If you watch the news or read the newspapers, you may hear about how hard the American life is. Rising gas prices (fear not), the housing crisis (see picture to the left) and how all the American jobs are going overseas (even though somehow we still have one of the lowest unemployment rates in history). Not to trivialize the real and awful pain in this world, but I think it's beneficial to remember just how good we all have it.
US GDP per capita in 1820: $1,287.00
US GDP per capita in 1950: $9,573.00
US GDP per capita in 2005: $41,889.59
All in current US $ (so inflation is held constant).
That means, that since 1820, Americans are on average 32.54 times richer. UPDATE: To compare that, let's consider someone who makes 32.54 times more than the average American today. That comes to $1,363,087.26 a year! That means even if you were 8 times richer than the average person in 1820, you would still be considered below the poverty line in America today! You can even see the difference in the short run:
US Life Expectancy at birth in 1968: 70 years
US Life Expectancy at birth in 2002: 77 years
The biggest killer of Americans, heart disease, is a problem caused mostly by the abundant accessibility of food and the relative physical ease of our jobs.
And finally, the fact that I am able to put my thoughts here on this site and that you are able to read them was at one time unthinkable and is increasing still:
US Internet Users in 2000: 563.382 per 1,000 people
US Internet Users in 2005: 692.712 per 1,000 people
Most of this data comes from www.NationMaster.com