The Best Time to be Alive is Now

For all the moaning and complaining people do, you’d think they have it rough.  And in comparison to others, they may have a point.  But in the big scheme of things, things are pretty good now.  Here is a list from Morgan Housel of The Motley Fool of 50 Reasons We’re Living Through the Greatest Period in World History.  I list them all below so I can easily find them in the event the link ever goes away.  I highlighted a few of my favorites.

1. U.S. life expectancy at birth was 39 years in 1800, 49 years in 1900, 68 years in 1950, and 79 years today. The average newborn today can expect to live an entire generation longer than his great-grandparents could.

2. A flu pandemic in 1918 infected 500 million people and killed as many as 100 million. In his book The Great Influenza, John Barry describes the illness as if “someone were hammering a wedge into your skull just behind the eyes, and body aches so intense they felt like bones breaking.” Today, you can go to Safeway and get a flu shot. It costs 15 bucks. You might feel a little poke.

3. In 1950, 23 people per 100,000 Americans died each year in traffic accidents, according to the Census Bureau. That fell to 11 per 100,000 by 2009. If the traffic mortality rate had not declined, 37,800 more Americans would have died last year than actually did. In the time it will take you to read this article, one American is alive who would have died in a car accident 60 years ago.

4. In 1949, Popular Mechanics magazine made the bold prediction that someday a computer could weigh less than 1 ton. I wrote this sentence on an iPad that weighs 0.73 pounds.

5. The average American now retires at age 62. One hundred years ago, the average American died at age 51. Enjoy your golden years — your ancestors didn’t get any of them.

6. In his 1770s book The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wrote: “It is not uncommon in the highlands of Scotland for a mother who has borne 20 children not to have 2 alive.” Infant mortality in America has dropped from 58 per 1,000 births in 1933 to less than six per 1,000 births in 2010, according to the World Health Organization. There are about 11,000 births in America each day, so this improvement means more than 200,000 infants now survive each year who wouldn’t have 80 years ago. That’s like adding a city the size of Boise, Idaho, every year.

7. America averaged 20,919 murders per year in the 1990s, and 16,211 per year in the 2000s, according to the FBI. If the murder rate had not fallen, 47,000 more Americans would have been killed in the last decade than actually were. That’s more than the population of Biloxi, Miss.

8. Despite a surge in airline travel, there were half as many fatal plane accidents in 2012 than there were in 1960, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

9. No one has died from a new nuclear weapon attack since 1945. If you went back to 1950 and asked the world’s smartest political scientists, they would have told you the odds of seeing that happen would be close to 0%. You don’t have to be very imaginative to think that the most important news story of the past 70 years is what didn’t happen. Congratulations, world.

10. People worry that the U.S. economy will end up stagnant like Japan’s. Next time you hear that, remember that unemployment in Japan hasn’t been above 5.6% in the past 25 years, its government corruption ranking has consistently improved, incomes per capita adjusted for purchasing power have grown at a decent rate, and life expectancy has risen by nearly five years. I can think of worse scenarios.

11. Two percent of American homes had electricity in 1900. J.P Morgan (the man) was one of the first to install electricity in his home, and it required a private power plant on his property. Even by 1950, close to 30% of American homes didn’t have electricity. It wasn’t until the 1970s that virtually all homes were powered. Adjusted for wage growth, electricity cost more than 10 times as much in 1900 as it does today, according to professor Julian Simon.

12. According to the Federal Reserve, the number of lifetime years spent in leisure — retirement plus time off during your working years — rose from 11 years in 1870 to 35 years by 1990. Given the rise in life expectancy, it’s probably close to 40 years today. Which is amazing: The average American spends nearly half his life in leisure. If you had told this to the average American 100 years ago, that person would have considered you wealthy beyond imagination.

13. We are having a national discussion about whether a $7.25-per-hour minimum wage is too low. But even adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage was less than $4 per hour as recently as the late 1940s. The top 1% have captured most of the wage growth over the past three decades, but nearly everyone has grown richer — much richer — during the past seven decades.

