets and human ingenuity was the recipe for solving environmental and economic problems. Mr. Ehrlich, in response, said Simon proved that the one thing the world isn’t running out of "is lunatics."
Mr. Ehrlich, whose every prediction turned out wrong, won a MacArthur Foundation "genius award"; Simon, who got the story right, never won so much as a McDonald’s hamburger. But now who looks like the lunatic? This latest survey of the planet is certainly sweet vindication of Simon and others, like Herman Kahn, who in the 1970s dared challenge the "settled science." (Are you listening, global-warming alarmists?)
The media’s collective yawn over "State of the Future" is typical of the reaction to just about any good news. When 2006 was declared the hottest year on record, there were thousands of news stories. But last month’s revised data, indicating that 1934 was actually warmer, barely warranted a paragraph-long correction in most papers.
So I’m happy to report that the world’s six billion people are living longer, healthier and more comfortably than ever before. If only it were easy to fit that on a button.
I wonder if we’ve yet reached a point of no turning back. First, we outran nature’s propensity to do away with us on a whim. We now shelter, clothe, nourish, medicate and repair ourselves. More importantly: we pursue happiness; largely on our own terms, according to our own chose values.
And we’ve turned the corner of being fooled into obedience and self-sacrifice at the pleasure of the merchants of supernatural superstition and fairy tales.
Unfortunately, that seeming natural human propensity to seek external authority has found its current resting place in authoritarian politics and the authoritarian, coercive state, where doomsday is purportedly held back through socialism, i.e., through the collective spreading of "risk" through the "precautionary" sacrifice of the most productive to the least capable. But we compartmentalize. People who haven’t a problem in the world seeing what utter shitbags frauds like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell are/were (thank god). will watch with primitive, childlike interest at a Hillary "Evita" Clinton, or a Rudy "Ghoulinani."
And even though one need go back only 30 years to see how utterly wrong they were, and that being wrong didn’t matter to them, which is the more important point, they still keep lining up to play the fool.
And as foolish as it was, in 1970, to predict the end of the world as we know it by 2000, "unless we act," the same foolishness prevails today in spite of the fact that global markets did nothing but expand at increasing rates in those 30 years — to an extent even beyond levels predicted to cause doom — and yet did nothing but create more prosperity. It stands to likelihood that it’ll be the same with "global warming," and every other such silly doomsday foolishness. Carbon emissions will likely far exceed the worst predictions of the worst possible scenario — masturbatory Kyoto-like measures notwithstanding — and people will become more prosperous and the Earth will eventually cool via other negative feedback mechanisms that come into play.
Someday, the perceived difference between a primitive, bone-pierced medicine man and figures like FDR, JFK, and Regan will seem too infinitesimally small for anyone to bother to make distinctions. I hope I live to see such a day.