Michael Boehlje

In our first edition of What We’re Reading, Dr. Michael Boehlje, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, shares the book Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future by Johan Norberg.

We need to return to the good old days; things are only getting worse. Will they ever get better? Doom and gloom – a pervasive perspective today for many people, whether it be about the ag economy, environment, incomes and standard of living, trade wars or political debates/discourse.

Norberg challenges this belief with a historical perspective supported by data and interesting “stories”. His themes of global food and food security (starvation), poverty, sanitation and health, life expectation, violence and conflict, the environment, literacy, equality and discrimination, and concern for future generations paint a picture that, although we still have challenges, there has been great improvement in these areas. It would be a real mistake to return to ‘the good old days’. “Contrary to what most of us believe, our progress over the past few decades has been unprecedented. By almost any index you can identify, things are markedly better now than they have ever been for almost everyone alive.” If you need an uplifting read to support the conclusion that ‘the good old days’ are now, read Progress.