The Fortunate Launch
On the evening of 1st September 2022, seventy guests gathered in the meeting room of the East Melbourne Library. A full house. They had come to hear Geoffrey Blainey, historian and author of over 40 books, launch my anthology - The Fortunate.
Andrew Whittaker, Chairman of Fenwick Software, was Master of Ceremonies and introduced us with his urbane Yorkshire wit.
The inimitable Geoffrey Blainey delighted the audience, weaving his talk around the topic of the moment – The Voice. He plucked ideas from The Fortunate as he urged us to distinguish carefully between opinions and facts, (Meg Wheatley Ch. 9); to be tolerant of others' views even if they conflict with our own, (Martin Luther King Ch. 7); to be respectful and skilful in debate, (Frederic Bastiat Ch. 1); and not to silence or denigrate those with whom we disagreed, (Jonathan Haidt Ch. 8).
I explained how fortunate we are. Throughout history, most people lived on $3 per day. They produced their own food, clothes and shelter, entertained themselves and never moved far from home. Dirt poor, their lives a drudgery, they suffered high rates of child mortality, and ever-present violence. In poor seasons, they starved to death.
Today the average is $42 per day. Throughout the world millions of people are better off than ever.
For some countries the improvement began about 1800; for others it has happened in the last thirty to fifty years. In the Appendix there are graphs from Our World in Data verifying the phenomenal increase in human well-being.
Today, Australians are safer, wealthier and living longer.
In the past hundred years
homicide rates have fallen from 2.6 to 1.0 per hundred thousand;
GDP per capita has risen from $21 to $136 per day; and
life expectancy has risen from 61.0 to 83.4 years.
Meanwhile the population increased from 5.4 to 26.5 million.
In The Fortunate, I highlight the ideas that made it possible.
I use essays by ten great writers who tell this story far better than I ever could.
The Fortunate is published by Connor Court.
It is available online from Amazon, Blackwells, and Booktopia
or from your local bookstore, including Readings in Carlton and Hawthorn,
or your library.