14. In 1952, 38,000 people contracted polio in America alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2012, there were fewer than 300 reported cases of polio in the entire world.

15. From 1920 to 1949, an average of 433,000 people died each year globally from “extreme weather events.” That figure has plunged to 27,500 per year, according to Indur Goklany of the International Policy Network, largely thanks to “increases in societies’ collective adaptive capacities.”

16. Worldwide deaths from battle have plunged from 300 per 100,000 people during World War II, to the low teens during the 1970s, to less than 10 in the 1980s, to fewer than one in the 21st century, according to Harvard professor Steven Pinker. “War really is going out of style,” he says.

17. Median household income adjusted for inflation was around $25,000 per year during the 1950s. It’s nearly double that amount today. We have false nostalgia about the prosperity of the 1950s because our definition of what counts as “middle class” has been inflated — see the 34% rise in the size of the median American home in just the past 25 years. If you dig into how the average “prosperous” American family lived in the 1950s, I think you’ll find a standard of living we’d call “poverty” today.

18. Reported rape per 100,000 Americans dropped from 42.3 in 1991 to 27.5 in 2010, according to the FBI. Robbery has dropped from 272 per 100,000 in 1991 to 119 in 2010. There were nearly 4 million fewer property crimes in 2010 than there were in 1991, which is amazing when you consider the U.S. population grew by 60 million during that period.

19. According to the Census Bureau, only one in 10 American homes had air conditioning in 1960. That rose to 49% in 1973, and 89% today — the 11% that don’t are mostly in cold climates. Simple improvements like this have changed our lives in immeasurable ways.

20. Almost no homes had a refrigerator in 1900, according to Frederick Lewis Allan’s The Big Change, let alone a car. Today they sell cars with refrigerators in them.

21. Adjusted for overall inflation, the cost of an average round-trip airline ticket fell 50% from 1978 to 2011, according to Airlines for America.

22. According to the Census Bureau, the average new home now has more bathrooms than occupants.

23. According to the Census Bureau, in 1900 there was one housing unit for every five Americans. Today, there’s one for every three. In 1910 the average home had 1.13 occupants per room. By 1997 it was down to 0.42 occupants per room.

24. According to professor Julian Simon, the average American house or apartment is twice as large as the average house or apartment in Japan, and three times larger than the average home or apartment in Russia.

25. Relative to hourly wages, the cost of an average new car has fallen fourfold since 1915, according to professor Julian Simon.

26. Google Maps is free. If you think about this for a few moments, it’s really astounding. It’s probably the single most useful piece of software ever invented, and it’s free for anyone to use.

27. High school graduation rates are at a 40-year high, according to Education Week.

28. The death rate from strokes has declined by 75% since the 1960s, according to the National Institutes of Health. Death from heart attacks has plunged, too: If the heart attack survival had had not declined since the 1960s, the number of Americans dying each year from heart disease would be more than 1 million higher than it currently is.

29. In 1900, African Americans had an illiteracy rate of nearly 45%, according to the Census Bureau. Today, it’s statistically close to zero.

30. People talk about how expensive college is today, but a century ago fewer than one in 20 Americans ever stepped foot in a university. College wasn’t an option at any price for some minorities because of segregation just six decades ago.

31. The average American work week has declined from 66 hours in 1850, to 51 hours in 1909, to 34.8 today, according to the Federal Reserve. Enjoy your weekend.

32. Incomes have grown so much faster than food prices that the average American household now spends less than half as much of its income on food as it did in the 1950s. Relative to wages, the price of food has declined more than 90% since the 19th century, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

33. As of March 2013, there were 8.99 million millionaire households in the U.S., according to the Spectrum Group. Put them together and they would make the largest city in the country, and the 18th largest city in the world, just behind Tokyo. We talk a lot about wealth concentration in the United States, but it’s not just the very top that has done well.

34. More than 40% of adults smoked in 1965, according to the Centers for Disease Control. By 2011, 19% did.

35. In 1900, 44% of all American jobs were in farming. Today, around 2% are. We’ve become so efficient at the basic need of feeding ourselves that nearly half the population can now work on other stuff.

