Thursday, December 31, 2020

There was good news in 2020

2020 Did Bring Some Good News | Reason - John Stossel:

December 30, 2020 - "Was 2020 the worst year ever? The media keep saying that. We did have the pandemic, a bitter election, unemployment, riots, and a soaring national debt. But wait, look at the good news, says historian Johan Norberg. His new book, Open: The Story of Human Progress, points out how life keeps getting better, even if people just don't realize it.

"2020 was 'the best year in human history to face a pandemic,' he says. Had the pandemic happened in 2005, 'You wouldn't have the technology to create mRNA vaccines.... In 1990,' he continues, "we wouldn't have a worldwide web. If we had had this pandemic in 1976, we wouldn't have been able to read the genome of the virus. And…in 1950, we wouldn't have had a single ventilator.'

"These last 20 years, adds Norberg, have been especially good. 'Mankind has attained more wealth than ever.' I push back: 'There's more to life than wealth! And lot of this money went to the top 1 percent. Ordinary people think they're doing worse.'

'If you look at specifics like global poverty, child mortality, chronic undernourishment, and illiteracy,' Norberg replies, 'they all declined faster than ever.' Those things are pretty good measures of quality of life....

Of course, there were bad trends in 2020. Murder rose in the United States. Social media algorithms divided us further. 'Suicide is up,' I tell Norberg. 'I can definitely see the problems,' he replies, 'but once upon a time, if you ended up in the wrong school or neighborhood, you had nowhere to go—no other community available to you. Now there is, and that opens up a world of opportunity. Some awful things as well, but some beautiful things.'

"That meant that even during this pandemic, people found new ways to help others. Volunteers used the internet to find better ways to donate their time. Young people brought food to the elderly. Zoom and Slack taught us that not being in the office sometimes works as well, or better. Businesses had new tools with which to adapt. Restaurants moved to takeout and delivery, aided by apps like UberEats and Grubhub. Such healthy adaptation rarely makes news, because reporters seek out problems."

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