Wow, the daily news is grim. Civilization is collapsing all around us. Corruption is everywhere. The political parties are falling apart. The president is trashing the office. Americans are hopelessly divided and hating each other. Universities have become centers of contention and control. Russia meddled in an election. What a mess.
Right? Here’s the problem. If I weren’t reading this stuff, none of it would affect me in the slightest bit. Consider how we really live. By any standard, life is getting spectacularly great at increasing rates.
Here are some examples.
Life Is Grand!
I was just talking to this lady about where to get the best paper towels and at what price. She is some kind of amazing expert on the topic. A little weird, I know. She knew every brand, every seller, the exact prices, the addresses, and open hours. And her generosity was startling too: she offered to get them for me and deliver them to me.
The lady in this case lives inside a four-inch high cylinder with a speaker. It’s my Google Home. She gets smarter by the day. I just enabled shopping in my settings. I can order pretty much anything I need by having a conversation with her. At some point in my test, my specifications got too complex so she sent me to a web interface at: Express.Google.com.
I like to think I’m pretty savvy about these things, so I’m embarassed to say that I didn’t know this existed. It gives me access to all kinds of stores and allows me to order, same as Amazon but with a much cleaner interface.
She found a 40-pound bag of birdseed that used to cost me $50 for only $20, plus a new vacuum cleaner for…get this..$34. You can just walk around saying things you want (bleach, lemon juice, olive oil, a sheepskin rug) and they show up at your door.
The same lady makes calls for me, plays any music under the sun, tells me directions, pumps out tons of news and podcasts on demand, and even communicates with the television to play a movie or YouTube. She gets smarter by the day. I just found out, for example, that she can also have a male voice.
How is all of this even happening to me? If this is collapse, I’ll take ever more of it.
Technology is changing my life by the hour. For example, I used to be pretty fussy about my music tastes. As I think back, this was due to scarcity more than anything. Now that I don’t have to buy CDs (or vinyl!) I can listen to anything whenever I want to. This has broadened my mind. I forgot how much I love Big Band, and 80s pop, and 12th-century Organum, and the Police, and that Schubert string quintet too, but let’s not leave out all of Mahler’s symphonies. It’s all sitting right there, taking up virtually no space.
There’s a new product too, similar to Alexa Dot. It’s the Google Home Mini, which you can keep in your bathroom or bedroom – actually every room. It’s the same product without the outstanding sound.
I’m trying to go through in my mind how much life has changed in the last couple of years. I have a new stabilizer for my iPhone which allows me to make beautiful movies without any shakiness. All my friends are getting full and wonderful meals delivered to their door. Some have actually stopped going to the grocery store.
And entertainment? Wow. I can watch any movie on Amazon, wonderful new stuff on Amazon, anything on Hulu, and all the pirate sites still exist for people who love torrents. And so much of it is absolutely delightful. I’m learning about history. I dazzled with sci-fi. I’m overwhelmed by life drama. I laugh so hard at animated movies.
What else? Oh how about instant video conversations with anyone on a gazillion platforms: Skype, FB IM, Google chat, and so many others. It’s all free. This is way beyond anything The Jetsons imagined.
Communication technology? The platform called Slack at work has liberated me from the endless tangle of email that ruled my life for the last 15 years.
Most aspects of the medical industry are getting worse thanks to government, but not everything. We have better diagnostic technology, better meds, and better procedures.
Currencies and investing? There is a huge market for cryptoassets available to anyone. I can buy and sell thousands of different currencies. And they have liberated me in so many ways. All over the new world, new millionaires are being made. New jobs are being created. New businesses. New ideas. Promising and beautiful things are emerging every day in the crypto space.
Prices are falling and falling for so many goods and services (so long as government is not involved). I used to be in the clothing business, and I couldn’t sell a decent shoe for less than $250. I just bought a wonderful pair two days ago for $100. And suits and ties are everywhere. I got a new Ralph Lauren all-wool double-breasted blazer for $25 just yesterday.
What else? My new book at Amazon stocks zero inventory. It is print- on- demand, same day, and ships immediately. This was unthinkable ten years ago. My e-readers are full of amazing books, some new that I have to pay for and many others that are absolutely free.
I simply cannot wait for cars that drive themselves. I’m starting to wonder how we got along without them for so long. Roads are still terrifying but maybe that too can come to an end.
It’s a new world, folks, and it is getting better by the day.
Dying and Living
So where is the evidence of the catastrophe that is every day being pushed by both the mainstream and oppositional press? Here’s an unthinkable thought: what’s really happening is that one pattern is dying just as another is finding new life. The dying form centered on public institutions, politics, and the managerial state. The living form is centered on free enterprise, innovation, technology, and trade.
It surely isn’t a coincidence that both are happening at the same time.
Jeffrey A. Tucker
Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, economics adviser to FreeSociety.com, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books, most recently Right-Wing Collectivism: The Other Threat to Liberty, with a preface by Deirdre McCloskey (FEE 2017). He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press. He is available for press interviews via his email.
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