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The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse Paperback – November 9, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The premise of "The Progress Paradox" is that all the gloom and doom forecasters are not only currently wrong, but have been wrong for generations. By every measurable standard, things are getting better, not just for Americans in general, but for the world at large. There is more prosperity, less hunger, a better environment, etc.
The introduction, chapter one, and chapter two are true to this theme. They outline in remarkable detail exactly how our lives are better than those of our forebearers and what kind of work our ancestors had to do to make oure lives better. In chapter 3, Easterbrook outlines reasons why Americans fail to believe the proof before their eyes.
But in chapter 4, he starts a high handed moral lecture. After telling the reader things are better, we should be more grateful for what we have, and we should learn to appriciate life, more, he then attacks the reader for not doing anything about poverty in America, for not insuring all American citizens, and for allowing hunger to exist in the world. Now, if Easterbrook had any suggestions, even ridiculous ones, this would not be so bad, but he goes from telling the reader "everything is better than you think it is" to telling the reader, "no! I lied! Everything IS going to hell in a handbasket and it's ALL YOUR FAULT!"
This does not sell his initial message.Read more ›
On the whole, though Easterbrook's observations and comments are powerful and on the mark; we live in an age of enlightenment only to deny our ability to enjoy the outcome of progress. Easterbrook is most successful when taking a deep look at our inability to enjoy what we've worked so hard for but also his arguments for examining the pessisism and darkness that we've allowed to cloud our lives. While we live in a cynical world dotted with irony and sarcasm, we've allowed these very qualities which are useful in measured degrees to infect every aspect of our lives. While it may be fashionable to be all of these things to a large degree, it's also eroded our perception on the quality of our life. We no longer believe that good things happen to us without a price. We no longer believe that there's actually goodness in the world that can keep our darker nature at bay. These beliefs are essential for providing some sense of balance. If we believe the sky is always falling, then the vitality of our everyday lives is stolen from us.
In effect, we've allowed the darkness to suck all the fun out of our lives.Read more ›
There are essentially three parts to The Progress Paradox. In the first part Easterbrook makes the case that life is indeed getting better. Through countless examples, some of which are truly stunning, Easterbrook methodically shows that in virtually every measurable way our lives are not just better, but significantly better, than they were a generation or two ago. This applies not only to personal indicators such as health, wealth, and leisure time, but also to larger geopolitical trends such as the spread of democracy.
In the book's second act Easterbrook explains why, despite the overwhelming number of positive indicators, people tend to feel like things are getting worse. Easterbrook examines a multitude of causes ranging from simple biology to the media's obsession with bad news. Politicians, in particular, are demonstrated to have a vested interest in making sure that Americans think things are not going well.
In the final portion of the book Easterbrook attempts to strike an upbeat note, giving the reader a host of reasons to believe the future is going to be even better than the present.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this on a recommendation. While I hoped for some insights on how to look more positively at things, large swathes of this book are dull fact-recitals trying to prove (based... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
I reread this book because I ran across an excellent essay the author wrote about athletes praising God for their performances & I recollected that the book was OK but now 12 years... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Gary M. Hetrick
Really provides a lot of insightful information which causes you to draw some interesting conclusions about what makes people happy! I will read it again soon.Published on May 21, 2014 by Brian T. Groark
Life isn’t so bad. Really, it’s not! Well, at least for humanity as a whole, we’ve done some good work. Read morePublished on December 23, 2013 by BraMaster
This guy just plain gets it. Great grasp on what truly matters in the world and what mankind really great.Published on January 4, 2013 by dude
Read this book for its helpful summary of the "happiness" literature and analysis of why "money doesn't buy happiness". Read morePublished on August 5, 2012 by Tom K.
Check out a podcasts on the book on EconTalk.
No matter how optimistic you think you are, you will more than likely find yourself feeling a little defensive and... Read more
I wish I had known about this book when I was researching and writing on economic and non-economic dimensions of the wellbeing of nations (available here [... Read morePublished on November 11, 2010 by V.H. Amavilah