Monday, December 07, 2009

We Live Longer Than Ever, Food's Never Been Cheaper, Economy's Never Been More Efficient

Bottom Line: Life expectancy for Americans has never been longer, food has never been cheaper, and the U.S. economy has never been more energy efficient than today. These are just a few of many long-term trends that demonstrate that the “good old days” are now, and life for the average American keeps getting better and better all the time (see related article, “How Are We Doing“).

Read my full post here at the Enterprise blog


At 12/07/2009 5:51 PM, Blogger stevedp86 said...

There is still a major obsesity problem (esp in children) that needs to be stopped. Obsesity is not only disgusting but it costs a lot of money to treat throughout one's life.

It's seriously hard to imagine why someone would let him/herself get out of shape.

If the trend continues, I'm pretty fearful life expectancy will decrease with these people pulling it down.

At 12/07/2009 6:16 PM, Anonymous American Delight said...

Does this mean we can ease up on agriculture subsidies?

At 12/07/2009 7:23 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

Yes, wipe out ag subsidies and food stamps. That's $100 billion right there.
$1 trillion over next 10 years.

But does this chart--that life is better than ever--represent the triumph of market-intervention USA-style? US taxes are good?

Also, I read today the Danish economy is 80 percent larger than in 1980. Massive growth.

At 12/07/2009 7:41 PM, Blogger OA said...

stevedp86 said... ...
It's seriously hard to imagine why someone would let him/herself get out of shape.

Really? Getting fat is a whole lot easier than staying in shape. And there's not really a penalty for it. Medical expenses get spread among the pool of insured, or the government in a lot of cases.

Have you seen those lap band commercials where they say "if your doctors agree you need the surgery, your insurance should pay"? That's how people are beginning to solve their problem. Get so obese it becomes a medical necessity to get surgery.

At 12/07/2009 8:08 PM, Blogger Highgamma said...

And cancer rates keep plunging and survival rates keep going up.

At 12/07/2009 9:21 PM, Blogger stevedp86 said...

It's obviously easier to get fat...but don't people have any self respect or control anymore?

Oh yeah, no.

There should be special insurance for fat people with higher costs and surcharges like there are with smokers.

At 12/07/2009 10:59 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

The problem is that we have put ourselves in a situation where our bodies are not adapted to live. Historically and pre-historically food was scare and famine was common. If ones biology was adapted to store food more efficiently it was a reproductive advantage.
Now we have put ourselves into a situation where there is a surplus of food, so what was a survival advantage is no longer one. (Of course biology does not care what happens past 55 anyway, as at that age you are no longer involved in reproduction). Biologically if you killed everyone off after reproductive age it would not make much difference.
Part of this is shown by cats, dogs, horses and some reptiles among others having the same obesity problem as humans, and cows exhibiting it in spades, but we call it marbling there. Since the problem is common it is related to the environment in which we lived pre-historically and realistically until 100 years ago.
Further we have introduced the most addictive substance widely and it is perfectly legal sugar. From what I have seen sugar is as bad for the liver as ethanol. (IT is the fructose not the glucose in sugar that is bad, but the fructose makes sugar sweet.) We are adapted to eat fructose only in fruit, but we have moved to having sugar in almost everything we eat. So rather than tax sugary soft drinks lets be simple about it and tax sugar and its equivalents (but we do tax sugar in the us, just not high enough).

At 12/07/2009 11:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

..and viagara is cheaper?

At 12/08/2009 12:04 AM, Anonymous Lyle said...

A comment on the bottom graph, other studies show that the carbon intensity of our energy sources has dropped from 1.5 to 1 (1990=1) from 1900 to 1990. This partly relates to the carbon intensity of various fuels, coal being 1 oil being 1/2 and natural gas being 1/4. So plus or minus the issue of short term price trends, we have been decarbonizing our energy supply, plus reducing the energy needed per unit of gdp as shown.
So put another way the whole climate change issue can be phrased as do we need to accelerate the decarbonization and overall energy intensity trend? If so how do you do it?

At 12/08/2009 4:22 AM, Anonymous Johnny10 said...


well, 80 % growth of GDP in 29 years is around 2 % a year, not really amazing...

At 12/08/2009 11:23 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> It's seriously hard to imagine why someone would let him/herself get out of shape.

1) A lot of this "obesity" problem comes from changing the rules defining "obese" in the last 50 years.

2) At least a portion of any remaining real problem derives from young kids being far more sedentary, both for direct reasons and for indirect reasons --
a) Kids are more likely to play video games than to go out and play in the afternoon
b) Lots of schools have cut back on PE times in order to expand school "administration".
c) There's a lot less "neighborhood" than there used to be, even in neighborhoods. When I was 10,12,14, I went out after school and ran around with other kids doing things, without direct adult supervision. This generation has far more expectations of "supervised" entertainment, if they are to be outside. The former, of course, encourages kids to be individual and self-sufficient. The latter encourages kids to be dependent on others to tell them What to Do. I wonder who would prefer the latter experiences for children growing up?

The flip side of "c" is that, in the absence of a specific organized activity, the kids are at home playing video games, and doing less physical activity. They get less exercise, yet still tend towards eating a lot as kids are hardwired to do.

At 12/08/2009 3:45 PM, Blogger rjs said...

how about running a comparison of that data to other OECD countries?


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