The way forward 170

Rich Tucker writes at Townhall about a new book by Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist:

“Since 1800, the population of the world has multiplied six times, yet average life expectancy has more than doubled and real income has risen more than nine times,” Ridley writes. … “Poverty was reduced more in the last 50 years than in the previous 500.”

Why is that? Because humans keep getting better at producing and delivering food. Ridley is optimistic that we’ll keep right on feeding the multitudes …

Ridley is a rational optimist, so he admits there’s a catch: if big governments impose foolish policies, they may blunt international progress. Ridley cites biofuel mandates as an example.

“Between 2004 and 2007 the world maize [corn] harvest increased by 51 million tons. But 50 million tons went into ethanol,” he writes. So the extra food that should have been available to feed the hungry wasn’t there. “In effect, American car drivers were taking carbohydrates out of the mouths of poor people to fill their tanks.”

It’s the sort of policy that only a government could come up with, and Ridley has little use for such bureaucratic foolishness. …

Still, Ridley is confident we can overcome bureaucracy and build a better future for our children. Over the flow of time, he notes, life has gotten better for rich and poor alike.

“The rational optimist invites you to stand back and look at your species differently, to see the grand enterprise of humanity that has progressed — with frequent setbacks — for 100,000 years. … When you have seen that, consider whether that enterprise is finished or if, as the optimist claims, it still has centuries and millennia to run. If, in fact, it might be about to accelerate to an unprecedented rate.”

A better future awaits us. Let’s get there.

We can, and we might – but only if we get Islam out of our way.