Though Beto O’Rourke has suspended his campaign for the presidency of the United States for 2020, he does represent a larger feeling held by people, that permeates the left and the Democratic party – that America is a fundamental evil country.
“This is a country that has been defined by foundational, systemic, endemic racism since the very founding of this country,” Beto said. He goes on to say, “What a disgusting country this is … and because America is fundamentally immoral, Americans don’t deserve the constitutional liberties they’ve had from the very beginning.”
Quite an astounding remark from someone that wants to lead a change in what America stands for in the world. The Democratic party evidently agrees with Beto, as no one from their ranks denounced such comments.
It is not just people inside America. More recently, a Saudi trainee military pilot reportedly condemned the United States as a “nation of evil” before carrying out a mass shooting at a top US Navy base in Florida. Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani killed three people and injured eight before being shot dead himself by police at the Naval Air Station Pensacola. Sad to say, many believe this, primarily because they have little understanding of reality.
It is true that the world has been under the leadership of at first Pax Britannica starting around the 1800s and then later Pax Americana today. If we were to go back to the 1700s and ask that there would be two brother nations, a nation and a company of nations, that would dominate the world for over two hundred years – what would be the results? And knowing the reality, that there will always be lead nations in the world and no nation is perfect, would you want these two nations to lead?
Well, it depends on the results. So how have Britain and America done over the past 200 years? Though for sure the modern world was not only created by Britain and America, it does take leadership. We have put together a list of historical accomplishments below. By just about any measure, these two countries have done an outstanding job, to the benefit to everyone on the globe. Let’s get into the data:
War and Peace – This entry presents an empirical perspective on the history of war and peace. We are now living in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence.
It would be wrong to believe that the past was peaceful. One reason why some people might have this impression is that many of the past conflicts feature less prominently in our memories; they are simply forgotten.
GDP per Capita – The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person in an economy is a measure of total production.
From the long-term perspective of social history, we know that economic prosperity and lasting economic growth is a very recent achievement for humanity. Many today take it for granted, but prior to recent times, humanity has been under the thumb of grinding poverty.
Poverty – is at a historic low. This trend of decreasing poverty—both in absolute numbers and as a share of the world population—has been a constant during the last three decades.
The World Bank is the main source for global information on extreme poverty today, and it sets the ‘International Poverty Line’. The poverty line was revised in 2015—since then, a person is considered to be in extreme poverty if they live on less than 1.90 international dollars per day.
Child Mortality – mortality of children, was one of the very worst and most urgent problems humanity faced.
Child health is a good metric for the functioning of society more broadly because it is difficult to keep children alive, and many things have to go right to survive childhood. For much of our history, death at a young age was very common – in the past, almost half died as children. By far, this has been a shinning advancement in human history.
Life Expectancy – is the key metric for assessing population health. Broader than the narrow metric of the infant and child mortality, which focus solely on mortality at a young age, the life expectancy captures the mortality along the entire life course. It tells us the average age of death in a population.
Life expectancy has increased rapidly since the Age of Enlightenment. In the early 19th century, life expectancy started to increase in the early industrialized countries while it stayed low in the rest of the world. This led to very high inequality in how health was distributed across the world — good health in rich countries and persistently bad health in those countries that remained poor.
Famines – large scale famines are practically unheard of, though there are still pockets around the world the pop up from time to time. When they do, the world general mobilizes to resolve the problem – in centuries past, this was not the case.
Taking a closer look at the history behind the graphs, we see famines associated with the Age of Empire from the 1870s to World War I. Famines killed tens of millions in South Asia and China, millions in Africa, and smaller numbers in Brazil. The causes: drought and havoc wreaked by imperial conquest and predation, including practices such as dismantling local production systems and imposing a regime of forced labor to produce export crops.
Medicine – The ultimate goal in the fight against diseases is their eradication through advancements in medical technology.
Though not limited to vaccination, this data series just demonstrates how the world has eradicated or greatly reduced the effect of what were once devastating diseases. Here is one list of the top 10 medical advances we have experienced as a human species: Vaccines, Anaesthesia, Germ theory, Medical imaging, Penicillin (antibiotics), Organ transplants, Antiviral drugs, Stem cell therapy, and Immunotherapy – but there are others.
Literacy – is a key skill and a key measure of a population’s education. UNESCO operationalizes the measurement of literacy as the ability to both read and write a short, simple statement about one’s own life.
While the earliest forms of written communication date back to about 3,500-3,000 BCE, literacy remained for centuries a very restricted technology closely associated with the exercise of power. It was only until the Middle Ages that book production started growing, and literacy among the general population slowly started becoming important in the Western World. It was only in the 19th and 20th centuries that rates of literacy approached universality.
Work Week vs. Leisure Time – shows how many hours worked in productive activities that have changed over time.
We see a substantial decline in working hours in many countries. When adding to the increase of wealth and poverty reduction, this provides liberties to pursue personal interests, adding to the wellness of human life.
Freedom (“Democracies”) – During the 19th century, most of the world’s population lived in colonial empires, autocracies, or anocracies. Today, the world has never experienced so much freedom historically.
During the second half of the 20th century, colonies gained independence, and more countries became democracies. Today, more than half the world’s population lives in a democracy. And of those who still live in autocracies, four-fifths are Chinese (work to be done).
In terms of innovation advances, this is a little harder to quantify. But we can not think of anyone wanting to go back 200 years on the timeline of inventions. Here is just one view of innovations – we think you get the idea:
Other significant accomplishments over the past 200 years, that are not necessarily seen in these data points, include political realities not seen in human history before:
- American exceptionalism – the first “democracy” based on liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, republicanism, democracy, and free-market capitalism that has been transformative across the globe – to everyone’s benefit.
- British empire – though some people think it was negative (for sure there were some), the reality is that the net effect was positive for most colonies they touched. Leaving the countries often better than when they found them – bring a rule of law, wealth, and human rights where ever they went.
- Ending slavery after 1000s of years of embedded slavery in world economies – Abolitionism.
- Women’s rights claimed for women worldwide, and which formed the basis for the women’s rights movement in the 19th century. Something the world has never experienced in history prior to this time. This would be extended to racial and other groups.
- Immigration – a melting pot of an open society that has open doors to all that want to be part (lawfully and not apart) of the modern world – something few countries have been able to achieve historically.
- The most powerful military to ensure security and deter those who would want to backtrack on the gains humanity has made.
- The defeat of Fascism and Communism (who responsible for killing millions) that would thwart the advancement of the modern free world we enjoy today.
Now I am sure naive naysayers will say all this all would happen anyway. And we could have done so much better. But I repeat, do you like these results? Would you think another set of countries would have done better? China? Russia, or some Islamic Caliphate? The results of the last 200 years have been outstanding. For those who want fundamental change like Beto and the Democrats, do this at the peril of not only America but the entire world. Careful what you wish for.