166     Chapter 13    
produced by the New Class may be a key to understanding the problem
Catholic theology of the present age has had in evangelizing the
'modern world.'
      Genuine, and global, increases in wealth -- not a mere
redistribution of it -- have been a feature of the last two hundred years,
something truly new in Man's economic life, if a recent historical
economic analysis is correct.
      For example, for the average worker, the cost of a simple but
valuable thing, light, has probably fallen a thousand-fold since his
great-grandmother's day, and light today is about 30,000 times cheaper
(in constant dollars) for the average worker than it was only two
hundred years ago. By contrast, the cost of light for an English worker
in 1800 AD was probably only about ten times less than it had been for
his Babylonian counterpart in 1800 BC.
      The cost of light for the average worker today is about 300,000
times less than it was for the average worker in 1800 BC. Between
1800 BC and 1800 AD, 3600 years of human history, for the average
worker, the cost of light probably dropped only about ten-fold. In the
last two hundred years, it has dropped a further 30,000-fold.
      The same aforementioned analysis suggests that this stupefying
real economic growth is at least in part due to increases in the
production and utilization of new knowledge. The cost of light has
dropped so dramatically in the last two hundred years, not primarily
because of increases in land, labor, or capital, but because what light is
and how it is produced has become increasingly better understood. In
other words, more than any other factor, the work of the New Class
may be the reason the average worker's lot has become so much better
-- in this analysis, 30,000 times better -- over the last two hundred
years of human history.
      The current members of the New Class, and their predecessors,
have been at least one of the principal agents for the creation of
something genuinely new under the sun. Although misery has not
vanished from the face of the earth, in many ways, for billions of
people, it is not nearly as constant a companion, and billions more are
now wealthy, not only in material goods, but in simple physical well-
being, beyond the dreams of their great-grandparents. The simple fact
of the matter is that more of the blind now see, more of the lame now
walk, more of the sick are cured of their diseases, than in any previous
time in human history. The credit for all of this belongs very
substantially to the New Class and its direct forebears.
2. Nordhaus D (1996). Do real output and real
wage measures capture reality? the history of
lighting suggest not. in: Bresnahan T, Gordon RJ,
eds. (1996). The economics of new goods.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
      The first thing that needs to be remarked is that Catholic theology
is not really set up to thank the New Class for this stupendous
achievement -- nor could Catholic theology have been so constituted.
Problem: no coherent theological
vocabulary with which to establish a
positive relation to the New Class.

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