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Razib Khan's Unsupervised Learning

Jul 23, 2022

On this episode of the Unsupervised Learning podcast, Razib talks to Dr. Judge Glock about the case for optimism in America in 2022. An economic historian by training, Glock is a Chief Policy Officer at the Cicero Institute. Though public polling shows that 80% of Americans are dissatisfied with the direction of the nation, Glock really doesn’t share the sentiment, and he puts forward a case for sunny optimism in the historical and geographical context.

In short, it turns out that for the vast majority of human history our species was living at the Malthusian level, and today Americans pursuing the consumer lifestyle never consider simple subsistence sufficient. Glock’s contention is that we live like kings, and we should appreciate this. In fact, the poorest Americans have access to miraculous technologies that would have amazed Henry VIII. Glock also points out that China, and much of the developed world, has lower fertility than the US, and we are the world’s number one magnet for skilled immigrants. In the great positional game of power, Glock reckons that the US has a good shot purely due to its demographic profile.

Moving beyond economics and onto culture, Razib and Glock discuss the differences between the present and past of American society and argue about whether the US is quite as decadent as many argue. After all, rates of teen pregnancy are down, and crime is nothing like it was in the 1970’s, so perhaps our best days aren’t behind us?