The typical person in a rich industrial country lives better in material terms than any king or duke or the wealthiest financier in 1820 or even 1870. The suburban chariot—the ubiquitous minivan—provides safer, faster, and more comfortable travel than the grandest carriage ever built. Cellular telephone owners can pull from their pocket a device that can communicate more quickly and reliably with any corner of the globe than anything available to the most powerful world leader in 1900. Nearly every house in the developed world has flush toilets connected to an amazing system of waste treatment and disposal that eliminates the stench and disease that afflicted even the wealthiest in the nineteenth century. In the age of digital recordings, people have access to a wider variety of better-performed music anywhere they travel than the richest of courts could ever provide. Health conditions have improved enormously so that nearly every child in the industrial world is born with a better chance to reach adulthood than the richest could achieve.
Lant Pricthett, Let Their People Come: Breaking the Gridlock on International Labor Mobility, Washington, D. C., 2006, p. 15