It’s Not So Bad: Avoiding the Doom and Gloom
It’s hard these days to turn on a TV, open a paper, or scroll a news feed without a bombardment of unsettling stories. This article will be, hopefully, something of a palate cleanser from all of that. Yes, there are troubles, tragedies, wars, famine and all manner of turmoil in the world, but there is also so much good that gets so much less press. The 24-hour international news cycle depends so thoroughly on us being angry, scared and engaged that unfortunately stories about the positives in the world get lost in all the noise.
People Are Safer
Did you know that we are living in one of the best and safest times in human history? It’s true. Life expectancy for one, which has risen more in 50 years than it had in the last 1000. We are also much less likely to come to a violent end, which is also a nice detail. Gun homicides alone have dropped substantially, by 31%, in the last 25 years.[i] Rape has gone down 45% since 1992.[ii] Violent crime rates have fallen 49% and property crime 50% since 1993.[iii] So, while it may feel like the world has become a harsher and more violent place sometimes, it’s important to remember these significant numbers.
A lot of our longevity and quality of life is tied directly to advancements in the science of medicine. Medical breakthroughs, vaccines, and in some areas just basic modern approaches to medicine and hygiene can make a world of difference. The World Health Organization recently announced a new vaccine that is both economic and effective to end cholera, which has been one of the world’s worst killers. Advanced cancer screenings have dropped cancer deaths by 25% since 1991. The death rate of AIDS has dropped in half since 2005. Tuberculosis deaths have also dropped by 37% since 2000.[iv] Advances in childbirth and maternity have made major improvements and childbirth-related deaths have dropped 43%. Child mortality for children 5 and under has also dropped in half since 1990.[v]
In 1950 50% of the world’s population was in poverty and now, that number is 10%. That’s amazing, in under 70 years that many people’s lives were improved from merely surviving to something more. Access to food, clean water, medicine, and electricity have improved life expectancies and quality of life for millions. In 1950, 36% of the world's population was literate, we are now at 83%. [vi] More people are able to go to school and stay in school longer. A rise in world food security and a decline in child labor are also two more things to celebrate. More people in the world live in democracies and are able to vote. Internet access has also been expanding year over year, connecting and opening up the world.
While it may feel very much like the end-times with regard to the environment, the good thing is that efforts are being made. Green energy is becoming cheaper and more efficient every year. Solar, wind, and water energy are expanding past the fringe into the mainstream. The US now has 9 billion more cubic feet of trees than it did in 1953 and is its own major supplier of sustainable lumber. [vii]Since 1970 the pollutants in the air in the US have dropped 73%.[viii] While we have a lot of work to do such as repairing water systems, and being more energy efficient, progress is being made.
Our brains tend to be hardwired to focus and remember the negatives more than the positive. Theories posit it that this was an adaptation to help us survive. But when anxiety and stress are on the rise, it’s important to take the time to remember not everything is doom and gloom. A lot of good has happened over the last thirty years and the quality of life for so many has greatly improved. It may not be perfect, but we are definitely trending up instead of down.
About the Author
Carroll W. “Bill” Hayes, MBA, CFP® Mr. Hayes started his financial career at Merrill Lynch in 1989. In 1992, Bill left Merrill Lynch for Fidelity Investments. During his career at Fidelity Investments he held roles in various divisions of Fidelity. Those roles included positions in the Trust, 401(k), Brokerage, and Money Management divisions. Bill held management positions at Fidelity and in 2001 led a Private Access team based in Boston. In the Private Access role his responsibilities included managing a book of business in excess of $3 Billion and a client base that was international in scope.
In 2008 Bill established Charles Carroll Financial Partners. The firm is an Independent FeeOnly Financial Planning and Investment Management firm. Charles Carroll Financial Partners embraces its fiduciary responsibility to its clients.
Bill is a graduate of Marquette University, and holds an MBA from the Sawyer School of Management. Bill holds the designation, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER, and currently presides as a Commissioner on the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. Bill resides in Massachusetts with his wife Christine and travels up and down the East Coast meeting with clients of the firm.