Thomas Malthus

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pages: 381 words: 78,467

100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family And by Sonia Arrison

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It is difficult to predict what will happen to fertility rates in the future, and depending on which rate is factored into the assumptions, the United Nations notes that the world population could either grow or shrink.12 If we take a middle ground and assume moderate population growth owing to decreased fertility rates and increased longevity, then we should next consider whether we would have the resources needed for these additional people. FIGURE 3.1 SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, International Database, December 2010. WHY THOMAS MALTHUS WAS WRONG In his Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), Thomas Malthus advanced this thesis: “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison with the second.”13 This notion that population grows faster than the ability to provide for ourselves seems intuitive to some and was borrowed by Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich, who wrote the 1968 best-selling eco-doom book The Population Bomb.

Table of Contents Also by Sonia Arrison Title Page Dedication Foreword CHAPTER 1 - Humankind’s Eternal Quest for the Fountain of Youth IT’S OUR FAULT OVERCOMING DEATH, IMAGINING TRAGIC RESULTS FIGHTING DEATH CHAPTER 2 - How Science and Technology Will Increase Life Span REDEFINING OLD AGE SCIENCE FICTION BECOMING REALITY LEARNING FROM SALAMANDERS MANIPULATING CELLS MANIPULATING GENES THE PLASTICITY OF AGING THE SEARCH FOR AN ANTIAGING PILL GREATEST ENGINEERING PROJECT OF ALL TIME CHAPTER 3 - Mother Nature and the Longevity Revolution THE EARTH’S ABILITY TO HANDLE LONGER-LIVED HUMANS MODELING POPULATIONS WITH LONGER LIVES WHY THOMAS MALTHUS WAS WRONG OLDER, RICHER, AND CLEANER NEXT STEPS PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE VERSUS INNOVATION CHAPTER 4 - The Longevity Divide NATURE AND HUMANITY THE PRUDENCE OF AUGMENTING NATURE THREAT OF EUGENICS? RESOURCE USE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE HUMAN RIGHTS, GENETIC WARFARE, AND ECONOMIC DIVIDES INNOVATION, EXPONENTIAL GROWTH, AND DISTRIBUTION OF TECHNOLOGY WOULD OUR ANCESTORS HAVE WANTED TO LIVE LONGER?

Census Bureau, International Database, “World Population Growth Rate,” June 2009 update, www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/worldgrgraph.php. 10 Paul Hofheinz, “Gates on Technology, AIDS, and Why Malthus Was Wrong,” ZDNet, January 29, 2001, www.zdnet.com/news/gates-on-technology-aids-and-why-malthus-was-wrong/113884. 11 Mikko Myrskylä, Hans-Peter Kohler, and Francesco C. Billari, “Advances in Development Reverse Fertility Declines,” Nature 460 (August 6, 2009): 741–743, www.nature.com/nature/journal/v460/n7256/abs/nature08230.html. 12 United Nations, Department of Social and Economic Affairs, Population Division, “World Population to 2300,” 2004, www.un.org/esa/population/publications/longrange2/WorldPop2300final.pdf. 13 Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), Library of Economics and Liberty, www.econlib.org/library/Malthus/malPop1.html#I.17. 14 Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb (New York: Ballantine Books, 1968), prologue. 15 Bjorn Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 61–62. 16 Ed Regis, “The Doomslayer,” Wired, February 1997, 12, www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.02/ffsimon_pr.html. 17 Ibid. 18 These were chromium, copper, nickel, tin, and tungsten. 19 Jennifer Clapp and Peter Dauvergne, Paths to a Green World: The Political Economy of the Global Environment (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005), 103. 20 David McClintick and Ross B.


pages: 282 words: 82,107

An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage

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agricultural Revolution, amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics, Bartolomé de las Casas, British Empire, carbon footprint, Columbian Exchange, Corn Laws, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Eratosthenes, financial innovation, food miles, Haber-Bosch Process, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Louis Pasteur, Mikhail Gorbachev, special economic zone, spice trade, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, women in the workforce

The problem was that the supply of land was finite, and it was needed for other things besides agriculture: to grow wood for construction and fuel, and to accommodate Europe’s growing cities. Again, the problem was particularly acute in England, where urbanization had been most rapid. People began to worry that the population would soon outstrip the food supply. The problem was elegantly summarized by the English economist Thomas Malthus, who published An Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798. It was an extraordinarily influential work, and its main argument runs as follows: The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will shew the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.

The land supplied food crops of various kinds; wood for fuel and construction; fibers with which to make clothing; and fodder for animals, which in turn provided more food, along with other useful materials such as wool and leather. Butchers, bakers, shoemakers, weavers, carpenters, and shipbuilders depended on animal or vegetable raw materials, all of which were the products, directly or indirectly, of photosynthesis—the capture of the sun’s energy by growing plants. Since all these things came from the land, and since the supply of land was limited, Thomas Malthus concluded that there was an ecological limit that growing populations and economies would eventually run into. He first made this prediction on the eve of the nineteenth century, and he refined his argument in the following years. Yet Britain did not hit the ecological wall that Malthus anticipated. Instead, it vaulted over it and broke free of the constraints of the “biological old regime” in which everything was derived from the produce of the land.

Like Germany, it was also a big importer of nitrates, and was doing its best to extract ammonia from coal. Despite efforts to increase agricultural production, both countries relied on imported wheat. In a speech at the annual conference of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1898, William Crookes, an English chemist and the president of the association, highlighted the obvious solution to the problem. A century after Thomas Malthus had made the same point, he warned that “civilised nations stand in deadly peril of not having enough to eat.” With no more land available, and with concern growing over Britain’s dependence on wheat imports, there was no alternative but to find a way to increase yields. “Wheat preeminently demands nitrogen,” Crookes observed. But there was no scope to increase the use of manure or leguminous plants; the supply of fertilizer from coal was inadequate; and by relying on Chilean nitrate, he observed, “we are drawing on the Earth’s capital, and our drafts will not perpetually be honoured.”


pages: 279 words: 87,910

How Much Is Enough?: Money and the Good Life by Robert Skidelsky, Edward Skidelsky

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He assumes only that they will always outstrip the means at our disposal for attaining them, meaning that scarcity is a permanent feature of the human condition. If scarcity is always with us, then efficiency, the optimal use of scarce resources, and economics, the science that teaches us efficiency, will always be necessary. Yet on any commonsensical view of the matter, scarcity waxes and wanes. We know that famines are periods of extreme scarcity and good harvests produce relative plenty. Thomas Malthus understood that when population grows faster than food supplies, scarcity grows; and in the reverse case, it declines. Moreover, scarcity, as most people understand it, has diminished greatly in most societies over the last two hundred years. People in rich and even medium-rich countries no longer starve to death. All this implies that the social importance of efficiency has declined, and with it the utility of economics.

Writing before the industrial age, Smith did not think of economic progress as growth without end, but as much growth as the institutions, habits and policy of a people allowed. In fact he and his contemporaries did not talk about growth at all but about “improvement,” a term encompassing moral as well as material conditions. At the end of this road lay the “stationary state”—a state in which the possibilities of improvement were exhausted. All the classical economists had this end point in mind, at varying degrees of affluence. Smith’s two famous successors, Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo, were much less optimistic than Smith himself. Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population (1798, 1826) was written to challenge William Godwin’s utopian claim that property redistribution would make possible abundance for all. Its logic was straightforwardly cyclical. Without strenuous moral “checks,” population would inevitably outstrip the land available to support it: variations in population pressure would determine cycles of rising and falling incomes.

Our own aspiration is to persuade by joy, to present a vision of the good life as one to be pursued not from guilt or fear of retribution but in happiness and hope. Limits to Growth Keynes looked forwards to a final end of growth, a point at which all material wants are definitively satisfied. Others, more pessimistic, have postulated a limit to growth, an external barrier to further progress. Thomas Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population, mentioned in Chapter 2, is the first and classic statement of this point of view. Malthus’s argument is beguilingly simple. It starts from two certainties: the finitude of the earth and the existence of a certain “passion between the sexes.” The earth’s ability to bring forth food is inherently limited. Field can be added to field, but sooner or later a point of maximum capacity will be reached.


pages: 561 words: 87,892

Losing Control: The Emerging Threats to Western Prosperity by Stephen D. King

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Admiral Zheng, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, capital controls, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Diane Coyle, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, income inequality, income per capita, inflation targeting, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, low skilled workers, market clearing, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Naomi Klein, new economy, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, price stability, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, spice trade, statistical model, technology bubble, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working-age population, Y2K, Yom Kippur War

The case for government in general is famously well expressed in Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, where the ‘state of nature’ gives rise to continuous wars leaving human lives ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’. Even the best of governments, however, have difficulties coming up with policies that work in the international arena. 11. Thomas Malthus (ed. G. Gilbert), An Essay on the Principle of Population (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1993), p. 18. 12. For an attempt to rehabilitate Thomas Malthus, read Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2007). 13. From The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. For an update on Marx and globalization, see Meghnad Desai’s Marx’s Revenge: The Resurgence of Capitalism and the Death of Statist Socialism (Verso, London, 2002). 14.

And how are those choices to be expressed in a world where markets are increasingly connected but where individual nations wish to preserve their sovereignty? BACK TO THE CLASSICAL ECONOMISTS With scarce resources, there’s no particular reason why higher living standards should always be achievable, no matter how market-friendly an economy might be. How, then, have some societies managed to perform what would seem to be a remarkable trick? If resources are scarce, how have living standards consistently risen? How has the curse of Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), author of An Essay on the Principles of Population (first published in 1798), been sidestepped? Is Western progress really just the result of market forces? Malthus’s arguments were, as far as I can tell, based on his view that labourers had voracious sexual appetites. In his words, ‘in all societies, even those that are most vicious, the tendency to a virtuous attachment is so strong that there is a constant effort towards an increase of population.

Even though the fertility rate has dropped rapidly since the 1970s – partly a reflection of China’s one-child policy and the much wider use of contraception across the region as a whole – the decline has not been fast enough to prevent a population explosion. In the early 1950s, East Asia had a population of fewer than 700 million. Half a century later, the population had more than doubled. DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDENDS AND DEFICITS These numbers, although impressive, say little about the economic consequences of demographic change. Ever since Thomas Malthus first wrote his Essay on the Principle of Population, there has been a heated debate over whether changes in population size are bad for welfare (the Malthusian subsistence argument), good for welfare (what might be termed the human ingenuity argument) or entirely neutral for welfare (the income per capita rather than total income argument). Yet each of these positions misses the main economic point.


pages: 330 words: 77,729

Big Three in Economics: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes by Mark Skousen

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Albert Einstein, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business climate, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, delayed gratification, experimental economics, financial independence, Financial Instability Hypothesis, full employment, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, means of production, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, open economy, paradox of thrift, price stability, pushing on a string, rent control, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school choice, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, unorthodox policies

The classical gold/silver standard restrains the state from depreciating the currency and provides a stable monetary environment in which the economy may flourish. As we shall see, the classical model of Adam Smith would repeatedly come under attack over the centuries by friends and foes alike. Adam Smith and the Age of Economists Adam Smith was not perfect by any means. He led disciples David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus down the wrong road with his crude labor theory of value, his critique of landlords, his strange distinction between "productive" and "unproductive" labor, and his failure to recognize the fundamental principle of subjective marginal utility in price theory. But these are parenthetical deviations that were unfortunately magnified by the classical economists and distort his overwhelming positive contribution to economic science.

