There is lots of Good News dammit!

Take a little break from doom scrolling and consider that there is so much going on that is good. I thought about this when the news for Johnson & Johnson’s amazing success with their covid vaccine was no more than a minor blip one morning. The truth is that their vaccine had 100% efficacy after 49 days on ALL variants discovered thus far of covid 19. It may go down as the most effective vaccine created in history.

These types  of vaccines are far safer and easier to produce than traditional vaccines. Look how fast they are being scaled! It is actually a miracle compared to earlier vaccines. They are safer than mother’s milk.

Yes, I looked it up. The Moderna vaccine was initially given to 1.9 million people with only 21 allergic reactions. Out of 2 million mothers nursing their babies, about 50,000 of those babies will be allergic, some fatally. These vaccines are incredibly safe.

We are constantly being bombarded with statements about how the rich are getting richer, income inequality, etc. Which is true, but it is awfully unbalanced.

It is also true that people at the bottom of the scale are richer than ever, just not as much. Ok, not nearly as much, but none the less, the poor are not getting poorer, but better off. This is almost never mentioned. My wife and I both wondered about this, as our experience is that as children in the 50’s and 60’s average people seemed far poorer than they do now. The one thing they had that people don’t have now as cheaply is housing. On every other dimension people seemed poorer.

Look at this chart of income growth:

Median household income has gone up a lot since 1970 in America. America is the wealthiest nation in the world. Yes, income inequality has gone up a lot too, but to constantly focus only on that gives a skewed picture.

There are many ways of looking at it, many charts that I could copy, but for once let’s look at the brighter picture.

Another thing that is constantly mentioned is that there is so much money that billionaires have they could pay for everything. What people don’t seem to realize is that most of those  billionaires money is tied up in stocks. It is not really liquid, and if they sold any significant amount of it to make it liquid, the economy would crash.

One of the issues that is not included in that brighter picture is the fact that people have so much free stuff now that they never had before. Free stuff is not included in income inequality charts, but it is a factor. How to factor it is a problem, so it is just discluded.

What I mean is cell phones, and all the free apps, and all the use you get out of a phone now that we never had before. People are on them constantly, you may be reading this article for free on your phone right now. Well, if it was 1980 most likely you would have had to go buy a magazine and pay for it to read it. That is a kind of income that is not considered in income inequality charts. Once you pay for your device, a one time charge, you are getting all kinds of things for free that in the past you would have had to pay for. News, medical advice, all sorts of information, avoiding postal charges, all these things add up.

In general, the internet has brought down prices for many things considerably, computerized manufacturing, even the computerized precision with the way cars are built has increased their longevity tremendously as one example. That is indirect income to people that is not quantified in charts on unequal distributions of income.

Also consider the fact that many of the new billionaires, one percenters, etc made their fortunes from internet technology. Ability to make money off internet related technology scaled the same way the ability to get free stuff scaled from it. Eight of the top ten richest  people in America are all the result of the boom in internet technology. The important fact here is that part of the explanation for income inequality is simply due to the impact of the scalability of internet technology, and not for any nefarious reason.

Americans are arguably the wealthiest country in history, for a lot of reasons. If you look at GDP per capita, some of the poorest American states are on a par with some of the richest other countries. The GDP in Kentucky in 2019 was $42, 386, Georgia $50,816, in France it was $40, 493, in Germany it was $46, 445., U.K. 42, 330. In the U.S. as a whole it was $65, 297.

There are many arguments one could make against this, cost of living, social benefits, general happiness indexes, but there is no doubt that the American system has generated one of the highest standards of living in history for average people. Whatever poverty we have, it is not worth tearing the whole system down to try to help it.

In terms of  poverty, it was at the lowest ebb in history in 2019 before the pandemic. Black household wealth was at an all time high after rising continuously since the 90’s.

Economist Noah Smith in the most recent issue of Bloomberg discussed some of the good news going on related to poverty, key quotes:

“The most vulnerable Americans have been hit the hardest by Covid-19 — a pattern that is unfortunately typical of economic calamities. But the surge in poverty has only brought the U.S. back to the levels of 2018….

And 2018 was near the end of the longest unbroken streak of economic growth since World War II — an expansion that particularly benefitted those at the bottom of the distribution.

the Cares Act spent so much that American incomes rose in the second quarter of 2020, performing better than any other OECD country except Canada.”

There ‘s constant complaining that America isn’t doing enough for the poor through the crisis, and we could and should do more, but we are at the top of the list for helping out, despite all the political wrangling.

There is  actually so much good economic news I could go on and on, bankruptcies  in 2020 were at a decades long low due to all the help out from the government. The large increase in working from home due to the pandemic crisis is having the inadvertent effect of lowering rents and housing costs in high cost areas, and moving high earners into more rural areas. This will help those rural areas with higher tax receipts, younger city dwellers with lower rents, and this is not likely to go back even after the pandemic is over. The cost of solar and wind energy has really dropped over the last few years.

At any rate, there is a lot of positive going on and over time you will see that manifest in bigger and bigger ways. So have hope, we will get through this and be better than ever, I really believe that.


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