36. One of the reasons Social Security and Medicare are underfunded is that the average American is living longer than ever before. I think this is literally the best problem to have.

37. In 1940, less than 5% of the adult population held a bachelor’s degree or higher. By 2012, more than 30% did, according to the Census Bureau.

38. U.S. oil production in September was the highest it’s been since 1989, and growth shows no sign of slowing. We produced 57% more oil in America in September 2013 than we did in September 2007. The International Energy Agency projects that America will be the world’s largest oil producer as soon as 2015.

39. The average American car got 13 miles per gallon in 1975, and more than 26 miles per gallon in 2013, according to the Energy Protection Agency. This has an effect identical to cutting the cost of gasoline in half.

40. Annual inflation in the United States hasn’t been above 10% since 1981 and has been below 5% in 77% of years over the past seven decades. When you consider all the hatred directed toward the Federal Reserve, this is astounding.

41. The percentage of Americans age 65 and older who live in poverty has dropped from nearly 30% in 1966 to less than 10% by 2010. For the elderly, the war on poverty has pretty much been won.

42. Adjusted for inflation, the average monthly Social Security benefit for retirees has increased from $378 in 1940 to $1,277 by 2010. What used to be a safety net is now a proper pension.

43. If you think Americans aren’t prepared for retirement today, you should have seen what it was like a century ago. In 1900, 65% of men over age 65 were still in the labor force. By 2010, that figure was down to 22%. The entire concept of retirement is unique to the past few decades. Half a century ago, most Americans worked until they died.

44. From 1920 to 1980, an average of 395 people per 100,000 died from famine worldwide each decade. During the 2000s, that fell to three per 100,000, according to The Economist.

45. The cost of solar panels has declined by 75% since 2008, according to the Department of Energy. Last I checked, the sun is offering its services for free.

46. As recently as 1950, nearly 40% of American homes didn’t have a telephone. Today, there are 500 million Internet-connected devices in America, or enough for 5.7 per household.

47. According to AT&T archives and the Dallas Fed, a three-minute phone call from New York to San Francisco cost $341 in 1915, and $12.66 in 1960, adjusted for inflation. Today, Republic Wireless offers unlimited talk, text, and data for $5 a month.

48. In 1990, the American auto industry produced 7.15 vehicles per auto employee. In 2010 it produced 11.2 vehicles per employee. Manufacturing efficiency has improved dramatically.

49. You need an annual income of $34,000 a year to be in the richest 1% of the world, according to World Bank economist Branko Milanovic’s 2010 book The Haves and the Have-Nots. To be in the top half of the globe you need to earn just $1,225 a year. For the top 20%, it’s $5,000 per year. Enter the top 10% with $12,000 a year. To be included in the top 0.1% requires an annual income of $70,000. America’s poorest are some of the world’s richest. 

50. Only 4% of humans get to live in America. Odds are you’re one of them. We’ve got it made. Be thankful. 

 

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Charlie Gard Is the Face of Single-Payer

A sobering article by Ted Noel, M.D. in the American Thinker.  Emphasis by me.

I woke up very early this morning with the tortured picture of an infant running through my mind.

Charlie Gard has a tube through his nose into his lungs, connected to a machine that breathes for him.  He has all the latest electronics monitoring his status.  But he is unable to provide any indication of his pleasure or pain at the process.  He is dying from a horrendous genetic disease that robs his body of the ability to move, breathe, or respond.

Next I saw his parents.  Their expression conveyed the pain that Charlie cannot.  But their pain is not physical; it is emotional.  That is understandable, since their child is dying.  And their anguish is magnified by an emotionless megalith against which they flail to no avail.  Single-payer “health care” has taken their child from them, even while he is still alive.

Such pictures are not new to me.  During my time in critical care medicine, I saw many hopeless cases.  Their diseases had reached a stage where there was no medical reason to continue treatment.  They had no material chance to recover to a point where they would have any meaningful life away from extensive (and expensive) medical support.  And because these medical circumstances were not rare, I helped write my hospital’s policy on Futility of Care.  But Charlie Gard’s case is different from the ones I was involved with.

