Don’t Freak Out

Worried about Tuesday?

Remember: The most important parts of life happen outside politics.

Love, friendship, family, raising children, building businesses, worship, charity work — that is the stuff of life! Politicians get in the way of those things. But despite the efforts of power-hungry Republicans and Democrats, life gets better.

You may not believe that. Surveys show most people think life is getting worse.

But it isn’t, as Marian Tupy and Ron Bailey point out in their new book, “Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know.”

“Child labor was once ubiquitous. Now it’s limited to a few countries in Africa. Women did not have a vote (until New Zealand granted it at the end of the 19th century). Today, women vote everywhere except for the Vatican,” Tupy reminds us.

“Gays and lesbians, persecuted for millennia, are free to marry. Slavery was universal; now it is illegal. The world has never been more peaceful, more educated and kinder.”

But the nastiness of today’s politics may stop progress! Make life worse!

It’s possible, but “worse” compared to what?

I’ve lived through the Vietnam War, a military draft, 90% income tax rates, price controls, indecency laws, widespread racism and sexism, Jim Crow, the explosion of crime in the 1970s…

Overall, life got better.

With Donald Trump and Joe Biden claiming the other will destroy what’s good, it’s hard to see improvement. But the world has made progress, largely thanks to libertarian ideas.

“For millennia the world was marked by despotism, slavery, hierarchy, rigid class privilege, and literally no increase in the standard of living,” says Cato Institute Vice President David Boaz in the May/June 2020 Policy Report.

“Then libertarian ideas came into the world. Of course, they weren’t called that at the time. … (T)hey were the ideas of human rights, free markets, property rights, religious toleration, the value of commerce, the dignity of the individual – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

These ideas created a wave of progress unlike anything in history.

“Look at the chart of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, or any measure of economic growth,” adds Boaz. “It looks like a hockey stick: flat for almost all human history, and then it rockets upwards.”

The media shriek hysterically about every problem, and we have problems: pandemic, lockdowns, unemployment, wildfires, bad cops, violent riots, crime…

But no matter who wins on Tuesday, life will probably get better.

Entrepreneurs will invent cool things.

This year, while Democrats and Republicans fought, the private sector found cheaper and better ways to send people into space.

The World Bank complained about governments not providing all people clean drinking water. So private companies are doing it. A billboard in Peru turns humidity into potable drinking water. A drinking straw, LifeStraw, removes bacteria and parasites from water.

Forests are expanding because modern farming uses less land, allowing the forests to regrow.

Thanks to often-despised free markets, poverty continues to decline. In 1981, 42% of the world lived in extreme poverty. By 2018, only 8.6% did. Do politicians ever highlight those gains? No.

Probably because most of those good things happened in spite of them, not because of them.

Most good things do.

Yes, we still have lots of problems: trillion?dollar deficits, mental illness, crushing regulation, endless wars (although fewer of them), criminal injustice, inequality, climate change…

But it’s always been that way. Evolution programmed humans to focus on problems. Our ancestors survived in a very dangerous world. If they weren’t hypervigilant, they wouldn’t have lived long enough to give birth to the people who gave birth to us.

I obsess about problems. But I try not to let that distract me from the big picture:

More people in more places enjoy prosperity, religious freedom, personal freedom, democratic governance, largely equal rights, civility, better health and longer lives.

Neither Trump nor Biden is likely to destroy that.

Image by Avi Chomotovski from Pixabay

32 thoughts on “Don’t Freak Out

  1. Thanks for the uplifting words during this crazy time in everyone’s life. There is good in humanity no matter what or how the media portrays people. Thanks

  2. Mr. Stossel;

    Once again you’ve hit the nail on the head. Thanks for your calm reassuring words in this hectic time. I appreciate so much of what you do and share it with my children frequently. You are a voice of reason and logic, which is rare these days. Thanks again.

    Best regards
    Charles Harder

  3. Bravo for stepping up with courage to point out what should be obvious to anyone paying attention to anything other than politics! Keep up the good work!!

  4. Maybe the reason some people feel that everything is worse is because all talking heads, including Mr. Stossel, constantly tell us we are or should be. You serve at our pleasure and we can seek please elsewhere

  5. John no disrespect but what planet are you on? If it wasn’t for Trump turning around all the damage B.O. had done we would be in a mess right now.

  6. I live a block away from what was shown about the rioting and looting in Philadelphia last night. Helicopters. Sirens, fires, explosions. 9pm til 3am. The police telling you to lock yourself in the house. Great?

  7. I wish more people would listen to your message. There is a couple of generations that live off what Jimmy Kimmel and Saturday Night Live say!!! And the crazies in Oregon need to WAKE up instead of WOKE.
    Thanks

  8. With all the fear-mongering from all sides, thanks. I needed that. It has been a trying year to say the least. As I write, our state is recovering from three storms and another is bearing down on my extended family members in the New Orleans area. The mental stress has been a challenge, so being reminded of this was helpful. I pray civility and freedoms can continue in most places, especially as it pertains to regions where my loved ones live.

  9. Democrats will ruin the economy if elected. The country will decline and it will be impossible to stop it. Democrats are importing more and more people that will vote Democrat. Import more poor people and then promise the poor free stuff from hard working Americans. The National Debt has exploded from $4 Trillion when Bush left office to $27.1 Trillion now and it is growing dramatically. A weaker economy and higher Democrat spending could lead to a devaluation of the dollar which could dramatically push inflation up and increase the costs of everything. It is a disaster in the waiting. Kids will not have the America that I grew up with.

    1. I believe the national debt was a little over 10 trillion when Bush 43 left office. But I agree that our national debt is out of control!

      1. Keep a few things in mind about the National Debt.

        First, Debt isn’t a Bad Thing unless you can’t afford the payments for interest and principle. In 1979, I bought a home for something like 7 or so times MY “gross national product,” or yearly salary. Interest rates then were going above 10%, but they came down later and I re-fi’d and could handle the monthly payments.

        Second, EVERY time the National Debt has approached the Legal Debt Ceiling, Congress has raised the ‘ceiling.’ Something like 100 times!

        When that happens, you’ve got to start to think that the ‘ceiling’ isn’t any limit at all. Today, with interest rates as low as they are, many of the government bonds are being retired and ‘re-financed’ with new bonds at much lower interest rates, and that’s Not a Bad Thing. Of course, if rates take off in the future, that WOULD be a Bad Thing.

        So, comparing National Debts to historical levels and using terms like “out of control” don’t reflect history or reality all that well.

        Just sayin’…

  10. Right on John! This message needs to be heard far and wide.

    “Buyer Beware!” on the mass media and political rhetoric of the day.

  11. Perspective is a very good thing. Thanks for your essays that provide something that is sorely lacking in a year as crazy as this one!

  12. Bless the hearts of those who are able to put differences aside for the precious sake of one another. Not all are good but most are not evil. The strongest can see how important it is that we take care of one another and let our misunderstandings humble us not embolden us to hate.

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