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The Improving Human Condition

Date: 05-22-10
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Matt Ridley, Peter Lance

Ian Punnett was joined by author Matt Ridley for a discussion on human prosperity. Since the 1950s, the average citizen of the world has seen his income triple, lifespan increase by 30%, and child mortality drop by two-thirds, Ridley said. The amount of available food has grown by 30%, despite that nearly three times as many people live on the planet now, he continued. In addition, Ridley pointed out that air and water quality are better, radioactive fallout has decreased by 90%, and cheap electricity is plentiful.

He credits the ever-improving human condition on our species' ability to share ideas and cooperate. According to Ridley, the more we work for each other, the more prosperous we become. "If you had to wake up in the morning tomorrow and make your own clothing, your own food, your own shelter, and your own light and heat... it would take you all day to achieve a very low standard of living," he explained. Instead, everybody can consume a diversity of things while making or knowing about only one thing. That's the secret to a modern economy, he added.

Ridley shared his theory of "idea sex" and how it relates to innovation, as well as warned against the Precautionary Principle, which some have used to stifle progress and liberty. Ridley believes we have more freedom now than at any other time in history. The proportion of people living in democracies is higher than it has ever been, he noted. Even in places like China, where the government exercises authoritarian rule, certain liberties have been granted and the Chinese people have prospered as a result, he said.

Anwar al-Awlaki, Wanted Dead

Investigative journalist and author Peter Lance appeared in the first hour with a brief report on Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, thought to be linked to several recent terror attacks, including the failed Times Square car bomb plot, the Christmas Day bombing attempt of a US airliner, and the Fort Hood massacre. The Obama Administration has put the American born al-Awlaki on a list of targets for assassination. Lance suggested the government wants al-Awlaki killed because his capture, and subsequent interrogation, may reveal massive counter-intelligence failures of the Justice Department and FBI.

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