When Charlie Gard entered Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, England’s single-payer health system, the National Health Service, took over.  At first, it seemed that this was a good thing, since his parents didn’t have to pay extra for his care.  But they didn’t have a choice.  They weren’t in the small minority who are either wealthy enough or favorably employed to access private insurance.  So Charlie was swallowed by the Blob.

Thus far, there didn’t seem to be any difference between single-payer and private insurance.  Both start with the same level of medical care. But shortly, the differences became manifest.  When Charlie’s rare diagnosis became clear (only 16 known cases), the NHS refused to allow any sort of alternative approach.  Charlie had struck the iceberg, and the Carpathia was nowhere to be seen.

After first contact with a doctor who might be able to help, Charlie’s parents set up a crowdfunding page and raised £1.3 million (about $1.7 million).  That’s enough for any conceivable therapy.  They had become financially able to relieve the NHS of any need to care for Charlie.  All the NHS had to do was say, “Yes.”  Instead, the NHS asserted its ownership of Charlie, and multiple courts agreed.  The hospital got court orders to discontinue life support.

What would have happened in the U.S.?  When there is no reasonable probability of returning a critically ill patient to meaningful life, the situation is to be presented to the patient’s health care surrogate.  This “Legally Authorized Person” is encouraged to recognize that further care is futile and should not be undertaken.  With the LAP’s consent, it would become possible to withdraw futile care.

It is critically important to note that the LAP (typically close family) has the authority to tell the medical staff to continue care or not.  It is not up to the doctors or the hospital.  It does not matter that continuing futile care burns out staff and consumes resources.  The family is the final authority, because the family members are the ones who own all rights in this situation.  It would be unethical to proceed without their consent, because they are protecting the patient’s natural human rights, even if they conflict with the medical prognosis.

I know that speaking in terms of “ownership” sounds strange coming from a doctor.  But this is the key fact, based in natural law.  Charlie Gard’s parents “own” him.  They begot him.  They cared for him.  And when he became ill, they cared even more for him by seeking expert assistance.  They are primarily responsible for Charlie.  But single-payer NHS changes everything.

When Charlie Gard came through that Emergency Department door, the NHS took ownership of him.  It’s a classic case of the Golden Rule: “He who has the gold makes the rules.”  (Apologies to Saint Matthew.)  In essence, the NHS said that since it is paying the freight, Charlie is now the property of the State.  His parents were involuntarily dispossessed of their son.  The NHS stole him by force of law.  Parental rights inherent in natural law were “stripped away by strangers.”

The therapy proposed by Dr. Hirano from America supposedly has about a 10% chance of success.  That’s significantly better than the zero the courts have offered.  But let us suppose that it fails.  Is it a total loss?  Almost certainly not.  Knowledge will be gained.  It may not help kids with Charlie’s condition, but it may lead to help for others.  And Charlie’s parents are able to afford it now.  The NHS would incur no further expense.

Even at this late date, with doctors and world leaders lining up to volunteer help for Charlie, the NHS still acts on the basis that it owns the child.  His parents were not allowed to appeal.  Only the hospital had that right.

This conceit is at the center of the single-payer controversy, but no one is willing to actually argue it.  If it were debated, it would show that the “payment” idea is a diversion.  Instead, single-payer advocates have taken the position that the State owns its citizens.

Right now, I have been forced into Medicare.  I don’t like it, and I would happily take an alternative, but legally, I cannot.  Further, if Medicare declares that I can’t have a particular treatment, I can’t even buy it for myself.  That’s exactly the same situation Charlie Gard’s parents are in.  The federal government owns me through Medicare.

My only alternative is to go out of the country for unauthorized care, or to find a cash-only doctor who does not accept Medicare.  And how many of those are there?  I’ve saved enough to have such an option, but how many others can do that?  And suppose I’m in the hospital when the need arises.  I’d have to sign out AMA (Against Medical Advice).  Fortunately, I still have that small shred of personal ownership.

Every time someone proposes single-payer, throw Charlie Gard in his face.  He is single-payer – state ownership of the individual.  After single-payer is instituted, will it be possible that this “government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth”?

