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Sunday Slosh
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Cranky Professor (q.v.) writes about supposed modern unhappiness (possibly self-induced) and how his students view themselves as morally superior in a world that is less pleasant than the past. His interesting post said, among other things, we are no better, but the world is a lot more comfortable now, and inspired the following comment from me:

There are two items we know without reading the book he cited: life expectancy has increased by about 20 years and pneumonia is no longer the #1 killer. The infant mortality rate (3rd item) has dropped drastically and that, as any woman will tell you, has improved the mental, physical and emotional well-being of roughly 50% of the population (physical because a woman no longer has to keep popping them out to replace the ones who die and can space her children out with time to recover inbetween). That she can expect her children to live and she herself to survive long enough to enjoy her grandchildren would be (and is) an enormous source of happiness, having nothing to do with moral superiority and everything to do with hygiene.

Though, on reflection, I can recall many times other people being denigrated in terms of dark skin, laziness and being dirty (as if these were perjorative descriptions somehow interrelated). So maybe in some people's minds there is a connection between hygiene and some kind of moral value.

There certainly is a connection, passed on to us by a Puritan forefathers, between wealth and virtue--you are well off, therefore God loves you (or vice versa).

OK, OK, I'll climb down off my soapbox now.

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