Vail Daily column: Give thanks, children
February 22, 2017
To the children of the Vail Valley:
Give thanks, children, for the wonderful world your parents and grandparents have bequeathed to you. You can thank us by doing even better and leaving the world a cleaner, healthier, safer and freer place in your wake.
Some choose to focus on our mistakes, which were often unintended consequences of what we thought was the right thing to do at the time, forgetting that we live in the most prosperous time in human history. Poverty, sicknesses and ignorance are receding in the world, due in large part to the advance of economic freedom.
Population growth: When many of your grandparents were born only 2 billion people were on Earth; when many your parents were born there were 3 billion people. Today there are 7.4 billion people, and, as Japan, Singapore and South Korea have taught us, human resources are more important than natural resources. With more than double the souls of your parents' generation will come the solutions to the problems we still face.
Health and poverty: We not only have more than twice as many people, but they live more than twice as long as your great-grandparents were expected to live at birth. In the last 15 years the percentage of those chronically hungry has been halved because the percentage of those in poverty has been reduced by two-thirds. In absolute terms, while 767 million people are still impoverished, that is down from 1.85 billion in 1990, when there were one-third fewer people.
Safety: In spite of what scaremongers (including the president) say, statistically you are living in the safest era in United States history, with violent crime down more than 75 percent since 1993. While there are twice as many guns per capita in the U.S. than in 1968, the chance of being murdered is 35 percent lower. In spite of your electronic distractions while driving, you are half as likely to die in automobile accident, as were your parents at your age.
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Freedom: For much of your parents' and grandparents' lives, too much of the world lived under the failed ideologies of communism and dictatorship that perpetrated multiple genocides. Today, repressive governments now submit to the ballot box. Even China's government, once able to commit mass murder and create man-made famine without fear of reprisal, now fears public opinion.
Environment: While air and water quality in the U.S. has never been better, the planet's climate is changing and human activity is a cause. We also have continued an ancient practice of exterminating our fellow creatures on the planet and it must stop. While we have saved alligators, bald eagles, California condors, grizzly bears, peregrine falcons, whooping cranes and wolves from extinction, you need to do much better than we have, and we are confident you will.
William McKinzie lives in Edwards.
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