“A huge amount of progress has taken place that a lot of people just don’t take into account, especially smart people who are attending to the real problems of the world,” says Ronald Bailey, Reason ‘s science correspondent and the coauthor, with Marian Tupy of HumanProgress.org , of Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know: And Many Others You Will Find Interesting .
How does innovation happen, and how can we encourage more of it? Has China figured out a better way to do this? And why does innovation in the US seem to be slowing? On this week’s episode of Political Economy, Matt Ridley joined me to discuss these questions, and many more.
WINNING: The Economic News From the Census Bureau Is Very Good. Between 2017 and 2018:
·Real median family income up 1.2%
·Real median earnings up 3.4%
·Full-time, year-round workers up 2.3 million
·Poverty rate down from 12.3% to 11.8%; childhood poverty fell faster; net 1.4 million people left poverty ·Income in the bottom 80% of households was up significantly, only the top 20% of households saw an income decline. [emphasis added]
No wonder the elites are willing to risk so much on an unlikely impeachment.
…. is the title of an article by David Harsanyi in The Federalist , here’s the opening: In a recent column, I noted that young people like Greta Thunberg should be thankful for the uniquely peaceful and wealthy world they’ve inherited.
So… are wages stagnating?
When, in a speech Sunday, Peter Thiel wasn’t lamenting Silicon Valley’s failure to produce a working warp engine or musing about “seemingly treasonous” actions by Google executives, he was suggesting a familiar economic argument. Well, familiar on the left — at least until the populist surge on the right. It’s an argument easily summed up by this chart from economist Robert Lawrence, one included in a recent paper by my AEI colleague Michael Strain, “The Link Between Wages and Productivity Is Strong”:
The intended take-away from the above chart is that link between productivity growth and higher living standards — as measured by worker compensation — has been severed. The link between wages and productivity is most definitely not strong. Slightly different versions of this chart are pretty common in news pieces about American’s “broken economy” or how “capitalism is broken.” In this case, the chart might suggest all the cool stuff coming from Silicon Valley hasn’t done much for the middle class.
Peak Population: The world population will likely peak at 9.8 billion people at around 2080 and fall to 9.5 billion by 2100 in the medium fertility scenariocalculated by demographer Wolfgang Lutz and his colleagues at the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis.
Forest Expansion: Global tree canopy cover increased by 2.24 million square kilometers (865,000 square miles) between 1982 and 2016, reported researchers at the University of Maryland in a September 2018 study in Nature.
Simon Resource Abundance Index: Data for 50 foundational commodities covering energy, food, materials, and metals was collected by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund between 1980 and 2017. Adjusted for inflation, the prices for 43 commodities declined, two remained equally valuable, and five commodities increased in price. On average, the real price of 50 commodities fell by 36.3 percent.
U.S. Air Pollution Trends: The Environmental Protection Agency reports that between 1980 and 2017, U.S. gross domestic product increased 165 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 110 percent, energy consumption increased by 25 percent, and U.S. population grew by 44 percent. During the same period, emissions of carbon monoxide fell by 72 percent; lead by 99 percent; nitrogen oxides by 61 percent; compounds from automobile exhaust associated with ozone by 54 percent; sulfur dioxide by 89 percent, and particulates by 61 percent. During the same time period, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 67 percent.Reason Magazine
Peak Farmland: Global arable land (annual crops like wheat and corn) and permanent crops (such as coffee and cocoa) were planted on 1,371 million hectares in 1961. That rose to 1,533 million hectares in 2009. Rockefeller University researcher Jesse Ausubel and his co-authors project a return to 1,385 million hectares in 2060, thus restoring at least 146 million hectares to nature. This is an area two and a half times that of France or the size of ten Iowas. While cropland has continued to expand slowly since 2009, the World Bank reports that land devoted to agriculture (including pastures) peaked in 2000 at 4,918 million hectares and had fallen to 4,862 million hectares by 2015. This human withdrawal from the landscape is the likely prelude to a vast ecological restoration over the course of this century.
My article in the Wall Street Journal on the persistent appeal of pessimism: Has the percentage of the world population that lives in extreme poverty almost doubled, almost halved or stayed the same over the past 20 years? When the Swedish statistician and public health expert Hans Rosling began asking people that question in 2013, he was astounded by their responses.
Source: Why people prefer bad news