Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Life in the 'Neoliberal' Era

One of the most delightful Twitter posts that caught my attention in the pre-Christmas period was Johan Norberg's 'progress advent calendar' showing 24 indicators that demonstrate how much life has improved for human beings over the industrial era. My favourites were Day 2: Famine deaths have been reduced by 98% in 100 years, even though world population grew fourfold; and 15: The homicide rate has been reduced by half since the 1980s, and by 98% since the 15th century.

Norberg has continued to tweet good news since Christmas and today one that particularly tickled me was this graph of what has happened in what many left-wing commentators (such as this one) disparagingly call the era of 'neoliberalism'. Clearly, this neoliberalism is a pretty good thing.

The left survives on painting the world as a dreadful place that is getting worse by the year. They are the modern doomsayers, the equivalent of those sad religionists who used to walk around with sandwich boards saying, "the end of the world is nigh." This is no more so than when they are talking about the environment, which has replaced class struggle as the touchstone for political orthodoxy. Norberg even addresses this, pointing out that farm productivity since 1961 saved 3 billion hectares from becoming farmland - the size of USA, Canada and China, and that oil spilt in our oceans has been reduced by 99% since 1970.

He has a wonderful way of putting things in perspective. In response to Oxfam's recent statement that 8 people are richer than 3.6 billion, he says, "So? My daughter, who has $20, is richer than 2 billion. So the problem is poverty, not inequality." Of course, this is not mathematically kosher, but we get the point.

We need more people like Johan Norberg. The doomsayers dominate the media and many of their claims are never challenged. The facts tell us that life in the so-called neoliberal era is better in so many ways than ever before in human history. The more people point this out, the less traction the leftwing doomsayers will get in the contest of political wills.

No comments: