I’m a big fan of Gregg Easterbrook and his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on ESPN. As the name suggests, his column is about football, but he weaves in a variety of interesting and unrelated topics too. Easterbrook is also author of the book, “The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse,” in which he argues, convincingly, that with the exception of the environment, nearly every aspect of life in America is better than it was a generation ago. He revisits some of these themes in last week’s column:
“Conditions in the United States are much better than anyone’s election rhetoric would suggest — international tensions and world military deaths at historic lows, all forms of pollution except greenhouse gases in decline, most disease rates declining, education levels rising, middle-class income stalled but middle-class purchasing power (considering falling real-dollar prices and smaller households) at a historic peak.”
He also points out that once benefits are taken into account, the poverty rate is only a third of what it was in 1980. Then he turns to oil production:
“At 5 million barrels a day in 2009, it’s 6 million daily now, thanks to improved drilling technology and the Bakken oil field find in North Dakota. Petroleum imports are declining. In 2005, the United States had to import 60 percent of its oil; now, it needs to import only 42 percent.”
There must be something in our culture that only wants to hear or acknowledge bad news. It’s refreshing to hear at least one person reminding us how things are actually getting steadily better.