IT HAS BEEN widely noted that millions of people spend their waking hours obsessed with global warming, the perils of inequality, the scourge of toxic politics, and where and when Duchess Meghan Markle will have her baby.

Of less importance is the fact that poverty around the world is dropping. In fact, according to recent studies, as of September 2018, 3.8 billion people are now classified as middle class or rich; illiteracy, disease and deadly violence are actually receding.

Take some satisfaction in knowing life today is much better. There is hope. The problems the world faces are smaller than those it has already overcome. Why do Americans not celebrate the good news? Well, in the United States, life is improving more slowly than in poorer countries.

As an example, 200 years ago, even the richest people feared an early death by disease or infection. Today, those medical problems are usually treated with antibiotics that are readily available and cost so little that only the poor can’t afford them or can’t attain them.

It’s just our nature to focus on the things that are getting worse such as polarization, deadly opioids and the dire predictions that climate change will devastate the world within the next 50 years. Despite our advancements, they do have consequences.

The public is convinced global warming is the cause of wildfires, floods, hurricanes, famines and the erosion of the ice caps. Climate change is being hailed as the greatest threat to the survival of the human race.

Earth-orbiting satellites have enabled scientists to collect information that concludes that increases in human-caused greenhouse gases is causing the Earth to warm.

Five of the warmest years on record have taken place since 2010. The rate of Antarctica ice mass loss has tripled in the last decade.

If we act now, scientists believe we have the policy tools and the technology to avoid these worst-case scenarios at a price considerably less than 5% of the gross domestic product; we only need to have the political will to apply them.

We live in a complicated world. We take great pride in the speed, genius and brilliance of the innovation we’ve accomplished in technology, electronics, science, medicine and social media which has amazed the industrialized world.

We revel at the way we’ve disrupted the order of the world, which should have made life easier for billions of people. But that same growth rate has left billions of people behind. But brilliant minds forge ahead with even greater plans for disruption.

Technology is a massive reorganization of how we deal with each other and communicate. The field of communications has exploded and changed our culture. We are living in the information age instead of the wisdom age.

While we are better off, we still haven’t figured out how to afford health care. Millions of our citizens are unable to pay $1.6 trillion in college loans. Our aging infrastructure needs $1.5 trillion of repairs and upgrades. Drug-related problems are a crisis.

Cybersecurity is a serious headache. The national debt is near $22 trillion and growing $1 trillion a year. The world is drowning in $250 trillion of debt. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid costs are soaring. The defense budget is more than $800 billion. Illegal immigration is tearing us apart and racial issues continue to fester.

Robert Reich, the socialist left-wing zealot and liberal college professor, preaches doom and gloom for America unless it does something to temper income inequality. He advocates programs that redistribute wealth.

Reich concedes that the rich spend tons of money, but that is still a small fraction of what they earn. To keep the economy booming is dependent on the spending of the middle-working class, and the poor. Almost 80% of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck and that is not fair in a wealthy country.

The problem Reich constantly writes about isn’t that Americans are living beyond their means, it’s that their means (earnings and wages) haven’t been keeping up with the expanding economy.

Many working households are making more money, but the additional dollars no longer cover the essential needs of a family. The cost of living has soared much more than the rate of income growth.

The system isn’t working when the economy is booming, but the bottom half of the population isn’t getting a fair share of that money. Innovation and disruption has created so many new products and services that it takes lots of money to pay for them.

Reich says the economy is booming because of spending. In the United States, consumer spending constitutes about 70% of total demand. The rest comes from government and exports, otherwise, there would be no reason to produce goods and services.

Anything that disrupts spending by the masses poses a threat to the continued growth of the economy. The danger is, he says, is that the top 5% of Americans receive 90% of the benefits of the roaring economy.

He says every effort must be made to keep spending at all levels flowing and that means putting more money into the pockets of the middle class and the poor. That’s where he pounds the table for income equality and higher taxes on the wealthy.