More from Less

By Andrew McAfee


McAfee makes a good case for his “Four Horsemen of the Optimist” being the prime drivers of the substantial and material improvement in our lives over the past two centuries. Those four are Capitalism, Technological Progress, Responsive Government and… Honestly I’ve forgotten the fourth (edit Public Awareness, apparently). The weight of the argument sits mostly with the first two, and as Dambisa Moyo of the New York Times put it, it is sadly refreshing to read an optimistic case-for and defence-of capitalism. McAfee champions markets and the price system as great drivers of progress and optimisation, whilst attention is duly given to the problem of negative externalities.

My only sticking point is that he denotes the first Earth Day in 1970 as the turning point in our attitudes - I’m a little unconvinced of that absent further evidence. As important an event as it was, those in attendance were hardly the big-hitters from Government or Business. Still, it is perhaps a useful line in the sand.

I ended up reading this one in large-part because of McAfee’s appearance on Sam Harris’ Waking Up Podcast #170 of October 2nd 2019.