Turn on the news and you’ll see bombed-out cities in Syria and Iraq, desperate refugees streaming into Europe (or drowning at sea), and hand-wringing pundits lamenting the economic stagnation, political dysfunction and mounting government debt here and abroad.

It’s easy to conclude that the world is quickly going to hell in a handbasket.

[ad#Google Adsense 336×280-IA]Except it isn’t.

By virtually every objective measure of human well-being, the past three decades have been the best in history.

The future trend is overwhelmingly favorable too.

This is a theme I’ve touched on before – and will again – because the vast majority of investors simply haven’t grasped the investment implications.

Do you really want to be rich?

Then look past the gloomy headlines and recognize the historic transformation that is taking place right under your nose.

Let’s start by taking a dispassionate look at a few indisputable facts:

  • Human life spans have never been longer.
  • Standards of living have never been higher.
  • The American workweek – at 34.4 hours – has never been shorter.
  • Communications have never been faster.
  • Worldwide travel has never been easier.
  • Computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones – that are revolutionizing our lives – have never been cheaper.
  • American cities have never been safer. (Violent crime is in a long-term cycle of decline.)
  • Educational attainment has never been greater. (Eighty-eight percent of Americans have a high-school diploma. Fifty-nine percent have some college. Forty-two percent have an associate or bachelor’s degree.)
  • The essentials of life – food, clothing, energy and shelter (in inflation-adjusted terms) – have never been more affordable.
  • Fantastic innovations in medicine – groundbreaking drugs, medical devices and therapies – are saving and extending our lives.
  • All forms of pollution – with the exception of greenhouse gases – are in decline.
  • The American military – the primary defender of the free world – has never been stronger. (The U.S. spends close to what the entire rest of the world spends on defense: more than $600 billion. Per year.)
  • For decades, experts warned Americans that we had to end our “addiction to foreign oil.” Yet thanks to new technologies – like fracking and horizontal drilling – two years ago we surpassed Russia to become the biggest energy producer in the world.
  • The U.S. leads the world in science, engineering, medicine, entertainment and the arts.
  • We have the best universities, hospitals and businesses on the planet.
  • No nation attracts more immigrants, more students or more foreign investment capital.
  • The dollar is the world’s reserve currency.
  • The U.S. economy is No. 1 by a huge margin. (It is larger than Nos. 2 and 3 – China and Japan – combined.)
  • Americans are just 4.4% of the world’s population, yet we create nearly a quarter of its annual wealth.
  • Our financial markets are the widest, deepest and most transparent in the world.
  • And the Federal Reserve reported last year that U.S. household net worth hit at an all-time record $86.8 trillion. This is nearly double the 2000 level. And since stocks, bonds and home prices have all moved higher since then, the next number will be another all-time record.

People everywhere are enjoying better lives than ever before. And not just in the West.

Over the last three decades, daily life in developing countries has changed profoundly for the better: over a billion people have escaped extreme poverty, average incomes have doubled, infant death rates have plummeted, millions of girls have enrolled in school for the first time, chronic hunger has been cut almost in half, deaths from preventable diseases – like pneumonia, malaria and measles – have declined dramatically, democracy and free enterprise have spread far and wide, and the incidence of war – despite the graphic images on your big-screen, high-definition TV (which, incidentally, costs a tenth of what it did a decade ago) – has fallen by half.

The values of the West – democracy, property rights, the rule of law and capitalism – have never been more widely embraced by the rest of the world.

(That’s why the response of Islamic fundamentalists in some quarters has been so extreme. Theirs is a howl of rage against modernity.)

The march of reason – born in the Enlightenment and still expanding around the world – is leading to greater prosperity and an increasingly stable global community.

Yet you’ll notice that it is the exceptions – Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea and Venezuela – that garner all the media attention.

The outlook is not just promising. It’s extraordinary. The global middle class is projected to rise from 1.8 billion in 2009 to 3.2 billion in 2020 and 4.9 billion 2030.

This is a good thing and – despite what you’ve heard – feeding them will not be a problem.

Technological innovation has transformed agriculture. Farm machinery is cheaper, more efficient and longer-lasting. Genetically modified seeds allow farmers to produce better-quality crops while using less pesticides and herbicides. (And the National Academies of Sciences confirmed last month that GMOs are not harmful to humans, animals or the environment.)

New crop nutrients and fertilizers are boosting output. America’s farmers now grow five times as much corn as they did in the 1930s – on 20% less land. The yield per acre has grown sixfold in the past 70 years.

The coming billions in the middle class – especially in developing markets – will want everything we take for granted in the West: homes, cars, computers, televisions, smartphones, credit cards, healthcare, clean energy, digital entertainment, gourmet cupcakes.

Equity investors take note: It is businesses that will meet these needs – and deliver profits to shareholders in the process.

Yes, we have problems today: terrorism, racial tension and excessive government spending, to name just a few. But these are problems to be solved, not proof positive that ours is a horrible nation.

Do you want to be a successful investor? Then ignore the merchants of doom – most of whom have preached the same nonsense not just for years but decades – and start focusing on what’s right with the world.

We are living longer, healthier, safer, richer, freer lives than any people on the history of the planet. Look around you at the peace and prosperity, the labor-saving devices, the huge variety of goods and services available, the luxuries – from Starbucks lattes to Egyptian cotton sheets – that permeate your existence.

Yes, we face challenges. And there are bound to be surprises and setbacks ahead.

But celebrate our accomplishments. Embrace the future. Recognize that human liberty is ascendant.

And realize that the future will not be ruled by the idea of authority… but by the authority of ideas.

Good investing,



Source: Investment U