From Jonah Goldberg' s latest G-File:
… it’s worth highlighting something the folks shrieking about censorship and free speech tend to overlook. I’m one of those folks like Steven Pinker, Marian Tupy, Ronald Bailey, Russell Roberts, Donald Boudreaux, Matt Ridley, and other misery-deniers who feels compelled to point out how much better we have it than people in the past.
By many metrics, the average middle-class person today is richer than the average billionaire a hundred years ago. Of course, your choices in real estate would be much greater as a fat cat in 1920, but your choices in cuisine, air-conditioning, transportation, medicine, communication, etc. would be far worse or simply non-existent.
Kevin Williamson points out a scene in The Count of Monte Cristo in which the Count hosts a dinner at which he serves a staggering variety of fish to his guests. How many kinds of fish in this lavish repast? Two. The Count describes this largess as a “millionaire’s whim.”
The point here is that in terms of the ability to communicate — both to friends and family and the broader public — we’re unimaginably wealthier today. Wealth isn’t simply about money, it’s about the ability to do things. Financial wealth manifests itself in the expanded number of choices you have to do and have stuff. The mid-market cars of today have features that were reserved for the wealthy two decades ago and that were reserved for science fiction a hundred years ago.