The genius of Adam Smith was his development of an economic system of "natural liberty" that could bring about a peaceful, equitable, and universal opulence. Smith's model of universal prosperity was encouraged initially by mist, "I cannot get over the difficulty of the wine which is kept in a cellar for 3 or 4 years, or that of the oak tree, which perhaps had not 2/- expended on it in the way of labour, and yet comes to be worth £100" (Vivo 1987, 193). Even Thomas Malthus disagreed with his friend, writing, "neither labour nor any other commodity can be an accurate measure of real value in exchange" (Ricardo 1951, 416). Economists over the years have had difficulty understanding Ricardo's "corn model" and his Principles textbook, especially the twisted assumptions he required to prove his theories. Ricardo once remarked that only twenty-five people in the entire country could understand it.

How far they can go with such unstable policies without creating a major global financial crisis remains to be seen. The price of gold is a valuable monitor of global economic instability, and it has been rising lately. Environmentalism is a major subject of debate. How can nations grow and increase their standards of living without destroying the air, polluting the water, devastating the forests, and causing global warming? The debate goes back to Thomas Malthus (chapter 2) and is related to historical and present-day concerns over unlimited growth and limited resources. In this ecological debate, economists, while not alarmists, have made numerous contributions to minimizing pollution and other environmental problems. To solve the "tragedy of the commons," for example, market economists have emphasized the need to establish defensive resource rights in water, fishing, and forestland, so that owners have the proper incentives to preserve these resources in a balanced way.


pages: 421 words: 120,332

The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future by Laurence C. Smith

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Bretton Woods, BRICs, clean water, Climategate, colonial rule, deglobalization, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, energy security, flex fuel, global supply chain, Google Earth, guest worker program, Hans Island, hydrogen economy, ice-free Arctic, informal economy, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, land tenure, Martin Wolf, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, purchasing power parity, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, side project, Silicon Valley, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, urban planning, Washington Consensus, Y2K

One billion is more than triple the 2010 population of the United States, the third most populous country on Earth. Imagine a world in which we added one-plus USA, or two Pakistans, or three Mexicos, every four years. . . . Actually, this requires no imagination at all. It is reality. We will add our seventh billion some time in 2011. This extraordinary acceleration, foreseen over two centuries ago by Thomas Malthus,13 burst into popular culture again in 1968 when Paul Ehrlich, then a young biology professor at Stanford, jolted the world with The Population Bomb, a terrifying book forecasting global famines, “smog deaths,” and massive human die-offs if we didn’t somehow control our numbers.14 He became a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and his ideas almost certainly helped nudge China toward its “One-Child” population control policy implemented in 1979.

As we saw in Chapter 1, urbanization, modernization, and the empowerment of women push fertility rates downward, thus ushering in the final stage of the Demographic Transition. Put another way, the urbanization of society—if also associated with modernization and women’s rights—helps slow the rate of growth. There are, of course, exceptions to this tendency, but as these phenomena continue to expand throughout the developing world, the global population explosion so feared by Thomas Malthus and Paul Ehrlich is expected to decelerate. Already, in late-stage, low-immigration developed countries like Japan and Italy, and in regions like Eastern Europe, populations have not only stabilized but are falling. Assuming that fertility rates continue to drop as they are now, we are heading toward a total world population of around 9.2 billion in 2050, at which point we will still be growing but about half as fast as we are today.78 One of the most profound long-term effects of women having fewer babies is to skew societal age structures toward the elderly (the pulse of babies from population momentum is only temporary).

What does this portend for our third global force, demand for natural resources? Do we face oil wars and crazy steel prices? Stump forests and dried-up water wells? Are we about to run out of the raw materials our cities and mechanized farmlands so desperately need? Are We Running Out of Resources? The debate over natural resources, and whether we are running out of them, is a contentious and surprisingly ancient debate. Even Aristotle wrote about it. In 1798 Thomas Malthus’ first edition of An Essay on the Principle of Population argued that the exponential growth of human population, set against the arithmetic growth in the area of arable land, must ultimately lead us to outstrip our food supply, thus inevitably dragging us toward a brutal world of famines and violence.95 Among Malthus’ more odious ideas was that social programs are pointless because they enable poor people to have more babies, thus making the problem worse.


pages: 250 words: 88,762

The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World by Tim Harford

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, colonial rule, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, European colonialism, experimental economics, experimental subject, George Akerlof, income per capita, invention of the telephone, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, law of one price, Martin Wolf, mutually assured destruction, New Economic Geography, new economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, women in the workforce

Early humans, too, seem to have divided up jobs between hunters and gatherers, presumably along the same lines. Neanderthals, apparently, did not: Men, women, and children all behaved like human males, hunting reindeer and mastodons. So much for the past. Now, what about the future? ECONOMISTS ARE TYPICALLY wrong about the future, but few have ever been as spectacularly, famously, and lucklessly wrong as Thomas Malthus. Malthus, a fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, and a parson at Oke-wood church, near Albury, produced his most famous work in 1798: An Essay on the Principle of Population. Malthus offered two “postulata”: “First, That food is necessary to the existence of man. Secondly, That the passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state.” In other words, people will always need to eat and they’ll never stop having kids.

(London: Macmillan, 1920), book 4, chapter 10, www.econ lib.org/LIBRARY/Marshall/marP24.html. Marshall’s idea was intuitive: Marshall’s idea was also mathematically convenient. David Warsh, Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations (New York: Norton, 2006), chapter 7, explains the mathematical appeal of Marshall’s “externalities.” Economists were starting to realize that contrary to the dismal predictions of Thomas Malthus, the world was getting richer rather than running out of everything. The explanation was “increasing returns.” The world wasn’t running out of food or energy or space. Instead, more people, more investment, and larger firms made things cheaper. Marshall realized that if individual firms enjoyed increasing returns to scale, the mathematics of modeling them would be formidably complicated, and logically the world would be dominated by monopolists.

Shogren, “How Trade Saved Humanity from Biological Exclusion: An Economic Theory of Neanderthal Extinction,” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 58, no. 1(September 2005): 1–29. Neanderthals, apparently, did not: “Mrs. Adam Smith,” Economist, December 9, 2006. Also Steven L. Kuhn and Mary C. Stiner, “What’s a Mother to Do? The Division of Labor Among Neanderthals and Modern Humans in Eurasia,” Current Anthropology 47, no. 6(December 2006): 953–80, www.journals.uchicago.edu/CA/journal/issues/v47n6/066001/066001.web.pdf. “First, That food is necessary”: Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1798. “from one million B.C. to 1990”: Kremer, “Population Growth and Technological Change.” The end of the last ice age: ibid. Also see Clark, Farewell to Alms, chapter 7. Most commodity prices: Julian Simon, The State of Humanity (Boston: Blackwell, 1995). ABOUT THE AUTHOR TIM HARFORD is a member of the Financial Times editorial board.


pages: 355 words: 63

The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics by William R. Easterly

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Andrei Shleifer, business climate, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, clean water, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, financial repression, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, inflation targeting, interchangeable parts, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, large denomination, manufacturing employment, Network effects, New Urbanism, open economy, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, urban sprawl, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War

To many, population growth catastrophically imperils the prosperity of poor nations, if not the very lives of their inhabitants. Conversely, control of population through family planning-using condoms during sex tobe explicit-will promote the prosperityof poor nations. Population is an old concern in economics. Thomas Malthus in the early nineteenth century famously saw exponential population growth outracing food production, which he said would lead to a major population correction in the form of widespread famines. The latter-day incarnation of Thomas Malthus is Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich in his famous cri de coeur of 1968, The PopuZation Bomb, foresaw that within a decadeafter his writing, famines would sweep ”repeatedly across Asia, Africa, and South America,” killing perhaps as many asone-fifth of the world’s population.’

He noted that this principle suggests a positive relationship between initial populationandsubsequentpopulation growth.28 A higher initial populationmeansmore idea creation, more people to use the idea, and more people to share the fixed cost of implementing the idea. The benefits to society then should make possible the support of more new babies, and so population growth Cash for Condoms? 95 should increase. This prediction is in stark contrast to the Thomas Malthus-Paul Ehrlich-Lester Brown principlethathigher initial population will lead to a population crash as famine sets in.So who is right: Boserup or Malthus? Kremer pointed out that the evidence of the very long run is in favor of Boserup. World population has been growing steadilyover time, from 125,000 in 1 million B.c., to 4 million in 10,000 B.c.,to 170 million at the time of the Christ, to about 1 billion at the time of Mozart, to 2billion at the timeof the Great Depression, to 4 billion at the time of Watergate, to 6 billion today.29 And population growth has been accelerating, not falling.


pages: 190 words: 61,970

Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty by Peter Singer

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Branko Milanovic, Cass Sunstein, clean water, experimental economics, illegal immigration, Martin Wolf, microcredit, Peter Singer: altruism, pre–internet, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Silicon Valley, Thomas Malthus, ultimatum game, union organizing

The Planet Can’t Hold Them When speaking to audiences about global poverty, I’m often challenged along the following lines: “Saving the lives of poor people now will only mean that more will die when the population eventually crashes because our planet has long passed its carrying capacity.” The challenge is evidence of the continuing relevance of the thought of the eighteenth-century English economist and clergyman Thomas Malthus, who famously claimed that population would always outstrip food supplies. If epidemics and plagues did not keep human population in check, he wrote, then “gigantic inevitable famine” would do so.24 Two centuries later, in 1968, entomologist Paul Ehrlich warned in his bestseller The Population Bomb that we had lost the battle to feed humanity. He predicted that by 1985 the world would be swept by “vast famines” in which “hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.”25 Fortunately, he was wrong.

