WOW. Talk about confusing.  It seems like it would be a simple question?  Are we better off now than in the past?  Here are some of the google search title results that indicate we aren't so sure.

Are Things Getting Better or Worse?
Are You Better Off Than You Were Two Years Ago? .
Are We Better Off Under Trump? The Short Answer is No
Are Americans better off than they were a decade or two ago?
The American middle class is absolutely better off now than it ...
Are we better off than we were 4 years ago? Definitely not ...
Are You Better Off Now Than You Were 18 Months Ago?

The New Yorker reported last year on the work of cognitive scientist Steven Pinker who wrote a book called “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress,”.  he says that ..."recent studies finds that majorities in fourteen countries—Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, the U.A.E., and the United States—believe that the world is getting worse rather than better. ...This bleak assessment of the state of the world is wrong,” Pinker writes—and not just a little wrong but “wrong wrong, flat-earth wrong.”

 "he presents statistics and charts showing that, despite our dark imaginings, life has been getting better in pretty much every way....improved health care has dramatically reduced infant and maternal mortality, and children are now better fed, better educated, and less abused. Workers make more money, are injured less frequently, and retire earlier. .... Statistics show that the world is growing less polluted and has more parks and protected wilderness."

So what's to gain by painting the kind of bleak picture that so many newscasts and headlines do?  Fear and fake news can be motivators to a preferred outcome. I guess we just need to pick our expert and believe what we will.

I prefer the positive approach of Steven Pinker and the editors at Reason Magazine as presented by Fox News contributor John Stossel who reminds - "Life Is Good".