The Uptrends We Never See

Most of us suspect that the world is going to hell in a hand basket—or at least getting worse over the long term.  In the U.S., only 4% of respondents will tell you that our world living conditions are improving. If you’re in the majority, the website “Our World in Data” has posted some charts that might change your mind.  Looking back over the long-term, it finds that we’re living at the very peak of world living conditions.  And the trend still seems to be upward.

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-11-19-31-pm Consider global poverty.  The accompanying chart shows the share of the world population living in extreme poverty—and you can see that this was a very high percentage in 1820, when the dataset begins.  Since then, the share of extremely poor people has fallen dramatically and steadily, as more world regions have embraced industrialization, created social safety nets and slowly built a middle class.  Today only about 10% of the world’s citizens live in extreme poverty.

Take another example: literacy.  In 1800, only around 10% of the human population could read.  Today, as you can sscreen-shot-2017-01-18-at-11-19-46-pmee from the chart, the number hovers around 80%.  If you believe that science, technology and political freedom are important to solving the world’s problems, then it helps if more people can read and write and therefore participate.

Finally, there have been dramatic changes in the percentage of people around the world who live in a democratically free vs. closed totalitarian society.  The accoscreen-shot-2017-01-18-at-11-20-01-pmmpanying chart shows that virtually no people live in colonies any more, and closed autocracies are becoming scarce.  Meanwhile, the green-shaded area shows the percentage growth of individuals who now live in a democratic society—more than half currently, up from nearly zero in 1816.

What does all this mean?  If we take a longer-term perspective than, say, the recent presidential election cycle or last quarter’s earnings reports, we begin to see that all the time and energy and labor that all of us are putting in every day to improve the world, are actually paying off with substantial—if sometimes incremental–results.  Other charts show that we’re healthier, better-educated and better off than our ancestors.

 

Let’s hope we can keep it up.  The trends say we will.

About Objectively Speaking

Tom Batterman, founder of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy and Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is in the business of representing the best financial interests of his clients. Having provided objective, fee-only financial management services for over two decades, he specializes in managing the investment and related financial affairs of individuals and mutual insurance companies who do not have the time, interest or expertise to manage such matters on their own. As an objective, unbiased professional who takes on a fiduciary responsibility to his clients, he guides clients to the financial decisions they would make themselves if they had years of training and experience and the time and expertise to fully research and understand all of their options. Founded in 2010 as an outgrowth of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy, Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is a financial management solution for individuals and mutual insurance companies who recognize they do not have the time, interest or expertise to properly attend to their financial matters on their own. While there are many financial “advisors”, most of them have investment products to sell and the “advice” they provide is geared toward getting their clients to engage in a purchase. As one of the rare subset of advisors known as “fiduciary advisors”, Financial Fiduciaries does not sell any investment product so its guidance is not compromised by conflicts of interest which plague ordinary advisors. Prior to his employment in the financial industry in financial advocacy and trust positions, he worked at a private law practice in the Wausau area in the areas of estate planning, tax, retirement planning, corporate organizations and real estate. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the UW-Madison Law School and has during his career held Series 7, 24 and 65 securities licenses. A longtime resident of the Wausau, Wisconsin Area, Tom is active in the community. He enjoys golf, curling, skiing, fishing, traveling and spending time with his family.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s