Jeffrey Sachs, “Rapid Victories Against Extreme Poverty,” Scientific American 296:4 (April 2007), p. 34, www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=5B978D32-E7F2-99DF-304C9630D4CE6254. 22. Jeffrey Sachs, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (New York: Penguin, 2008), pp. 238-41; www.millenniumvillages.org. 23. “Millennium Villages: A New Approach to Fighting Poverty: FAQ,” www.unmillenniumproject.org/mv/mv_faq.htm; “The Magnificent Seven,” The Economist, April 26, 2006, p. 63. 24. Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1st edition, 1798. 25. Paul Ehrlich, “Paying the Piper,” New Scientist 36:652-55, reprinted in Garrett Hardin, ed., Population, Evolution, and Birth Control, 2nd ed. (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1969), p. 127. See also Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb (New York: Ballantine, 1968), p. 36. 26. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, World Agriculture: Towards 201512030, Rome, 2002, p. 1, ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/004/y3557e/y3557e01.pdf 27.


pages: 235 words: 65,885

Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines by Richard Heinberg, James Howard (frw) Kunstler

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anti-communist, back-to-the-land, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demographic transition, ending welfare as we know it, energy transition, Fractional reserve banking, greed is good, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, land reform, means of production, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-oil, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, urban planning

Many reviewers have emphasized the infectious zaniness of the play, seemingly missing its explicit message — idealism and good intentions are insufficient responses to problems of population pressure and resource depletion. Maybe that’s just as well: Urinetown succeeds so well as comedy and theater that even people utterly immune to its insights still have a good time; thus more people are drawn to see it, including those who do “get it.” Thomas Malthus 1766-1834. What’s the significance of the play’s last line, “Hail Malthus!”? Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) was a British political economist who theorized that unchecked population growth must eventually outstrip increases in food production. He is most famous for the Essay on Population (1798), in which he explained in simple terms the connection between population pressure and human misery. The following passage from “The History of Economic Thought” website summarizes his ideas succinctly:Actual (checked) population growth is kept in line with food supply growth by “positive checks” (starvation, disease and the like, elevating the death rate) and “preventive checks” (i.e. postponement of marriage, etc. that keep down the birthrate), both of which are characterized by “misery and vice.”


pages: 235 words: 62,862

Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders, and a 15-Hour Workweek by Rutger Bregman

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autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Branko Milanovic, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Graeber, Diane Coyle, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Gilder, happiness index / gross national happiness, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, income inequality, invention of gunpowder, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, low skilled workers, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, precariat, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, stem cell, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wage slave, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, wikimedia commons, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey

To all appearances, it was a great success: Hunger and hardship decreased and, more importantly, revolt was nipped in the bud. In the same period, however, some were raising doubts about the wisdom of aiding the poor. In his 1786 Dissertation on the Poor Law, the vicar Joseph Townsend had already, almost a decade before Speenhamland, warned that “it is only hunger which can spur and goad them on to labour; yet our laws have said, they shall never hunger.” Another clergyman, Thomas Malthus, elaborated on Townsend’s ideas. In the summer of 1798, on the eve of the Industrial Revolution, he described “the great difficulty” on the road to progress, “that to me appears insurmountable.” His premise was twofold: (1) Humans need food to survive, and (2) The passion between the sexes is ineradicable. His conclusion? Population growth will always exceed food production. According to the pious Malthus, sexual abstinence was the only thing that could prevent the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from descending to spread war, famine, disease, and death.

In 2012 nearly 1.5 million households, including 2.8 million children, were living in “extreme poverty” on less than $2 per person per day. See: Gabriel Thompson, “Could You Survive on $2 a Day?” Mother Jones (December 13, 2012). http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/extreme-poverty-unemployment-recession-economy-fresno 8. The Reading Mercury (May 11, 1795). http://www1.umassd.edu/ir/resources/poorlaw/p1.doc 9. This concerns the plague. See: Thomas Malthus, “An Essay on the Principle of Population” (1798). http://www.esp.org/books/malthus/population/malthus.pdf 10. For simplicity’s sake I refer to David Ricardo as an “economist,” but in his own day he was considered a “political economist.” As the chapter on GDP explains, modern economists are a 20th century invention. 11. Report from His Majesty’s Commissioners for inquiring into the Administration and Practical Operation of the Poor Laws (1834), pp. 257-61. http://www.victorianweb.org/history/poorlaw/endallow.html 12.


pages: 464 words: 116,945

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business climate, California gold rush, call centre, central bank independence, clean water, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, falling living standards, fiat currency, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Food sovereignty, Frank Gehry, future of work, global reserve currency, Guggenheim Bilbao, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, microcredit, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, peak oil, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wages for housework, Wall-E, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

Imagined physically, the enormous expansions in physical infrastructures, in urbanisation, in workforces, in consumption and in production capacities that have occurred since the 1970s until now will have to be dwarfed into insignificance over the coming generation if the compound rate of capital accumulation is to be maintained. Take a look at a map of the city nearest you in 1970 and contrast it with today and then imagine what it will look like when quadrupled in size and density over the next twenty years. But it would be a serious error to assume that human social evolution is governed by some mathematical formula. This was the big mistake made by Thomas Malthus when he first advanced his principle of population in 1798 (roughly the same time when Richard Price and others were celebrating – if that is the right word – the power of exponential growth in human affairs). Malthus’s arguments are directly relevant to the issue at hand, while they also provide a cautionary tale. He argued that human populations, like all other species, had the tendency to increase at an exponential (that is, compounding) rate, while food output could at best increase only arithmetically given the conditions of agricultural productivity then prevailing.

First, capital has a long history of successfully resolving its ecological difficulties, no matter whether these refer to its use of ‘natural’ resources, the ability to absorb pollutants or to cope with the degradation of habitats, the loss of biodiversity, the declining qualities of air, land and water, and the like. Past predictions of an apocalyptic end to civilisation and capitalism as a result of natural scarcities and disasters look foolish in retrospect. Throughout capital’s history far too many doomsayers have cried ‘wolf’ too fast and too often. In 1798 Thomas Malthus, as we have seen, erroneously predicted social catastrophe (spreading famine, disease, war) as exponential population growth outran the capacity to increase food supplies. In the 1970s Paul Ehrlich, a leading environmentalist, argued that mass starvation was imminent by the end of the decade, but it did not occur. He also bet the economist Julian Simon that the price of natural resources would soon dramatically increase because of natural scarcities: he lost the bet.1 Because such predictions – and there have been many of them – turned out wrong in the past does not guarantee, of course, that a catastrophe is not in the making this time.

The Thelluson case is described in Hudson, The Bubble and Beyond. 4. Cited in Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 3, Harmondsworth, Penguin, p. 519. 5. Angus Maddison, Phases of Capitalist Development, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1982; Contours of the World Economy, 1–2030 AD, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007. 6. Bradford DeLong, ‘Estimating World GDP, One Million B.C.–Present’. Estimates given in Wikipedia entry on Gross World Product. 7. Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992. 8. McKinsey Global Institute, ‘The World at Work: Jobs, Pay and Skills for 3.5 Billion People’, Report of the McKinsey Global Institute, 2012. 9. Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, Kalamazoo, Black & Red, 2000. 10. Alvin Toffler, The Third Wave: The Classic Study of Tomorrow, New York, Bantam, 1980. 11.


pages: 740 words: 217,139

The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama

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Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, currency manipulation / currency intervention, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, invention of agriculture, invention of the printing press, Khyber Pass, labour market flexibility, land reform, land tenure, means of production, offshore financial centre, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, principal–agent problem, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Scramble for Africa, spice trade, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, Washington Consensus

STRONG ABSOLUTISM WHY DIDN’T ENGLAND END UP LIKE HUNGARY? GETTING TO DENMARK PART FIVE - Toward a Theory of Political Development 29 - POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT AND POLITICAL DECAY THE BIOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF POLITICS IDEAS AS CAUSE THE GENERAL MECHANISM OF POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT SPANDRELS EVERYWHERE INSTITUTIONS POLITICAL DECAY VIOLENCE AND THE DYSFUNCTIONAL EQUILIBRIUM 30 - POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT, THEN AND NOW THOMAS MALTHUS POLITICS IN A MALTHUSIAN WORLD DEVELOPMENT UNDER CONTEMPORARY CONDITIONS THE MODERN DEVELOPMENT PARADIGM WHAT HAS CHANGED ACCOUNTABILITY TODAY WHAT COMES NEXT ALSO BY FRANCIS FUKUYAMA NOTES BIBLIOGRAPHY ACKNOWLEDGMENTS INDEX A NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR Copyright Page PREFACE This book has two origins. The first arose when my mentor, Samuel Huntington of Harvard University, asked me to write a foreword to a reprint edition of his 1968 classic, Political Order in Changing Societies.1 Huntington’s work represented one of the last efforts to write a broad study of political development and was one I assigned frequently in my own teaching.

A wealthier peasant or landowner would lend money to a poorer one; a single bad season or crop failure would then reduce the debtor to serfdom or slavery, with the forfeiture of his family’s property.5 Over time, the advantages of greater wealth became self-reinforcing, since larger landowners could then buy influence in the political system to protect and expand their holdings. This is why the anachronistic application of contemporary property rights theory to historical situations leads to fundamental misunderstandings. Many economists believe that strong property rights promote growth because they protect private returns to investment, thereby stimulating investment and growth. But economic life in Han Dynasty China resembled the world described by Thomas Malthus in his Essay on the Principle of Population much more than the world that has existed since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution of the last two hundred years.6 Today, we expect increases in labor productivity (output per person) as the result of technological innovation and change. But before 1800, productivity gains were much more episodic. The invention of agriculture, the use of irrigation, the invention of the printing press, gunpowder, and long-distance sailing ships all led to productivity gains,7 but between them there were prolonged periods when population growth increased and per capita income fell.

It cannot be explained as the outgrowth of a general process of economic development, and we should not necessarily expect to see non-Western societies following a similar sequence. We need, then, to disaggregate the political, economic, and social dimensions of development, and understand how they relate to one another as separate phenomena that periodically interact. We need to do this, not least because the nature of these relationships is very different now than it was under the historical conditions of a Malthusian world. THOMAS MALTHUS The world changed very dramatically after approximately the year 1800, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Before then, economic growth in the form of continuously increasing productivity based on technological change could not be taken for granted. Indeed, it barely existed at all. This is not to say that there weren’t important increases in productivity taking place before 1800.


pages: 370 words: 112,602

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo

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Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Cass Sunstein, charter city, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, congestion charging, demographic transition, diversified portfolio, experimental subject, hiring and firing, land tenure, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, microcredit, moral hazard, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thomas Malthus, urban planning

WHAT IS WRONG WITH LARGE FAMILIES? Richer countries have lower population growth. For example, a country like Ethiopia, where the total fertility rate is 6.12 children per woman, is fifty-one times poorer than the United States, where the total fertility rate is 2.05. This strong relationship has convinced many, including academics and policy makers, of the validity of an old argument first popularized by the Reverend Thomas Malthus, a professor of history and political economy at the East India Company College, near London, at the turn of the eighteenth century. Malthus believed that the resources countries have are more or less fixed (his favorite example was land), and he therefore thought that population growth was bound to make them poorer.5 By this logic, the Black Death, believed to have killed half of Britain’s population between 1348 and 1377, should get credit for the high-wage years that followed.

