We live not by bread alone in Mississippi

Published 12:33 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2023

By Wyatt Emmerich
The Northside Sun

It’s Thanksgiving 2023 and we’ve never had so much to be thankful for. The world is in the best shape it’s ever been. So is our great country and our wonderful state.

The reason we think times are so bad is because of the nature of the Internet and all sorts of digital communications. Never before has inflammatory bad news been delivered so quickly in such volume to so many.

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The very technology that is making the greatest economic advances in the history of our world is making us think the sky is falling. It is up to us to see through this haze of fog and count our blessings.

The two biggest measures of human progress are the reduction of poverty and human life expectancy.

Over the last 30 years, world poverty — defined by living on less than a dollar per day — is down from 30 percent to 10 percent of the world’s people. Never before in human history have we made such gains.

This year world life expectancy, according to the United Nations, is 73.16 compared to 64.56 thirty years ago.

The U. S. life expectancy is 76.1. The U.S. is the richest country in the world. So the entire world life expectancy is just three years less than the life expectancy of the richest country in the world. That is nothing short of amazing.

Some people may not care about the rest of the world. No worries. The United States is booming. Per capita income was $51,784 in 2012. By 2022 it was $76,399, adjusted for inflation. That’s a 47 percent increase in just one decade, the most rapid increase in U. S. history.

In Mississippi, 2012 per capita income was $33,441. Ten years later it was $46,370. That’s a 39 percent increase in per capita income in one decade, adjusted for inflation.

That’s enormous economic progress, but it doesn’t capture the fact that what we buy is so much better than what we bought 10 years ago. A smartphone today is 100 times better than a smartphone 10 years ago, so the economic progress, impressive though it is in raw dollars, doesn’t even begin to reflect the real increase in value of what we buy and use.

It would have cost a billion dollars 20 years ago to buy a smartphone like the ones we all have today. In that sense, we are all billionaires.

Every night, the average Mississippian goes to bed in conditions far better than the King of England had 400 years ago. We have orthopedic mattresses, fine sheets and linens, air conditioning to get the room temperature just perfect, soft pillows and maybe a TV on the wall of our bedroom.

Think about something as simple as sporting events. A 50-inch LED widescreen TV costs about $500 — easily affordable by an average Mississippi family. 

Most homes have multiple screens with which to watch football games with perfect camera angles, play-by-play analysis and the ability to watch as many games as you want by flipping channels (or even have four games displayed simultaneously on your screen.)

Think about food. Most of human history, we have struggled to fill our bellies. Now we have to take drugs to repress our appetite. Food is everywhere and it’s absolutely delicious. You can walk in a simple quick stop gas station and buy mouth watering ribs, delicious boiled peanuts and a thousand other delicious items. Our fast food may not be healthy, but it’s delicious.

Five hundred years ago, starving peasants were hanged for catching a wild rabbit on a noble’s property. Imagine what that peasant would think about an easily affordable bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Man does not live by bread alone. In Mississippi we have it better than anywhere in the world because all these material blessings are superseded by our faith. We are some of the most spiritual people in the world, with churches on every block!

Now that is something for which to be thankful.