Steven Johnson: We're Living the Dream, We Just Don't Realize It

In my post “The True Story of How Economics Got Its Nickname ‘The Dismal Science,’” I told how economics got its nickname “the dismal science” as a result of the opposition of John Stuart Mill (who was a noted economist as well as philosopher) to slavery. But the nickname sticks partly because people think of economists as bearers of bad news. But in fact, economists are prominent among those who remind people that over the long haul “Things Are Getting Better.” Steven Johnson’s article “We’re Living the Dream, We Just Don’t Realize It” has the same message.  For a book-length treatment of this theme, I recommend The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse

The economic slump we are in will someday be over. We should not let it falsely color our picture of the broad, progressive sweep of modern history.