Gwatkin,“Political Will and Family Planning:The Implications of India’s Emergency Experience,” Population and Development Review 5 (1): 29–59 (1979), which is the source of this account of the forced sterilization episode during the Emergency. 2 John Bongaarts, “Population Policy Options in the Developing World,” Science 263 (5148) (1994): 771—776. 3 Jeffrey Sachs, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (New York: Allen Lane/Penguin, 2008). 4 World Health Organization, Water Scarcity Fact File, 2009, available at http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/water/en/. 5 Thomas Malthus, Population: The First Essay (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1978). 6 Alywn Young, “The Gift of the Dying: The Tragedy of AIDS and the Welfare of Future African Generations,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 120 (2) (2005): 243–266. 7 Jane Forston, “HIV/AIDS and Fertility,” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 1 (3) (July 2009): 170–194; and Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, “AIDS, ‘Reversal’ of the Demographic Transition and Economic Development: Evidence from Africa,” NBER Working Paper W12181 (2006). 8 Michael Kremer, “Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 108 (3) (1993): 681–716. 9 Gary Becker, “An Economic Analysis of Fertility,” Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries (Princeton: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1960). 10 Sachs, Common Wealth. 11 Vida Maralani, “Family Size and Educational Attainment in Indonesia: A Cohort Perspective,” California Center for Population Research Working Paper CCPR-17-04 (2004). 12 Mark Montgomery, Aka Kouamle, and Raylynn Oliver, The Tradeoff Between Number of Children and Child Schooling: Evidence from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana (Washington, DC: World Bank, 1995). 13 Joshua Angrist and William Evans, “Children and Their Parents’ Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size,” American Economic Review 88 (3) (1998): 450–477. 14 Joshua Angrist, Victor Lavy, and Analia Schlosser, “New Evidence on the Causal Link Between the Quantity and Quality of Children,” NBER Working Paper W11835 (2005). 15 Nancy Qian, “Quantity-Quality and the One Child Policy: The Positive Effect of Family Size on School Enrollment in China,” NBER Working Paper W14973 (2009). 16 T.


pages: 377 words: 97,144

Singularity Rising: Surviving and Thriving in a Smarter, Richer, and More Dangerous World by James D. Miller

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23andMe, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, Asperger Syndrome, barriers to entry, brain emulation, cloud computing, cognitive bias, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Netflix Prize, neurotypical, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, phenotype, placebo effect, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture

I hope that I have convinced you by this point that learning about intelligence enhancement is well worth your time. But why should you read this particular book, given that its author is an economist and not a scientist or an engineer? One reason is that I will use economic analysis to predict how probable changes in technology will affect society. For example, the theories of nineteenth-century economists David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus provide insights into whether robots might take all of our jobs (Ricardo) and why the creation of easy-to-copy emulations of human brains might throw mankind back into a horrible pre-Industrial Revolution trap (Malthus). Economics also sheds light on many less-significant economic effects of an advanced AI, such as the labor-market consequences if sexbots cause many men to forgo competing for flesh-and-blood women.

But Robin, ever the bullet-eater, refuses to turn away from his conclusion. Robin thinks that in the long run, emulations will drive wages down to almost zero, pushing most of the people who are unfortunate enough to rely on their wages into starvation—because emulations will kick us back into a “Malthusian trap.” MALTHUSIAN TRAP Arguably, humanity’s greatest accomplishment was escaping the Malthusian trap. Thomas Malthus, a nineteenth-century economist, believed that starvation would ultimately strike every country in the entire world. Malthus wrote that if a population is not facing starvation, people in that population will have many children who grow up, get married, and have even more children. A country with an abundance of food, Malthus wrote, is one with an increasing population. Unfortunately, in Malthus’s time, as the size of a country’s population went up, it became more difficult to feed everyone in the country.


pages: 353 words: 98,267

The Price of Everything: And the Hidden Logic of Value by Eduardo Porter

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Asian financial crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, British Empire, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Credit Default Swap, Deng Xiaoping, Edward Glaeser, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, guest worker program, happiness index / gross national happiness, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, informal economy, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, means of production, Menlo Park, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, new economy, New Urbanism, pension reform, Peter Singer: altruism, pets.com, placebo effect, price discrimination, price stability, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, superstar cities, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, ultimatum game, unpaid internship, urban planning, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, Yom Kippur War, young professional

Data on fertility, poverty, and religious fervor in the United States is drawn from Census Bureau, Fertility of American Women 2006 (www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/p20-558.pdf, accessed 08/19/2010); Census Bureau, State Median Family Income 2007 (www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/statemedfaminc.html. , accessed 08/19/2010); and Frank Newport, “Religious Identity: States Differ Widely,” Gallup Report, August 7, 2009 (www.gallup.com/poll/122075/religious-identity-states-differ-widely.aspx, accessed 07/19/2010). 201-205 The Price of the Future: The description of the Reverend Thomas Malthus is drawn from Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers, revised 7th edition (New York: Touchstone, 1999), pp. 75-104. Malthus’s quote is in Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population: or, A View of Its Past and Present Effects on Human Happiness (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 42-43. Carlyle’s quote is in Thomas Carlyle, Chartism (New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1847), p. 383. The description of the collapse of ancient civilizations draws from Jared Diamond, “The Last Americans: Environmental Collapse and the End of Civilization,” Harper’s, June 2003; and James Brander and M.


pages: 361 words: 105,938

The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester

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British Empire, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, mortgage debt, spinning jenny, the market place, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, trade route, traveling salesman

An impressive roll call of luminaries chose over the years to become associated with or full members of the various new bodies—the Bath and West of England Society, the Bath Agricultural Society, the Bath Philosophical Society, the Literary Society, and today’s successors to them all, the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution and the Royal Bath and West of England Society (now based in Shepton Mallet). There was Joseph Priestley (who discovered oxygen); Thomas Malthus (the economist and population expert), Sir William Herschel (who discovered Uranus* lurking way at the back of the solar system), Humphry Davy (who discovered sodium and potassium), and one Augustus Voelcker, a German, who was a specialist in the chemistry of cheese and set up a school to teach cheesemaking in Wells, nearby. And on December 22, 1796, it was announced at the annual meeting that, elected unanimously in consequence of his growing reputation for canal making, his expertise in farming, and his keen new interest in his unromantic freelance business of solving problems with the drainage of fields, membership of the Bath and West of England Society was gained by one of the least noble and least gently born men in the city, the blacksmith’s son from Oxfordshire, William Smith.

But the young man’s interests were in fact wider and more catholic by far than those of a typical ducal employee: He soon left Woburn (sacked by an incoming duke) and became an expert musician (and a chorister of note), a mathematician whose work (on the curious properties of vulgar fractions) is still known today, and a contributor to encyclopedias on such topics as astronomy, engineering, the history of pacifism, the design of steam engines, the decimalization of currencies, and the population theories of Thomas Malthus. He was also hugely interested in and stimulated by Smith, and traveled with him frequently as a devoted acolyte and apprentice in those early years of the century, learning theories and techniques that he was eventually to put to good use on his own account. Rather too good, Smith was eventually to complain bitterly—in an incident that illustrates the growing problems, some real, others merely the consequence of his perception, that were beginning to cloud Smith’s life.


pages: 391 words: 102,301

Zero-Sum Future: American Power in an Age of Anxiety by Gideon Rachman

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Asian financial crisis, bank run, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bonfire of the Vanities, borderless world, Bretton Woods, BRICs, capital controls, centre right, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, currency manipulation / currency intervention, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, energy security, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, global reserve currency, greed is good, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, income inequality, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, laissez-faire capitalism, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, offshore financial centre, open borders, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, RAND corporation, reserve currency, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Sinatra Doctrine, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Myth of the Rational Market, Thomas Malthus, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent

It was not that they necessarily doubted the scientific evidence, although some did. It was that many believed technology would solve the problem. The Economist epitomized this mood in an article on environmental scares published in December 1997. “Forecasters of scarcity and doom,” the magazine announced, are “invariably wrong.” It traced the history of environmental scares all the way from Thomas Malthus’s predictions of impending famine in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries up to contemporary predictions that the world was running out of oil or food. As the article illustrated, forecasters of scarcity and doom had consistently failed to anticipate how new technologies would solve the problems that worried them. So, for example, the Green Revolution in agriculture had confounded the neo-Malthusians of the twentieth century.

In 2007, the year before the financial crisis hit, the world price of basic foodstuffs rose by 50 percent.8 Several countries were shaken by riots over rising food prices, including Mexico, Indonesia, and China. Indeed Hillary Clinton, the American secretary of state, claimed in 2009 that there had been food riots in more than sixty countries over the previous two years, adding, “Massive hunger poses a threat to the stability of governments, societies and borders.”9 Ever since Thomas Malthus first predicted that a rising population would provoke famine, gloomy predictions about food shortages have always eventually been confounded by technological advances, which have ensured that supply has kept pace with demand. Over the long term, that may well prove to be the case again. But over the next decade, a resumption of global economic growth, combined with uncertain weather linked to climate change, is likely to provoke further destabilizing spikes in food prices.


pages: 523 words: 148,929

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku

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agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, blue-collar work, British Empire, Brownian motion, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, DARPA: Urban Challenge, delayed gratification, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hydrogen economy, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, industrial robot, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, megacity, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, Turing machine, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Wall-E, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Review, X Prize

And in the twentieth century, the world population soared to new heights, more than doubling from 1950 to 1992: from 2.5 billion to 5.5 billion. It now stands at 6.7 billion. Every year, 79 million people join the human race, which is more than the entire population of France. As a result, many predictions of doomsday have been made, yet so far humanity has been able to dodge the bullet. Back in 1798, Thomas Malthus warned us what would happen when the population exceeded the food supply. Famines, food riots, the collapse of governments, and mass starvation could ensue until a new equilibrium is found between population and resources. Since the food supply expands only linearly with time, while the population grows exponentially, it seemed inevitable that at some point the world would hit the breaking point.

