Florence was an incredibly wealthy and innovative place in the 1400s
“The artists, architects, thinkers and political figures who led the Renaissance were all born on the fertile soil in and around Florence, within the same century: Masaccio, Donatello, Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, Verocchio, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Michelangelo, Lorenzo the Magnificent de’ Medici and Machiavelli, just to name a few.”
Inspired by that time and place, I named my innovation blog New Florence. New Renaissance. Over the last dozen years it has given me immense joy as I have cataloged over 5,000 posts and hundreds of pages in my books on innovative people, products and places. I am even more convinced today we are living in an incredibly blessed time.
As I flip through the Consumer Reports New Car Buying Guide I
see page after page of SUVs. Then I remember it does not include the smaller Marutis and Hyundai Cretas I saw during my recent visit to Mumbai and Chinese models I saw in Hong Kong. (Wikipedia has a fuller list here). Our parents would drool at the choice and the incredible range of options in each.
As I studied the Bureau of Labor Statistics data for my last book, I saw we have choices of over 800 occupations. For four years, the BLS has also reported 5 million unfilled jobs spread across these occupations. And that does not begin to catalog opportunities in hundred of franchises, platforms like Amazon Fulfillment and the iOS ecosystem, in alternative healthcare like chiropractors, at ethnic grocers and many others. Our grandparents would have drooled at all this choice in how to make a satisfying living.
And yet with all this abundance, you get just as much of an abundance of whiny stories.
“The Middle Class is Dead”
In each of the last two years the US middle class has bought 17 million cars, an annual record. The middle class which makes up the middle 2/3 of tax returns filed with the IRS shows $ 6 trillion in Adjusted Gross Income. This segment of the population has the majority of IRAs, 401ks and pension funds which account for over $ 20 trillion in retirement assets. No question, this wealth is not evenly spread, but to say only the 1 percenters have benefitted and to call the middle class “dead” is incredibly insulting.
“US Manufacturing is Dead”
We just accept the myth the US has offshored all its manufacturing. The National Association of Manufacturers says we manufactured over $ 2 trillion worth of products in 2015. Many of those 17 million cars mentioned above were made or assembled in the US. Boeing, Airbus, Embraer are all making planes somewhere in the US. Our Chemical production is doing very well with cheaper petroleum. Places like Greenville, SC and the Golden Triangle in MS have been reborn with advanced manufacturing. With President Trump we should see an every bigger boost to US manufacturing.
“The World is an absolute mess”
My friend Frank Scavo frequently tweets or emails me factoids on how the world keeps improving even though all we seem to see in the media is about strife and disease.
Here are some stats from Human Progress
- In 1966, average life expectancy was only 56 years. Today it’s 72. That’s an increase of 29 percent.
- Out of every 1,000 infants born, 113 died before their first birthday. Today, only 32 die. That’s a reduction of 72 percent.
- Median income per person rose from around $6,000 to around $16,000, or by 167 percent – and that’s adjusted for inflation and purchasing power.
- The food supply rose from about 2,300 calories per person per day to over 2,800 calories, an increase of 22 percent, thus reducing hunger.
- The length of schooling that a person could typically expect to receive was 3.9 years. Today, it’s 8.4 years – a 115 percent increase.
- The world has become less authoritarian, with the level of democracy rising from -0.97 to 4.23 on a scale from -10 to 10. That’s an improvement of 536 percent.
Yet we have so many cynics. Lies, Damn Lies and Stats, they say and ironically bring out stats which support their own gloomy point of view. Even President Trump is guilty of making things sound worse than they are. I understand part of his motivation — he can later take credit for improvements. But it is toxic to constantly whine things are bad.
Let’s savor our bounty. We are living in an incredible time and place. Let’s pledge to keep making it better and better. In the meantime, Happy 12th, innovation blog!