Life is Getting Better

Reason Magazine shows how our lives are healthier, richer, and safer, while most media make people think life gets worse.
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News reports often give the impression that humans have wrecked the earth, the middle class is disappearing, and the world is getting more dangerous.

“We are destroying the planet,” Michael Moore says on CNN. MSNBC says that “t he middle class is disappearing.”  All media warn us about things like a “d eadly Ebola outbreak.”
 
This negativity comes from the way humans are wired by evolution, says Reason Magazine Editor in Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward.

She tells John Stossel: ” If you are a caveman who hears a little rustling in the weeds, and you say, ‘oh, it’s probably fine,’ the other guy who says, ‘It’s probably a tiger,’ that’s the guy who lives. That guy was our ancestors.”
 
But our instincts are wrong, she says. We needn’t be so scared.

The cover of her magazine features a glass that is not just half full, but  completely full. Reason Magazine points out that today there is less war and more food. We’re healthier, and working safer and more fulfilling jobs.
 
She points out that today, we have medical breakthroughs that would’ve once been called miracles. Deaf children receive cochlear implants that allow them to hear for the first time. Artificial limbs “allow the lame to walk.”

“These are things that, in another era, would have caused the founding of an entire religion!” says Ward. Stossel pushes back: “What about this constant complaint from the media? … The middle class is shrinking.”

“Mostly it’s because people are getting richer,” Mangu-Ward responds.

She’s right.  A graph in Reason Magazine shows that about 50 years ago, 53% of people were middle-income, making between $35,000 and $100,000 per year. That fell to 42%. But it fell because people mostly moved into upper income brackets. The share making more than $100,000 rose from 8% to almost  28%. (All the numbers are inflation-adjusted.)

  
Another Reason article is titled ” Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death are All on the Decline”.
 
“You wouldn’t know that watching news programs,” Stossel said.
 
“That’s right, and yet it’s absolutely true,” Added Mangu-Ward.

Even with the rise in terrorism, she notes, “there are fewer wars and fewer people die in those wars than has ever been true in the past.”
 
Stossel pushes back again: “Lately, life expectancy dropped a bit.” 
 
“Overall, that is the tiniest blip,” Mangu-Ward replies. The long-term trend is still up.
 
In an article titled ” Work Got Good”,  Reason Magazine says people are more fulfilled in modern jobs.
 
“A couple hundred years ago, work was dangerous,” Mangu-Ward  adds. “It was very easy to die at work… work was extremely boring, even for people that had good jobs. Jobs are pretty interesting now, and they mostly don’t kill you, and we should be grateful for that.”

 
But there are problems, and Reason magazine understands that.  The back half of the magazine is filled with the bad news:  Misery in Venezuela, threats to an open internet,young people liking socialism.

“Everything that’s bad is politics, everything that’s good is the market.” Mangu-Ward  argues.  “Life gets better. We have the opportunity to look  to a future where those trends will continue– if we can just manage to keep politicians from screwing it up.”