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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 12, 2013 / 9 Kislev, 5774

Cheer up --- things are getting better

By A. Barton Hinkle




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "Pessimism," according to John Kenneth Galbraith, "is the mark of a superior intellect." Many pessimists would no doubt agree. And yet, if another mark of a serious intellect is attention to facts, then Galbraith is wrong, and so are the pessimists. The facts give us great reason for optimism.

Marian L. Tupy, a scholar at the Cato Institute, has assembled a vast number of those facts at a fascinating new website, humanprogress.org. Its interactive maps and tables allow you to examine for yourself the ways in which the "evidence from academic institutions and international organizations shows dramatic improvements in human well-being."

Consider, for example, infant mortality: Only half a century ago, more than 100 children of every 1,000 who were born perished within a year. That figure has plunged 80 percent.

Or consider warfare: In the 1500s and 1600s, the world's great powers warred against one another more often than not, and almost constantly during certain periods. Over the past several decades great-power conflict has been the exception rather than the norm.

Those changes produce others: "Average global life expectancy at birth," Tupy wrote recently in Reason, "hovered around 30 years from the Upper Paleolithic to 1900." In 2010 the global average life expectancy was 67, and it is on the cusp of reaching 68.

The conditions in which people live have improved vastly as well. Until the Industrial Revolution the great majority of humanity scratched out a miserable subsistence from the Earth by farming from sunup to sundown. They had no electricity, no refrigeration, no painkillers, and no means of travel or communication faster than a horse. Now even the developed world's poor enjoy amenities — central heating, cellphones — that the world's richest aristocrats could not have dreamed of at one time.



Those in the developing world are not so well off (though 24 percent of the people of Niger, for example, had cellphones by 2010 — compared with only 0.02 percent a decade before). And most are far better off today than they were half a century ago. According to the Center for Global Development, more than half the world's people live in places where GDP "has increased more than fivefold over 50 years." India's economy has increased tenfold since 1960. China's has grown 17-fold. And even those in the underdeveloped world are seeing their lot improve: "In sub-Saharan Africa," Tupy writes, from 1990 to 2012 "(daily) caloric intake (per person) increased from 2,180 to 2,380."

More gleanings from the Human Progress website? People have more leisure: The typical Dutch citizen works 40 percent fewer hours per year than in 1950. People enjoy better housing: Twenty-three percent fewer people in Bangladesh live in slums now than in 1995. They get more education: Worldwide, the mean number of years of schooling an adult had received in 1980 was 4.7. By 2011 it was 7.6. Women's circumstances are improving: Gender wage gaps are shrinking, and the number of women in ministerial-level positions is growing.

Does this mean everything will soon be perfect, and so our work is done? Not even close. Tupy does not mean to suggest the world is all rainbows, butterflies and unicorns. The goal of Human Progress "is not to paint a rosy picture of the state of humanity, but a realistic one." To do that, he writes, one should "compare the imperfect present with a much more imperfect past, rather than with an imagined utopia of the future."

Indeed. If the horrors of the 20th century hold any one lesson, surely it must be the danger inherent in utopian thinking. As someone or other pointed out, if you truly believe you hold the plans for perfecting human existence, then it is easy to justify savagely repressing anyone who stands in your way. It was the utopians — not the skeptics or the ironists — who built Russia's gulags. It was the utopians who drove China's populace into communes and hence into famine — and who covered the Cambodian killing fields with a carpet of bones. As Thomas Adcock wrote, the dirty business of a noble cause never ends.

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If grand utopian schemes do not improve humanity's lot, then what does? According to a June piece in The Economist, one answer is: capitalism. In "Toward the End of Poverty," the magazine notes that from 1990 to 2010, the number of people in extreme poverty worldwide declined by nearly 1 billion — "and it was growth, principally, that has eased destitution. ... Around two-thirds of poverty reduction within a country comes from growth. Greater equality also helps, contributing the other third."

While "targeted policies — basic social safety nets and cash-transfer schemes" can alleviate poverty somewhat, the "biggest poverty-reduction measure of all is liberalizing markets to let poor people get richer. That means freeing trade between countries (Africa is still cruelly punished by tariffs) and within them (China's real great leap forward occurred because it allowed private business to grow)."

Economic growth contributes to progress in other realms as well — e.g., by aiding the ecosphere: "Rich countries pollute less relative to output," according to the Human Progress website. Environmentalism is a virtue, but it also is largely a luxury of the middle class. Indigenous peoples will stop slaughtering elephants for ivory, for instance, when they can make a better living doing something else.

If we have so many grounds for optimism, then why is there so much pessimism? Evolutionary psychology suggests one explanation, captured well by Laurence J. Peter's quip that a pessimist is someone who looks both ways before crossing the street. If you're constantly scanning your environment for threats, then you have a better chance of surviving. You might not stop to smell the roses, but you are more likely to pass on your DNA than the chipper oaf who does — completely oblivious to the poisonous snake he is about to step on. Obtuse complacency is a quick path to the grave.