See Longevity Life-­forms, artificial creation of Life in space, search for, 6.­1, 8.­1 Life in 2100 dating, 9.­1, 9.­2, 9.­3, 9.­4 global warming and godlike power for humans, itr.­1, itr.­2 home life longevity questions, 9.­1, 9.­2 marriage and family life medical care, 9.­1, 9.­2 remodeling shopping, 9.­1, 9.­2 sports and games vacations work life Life on Mars, artificial establishment of Life’­s origins Lilienthal, David LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) Lloyd, Seth Locomotive technology Longevity aging process caloric restriction and entropy and evolutionary perspective on genetics of, 3.­1, 3.­2 metabolism and methods for life extension popular interest in population expansion and resveratrol and telomeres of a cell and in 2100, 9.­1, 9.­2 youth preservation and Luria, A.­ R.­ Luttwak, Edward Lutz, Robert Maes, Pattie Maglev trains and cars, 5.­1, 9.­1 Magnetic energy, 5.­1, 9.­1 Magnetic field to create nuclear fusion Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as mind-reading technology, 1.­1, 1.­2, 1.­3 replicators and reverse engineering the brain and Mallouk, Thomas Malthus, Thomas Mammoth resurrection Markram, Henry Marquess, Ron Marriage and family life in 2100 Mars landing/­colonization Martel, Sylvain Martian moon landing Matrix movies, 2.­1, 7.­1 Maxwell, James Clerk McGinnis, Dave McRae, Hamish, 7.­1, 7.­2, 7.­3 Medicine/­biotechnology augmented reality and brain injury treatments cancer screening cancer therapies, 1.­1, 3.­1, 3.­2, 4.­1, 9.­1 Cave Man Principle and cloning, 3.­1, 3.­2 computers and creating new life-­forms curing all diseases, 3.­1, 8.­1 depression treatments designer children, 3.­1, 3.­2, 3.­3 far future (2070), 3.­1, 9.­1, 9.­2 gene therapy, 3.­1, 3.­2 genetic enhancements genomic medicine germ warfare memory enhancement, 3.­1, 3.­2 midcentury (2030) Moore’­s law and muscle disorder treatments nanotechnology and near future (present to 2030) nightmare scenarios quantum theory and resurrecting extinct life-­forms robotics and, 2.­1, 2.­2, 2.­3 side effects of biotech revolution spinal cord injury treatments stem cell technology surgery three stages of tissue engineering (organ replacement), 3.­1, 3.­2 virtual reality and See also Longevity Memory enhancement, 3.­1, 3.­2 Men in Black (movie) “­Merger of Flesh and Machine, The”­ (Brooks) Merrill Lynch company Methane gas, 5.­1, 6.­1 Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), 4.­1, 4.­2 Middle class, planetary Miesenbö­ck, Gero Miller, Webb Mind-­body problem Mind reading EEG and MRI technology for ethics of Kaku’­s brain scan mini-­MRI machines photographing of dreams Mining operations on other worlds Minsky, Marvin, 2.­1, 2.­2, 2.­3 Mischel, Walter Modha, Dharmendra Modular robots, 2.­1, 4.­1 Mohamad, Mahathir Moon landing/colonization, 6.­1, 6.­2 Moore, Gordon, 1.­1, 4.­1 Moore’s law computers and, 1.­1, 1.­2, 1.­3, 4.­1 medicine and nanotechnology and, 4.­1, 4.­2 Moravec, Hans, 2.­1, 2.­2, 2.­3 More, Sir Thomas Morfoot, Linda Morphing Moses, Edward MRI-­MOUSE Muscle disorder treatments Musical robots Music industry Myrabo, Leik Najmabadi, Farrokh, 5.­1, 5.­2 Nanobots, 4.­1, 4.­2, 4.­3 Nanocars Nanoparticles, 4.­1, 4.­2 Nanorods Nanostarships Nanotechnology carbon nanotubes, 4.­1, 6.­1 commercial applications today computers and DNA chips energy for molecular machines far future (2070) manipulation of individual atoms medicine and midcentury (2030) Moore’s law and, 4.­1, 4.­2 nanomachines in our bodies near future (present to 2030) potential of quantum theory and shape-­shifting technology space travel and, 6.­1, 6.­2 See also Replicators National Ignition Facility (NIF) Neanderthal resurrection Neecke, Nikolas Neumann, John von, 2.­1, 2.­2 Neural networks News broadcasting Newspaper industry Newton, Isaac, itr.­1, 6.­1, 7.­1 New York Times Nicolelis, Miguel A.­


pages: 420 words: 124,202

The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention by William Rosen

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Albert Einstein, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, barriers to entry, collective bargaining, computer age, Copley Medal, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, delayed gratification, Fellow of the Royal Society, Flynn Effect, fudge factor, full employment, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, iterative process, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, moral hazard, Network effects, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Simon Kuznets, spinning jenny, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, éminence grise

The best estimates for human productivity (a necessarily vague number) calculate annual per capita GDP, expressed in constant 1990 U.S. dollars, fluctuating between $400 and $550 for seven thousand years. The worldwide per capita GDP in 800 BCE3—$543—is virtually identical to the number in 1600. The average person of William Shakespeare’s time lived no better than his counterpart in Homer’s. The first person to explain why the average human living in the seventeenth century was as impoverished as his or her counterpart in the seventh was the English demographer Thomas Malthus, whose Essay on the Principle of Population demonstrated that throughout human history, population had always increased faster than the food supply. Seeking the credibility of a mathematical formula (this is a constant trope in the history of social science), he argued that population, unless unchecked by war, famine, epidemic disease, or similarly unappreciated bits of news, always increased geometrically, while the resources needed by that population, primarily food, always increased arithmetically.* The “Malthusian trap”—the term has been in general use for centuries—ensured that though mankind regularly discovered or invented more productive ways of feeding, clothing, transporting or (more frequently) conquering itself, the resulting population increase quickly consumed all of the surplus, leaving everyone in precisely the same place as before.

Smith’s theorems did a spectacular job of explaining the self-regulating character of a free market, in which prices and profits are forced by competition to the lowest possible level.* They inspired David Ricardo’s exposition, in 1817, of the principle of diminishing returns: his argument that the growth of the first decades of industrialization was certain to level off, as each successive improvement produced smaller results. Helped along by the inflation in food prices caused by the Napoleonic Wars, they even set the stage for Thomas Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population, with its famous argument that population always grows geometrically, food production arithmetically. What they didn’t do was explain how wealth, profit, and competition can all grow over time. In short, it didn’t explain the two centuries of growth that were beginning just as Wealth of Nations was being published. It is in no way a criticism of the book to state that it covered everything except the reason the author’s own nation was about to get wealthier than any other nation in the history of mankind.


pages: 437 words: 115,594

The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World by Steven Radelet

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Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, business climate, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, colonial rule, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, income inequality, income per capita, invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, land reform, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil shock, out of africa, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, special economic zone, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, women in the workforce, working poor

But I have not mentioned the biggest threats of all: growing pressure on the planet from population growth, resource demand, and climate change; growing economic and political tensions from the rise of China; simmering threats from terrorism; and the possibility that these pressures could lead to significant environmental degradation and increases in violence and war. This combination would lead not just to development diminished, but to development derailed and progress reversed. It is to these growing threats that I now turn. TWELVE FUTURE 3—PROGRESS DERAILED: CLIMATE AND CONFLICT HALT DEVELOPMENT The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. —Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1798 When a powerful storm destroyed her riverside home in 2009, Jahanara Khatun lost more than the modest roof over her head. In the aftermath, her husband died and she became so destitute that she sold her son and daughter into bonded servitude. And she may lose yet more. Ms. Khatun now lives in a bamboo shack that sits below sea level about 50 yards from a sagging berm.

Democracy begins to be reversed, either because some leaders grab the opportunity of slowing progress to seize power, or because others committed to progress are unable to deliver on the promise of greater prosperity and get tossed out. Democracy is seen as a failed experiment, and dictators rise again. For more than two centuries, people have predicted that the combination of growing population, increased demand for resources, and environmental and ecological damage will lead to famine, war, and a reversal of progress. This view dates back at least to the great English cleric and scholar Thomas Malthus, captured in the quotation at the beginning of this chapter. Malthus argued in 1798 that “the passion between the sexes” was so strong that world population was destined to grow much faster than food supplies. Specifically, he argued that global population would increase geometrically, while food production could grow only arithmetically. The planet could not sustain a rapidly growing population, he believed, and sooner or later population growth would have to be checked by famine, disease, conflict, or another catastrophe.


pages: 494 words: 132,975

Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics by Nicholas Wapshott

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airport security, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, British Empire, collective bargaining, complexity theory, cuban missile crisis, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, if you build it, they will come, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, means of production, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, New Journalism, Northern Rock, price mechanism, pushing on a string, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trickle-down economics, War on Poverty, Yom Kippur War

Hayek then addressed an element missing from Cantillon and Hume, “the influence of the quantity of money on the rate of interest, and through it on the relative demand for consumers’ goods on the one hand and producers’ or capital goods on the other.”30 A glut of money tended to lower the price of borrowing, which caused consumer goods to increase in price while making saving less attractive. He traced how the relationship between money and interest rates had been explored by thinkers such as Henry Thornton,31 David Richard,32 and Thomas Tooke,33 and how the link between money and capital, in the shape of “forced savings,” was addressed by Jeremy Bentham, Thomas Malthus,34 John Stuart Mill,35 Léon Walras,36 Knut Wicksell, and Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk. In drawing attention to what he perceived as a flaw in Wicksell’s logic, Hayek took a swipe at the central assumption in Keynes’s Treatise on Money,37 that if the “natural rate” of interest and the “market rate” of interest were identical, prices would remain stable.38 Exactly why he disagreed with Wicksell—and Keynes—Hayek promised to expand on in a later lecture.

., p. 199. 29 Richard Cantillon (1680–1734), Irish-French economist who referred to the “natural” behavior of the economy and the notion that economies tended toward an equilibrium. 30 Hayek, Prices and Production, p. 205. 31 Henry Thornton (1760–1815), English economist and member of Parliament. 32 David Ricardo (1772–1823), English economist. 33 Thomas Tooke (1774–1858), English economist who lent his name to the chair of economics that Hayek was awarded as a result of his LSE lectures. 34 Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), English economist. 35 John Stuart Mill (1806–73), English philosopher, political theorist, economist, and member of Parliament. 36 Marie-Esprit-Léon Walras (1834–1910), French economist. 37 It is not known whether Hayek had read Keynes’s Treatise, published in December 1930, by the time he delivered his first lecture at the LSE in February 1931. 38 Hayek, Prices and Production, p. 215. 39 Ibid., pp. 217–218. 40 Ibid., p. 219. 41 Ibid., pp. 220–221. 42 Ibid., p. 241. 43 Ludwig von Mises, Theorie des Geldes und der Umlaufsmittel (Duncker & Humblot, Munich, 1912) p. 431. 44 Hayek, Prices and Production, p. 272. 45 Ibid., p. 273. 46 Ibid., p. 275. 47 Ibid., p. 299. 48 Ibid., p. 288. 49 Ibid. 50 Ibid., p. 290. 51 Ibid., p. 298. 52 Ibid. 53 Robbins, Autobiography of an Economist, p. 127. 54 John Cunningham Wood and Robert D.


pages: 225 words: 54,010

A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright

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Albert Einstein, Atahualpa, Bretton Woods, British Empire, clean water, Columbian Exchange, cuban missile crisis, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, invention of agriculture, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, nuclear winter, out of africa, Parkinson's law, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Malthus, urban sprawl

The invention of agriculture is itself a runaway train, leading to vastly expanded populations but seldom solving the food problem because of two inevitable (or nearly inevitable) consequences. The first is biological: the population grows until it hits the bounds of the food supply. The second is social: all civilizations become hierarchical; the upward concentration of wealth ensures that there can never be enough to go around. The economist Thomas Malthus explored the first dilemma, and thinkers from Christ to Marx have touched on the second. As the Chinese saying has it: “A peasant must stand a long time on the hillside with his mouth open before a roast duck flies in.” Civilization is an experiment, a very recent way of life in the human career, and it has a habit of walking into what I am calling progress traps. A small village on good land beside a river is a good idea; but when the village grows into a city and paves over the good land, it becomes a bad idea.


pages: 168 words: 50,647

The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom Without the 9-To-5 by Taylor Pearson

