Monday, 31 December 2012

2013 is Going to be the Best Year in Human History.

It is tempting, writing on New Year's eve when the West is mired in the fourth year of a persistent slow-down to be pessimistic about the future. But I am not a pessimistic about the future. The reasons are many, but here are a few.


The scourge of war is receding from human experience. Though they are still going on, they involve fewer combatants and kill fewer people. As people get richer, and pass through the dangerous middle-income phase, they have too much to lose by fighting.

Several states in the US have signaled the abandonment of the war on Drugs (well Marijuana at least). Sense is starting to become mainstream in this futile area of Government policy. Former UN secretary Generals, US presidents and heads of state from countries afflicted by the trade in illegal narcotics are starting to advocate a different approach.

The giant emerging economies are creating wealth at a rate unprecedented in human history, by the simple expedient of abandoning the socialist choke-hold on creative economic endeavour. Billions of people who just a few short decades ago were using ox-ploughs and suffering regular famine are now struggling with the problems of plenty: traffic congestion and obesity. Different, smaller problems for people who are vastly better off, enjoying much greater human potential.

There are still Billions of people who are yet to enjoy the fruits of this economic growth. We've only just started.

That greater wealth of the emerging giants is not a threat, but an opportunity to the west in general and the UK in particular. Already the UK legal and financial systems reach around the world. Dubai exported financial regulation wholesale from London. Close ties to Hong Kong and India and the luck of having the global language of business and science mean we're well placed to take part in this explosion of wealth.

The financial crisis isn't a crisis of capitalism, but part of the normal creative destruction cycle. The recession which should have happened in response to the dot com crash in 2000 was postponed. The longer recessions are postponed, the worse they are. If we can learn the lesson: No more 'Greenspan Puts' we can stop trying to legislate against the business cycle. 

The innovation driving economic growth is still happening, and it's still happening where it's been happening for the last couple of centuries: Europe, North America and the rich world. But the big emerging markets are starting to harness the creative talents of billions more people into this process. The creative capacity of man is improving as ever fewer people have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.

The poorest parts of the world are the fastest growing. Even if inequality in the west is rising a bit, and that's debatable, global inequality is falling.

Stop bleating. Capitalism works, is working and will continue to work to ensure the unequal distribution of happiness. The developing world has worked out this is better than the equal distribution of misery of a controlled economy.

2013 is going to be the best year in Human History, even if it's a bit tougher for us. But we're the richest people who've ever lived, where even our poor have access to fresh fruit and vegetables (even if they don't use that access...), even in December. This was unimaginable to all but the nobility just a century ago. Who, really, cares about a few years of slow growth in the West, when so many billions are getting so much better off? And there's an outside chance that the worst is over for us too. 



2 comments:

Rob F said...

A thoughtful post, and one I largely agree with.

BUT...what about the pollution, the high amounts of plant food (CO2) in the environment, the miscalculation of the dates in the Mayan calendar, and the fact that 2013 has a 13 in it?

There might even be Illuminati (reptilian or non-reptilian involved).

Oh sod it; Happy New Year to you and to all those love!

New Year doesn't actually start for me until tomorrow, when I'm due at work again.

This day is known as the festival of 'bleurgh', which I think in Celtic Mythology meant the time between times, and the thinnest barrier between the spirits from yesterday, and the hangover from today.

Or I could be making it all up...

bilbaoboy said...

I particularly like your comment on equality. Global is important not a variation between my neighbour and myself.

The UK seems mired down by stupid definitions of poverty and a petty enviousness based on the 'hopelesness of endeavour, so why bother'.

We have as a species, never had it so good (and I am not blind to the enduring problems). We live longer and get to squabble about whether at 80 we should be given a new, expensive drug out of common wealth?

Where dying young, ill and hungry is the norm is what we have eliminated. Equality is eliminating that for the rest of the world. Not getting more ciggies whilst unemployed.

Let human inventiveness and endeavour rip and watch the world improve.

Happy and Prosperous New Year

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