Amid the griping and sniping, some reasons to be grateful

Occasionally, while trolling through stuff that piles up in my various e-mail boxes (most summarily deleted), I run across something of merit.

An article by Morgan Housel on The Motley Fool website, 50 Reasons We’re Living Through the Greatest Period in World History, is one. In an age where griping and sniping about almost everything seems the order of the day, it’s refreshing to consider some of the good things. I have space here for just a few, but you might spend a few minutes reading the entire list.

1. U.S. life expectancy at birth was 39 years in 1800, 49 years in 1900, 68 years in 1950, and 79 years today. The average newborn today can expect to live an entire generation longer than its great-grandparents.

5. The average American now retires at age 62. A hundred years ago, the average American died at age 51

9. No one has died from a nuclear weapon attack since 1945. If you went back to 1950 and asked the world's smartest political scientists, they would have said the odds of that happening would be close to 0 percent. You don't have to be very imaginative to think that the most important news story of the past 70 years is what didn't happen.

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14. In 1952, 38,000 people contracted polio in America alone. In 2012, there were fewer than 300 reported polio cases in the entire world.

17. Median household income, adjusted for inflation, was around $25,000 per year during the 1950s. It's nearly double that today.

32. Incomes have grown so much faster than food prices that the average American household now spends less than half as much of its income on food as it did in the 1950s. Relative to wages, the price of food has declined more than 90 percent since the 19th century.

34. More than 40 percent of adults smoked in 1965; by 2011, only 19 percent did. 

46. As recently as 1950, nearly 40 percent of American homes didn't have a telephone. Today, there are 500 million Internet-connected devices in America, or 5.7 per household.

50. Only 4 percent of humans get to live in America.. Be thankful you’re one of them. 

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