Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Wealth and Angst

Gregg Easterbrook's The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse is worth reading. While Simon and Lomborg and others have documented the material improvement part, they said little about why many people were not taking delivery of the good news. Easterbrook is very good at surveying both.

Actually, the book has three parts; in addition to a fine exposition of the details of expanded material welfare and corresponding increased grousing (especially by smart people), Easterbrook adds two chapters on how to improve the world. So, skip the last chapters (how to reign in greedy CEOs, calls for universal health care, a higher "living wage" and more foreign aid) and enjoy the author's thought-provoking surveys of material success and the accompanying widespread (though non-universal) angst.