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Airbnb, barriers to entry, Black Swan, call centre, cloud computing, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Google Hangouts, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, means of production, Oculus Rift, passive income, passive investing, Peter Thiel, remote working, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, software is eating the world, Startup school, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, telemarketer, Thomas Malthus, Uber and Lyft, unpaid internship, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, Whole Earth Catalog

We’ve reached the carrying capacity of the planet. As the planet’s population continues to expand, we’ll be faced with an inability to produce enough food. Mass starvation will eventually bring the population back to sustainable levels, which is not comforting to those who don’t make the cut. His conclusion is based on undisputed historical data, verified by sources across the globe. The British economist was Thomas Malthus and the study was the Essay on Principle of Population, which he penned two hundred years ago in 1798. Malthus believed population growth was such a powerful force that eventually it would outpace man’s ability to keep up, resulting in a return to subsistence level conditions. More and more people would be born into a world that couldn’t possibly keep up with feeding them. So far, Malthus’s prediction hasn’t panned out.


pages: 219 words: 63,495

50 Future Ideas You Really Need to Know by Richard Watson

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23andMe, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, BRICs, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, digital Maoism, Elon Musk, energy security, failed state, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, germ theory of disease, happiness index / gross national happiness, hive mind, hydrogen economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, life extension, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peak oil, personalized medicine, phenotype, precision agriculture, profit maximization, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Florida, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, semantic web, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, smart transportation, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, supervolcano, telepresence, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Turing test, urban decay, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, women in the workforce, working-age population, young professional

Given the need for land and the pressure to reduce transportation, high-rise farms will perhaps be built in the middle of cities such as London and New York. It’s forecast that food production globally will have to increase by 50 percent by 2030 and to double by the year 2050 to feed the planet’s rapidly growing population. If this is true, it presents something of a challenge, but we have been here before to some extent. Back in the late 1700s and early 1800s Thomas Malthus predicted that the world would run into severe trouble because agricultural production would not be able to keep pace with population growth. He was absolutely right about population growth, but totally wrong about agricultural productivity and the ways in which free-market mechanisms respond to demand. Once again we are on the cusp of serious trouble in terms of resources, especially food, but once again one suspects that human imagination will save the day, especially over the longer term.


pages: 226 words: 59,080

Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science by Dani Rodrik

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airline deregulation, Albert Einstein, bank run, barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, butterfly effect, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collective bargaining, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, distributed generation, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial deregulation, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, fudge factor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, loss aversion, low skilled workers, market design, market fundamentalism, minimum wage unemployment, oil shock, open economy, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, school vouchers, South Sea Bubble, spectrum auction, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, ultimatum game, University of East Anglia, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, white flight

If wages rose too much above this level, the result would be an increase in population—because more children could survive—and in the labor force. As a consequence, wages would drop back down to their “natural” level. The main beneficiaries of economic advances and technological progress would therefore be owners of land, which was in finite supply. It was this kind of thinking, associated in particular with Thomas Malthus, that led the nineteenth-century essayist Thomas Carlyle to famously call economics the “dismal science.” Marx, whose influence would extend well into the twentieth century, also adhered to the labor theory of value. He, too, believed that wages were held down. But in his theory the culprits were capitalists who exploited workers and managed to discipline them through the “reserve army of the unemployed.”


pages: 225 words: 189

The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War by Robert D. Kaplan

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Berlin Wall, clean water, Deng Xiaoping, edge city, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global village, Honoré de Balzac, Peace of Westphalia, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Malthus, trade route, unemployed young men, Yom Kippur War

It consists now of a series of coastal trading posts, such as Freetown and Conakry, and an interior that, owing to vi­ olence, volatility, and disease, is again becoming, as Graham Greene once observed, "blank" and "unexplored." However, whereas Greene's vision implies a certain romance, as in the somnolent and charmingly seedy Freetown of his celebrated novel The Heart of the Matter, it is Thomas Malthus, the philoso­ pher of demographic doomsday, who is now the prophet of West Africa's future. And West Africa's future, eventually, will also be that of most of the rest of the world. CONSIDER "CHICAGO." I refer not to Chicago, Illinois, but to a slum district of Abidjan, which the young toughs in the area 10 / THE COMING ANARCHY have named after the American city. ("Washington" is another poor section of Abidjan.)


pages: 194 words: 49,310

Clock of the Long Now by Stewart Brand

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Albert Einstein, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, Danny Hillis, Eratosthenes, Extropian, fault tolerance, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, life extension, nuclear winter, pensions crisis, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, Thomas Malthus, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog

It’s a bother, it’s a boon, it’s a discipline; it’s a given. “What people mean by the word technology,” says computer designer Alan Kay, “is anything invented since they were born.” Computer designer Danny Hillis counters, “What people mean by the word technology is the stuff that doesn’t really work yet.” Technology is both the problem and its own solution. No wonder it obsesses us. The gathering acceleration of history was noted in the 1790s by Thomas Malthus and in 1909 by Henry Adams, who wrote, The world did not double or treble its movement between 1800 and 1900, but, measured by any standard . . . the tension and vibration and volume and so-called progression of society were fully a thousand times greater in 1900 than in 1800—the force had doubled ten times over, and the speed, when measured by electrical standards as in telegraphy, approached infinity, and had annihilated both space and time.

Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order by Noam Chomsky

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Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, declining real wages, deindustrialization, full employment, invisible hand, joint-stock company, land reform, manufacturing employment, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, Ronald Reagan, strikebreaker, structural adjustment programs, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, union organizing, Washington Consensus

All of this is very natural in a society that is, to an unusual degree, business-run, with huge expenditures on marketing: $1 trillion a year, one-sixth of gross domestic product, much of it tax-deductible, so that people pay for the privilege of being subjected to manipulation of their attitudes and behavior. But the great beast is hard to tame. Repeatedly it has been thought that the problem has been solved, and that the “end of history” has been reached in a kind of utopia of the masters. One classic moment was at the origins of neoliberal doctrine in the early nineteenth century, when David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, and other great figures of classical economics announced that the new science had proven, with the certainty of Newton’s laws, that we only harm the poor by trying to help them, and that the best gift we can offer the suffering masses is to free them from the delusion that they have a right to live. The new science proved that people had no rights beyond what they can obtain in the unregulated labor market.


pages: 204 words: 67,922

Elsewhere, U.S.A: How We Got From the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms,and Economic Anxiety by Dalton Conley

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3D printing, call centre, clean water, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Edward Glaeser, extreme commuting, feminist movement, financial independence, Firefox, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, late capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, McMansion, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, oil shock, PageRank, Ponzi scheme, positional goods, post-industrial society, Post-materialism, post-materialism, principal–agent problem, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War

Here I must confess to years of screaming at my wife for trying to involve the kids in her work life as well as yelling at her to turn off her cell phone during “family time.” I was wrong, and she was right (on average, for professional parents, perhaps, with a host of other caveats as well). But I can’t bring myself to apologize in the main text, so I am relegating this to an end-note. 5. Jun Fletcher, “For Mansion Owners, A Little-Noticed Tax Break,” The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 1997. 6. The fundamental paradox in agrarian societies was identified by Thomas Malthus: Food production increased arithmetically (gradually) but human populations increase geometrically (i.e., like rabbits multiplicatively). This fact, according to Malthus, would yield a situation of near-constant human misery. Any improvement in agricultural technology would lead humans to have more babies and thus erase any improvement in living standards. We were doomed to cycles of mass starvation, war, and pestilence—all of which were necessary to cull the population.


pages: 369 words: 80,355

Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room by David Weinberger

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airport security, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, book scanning, Cass Sunstein, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, David Brooks, Debian, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, future of journalism, Galaxy Zoo, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, invention of the telegraph, jimmy wales, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, linked data, Netflix Prize, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, openstreetmap, P = NP, Pluto: dwarf planet, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Republic of Letters, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, slashdot, social graph, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize

Simpson, Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2009). 11 Mary Poovey, A History of the Modern Fact (University of Chicago, 1998). 12 The title of the work in which Bacon lays this out—Novum Organum—is a reference to Aristotle’s Organum. 13 See Chapter 3 of Barry Gower’s Scientific Method (Routledge, 1997), http://books.google.com/books?id=D3rV2t2XkWYC&pg=PA40&lpg=PA40. 14 Ibid., p. 49. 15 Poovey traces the role of interests to Hobbes and following thinkers. 16 Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, Vol. 1 (first edition). This is online at http://www.econlib.org/library/Malthus/malPop1.html. 17 Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, p. 229. 18 “Chimney Sweepers’ Regulation Bill,” Hansard 39 (February 16, 1819): 448–454, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1819/feb/17/chimney-sweepers-regulation-bill. 19 Sir Llewellyn Woodward, The Age of Reform 1815–1870, 2nd ed.


pages: 274 words: 66,721

Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Shaped the Modern World - and How Their Invention Could Make or Break the Planet by Jane Gleeson-White

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, British Empire, carbon footprint, corporate governance, credit crunch, double entry bookkeeping, full employment, Gordon Gekko, income inequality, invention of movable type, invention of writing, Islamic Golden Age, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, means of production, Naomi Klein, Ponzi scheme, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, spice trade, spinning jenny, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, traveling salesman, upwardly mobile

In defence of Sombart, however, Eve Chiapello responds to his critics by suggesting that the links between capitalism and accounting are not so much historical as conceptual, that capitalism could only ‘be born conceptually’ thanks to double entry—which makes sense of the fact that the only historical links between accounting and capitalism that are outlined by Sombart and also affirmed by historians occur from the second half of the eighteenth century until the end of the nineteenth. It was during this period that the social science of political economy was born, that the work of Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo was published (and influenced Marx’s thinking during the same era). The emerging social sciences looked to accounting for their foundations. It was double entry that allowed economists to build the models they used to analyse economies and revealed to Marx the building blocks of nineteenth-century industrial production and management. And it was Sombart who took up Marx’s analysis and used it to develop the concept of ‘capitalism’, a term he popularised in Der moderne Kapitalismus.


pages: 281 words: 79,958

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives by Michael Specter

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agricultural Revolution, Anne Wojcicki, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Drosophila, food miles, invention of gunpowder, out of africa, personalized medicine, placebo effect, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Simon Singh, Skype, stem cell, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Upton Sinclair, X Prize

It doesn’t take a visionary, however, to understand that the other five billion or so residents of this world, more than half of whom live on less than two dollars a day, can’t afford organic products, and lack the land it would take to grow them. Farmers in developing countries often see their crops rot in the fields long before they can be eaten or rushed across rutted dirt roads to markets many hours away. To those people, the Western cult of organic food is nothing more than a glorious fetish of the rich world—one with the power to kill them. IT’S HARD to find anything positive to say about Thomas Malthus. After all, his dour view of the world has consistently been proven wrong. In 1798, he argued that the earth’s population was rising exponentially and the food supply necessary to feed it was not. He famously promised “famine . . . the last, the most dreadful resource of nature.” It took another 125 years for the world’s population to double, but only fifty more for it to double again. Somehow, though, the food supply remained adequate.


