I have been thinking about this post for some time; given some of the dialogue in my recent posts, it seems about time to get it out.
From the article, I summarize: days to travel across country; no air-conditioning in your private rail car; weeks to travel overseas; no overnight mail; no entertainment on demand; no air-conditioning in many of the places you visit every day – maybe not even in your own home; poor heating; no radio; your limo constantly breaking down; no falafel; Wi-Fi? Ha; your wife dies in child-birth; your children not living past two years of age.
Everything about technology, comfort, travel, entertainment and information is overwhelmingly better today than one hundred years ago. But it isn’t only in the private world where life has improved.
In some rather important matters, we are under less government oppression than during much of the last century: from 1914 – 1918 and from 1941 – 1945; during the 1960s and early 1970s if you were male and of the right age there was a good likelihood you would be forced to go overseas to die. However one describes today’s economic condition, it is not as bad as during the 1930s.
All-in-all, even poor Americans and Europeans live better than 98% of the people who ever lived on earth. In the last 50 years, more people globally have been pulled into the middle-class than during any time in recorded history – just consider China and India.
All of this has happened under the watchful eye of the Federal Reserve and an increasingly active federal government. Maybe more government and more intervention are not so bad. “Life would be even better if we had more liberty,” they say.
Maybe. But given the historic human condition, how does one complain about life and the level of liberty today?
If the argument for liberty is that you will have more stuff or you are free to do more things, it is a losing argument. In the developed world, especially in the west, we already have more “more stuff” and can do more “more things” than most people have or can do anywhere else in the world. Compared to all of history? Incomparable.
The argument for liberty that works is the moral argument. The argument for libertarianism is the non-aggression principle with its uncompromising respect for private property.
The “more stuff” argument will not be very persuasive to most living in the developed world – and those in the less-developed world have bigger problems to think about.
The moral argument will work with moral people. This is something to consider when one contemplates strategies to increase liberty.