In our personal lives we should count our blessings — family, health, friends — each and every day. Despite a depressing, demoralizing and downright weird campaign, we should outside in the personal realm keep things in perspective and be grateful for:
Global poverty is in decline. Jim Pethokoukis writes, “Free enterprise reduces human misery like nothing else. Over the past 30 years, the share of our fellow humans living in extreme poverty has decreased to 21% from 52%. That’s a billion fewer people in extreme poverty. An extraordinary achievement.” He observes, “The Economist magazine correctly says that ‘the biggest poverty-reduction measure of all is liberalizing markets to let poor people get richer. That means freeing trade between countries (Africa is still cruelly punished by tariffs) and within them (China’s real great leap forward occurred because it allowed private business to grow).'”
People are living longer. The World Health Organization reports, “Global average life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s. Those gains reverse declines during the 1990s, when life expectancy fell in Africa because of the AIDS epidemic, and in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The 2000-2015 increase was greatest in the WHO African Region, where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years, driven mainly by improvements in child survival, and expanded access to antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV.”
Americans are extraordinarily charitable. The National Center for Charitable Statistics found, “Giving by individuals makes up the vast majority of contributions received by nonprofit organizations. Giving USA 2015 estimates that individual giving amounted to $258.51 billion in 2014, an increase of 7.1 percent in current dollars from 2013. This accounts for 72 percent of all contributions received in 2014.”
Younger adults are reading more. For all the cracks about millennials, “Millennials have demonstrated the tendency to read more—and buy more books—than other generations. In fact, Millennials buy 30% of books, compared to the 24% purchased by Baby Boomers. They even go to the library, with an estimated 61% of Millennials still carrying a library card.” And plenty of studies show reading makes you smarter, live longer and more empathetic.
We are becoming less violent. You’d never know it from listening to politicians or the media, but it is provably true. Psychologist Steven Pinker, author of “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” in an interview this year explained: “I looked at homicide, looked at war, looked at genocide, looked at terrorism. And in all cases, the long-term historical trend, though there are ups and downs and wiggles and spikes, is absolutely downward. The rate of violent crime in United States has fallen by more than half in just a decade. The rate of death in war fell by a factor of 100 over a span of 25 years.”
So, yes, gratitude is in order.
We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and hope you have time to count your blessings. We’ll be on a short break, but will return on Wednesday, Nov. 30.