It's easy to miss the good old days.
Watching TV news makes people long for them. We are always ranting about the latest horror. When I asked a class of grade-school students whether what they saw on TV made them feel safe, they said, "No, no, no."
Many worried about being kidnapped.
"They keep on saying stuff like 'a kid got kidnapped' or something, and they start telling you everything bad."
"Anyone could just grab me at any time."
"A lot more kids are being kidnapped."
They believe that because they watch the news. But the crime rate is the lowest it's been in more than 15 years, and the Justice Department says there's been no increase in kidnapping. As economist Stephen Moore, author of "It's Getting Better All the Time," puts it, "These are the safest times ever to have lived on the earth."
Not that you'd know that from watching TV.
"Stress kills" is a frequent feature on the morning shows. TV news tells us that Americans work themselves to death and that we're working "harder than ever." But in the old days, most Americans worked on farms. People romanticize farms but forget that the old-fashioned family farm meant backbreaking labor under a broiling sun.
As Moore noted, "One of the reasons people left the farms was because their lives were so tough." Mines were worse, and life in factories wasn't much better. Modern jobs are "much more interesting."
The media's reporting about poverty is misleading too. It's true that the official poverty rate has risen lately. Some people do line up at food banks. But what Americans call poverty is totally different from what it's meant through most of history. A "poor" man at a food bank told me he had "the normal things": cable TV, a microwave -- the "normal things" that not even rich people used to have.
We complain about pollution and car exhaust, but think about what it was like when the pollution came from horses and cities were clogged with the smelly beasts. Manure was everywhere.
Today, the media are so hysterical about environmental "destruction," you'd never know that over the past half century, the air and water have steadily gotten cleaner. As Moore said, "Fifty years ago, many American cities had permanent black fogs over them."