 

The Compromise of Three-Fifths of a Person

Factual history of slavery in the United States by Walter Williams.  Here is his column with some highlights by me:

Too many people believe that slavery is a “peculiar institution.” That’s what Kenneth Stampp called slavery in his book, “Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South.” But slavery is by no means peculiar, odd or unusual. It was common among ancient peoples such as the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittites, Greeks, Persians, Armenians and many others. Large numbers of Christians were enslaved during the Ottoman wars in Europe. White slaves were common in Europe from the Dark Ages to the Middle Ages. It was only after A.D. 1600 that Europeans joined with Arabs and Africans and started the Atlantic slave trade. As David P. Forsythe wrote in his book, “The Globalist,” “The fact remained that at the beginning of the 19th century an estimated three-quarters of all people alive were trapped in bondage against their will either in some form of slavery or serfdom.”

While slavery constitutes one of the grossest encroachments on human liberty, it is by no means unique or restricted to the Western world or United States, as many liberal academics would have us believe. Much of their indoctrination of our young people, at all levels of education, paints our nation’s founders as racist adherents to slavery, but the story is not so simple.

At the time of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, slaves were about 40 percent of the population of the Southern colonies. Apportionment in the House of Representatives and the number of electoral votes each state would have in presidential elections would be based upon population. Southern delegates to the convention wanted slaves to be counted as one person. Northern delegates to the convention, and those opposed to slavery, wanted only free persons of each state to be counted for the purposes of apportionment in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. The compromise reached was that each slave would be counted as only three-fifths of a person.

Many criticize this compromise as proof of racism. My question to these grossly uninformed critics is whether they would have found it more preferable for slaves to be counted as whole persons. Slaves counted as whole persons would have given slaveholding Southern states much more political power. Or, would the critics of the founders prefer that the Northern delegates not compromise and not allow slaves to be counted at all. If they did, it is likely that the Constitution would have not been ratified. Thus, the question emerges is whether blacks would be better off with Northern states having gone their way and Southern states having gone theirs, resulting in no U.S. Constitution and no Union? Unlike today’s pseudointellectuals, black abolitionist Frederick Douglass understood the compromise, saying that the three-fifths clause was “a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding states” that deprived them of “two-fifths of their natural basis of representation.”

Douglass’ vision was shared by Patrick Henry and others. Henry said, expressing the reality of the three-fifths compromise, “As much as I deplore slavery, I see that prudence forbids its abolition.” With this union, Congress at least had the power to abolish slave trade by 1808. According to delegate James Wilson, many believed the anti-slave-trade clause laid “the foundation for banishing slavery out of this country.” Many of the founders abhorred slavery. Their statements can be read on my website, walterewilliams.com.

The most unique aspect of slavery in the Western world was the moral outrage against it, which began to emerge in the 18th century and led to massive elimination efforts. It was Britain’s military sea power that put an end to the slave trade. And our country fought a costly war that brought an end to slavery. Unfortunately, these facts about slavery are not in the lessons taught in our schools and colleges. Instead, there is gross misrepresentation and suggestion that slavery was a uniquely American practice.

One More Reason Why I Want a Smaller Government

This post could also be called;

One More Example Why I Hate Big Government

One More Example Why I Don’t Trust the Bastards in Washington

One More Reason Why I Think Nobody in Washington Gives a Damn Anymore

Federal Government To Have No Estimate Of Wrongly Paid Portion Of $24B In Health Insurance Tax Credits Until 2022.

Modern Healthcare (7/17, Lee, Subscription Publication) reports the federal government does not yet have an estimate as to what portion of the $24 billion in federal health insurance tax credits were wrongly awarded, and HHS does not expect to have an estimate prepared until 2022. The Government Accountability Office “says HHS needs to expedite reports of improper payments and improve verification of customer-reported information. It also recommended that the IRS improve its verification processes.”

Washington doesn’t give a crap about the waste because it’s not their money.

