Turn of the Century

January 3, 2000

The last few weeks, there has been lots of talk about ending a century and starting a new one. (I won't get into the debate about whether all of this is taking place a year too soon.) But with all the talk of who is the person of the century or who is the sports figure of the century, much less has been said about the remarkable changes in living conditions.

A recent study confirms that there has been more improvement in the living conditions in this country than in the entire world in all previous centuries. The improvement is due to two key factors: freedom and technological development. A free society and a free economy allows for inventors and entrepreneurs to create and distribute creative ideas and inventions. And the current level of technology provides a platform for even more and better inventions.

Consider that in the latter part of the 19th century, daily life included tuberculosis, smallpox, typhoid, child labor, candles, horses, 12-hour work days, Jim Crow laws, and outhouses. The potential for disease, injury, and death was very great. Political changes and technological advances provided the average American with a lifestyle that even the rich a century ago would envy.

Life expectancy is 30 years longer than it was just a century ago. Infant mortality rates have fallen 10-fold. Air quality has improved by 30 percent in major cities. Agricultural productivity has risen nearly 10-fold, and real wages have nearly quadrupled.

Of course this doesn't mean we don't face challenges as we enter into a new century. But let's not forget where we came from not so long ago. Political and economic freedom, coupled with technological development and innovation, brought us to this new level in living conditions. We would be wise to remember that.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.