Life in 1960

One way to think about why a little utopianism in one’s thinking is okay is to think back to the state of public policy in 1960. Back then there was no Medicare no Medicaid no Environmental Protection Agency no SCHIP and no looming Affordable Care Act. There was also no schools were segregated, abortion was illegal, “miscegenation” was illegal, and gays and lesbians were in the closet. Private ownership of telephones was also illegal, a regulatory agency set airfares, the Pentagon was 9.3 percent of GDP, and a bank couldn’t have branches in more than one state.

Since that time, we’ve had a huge increase in personal freedom, a dramatic expansion of the welfare state, and yet a huge increase economic freedom. And policy improvements in the United States have been modest compared to those in China or Poland. I’m hoping to still be alive to see where we end up in 2060.