pages: 309 words: 78,361

Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth by Juliet B. Schor

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Asian financial crisis, big-box store, business climate, carbon footprint, cleantech, Community Supported Agriculture, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, deskilling, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Gini coefficient, global village, income inequality, income per capita, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, life extension, McMansion, new economy, peak oil, pink-collar, post-industrial society, prediction markets, purchasing power parity, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, sharing economy, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, smart grid, The Chicago School, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, Zipcar

Wilfred Beckerman, claiming to speak for the field, expressed what “most of my economist colleagues have always known,” that “the problem of environmental pollution is a simple matter of correcting a minor resource misallocation.” Beckerman overstated the case, but he was right that the discipline has historically tended to optimism about the environment and is adept at creating narratives about why solutions for environmental problems will naturally emerge. Economists have seen the very idea of ecological limits as a rehash of the discredited theories of the early nineteenth-century political economist Thomas Malthus. Malthus believed that population growth would outrun increases in agricultural productivity, so that food production would fail to keep up with mouths to feed. He foresaw rising poverty and famines. The standard view is that he got it wrong, given the tremendous increases in agricultural productivity and the demographic transition toward lower birth rates. (With a sixth of the world’s population, or a billion people, already hungry, 1.4 billion living in one-dollar-per-day poverty, rising food prices, and intensifying competition for land between energy and food uses, one might be forgiven for wondering if the case against Malthus isn’t absolutely closed.)


pages: 252 words: 73,131

The Inner Lives of Markets: How People Shape Them—And They Shape Us by Tim Sullivan

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Airbnb, airport security, Al Roth, Andrei Shleifer, attribution theory, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Brownian motion, centralized clearinghouse, clean water, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, continuous double auction, deferred acceptance, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, experimental subject, first-price auction, framing effect, frictionless, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, helicopter parent, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, late fees, linear programming, Lyft, market clearing, market design, market friction, medical residency, multi-sided market, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pez dispenser, pre–internet, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, proxy bid, RAND corporation, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, school choice, school vouchers, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, technoutopianism, telemarketer, The Market for Lemons, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, uranium enrichment, Vickrey auction, winner-take-all economy

Generations of economists that followed—collectively referred to by economic historian Heilbroner as “the worldly philosophers”—extended Smith’s ideas. These early economists aimed to tackle big questions about how the economy worked (and whether it could be made to work better), weighing in on such important matters as market function (and dysfunction), the origin of value, business cycles, and unemployment. It was set in motion by Smith and carried on for one hundred years thereafter by the classical economists—David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, Karl Marx, Vilfredo Pareto, among others. It was continued for nearly one hundred years more by neoclassical economists like Thorstein Veblen, John Maynard Keynes, and an enduring hero of free-market proponents, Joseph Schumpeter. Pareto, who lived from 1848 until 1923, is emblematic of both the worldliness and precision of these towering figures in the history of economic thought. He was well experienced in matters of business but also well schooled in the language of math that was already deployed to describe economics and commerce.


pages: 284 words: 79,265

The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date by Samuel Arbesman

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Wiles, bioinformatics, British Empire, Chelsea Manning, Clayton Christensen, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, David Brooks, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Galaxy Zoo, guest worker program, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, index fund, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, life extension, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Nicholas Carr, p-value, Paul Erdős, Pluto: dwarf planet, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, social graph, social web, text mining, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation

In an analysis worthy of someone as well traveled as Doctor Who, Kremer shows that the growth of human population over the history of the world is consistent with how technological change happens. Kremer does this in an elegant way, making only a small set of assumptions. First he states that population growth is limited by technological progress. This is one of those assumptions that has been around since Thomas Malthus, and it is based on the simple fact that as a population grows we need more technology to sustain the population, whether through more efficient food production, more efficient waste management, or other similar considerations. Conversely, Kremer also states that technological growth should be proportional to population size. If invention occurs at the same rate for each person, the more people there are, the more innovation there should be.


pages: 272 words: 76,089

Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium by Carl Sagan

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Albert Einstein, anti-communist, clean water, cosmic abundance, dark matter, demographic transition, Exxon Valdez, F. W. de Klerk, germ theory of disease, invention of agriculture, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Mikhail Gorbachev, pattern recognition, planetary scale, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, stem cell, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus

After the invention of agriculture—including the planting and harvesting of those grains of wheat the Grand Vizier was hankering for—the human population of this planet began increasing, entering an exponential phase, which is very far from a steady state. Right now the doubling time of the world population is about 40 years. Every 40 years there will be twice as many of us. As the English clergyman Thomas Malthus pointed out in 1798, a population increasing exponentially—Malthus described it as a geometrical progression—will outstrip any conceivable increase in food supply. No Green Revolution, no hydroponics, no making the deserts bloom can beat an exponential population growth. There is also no extraterrestrial solution to this problem. Right now there are something like 240,000 more humans being born than dying every day.

The Economic Singularity: Artificial intelligence and the death of capitalism by Calum Chace

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, call centre, Chris Urmson, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flynn Effect, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, lump of labour, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, McJob, means of production, Milgram experiment, Narrative Science, natural language processing, new economy, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, post scarcity, post-industrial society, precariat, prediction markets, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Rodney Brooks, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, working-age population, Y Combinator, young professional

[xxv] During the early 19th century, when the industrial revolution was in full swing, most members of the newly-established social science of economics argued that any unemployment caused by the introduction of machinery would be resolved by the growth in overall economic demand. But there were prominent figures who took the more pessimistic view, that innovation could cause long-term unemployment. They included Thomas Malthus, John Stuart Mill, and even the most respected economist of the time, David Ricardo.[xxvi] The Luddite fallacy and economic theory The debate can get quite technical, but there are two reasons why it has been correct to reject the Luddite fallacy up until now. The first reason is economic theory: companies introduce machines because they increase production and cut costs. This increase in supply builds up the wealth in the economy as a whole, and hence the demand for labour.


pages: 801 words: 242,104

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

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clean water, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Donner party, European colonialism, Exxon Valdez, illegal immigration, job satisfaction, means of production, new economy, North Sea oil, Piper Alpha, polynesian navigation, profit motive, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Stewart Brand, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transcontinental railway, unemployed young men

I acknowledge, however, that Maya archaeologists still disagree vigorously among themselves—in part, because the different strands evidently varied in importance among different parts of the Maya realm; because detailed archaeological studies are available for only some Maya sites; and because it remains puzzling why most of the Maya heartland remained nearly empty of population and failed to recover after the collapse and after regrowth of forests. With those caveats, it appears to me that one strand consisted of population growth outstripping available resources: a dilemma similar to the one foreseen by Thomas Malthus in 1798 and being played out today in Rwanda (Chapter 10), Haiti (Chapter 11), and elsewhere. As the archaeologist David Webster succinctly puts it, “Too many farmers grew too many crops on too much of the landscape.” Compounding that mismatch between population and resources was the second strand: the effects of deforestation and hillside erosion, which caused a decrease in the amount of useable farmland at a time when more rather than less farmland was needed, and possibly exacerbated by an anthropogenic drought resulting from deforestation, by soil nutrient depletion and other soil problems, and by the struggle to prevent bracken ferns from overrunning the fields.

In fact, it has been exploding recently for many reasons: the adoption of crops native to the New World (especially corn, beans, sweet potatoes, and manioc, alias cassava), broadening the agricultural base and increasing food production beyond that previously possible with native African crops alone; improved hygiene, preventive medicine, vaccinations of mothers and children, antibiotics, and some control of malaria and other endemic African diseases; and national unification and the fixing of national boundaries, thereby opening to settlement some areas that were formerly no-man’s lands fought over by adjacent smaller polities. Population problems such as those of East Africa are often referred to as “Malthusian,” because in 1798 the English economist and demographer Thomas Malthus published a famous book in which he argued that human population growth would tend to outrun the growth of food production. That’s because (Malthus reasoned) population growth proceeds exponentially, while food production increases only arithmetically. For instance, if a population’s doubling time is 35 years, then a population of 100 people in the year 2000, if it continues to grow with that same doubling time, will have doubled in the year 2035 to 200 people, who will in turn double to 400 people in 2070, who will double to 800 people in the year 2105, and so on.


pages: 753 words: 233,306

Collapse by Jared Diamond

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clean water, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Donner party, European colonialism, Exxon Valdez, illegal immigration, job satisfaction, means of production, new economy, North Sea oil, Piper Alpha, polynesian navigation, prisoner's dilemma, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Stewart Brand, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transcontinental railway, unemployed young men

I acknowledge, however, that Maya archaeologists still disagree vigorously among themselves—in part, because the different strands evidently varied in importance among different parts of the Maya realm; because detailed archaeological studies are available for only some Maya sites; and because it remains puzzling why most of the Maya heartland remained nearly empty of population and failed to recover after the collapse and after regrowth of forests. With those caveats, it appears to me that one strand consisted of population growth outstripping available resources: a dilemma similar to the one foreseen by Thomas Malthus in 1798 and being played out today in Rwanda (Chapter 10), Haiti (Chapter 11), and elsewhere. As the archaeologist David Webster succinctly puts it, "Too many farmers grew too many crops on too much of the landscape." Compounding that mismatch between population and resources was the second strand: the effects of deforestation and hillside erosion, which caused a decrease in the amount of useable farmland at a time when more rather than less farmland was needed, and possibly exacerbated by an anthropogenic drought resulting from deforestation, by soil nutrient depletion and other soil problems, and by the struggle to prevent bracken ferns from overrunning the fields.

In fact, it has been exploding recently for many reasons: the adoption of crops native to the New World (especially corn, beans, sweet potatoes, and manioc, alias cassava), broadening the agricultural base and increasing food production beyond that previously possible with native African crops alone; improved hygiene, preventive medicine, vaccinations of mothers and children, antibi-otics, and some control of malaria and other endemic African diseases; and national unification and the fixing of national boundaries, thereby opening to settlement some areas that were formerly no-man's lands fought over by adjacent smaller polities. Population problems such as those of East Africa are often referred to as "Malthusian," because in 1798 the English economist and demographer Thomas Malthus published a famous book in which he argued that human population growth would tend to outrun the growth of food production. That's because (Malthus reasoned) population growth proceeds exponentially, while food production increases only arithmetically. For instance, if a population's doubling time is 35 years, then a population of 100 people in the year 2000, if it continues to grow with that same doubling time, will have doubled in the year 2035 to 200 people, who will in turn double to 400 people in 2070, who will double to 800 people in the year 2105, and so on.


pages: 828 words: 232,188

Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy by Francis Fukuyama

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Atahualpa, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, British Empire, centre right, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, conceptual framework, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Snowden, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, invention of the printing press, iterative process, knowledge worker, land reform, land tenure, life extension, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, means of production, Menlo Park, Mohammed Bouazizi, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, new economy, open economy, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, Port of Oakland, post-industrial society, Post-materialism, post-materialism, price discrimination, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, stem cell, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, women in the workforce, World Values Survey

We can trace some of the more important linkages by outlining the sequence of events that took place in the wake of the industrialization of England, the United States, and other early modernizers. FIGURE 1 HOW THE WORLD CHANGED AFTER 1800 The rate of economic growth accelerated dramatically around the year 1800 with the takeoff of the Industrial Revolution. Prior to that moment, which corresponds to the historical period covered in the first volume of this book, much of the world lived under the conditions described by the English writer Thomas Malthus, whose 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population painted a gloomy picture in which population growth would outstrip economic resources in the long run. Figure 2 shows an estimate of per capita income over an eight-hundred-year period in England, where the Industrial Revolution started. The hockey-stick shape of the curve, and the sudden transition to a much higher rate of growth, reflects the fact that the later period saw continual year-on-year increases in productivity that vastly outstripped the rate of population growth.

