This post is intended to counteract the funk that I was feeling (and generated) when I made my previous post. Things aren't quite as dire as I made them out to be. Yes, there is much room for improvement, both locally and globally, but this is statistically the best time in the history of humanity, so far. And the trends show that things are getting better, overall. See Hans Rosling's excellent TED presentation, where he backs this up with some powerful statistical animations (and even sword swallowing).
He does end his presentation on a sombre note - all of this progress comes at the cost of increased CO2 emissions. We need to figure out ways to improve the economic foundation of all countries, without roasting the planet.