Friday, November 23, 2018

Whence comes the Thanksgiving bounty?

Perry Metzger muses on the Thanksgiving celebration:
It is a fine time to reflect on the bounty that the productivity increases brought by capital accumulation and technological improvements have brought to us. 
The cost of the ingredients of a Thanksgiving feast for ten are now said to cost an average worker their wages for under 2.25 hours of labor. A 16 pound turkey now costs less than what an average worker earns in an hour. 
We live lives of such astonishing wealth that we scarcely notice it. Only a fool would rather be an Emperor in 1600 than a poor person living today. Compared to a king of several centuries ago, poor people in the developed world live in astonishing luxury. In the developed world, we eat fresh vegetables in midwinter, our homes are heated toasty warm in the winter and cooled and dehumidified in the summer, we travel in enormous comfort (no wooden wheeled carriages without shock absorbers for us, and indeed, we can fly to the other side of the world for a quite modest sum of money), our medical care is incomparably better, our beds more comfortable, our entertainment options beyond any ancient potentate’s wildest dreams. This is true even of quite poor people, at least in developed countries. 
Whence comes this bounty?
Read the whole thing, and marvel at the world in which we live.  And ponder the fact that in the last 30 years, a billion people have escaped poverty.


Gorges Smythe said...

One thing we sometimes forget about "average," is that half the population is UNDER it.

SiGraybeard said...

The incredible advances in living conditions that free and open markets have brought the world is the most under-told story of our time. Those numbers from the World Bank are eye-popping.

In 1990, about 9% of children died before age 5. Today that's down to 4.25%. Have you heard of that?

Although I've got to say the world bank said something on that page that's so fundamentally wrong, it makes me queasy. They said, “Our Dream is a World Free of Poverty.” What's wrong with that feel-good statement?

Every statistical distribution has a bottom. Without a definition, that's a meaningless statement.

LSP said...

Happy Thanksgiving!