But we do not have to make what President Barack Obama would call a "false choice" between obtuse complacency and foul-tempered despair. It is possible to embrace a third alternative: The world remains a dangerous place, full of great suffering that must be addressed — yet it has grown far less dangerous and sorrowful than it was not so very long ago. This is good news.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

A. Barton Hinkle is Deputy Editor of the Editorial Pages at Richmond Times-Dispatch Comment by clicking here.


Previously:




10/29/13: Cure for ignorant voters --- really small governments
10/24/13: If they can't cut the small stuff...
10/22/13: Political speech --- dumb as a ham sandwich
10/15/13: Why College Costs Will Soon Plunge
09/19/13: Progressives Reap What They Sow
09/13/13: You are being watched
09/10/13: Sorry, your business isn't desirable enough
09/05/13: The least bad option: Kill Assad
08/27/13: GOPers wrong ones to take on ObamaCare
08/08/13: Gas prices: What can the president do?
08/02/13: Chris Christie pulls a Dowd
07/29/13: Should Click and Clack wind up in the clink?
07/08/13: Commit any felonies lately?
06/18/13: Citizens and the State: the problem is bigger than you think
06/06/13: Political derangement threatens basic rights
05/30/13: Should we fear ex-Marine --- or those who detained him?
05/23/13: Professor of Constitution goes to war against it
05/23/13: REVEALED: IRS letter to tea party groups
05/15/13: Today on NPR: The smothering tax burden
04/30/13: What does Boston say about diversity?
04/25/13: For some libs, 'courage' = agreeing with them
04/18/13: Utterly outraged by their president's callous betrayal
04/11/13: Cognitive dissonance on guns
04/04/13: Do unto others, but not unto us, say the media
04/01/13: Observations from the auto shop holding pen
03/14/13: The nation-building follies
03/12/13: Will the right come around on pot?
03/07/13: Another U.S. dupe falls for a dictator
02/28/13: How dare you say that here!
02/26/13: Eating Frito-Lay chips at gunpoint
02/20/13: Death Star petitions are just what we need
02/13/13: ObamaCare proves law correct --- deep down you knew it would
01/29/13: It's Time to Get Judgy About Incompetency
01/23/13: Look who's mocking fascist fear-mongering now
01/16/13: Only in Washington could you get away with referring to spending and tax increases as spending 'cuts'
01/09/13: Obama begins his second term, Bush's fourth
01/07/13: Who's Attacking the Constitution Now?
01/03/13: Why, historically, January is the perfect time to debate the filibuster
12/26/12: When libs devalue diversity
12/20/12: Mark Your Calendars
12/13/12: Gun control, ad infinitum
12/11/12: Fracking can help fix the CO2 problem
12/06/12: Let's open the door to lots more immigration
12/04/12: Who's watching the kids? Just about everyone
11/29/12: The Real Middle-Class Champion was Mocked and Opposed
11/26/12: It's time to cut a deal on the budget
11/20/12: The case for a carbon tax
11/15/12: Cue the hysterics. Reports of Democracy's Death Greatly Exaggerated
11/07/12: The $4,000 Trash Can: We need regulation, but not this much
10/23/12: The Ballad of Islamist Rage Boy
10/17/12: Undermining the values that enable people in poverty to escape it? Sadly, yes
10/11/12: How Much Is This Tax Cut Gonna Cost Me, Doc?
10/04/12: Warrantless spying skyrockets under Obama
08/20/12: The wrong side absolutely must not win
08/14/12: America was not built on dirt alone
08/02/12: Libs Discover Their Inner Cheney
07/30/12: Feds want to help you --- whether you want help or not
07/23/12: Barack Obama, Storyteller-in-Chief
07/23/12: Nation's worst outsourcer? You
07/19/12: Listen up, America: You need to knuckle under
07/12/12: Obama, Romney: As Different as Two Peas in a Pod
07/05/12: Are teenagers big children --- or little adults?
06/25/12: Minorities treated as mere numbers
06/21/12: Memo to the the Little Guy: Seemingly innocuous activity could bring the federal hammer down out of a clear blue sky
06/19/12: We mustn't let America be buffaloed
05/31/12: Drop and Give Uncle Sam 20
05/15/12: The feds would like to know if you enjoyed that video
05/03/12: Obama inspires: 'America --- Still Not as Bad Off as Venezuela!'
04/26/12: It's everyone's favorite time of year again
03/29/12: GOP disillusionment is a good thing
03/27/12: Just what America needs: more red tape
03/20/12: Nation wondering: what happening to language?
02/21/12: Culture warriors resort to propaganda
02/15/12: Step away from that cookie and grab some air
02/08/12: Lessons in heresy
02/01/12: Do We Really Need Pickle-Flavored Potato Chips?
01/11/12: Shut up, they explained
12/30/11: A Modest Proposal: Let's Ban All Sports!
12/26/11: A Christmas letter from the Obamas
02/24/11: Will the next Watson need us?
12/24/10: Here Are Some Good Gifts for People You Hate
06/15/10: The Presinator
05/26/10: More than equal
04/08/10: Angry Right Takes a Page From Angry Left but guess who is ‘ugly’?
02/16/10: Either Obama owes George W. Bush an apology, or he owes the rest of us a very good explanation for his about-face on wiretapping
02/03/10: Talkin' to us 'tards
01/27/10: I never thought I'd see the day when progressives would howl in ragebecause the Supreme Court said government should not ban books
01/07/10: Gun-Control Advocates Play Fast and Loose
12/31/09: Nearly everything progressives say about neoconservative interventionism abroad applies to their own preferred policies at home





© 2011, A. Barton Hinkle

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