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It's Getting Better All the Time: 100 Greatest Trends of the Last 100 years Paperback – October 2, 2000

4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

How has the United States changed over the past century? Is life truly better now than it was in the past? Using statistical reports and other historical materials, Moore (fiscal policy studies, Cato Inst.) and the late Simon (business administration, Univ. of Maryland) argue that for the most part people entering the new millennium are much better off than their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. The areas covered include health, economics, race relations, safety, environmental issues, and women's rights. A number of charts and graphs, well complemented by an extensive index and a bibliography, shows the positive changes that have taken place over the past 100 years. Readers will appreciate the information provided by these colorful graphics, which readily allow for additional research on subjects of interest. Recommended for reference, general social science, and American studies collections.DDanna Bell-Russel, Library of Congress
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

"More Americans than ever are living in greater affluence than ever before," concludes Moore, the Cato Institute's director of fiscal policy studies, who presents the extensive research of Julian Simon, the foremost environmental economist before his death. The core of the book deals with the long-term trends in areas such as health, diet and nutrition, wealth and income, poor Americans, housing, transportation and communications, education, safety, environmental protection, social and cultural indicators, and freedom and democracy. The authors' thesis is that there has been more material progress in the U.S. in the twentieth century than in the entire world in all previous centuries combined. Yet in the book's foreword Simon's widow contends that the killing of millions of people around the world because of Nazism, Stalinism, and Maoism must also be factored into any analysis of that century. The astounding progress in the U.S. will hopefully be replicated in the twenty-first century and extended to other nations throughout the world. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Cato Institute (October 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1882577973
  • ISBN-13: 978-1882577972
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,353,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Stephen Moore and Julian Simon have compiled the most significant data of how life in America has improved since 1900.
We all know about major technological advances, but the details of the obliteration of diseases, the accumulation of material wealth and increased opportunities for ownership are astounding.
This book will trounce the nay-sayers, negativists and should silence the loudest "Chicken Little".
This book is as useful as a research tool, as it is for pleasure reading.
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It is fashionable to bemoan the state of the world. The conventional wisdom is that global warming, Terrorism, drug abuse, crime, AIDS and all the rest of the crises threatening humanity lead us to the conclusion that the "good old days" were somehow better, safer and saner than today.
But, if things are so bad why is infant mortality going down around the world? If things are on the edge of anarchy why are proportionately fewer of us hungry, or sick today than one hundred years ago. If things are going to hell in a handbasket why is our life expectancy steadily improving?
These are inconvenient questions. The answers are tough on the prophets of doom.
Luckily, the conventional wisdom is wrong. Stephen Moore and Julian Simon prove this convincingly. Facts are often inconvenient. But, if you want to know the facts, this is the book for you.
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Format: Paperback
Stephen Moore, leader of the Club For Growth, and the recently deceased Julian Simon, made famous by his bet with Robert Ehrlich and also from his solution for airline overbooking, have contributed once again to the dragon-slaying of the social justice mythology. Their rigorous compilation of data on the continued ability of free market economies to create an ever rising surplus for all people is unsurpassed. I read Simon's "State of Humanity" a couple of years ago and it was equally as informative. Alm & Cox's "Myths of the Rich and Poor" also correlates with the data presented in this book.
An interesting phenomena occurs when you present this book to die-hard socialists. They continue to disclaim its validity by eg. citing the disparity between CEO compensation and the bottom 25% of the population. In fact they present you with statistics of their own which seemingly refute the data in this book. When you probe and ask them how their statistics were compiled they become evasive and fuzzy, but they continue to rely on them to underpin their position. They engage in the fallacy of inductive logic which consists of reasoning from the particular to the general i.e. if they used the Canadian health care system for a cough and they were satisfied with the results of their medical care then ipso facto such a system is good. In addition it's better than the U.S. system because it's cheaper, etc. They ignore all the other inputs and outputs that any cursory economic study would investigate. It's almost like they would suffer an emotional crisis if they had to accept relity i.e. like the conclusions in this book.
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Format: Paperback
There is much excellent information here to gladden the heart of people who are gloomily convinced--as I once was--that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
This book is obviously intended as a reference guide. As such, sometimes the material seems a little shallow. And while very meticulously documented, on occasion the source citations are a little too vague for my tastes. For example, a chart on water pollution trends (on page 189) only cites the "various years" of the Council on Environmental Quality's Annual Report, and only shows numbers for 1972, 1982, and 1992, without showing us clearly whether an actual trend is visible.
Despite these minor flaws, this is an excellent reference guide showing the often startlingly positive outlook for humanity on planet earth. It's a good reference that's worth having on your shelf.
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Format: Paperback
Every four years we're told how civilization has fallen into ill-rebuke. The chattering classes continue to repeat the Marxist slogan that the poor have fallen behind while the idle rich have gotten richer by stealing from the poor. But this rare optimistic book knocks those arguments cold. As a civilization, Americans are healthier, smarter, wealthier, happier, than at any time in America or the world at any point in civilization. There is not such a thing as the so-called "good old days." Today is the good old days, as is the future. In this book, you will see that by any measurement, the American people have continued to make lasting and important changes. From inventions to wealth to health and education, we have made remarkable progress and should be proud that we have a civilization that has encouraged us to do so. And this book will provide the evidence needed to rebuke the annoying liberal noisemakers such as Michael Moore who continue to look to the welfare-states of Europe as the utopian view of the future.
Michael Gordon
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a well-informed reader of Environment & Climate News, you likely exhibit considerable skepticism toward the drumbeat of fear-mongering anti-capitalists who believe the world is in a death spiral that can be stopped only by increasing the size of government programs and reducing human freedoms.

However, you may find it difficult to contradict the fear-mongers if you lack the hard data to dispute their pessimistic views.

As regular Environment & Climate News readers know, my normal book reviews read more like "Cliff Notes" for students, because I recognize only a small percentage of you will actually buy the books I review. Not this time. I will only surf across this compendium of positive human progress.

You must buy the book, absorb it carefully, and present its contents continually to those who don't recognize they live in the golden days of our nation.

Golden Age

The central premise of It's Getting Better All the Time, published in 2001 by the Cato Institute, is that there has been more improvement in the human condition in the past 100 years than in all of the previous centuries combined.

That is a difficult premise to accept for those who hear and read the daily news of school shootings, homelessness, AIDS, global warming, declining student test scores, and a widening gap between rich and poor. Yet over the course of the twentieth century, by nearly every measure of the human condition, life has improved dramatically.

Be it health, wealth, nutrition, education, speed of transportation and communications, leisure time, the proliferation of computers and the Internet, or gains for women, minorities, and children--these all demonstrate an amazing improvement of the human condition.
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