Stories can convey, so much better than raw data can, the human effects of the increased living standards that market-driven innovation has provided us, says Steven Horwitz. He notes how the BBC and PBS series 1900 House shows what a nightmare it was to live at the turn of the twentieth century. Mothers in particular had it especially rough:
She has to get up early to make sure the range is warm enough to make breakfast, and by the time she is done cooking, serving, and cleaning up with 1900 technology, it’s time to start lunch. Dinner requires even more time. Like the washing machine and dryer, the time created by modern kitchen appliances has freed women from drudgery and created opportunities for education and leisure that were unheard of in human history.
We tend to romanticize the past, forgetting that without the labor-saving technology we take for granted previous generations—again, mostly women—were in bondage to their daily chores: