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In a time of contentious Supreme Court decisions, economic woes, and opinionated Americans living in a post-Christian nation, it’s easy to see what’s wrong.  But economist Morgan Housel compiled a lengthy list of good things in America.

  1. Way back in 1949, Popular Mechanics predicted that someday a computer could weigh less than one ton. Now iPads weigh less than a pound.
  2. One hundred years ago, the average American died at age 51. Now, the average American retires at age 62.
  3. In the 1950s the median household income was half what it is today (adjusted for inflation).
  4. Even though the U.S. population grew by 60 million from 1991-2010, crime fell dramatically. Rape is down by a third, robbery is down more than half, and there were nearly four million fewer property crimes in 2010 than in 1991.
  5. In 1990, almost no one had a refrigerator. Now you can have one in your car.
  6. Today’s new homes often have more bathrooms than occupants.
  7. Today’s high school graduation rates are at a 40-year high.
  8. It may seem like we work all the time, but the average American workweek has declined from 66 hours in 1850, to 51 hours in 1909, to 34.8 today.
  9. The price of food has dropped 90 percent since the 19th century (relative to wages).
  10. More Americans have college degrees. In 1940, only five percent had them, by 2012 over 30 percent did.
  11. World hunger? From 1920 to 1980, an average of 395 people per 100,000 died from famine worldwide each decade. During the 2000s, that number fell to three per 100,000.
  12. How about long distance calls? A three-minute phone call from New York City to San Francisco cost $341 in 1915. Today, many of those calls are free.
  13. Speaking of telephones, in 1950, almost 40 percent of Americans didn’t have one. Today with more than 500 million Internet-connected devices, that averages to about 5.7 per American household.

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