Matt Ridley,

The Rational Optimist

(Harper Perennial)


The Age of Affluence

The 1950s were a decade of extraordinary abundance and luxury compared with any preceding age. Infant mortality in India was already lower than it had been in France and Germany in 1900. Japanese children had almost twice as many years in education in 1950 as at the turn of the century. World income per head had almost doubled in the first half of the twentieth century.

... Americans were especially well off compared with others: they were three inches taller in 1950 than they had been at the turn of the century and spent twice as much on medicine as funerals -- the reverse of the ratio in 1900. Roughly eight of of ten American households had running water, central heating, electric light, washing machines and refrigerators by 1955. Almost none had these luxuries in 1900.

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In Search Of History

Capitalism: The Engine Of Human Progress

It took six thousand years from the invention of the wheel until we developed the two-wheeled cart. … From the time of Moses to Wyatt Earp we moved from two-wheeled carts to four-wheeled carts — buckboards and stagecoaches. Yet Wyatt Earp, who is an adult when he participates in the gunfight at the OK Corral, sees the movement from four-wheeled carts to the Model T. My grandparents were born before man had ever seen powered flight, yet lived to see a time when you could buy a trip into space. The rapid increase in innovation and the wealth of the masses occurred because the West gradually developed the economic system of market capitalism and a compatible political system.

-- Gary Wolfram,

Shadow Stats Snapshot

ShadowStats alternate economic indicators are based on the methodology of noted economist John Williams, specialist in government economic reporting.

  • Unemployment:
    BLS: 4.7%
    Shadow Stats: 22.7%
  • Inflation:
    December Year-to-Year: 2.1% (CPI-U*)
    Shadow Stats: 9.8%

*[cpi-u is the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation rate for all urban consumers]