Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cheap is (mostly) good

It is by now well known that obesity and diabetes afflict the poor disproportionately.  Here is reference to a recent case study. 

Through history (and in parts of the world today) the poorest were at risk because of the reality of malnutrition and famine.  But our successes include better technology that makes calories cheaper and within the reach of more people.  Writing in last Saturday's WSJ, Matt Ridley offers "Three Cheers for the Cheapeners and Cost-Cutters ... The greatest impact of a new idea comes not when it's dreamed up, but when it becomes cheap enough for many people to use." 

Arnold Kling here notes that smart phones used to be seen on people wearing business attire, but now they go with any attire, including that of the young and the thuggish (my descriptor, not his).

Affluence (like anything) is a mixed blessing.  But I will take obesity over famine any day.  In Bonfire, Tom Wolfe referred to the wealthy ladies of the NYC Upper East Side as "social x-rays".  The rich are now thin and the poor are not.  What what would life be without all these ironies?