Is life far better than years ago?

Absolutely yes. In most measures, most people are better off than 30 or 100 or 250 years ago.

Life just keeps getting better and better when we look at things like life expectancy, health care, standard of living, number of people living in abject poverty (the portion of people world-wide living on inflation-adjusted $1 a day dropped from 42% in 1981 to 14% today), availability of air travel, astounding technology, and the rapidly dropping cost of that astounding technology.

That’s the overarching point of a new book, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality, by Angus Deaton. The New York Times has a great review: A Cockeyed Optimist.

There’s a current tendency to wax nostalgic about the wonderful ‘50s and ‘60s or the turn of the last century. Ahh, things were so much better in 1900!

Such nostalgia is understandable if you are looking at the ongoing financial turmoil in the US over the last five years, which is even worse in California, with a barely visible recovery if you live 60 miles from the coast. My impression is that the charitable nonprofit community in Southern California is still struggling like it was 2009 or 2010.

The world is not limited to what you can see at this moment.

When we look beyond the last few years and further than our immediate neighborhood, life has never been better.

Check out the review at the NYT. Then check out the book.

My guess is you’ll put the book on your short list for what to read next, like I have.

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