Minimum Wage Argument

The picture on the left shows what is supposed to be an “effective argument” for raising the minimum wage.  By itself it seems to make a valid argument for raising the minimum wage.  But the picture on the right side exposes the flaw in their argument and helps explain why the true minimum wage is $0.00/hour.

minwage1

HT:  Mark Perry

Childhood as I Knew It

This was buried in the comments section of Ace of Spades blog in response to a story about a lady who was ARRESTED for letting her kid shop in a LEGO store while she was in a different store in the mall.  Except for the differences based on geography (Gulf Coast vs rural Virginia), there is very little I would change.

One of the things I always said I wanted to do (but never did) was send my kids ‘back home’ to spend part of just one summer where I grew up.  Let them experience life in a small town – maybe spend a few early mornings in a tobacco field, enjoy home-made ice cream, and have nothing better to do at night than catch fire flies.

Listen to me.  I sound like the kind of middle-age guy that would say, “Stay off my lawn!”  Anyway, here’s the comment:

When I was 8 during the summer back in the summer of 1968, we’d swim in the bayou, fish all day, live in the woods near my home playing guns (liberals of today would have kittens), football (no helmets or pads), basketball and baseball. We caught crawfish and our dads would boil them in a huge picnic with the corn and potatoes. We’d wave to the shrimp boats and the party boats headed to the Gulf and they’d blow their horns to us on the bank.

I never really watched a lot of TV and never had a reason to do so. I did chores, such as clipping the beautiful hedges that surrounded our parcel like a living fence and mowing the grass under our giant live oak tree with an old push mower. I started mowing the grass when I was 8 and I got an allowance

My parents had a big, screened in porch that overlooked the bayou and we’d have sleepouts on it. We’d sneak outside and look at the massive amount stars overhead.

We’d walk alone to the gas station on the corner and spend some of our allowances on classic candy and Barq’s or Cokes in a glass bottle. The summers on the Gulf Coast were hot as hell, but it wasn’t because of “global warming/climate change/whatever they’ll call it tomorrow.” It’s the South. It’s hot in the summer. Either you deal with it or you don’t.

We’d flirt with the neighborhood girls and steal kisses and have little relationships. That’s how I met my wife for the first time and we started dating in high school.

The only rules were you had to come inside for lunch and supper and playtime ended when the sun went down.

If someone got hurt, we got an adult. It was no big deal. One time, a friend of mine broke his arm and his Dad took him to the hospital, which was 24 miles away in the city. There was no nanny state going after him for “abuse.” His attitude, like all of our parents, were “boys will be boys.”

Vietnam was raging, but it was so distant. It wasn’t until a boy from up the street died that it became a real thing for me. There were very few black kids in our town, so civil rights was also a distant thing for me.

I sold that house after my parents passed on and I do tear up when I think of it. My Dad never spoke of his time in Korea and not that I blamed him. All I knew was he had a Bronze Star that I happened on one day. I showed it to him and he gently said to put that away and never speak of it ever again. When I read the award after his death, I never realized that my Dad had the courage of a lion.

Now kids can’t be kids. They have live in hermetically sealed bubbles. We wonder why there is a childhood obesity epidemic (everything to the nanny staters is an “epidemic”) when we won’t let kids have their independence and play as kids were meant to do. We don’t let “boys be boys.” We have to drug them with Ritalin so they won’t leave their seats and be active. I was busy as a child, but my teachers accepted that as part of “boys being boys.” You want to know why we have man buns and skinny, feminized hipsters and there’s your answer right there.

We don’t let them learn at their pace and by methods guaranteed to help them. And we wonder why more women are attending college, not that is a good thing since they come out propagandized by the feminist movement into hating men and delaying childbirth or not even having kids.

Our elites denigrate flyover country and blue collar workers, at least until they need a plumber to unclog their pipes or a roofer to plug holes in their leaking roof.

I’m sorry about rambling here, but there’s so much in this society that makes me so depressed for the world I hand over to my children and now my grandchild. We need to continue to belittle this bunk from these perennial, freedom-hating busybodies and give our children a chance to have the rich childhoods that ultimately prepare them to be the great future citizens our nation needs them to be.