We Conservatives are sometimes full of doom and gloom. We talk as if the world is going to the dogs. It isn't.
Sure, the national debt is set to double over the course of this Parliament. And on many of the key issues of the age – climate change, energy policy, Europe – the politico-mandarinate class are simply wrong. But despite all that, things were still much better in 2012 than they were in 1971, the year I was born.
Here are half a dozen random things that I think show the world is getting better:
1. Internet broadband allows us to watch and listen to whatever TV and music we want, when we want. I love being able to look anything up on Google in an instant. Back in the old days, it was Encyclopaedia Britannica, four TV channels and Radio 1 – or nothing ....
2. Less deference – there is much less deference to politicians, media pundits, officials and other "experts". After all the dreadful public policy choices that "experts" have made on our behalf, I think this is a thoroughly good thing.
3. Mobile cameras – Years ago, I'd be lucky to have a 24 picture film in my camera. As a consequence, my camera was locked away and only taken out on special occasions. Today, I have a phone camera with me all the time, and take zillions of photos of friends, family, the three year old and the puppy.
4. 24 hour supermarkets – being able to go to Tesco any time of day or night is one of the miracles of the modern age. If only the things government ran were as customer focused ....
5. Good news from Africa – I grew up in one of the poorest countries in Africa. All the key socio-economic indicators were moving the wrong way. Of course, Africa still has enormous problems. But the news is no longer consistently bad. In fact, in terms of infant mortality, education and security, things are vastly improved. Each year, millions of Africans join that vast global network of specialisation and exchange.
6. Britain is less boozy – This has happened so recently, few seem to have noticed - particularly politicians, who are still thinking in terms of minimum pricing and other ways to nanny us. Yet the facts show clearly that alcohol consumption in Britain amongst young people has fallen dramatically over the past decade. Why? Who knows. My own theory is that young people stopped drinking quite as much around about the time that internet broadband gave young people an alternative to going down the pub (see 1. above).
7. Cheap travel – The price of air travel has come down. Despite the best efforts of politicians and officialdom to not build new airport capacity and to tax tickets, it remains possible to fly around the planet for a fraction of what it cost a couple of decades ago. Glorious.
8. Cleaner environment – despite some of the loopy claims of the eco fundamentalists, the environment is actually cleaner than it was. Fewer nitrates in the water table. More otters and cormorants. Hopefully GM technology will allow us to produce more for less, to the point where we might even be able to set aside a lot of land for conservation, rather than farming.
What is it about the world in 2012 that you think is getting better? Blogs? Blog comments? Over to you ....
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