Don't underrate how far we've come

Worried about war? Well, you should be, but in fact it’s less of a problem than it used to be: “True enough, there are many troubles in the world and far too many lives are lost due to senseless violence. But, let’s keep matters in a proper perspective. Since the end of the Cold War, wars have become rarer. International conflicts are way down, though civil wars and armed conflicts have been on the uptick. Moreover humanity’s destructive potential — while still considerable — has been declining. Consider that in 1986, the Soviet Union had over 40,000 nuclear warheads, while the United States’ nuclear arsenal peaked in 1967 at over 31,000 warheads. Last year, both countries’ nuclear arsenal contained less than 5,000 warheads each. … Truth is that by yesteryear’s standards, Americans are safer. Even ISIS — that most brutal of terrorist organizations — does not pose a serious, let alone existential, threat to the United States. The fact that we do not feel safe may well be a result of the world becoming ‘smaller’ due largely to the revolution in communication technology, rather than deterioration of America’s security.“

When I was a kid, I walked home past fallout shelters stocked against nuclear armageddon. Nowadays, we worry about terrorists getting a nuke or two or hacking our power grid, but bad as that stuff is, it’s a far cry from the Strangelovian nightmare we faced a few decades ago.

And despite economic stagnation, in many ways, today’s Americans are richer than the original super-rich tycoon, John D. Rockefeller.