Pinkerian Pollyannism?

Fenster writes:

Here in the Wall Street Journal we find more cheery optimism about the world.  This  could all be true.  It could possibly just be Pinkerian Pollyannism.  Or perhaps it is both.

As with disease, poverty is being eradicated not through technological miracles but basic rules of growth: Invest more in your human and physical capital, open yourself to markets and trade—that’s right, globalization is good—and incomes will rise.

This is the WSJ so it is no surprise that the happy measuring is mostly about money. And there the author has a point: even if a lot of wealth has been transferred from the US to the formerly developing countries things are inarguably better there, and worldwide measures built on economics will look good.

The author makes a small genuflect to things not going quite so well in the US:

(I)n the U.S., life is improving more slowly than in poorer countries, and in some places it is getting worse.

A small genuflect, too, to non-economic factors:

Money and well-being aren’t the same . . .

but this line is followed immediately by:

 . . .but Mr. Kharas and Mr. Hamel note that moving from poor to middle class does correspond to a big jump in happiness.

I would rather have the optimistic view be correct. But as with Pinker I sense a pleading quality to this kind of argument: “if you would only grasp how much better things are getting you would stop all that caterwauling”. Alas, I don’t think things work that way.

About Fenster

Gainfully employed for thirty years, including as one of those high paid college administrators faculty complain about. Earned Ph.D. late in life and converted to the faculty side. Those damn administrators are ruining everything.
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