Fleet Street today and in 1890
by Reg Green
From the beginning of human life, the world has had its masters and chattel, landowners and serfs, employers and wage slaves.
Less than three hundred years ago the start of a period of unprecedented economic growth made a different world possible in which much more wealth, much more widely spread, would curb such overriding arbitrary power.
Everywhere we’ve fallen short of these high hopes. “The scheming little human mind,” as Paul Bowles expressed it, is always looking for ways to dominate others.
But the explosion of disposable income has made the leap into economic liberation a possibility for many more millions than anyone could have foreseen. Not even utopians could have visualized that in a single lifetime living standards in the leading democracies could double or triple (as they have in my own lifetime.)
Are we happier? Who can say? That’s not the economist’s responsibility. But for the first time in history the market economy in advanced countries has the capacity going forward to provide the material basis — food, shelter, healthcare, education etc. — for a reasonable living for the whole population, a state of affairs that any previous age would have found impossible to conceive.
Despite all the problems, let’s not be too downhearted about the future.
See what I mean?