Sunday, January 03, 2016

2015: Best year to be alive, but also a year of absurdity

A juxtaposition - a pessimistic look of 2015 and the pain we, in the West, inflict on ourselves by George Will (Washington Post):

We learned that a dismal threshold has been passed. The value of property that police departments seized through civil asset forfeiture — usually without accusing, let alone convicting, the property owners of a crime — exceeded the value of property stolen by nongovernment burglars. [...]

The Internal Revenue Service persecutes conservative advocacy groups but does not prosecute IRS employees who are tax cheats: An audit revealed that over the past decade, the IRS fired only 400 of the 1,580 employees who deliberately violated tax laws, rather than the 100 percent required by law. [...]

A suburban Washington high school promoted self-esteem by naming 117 valedictorians out of a class of 457. Two Edina, Minn., elementary schools hired “recess consultants” to minimize “conflict” — children saying “Hey, you’re out!” rather than “Nice try!” The principal of a San Francisco middle school withheld the results of student elections that did not produce properly “diverse” results.
But a year of hope as well - from John Stossel looking at the world as a whole. While the US, along with much of the west, may be making incremental moves away from economic and personal liberty that has brought them prosperity, much of the rest of the world has been moving in the opposite direction with quantifiable, positive and predictable results (Fox):
Twenty-five years ago, 2 billion people lived in extreme poverty -- that meant surviving on about a dollar a day, often with little access to basic needs like water and food. “Experts” predicted that number would rise as the population grew. Happily, thanks to the power of free markets, they were wrong. In the space of a generation, half the people most in need in the world were rescued.

Ten percent of the world’s people still live in dire poverty, but the trend is clear: Where there is rule of law and individual freedom, humanity is better off. As Marian Tupy of puts it, “Away from the front pages of our newspapers and television, billions of people go about their lives unmolested, enjoying incremental improvements that make each year better than the last.”

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