In the days when the markets for such skills and services were localized due to the high costs of communications and transportation, there were plenty of openings for people farther down the hierarchy because mass audiences did not have access to the best of the best. But today, anyone can attend a performance by the Metropolitan Opera or the Royal Ballet live on a high-definition screen, which many would watch in preference to a third- or fourth-tier local company.13 MALTHUS REVISITED Thomas Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population had the bad luck to be published in 1798, on the eve of the Industrial Revolution, just as a technological tsunami was gathering force. His prediction that human population growth would outstrip increases in productivity proved very wrong in the two centuries that followed, and human societies succeeded in enriching themselves on a per capita basis to a historically unprecedented degree.


pages: 777 words: 186,993

Imagining India by Nandan Nilekani

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affirmative action, BRICs, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, clean water, colonial rule, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, farmers can use mobile phones to check market prices, full employment, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, global supply chain, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, informal economy, joint-stock company, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, land reform, LNG terminal, load shedding, Mahatma Gandhi, market fragmentation, Mikhail Gorbachev, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, open economy, pension reform, Potemkin village, price mechanism, race to the bottom, rent control, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, smart grid, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, unemployed young men, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

It is only recently that the country has been able to look its billion in the eye and consider its advantages. “Millions on an anthill” For most of the twentieth century, people both within and outside India viewed us through a lens that was distinctly Malthusian. As a poor and extremely crowded part of the world, we seemed to vindicate Thomas Malthus’s uniquely despondent vision—that great population growth inevitably led to great famine and despair. The time that Thomas Malthus, writer, amateur economist and clergyman(the enduring term history gave him would be “the gloomy parson”), lived in may have greatly influenced his theory on population. Nineteenth-century England was seeing very high birth rates, with families having children by the baker’s dozen. Malthus—who, as the second of eight children, was himself part of the population explosion he bemoaned—predicted in his An Essay on the Principle of Population that the unprecedented increases in population would lead to a cycle of famines, of “epidemics, and sickly seasons.”


pages: 846 words: 232,630

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life by Daniel C. Dennett

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, buy low sell high, cellular automata, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, Danny Hillis, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, finite state, Gödel, Escher, Bach, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, non-fiction novel, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine, Turing test

Today we can readily enough imagine proving Darwin's first case — the brute historic fact of descent with modification — quite independently of any consideration of Natural selection or indeed any other mechanism for bringing these brute events about, but for Darwin the idea of the mechanism was both the {40} hunting license he needed, and an unwavering guide to the right questions to ask.1 The idea of natural selection was not itself a miraculously novel creation of Darwin's but, rather, the offspring of earlier ideas that had been vigorously discussed for years and even generations (for an excellent account of this intellectual history, see R. Richards 1987). Chief among these parent ideas was an insight Darwin gained from reflection on the 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population by Thomas Malthus, which argued that population explosion and famine were inevitable, given the excess fertility of human beings, unless drastic measures were taken. The grim Malthusian vision of the social and political forces that could act to check human overpopulation may have strongly flavored Darwin's thinking (and undoubtedly has flavored the shallow political attacks of many an anti-Darwinian), but the idea Darwin needed from Malthus is purely logical.

Darwin came to see how to distribute it in vast spaces of Nonmind, thanks to his ideas about how design innovations could be conserved and reproduced, and hence accumulated. The idea that Design is something that has taken work to create, and {73} hence has value at least in the sense that it is something that might be conserved (and then stolen or sold), finds robust expression in economic terms. Had Darwin not had the benefit of being born into a mercantile world that had already created its Adam Smith and its Thomas Malthus, he would not have been in position to find ready-made pieces he could put together into a new, value-added product. (You see, the idea applies to itself very nicely.) The various sources of the Design that went into Darwin's grand idea give us important insights into the idea itself, but do no more to diminish its value or threaten its objectivity than the humble origins of methane diminish its BTUs when it is put to use as a fuel. 4.


pages: 257 words: 94,168

Oil Panic and the Global Crisis: Predictions and Myths by Steven M. Gorelick

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California gold rush, carbon footprint, energy security, energy transition, flex fuel, income per capita, invention of the telephone, meta analysis, meta-analysis, North Sea oil, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, price stability, profit motive, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, statistical model, Thomas Malthus

“FTC Head Opposes Anti-Gouging Law; Says Regulation Would be Hard to Enforce and Could Cause Fuel Shortages,” CBS/AP, May 23, 2006, www. cbsnews.com/stories/2006/05/22/business/main1639514.shtml 3 The Historical Resource Depletion Debate Global oil depletion can be viewed in the context of long-standing concerns that humans have relied so heavily on Earth’s natural resources that we are surely going to run out of some essential natural commodities. There are classical historical arguments that have been used to support the notion of natural-resource exhaustion and the scientific basis for the decline in global oil production. The oil depletion debate has occurred in the context of repeated panics that the world is entering an oil-supply crisis. Has the crisis finally arrived? The Malthusian Doctrine In 1798, Thomas Malthus, a 32-year-old British economist and demographer, published An Essay on the Principle of Population as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society. There, he argued that society as it was then known was not sustainable: … I say, that the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. … Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio.


pages: 372 words: 107,587

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality by Richard Heinberg

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3D printing, agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Gini coefficient, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, naked short selling, Naomi Klein, Negawatt, new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, price stability, private military company, quantitative easing, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, short selling, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade liberalization, tulip mania, working poor

Most economists would probably agree with the view that environmental constraints and a crisis in the financial world don’t add up to the end of growth — just a speed bump in the highway of progress. That’s because smart people will always be thinking of new technologies and of new ways to do more with less. And these will in turn be the basis of new commercial products and business models. Talk of limits typically elicits dismissive references to the failed warnings of Thomas Malthus — the 18th-century economist who reasoned that population growth would inevitably (and soon) outpace food production, leading to a general famine. Malthus was obviously wrong, at least in the short run: food production expanded throughout the 19th and 20th centuries to feed a fast-growing population. He failed to foresee the introduction of new hybrid crop varieties, chemical fertilizers, and the development of industrial farm machinery.


pages: 389 words: 98,487

The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor, and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car by Tim Harford

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Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, collective bargaining, congestion charging, Corn Laws, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Akerlof, invention of movable type, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, market design, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, new economy, price discrimination, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, random walk, rent-seeking, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, Shenzhen was a fishing village, special economic zone, spectrum auction, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, Vickrey auction

Paul Klemperer, the auction designer who features in chapter 7, helped to design an auction for the United Kingdom government to kick-start their program of tradable emission permits. Anyone doubting my statement that “economists have long been in the forefront of analyzing environmental problems” will be surprised to hear that one of the first environmentalists was also one of the first and most famous economists, Thomas Malthus, whose study of overpopulation was published in 1798. (“An Essay on the Principle of Population” (London: Murray). Only slightly less famous is the inspiration for this entire chapter: Arthur Pigou, professor of economics at Cambridge University, whose seminal book The Economics of Welfare (London: Macmillan, 1920) developed the theory of externalities and the solution of externality pricing.


pages: 329 words: 85,471

The Locavore's Dilemma by Pierre Desrochers, Hiroko Shimizu

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air freight, back-to-the-land, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, Community Supported Agriculture, edge city, Edward Glaeser, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, intermodal, invention of agriculture, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, labour mobility, land tenure, megacity, moral hazard, mortgage debt, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, planetary scale, profit motive, refrigerator car, Steven Pinker, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl

3 By the early 1920s, the geographer Ray Hughes Whitbeck documented how “one or more railway companies, several truckmen, a wholesale dealer or two, a retail dealer and his clerks, a delivery boy, and perhaps several other persons or corporations” along with perhaps even “one or more brokers” stood between a grapefruit grower and his laborers and his final consumer in a northern American city.4 Not surprisingly, these activities have long been decried as superfluous and parasitical by critics who, as Bastiat observed in 1848, “would willingly eliminate the capitalist, the banker, the speculator, the entrepreneur, the businessman, and the merchant, accusing them of interposing themselves between producer and consumer in order to fleece them both, without giving them anything of value.”5 Antipathy against intermediaries was always heightened during food crises. Writing in the early years of the Napoleonic wars, a time of rapid price increases, the political economist Robert Thomas Malthus observed that the general indignation of common people had fallen upon “monopolizers, forestallers, and regraters—words, that are . . . applied indiscriminately to all middle men whatever, to every kind of trader that goes between the grower of the commodity and the consumer . . .”6 Today’s locavores are but the latest activists to echo this sentiment with their contention that direct relationships between producers and consumers will improve a community’s social capital while putting more money directly into farmers’ (as opposed to intermediaries’) pockets.


pages: 422 words: 113,525

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand

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agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, biofilm, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, glass ceiling, Google Earth, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, land tenure, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, microbiome, New Urbanism, out of africa, Paul Graham, peak oil, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thomas Malthus, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, working-age population, Y2K

Enlil’s action is violent, but it has a certain ecological logic: the noisiness of the human race is an outgrowth of overpopulation, a serious issue in ancient Mesopotamia, whose large populations often put the region’s resources under stress. It all reads like an early chapter in Steven LeBlanc’s chronicle of “constant battles” brought about by fecund humanity perpetually colliding with carrying capacity. Thomas Malthus told the same story in An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798); so did my teacher Paul Ehrlich, whose book The Population Bomb (1968) put overpopulation at the top of the Green agenda. His book begins: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” It concludes with Ehrlich recommending “compulsory birth regulation,” including government-provided sterilants in water and staple foods


pages: 342 words: 88,736

The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis by Ruth Defries

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agricultural Revolution, Columbian Exchange, demographic transition, double helix, European colonialism, food miles, Francisco Pizarro, Haber-Bosch Process, Internet Archive, John Snow's cholera map, out of africa, planetary scale, premature optimization, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade

Peasants must have tried new ways to manipulate the planetary machinery. Regardless, ideas that worked spread and took hold. Our species’ trademark of accumulating knowledge through trial-and-error and sharing new knowledge was in play. People had no other choice but to try to resolve the conundrums within their available means. The mayhem of the late eighteenth century was the context for the Reverend Thomas Malthus’s famous dire warnings. Malthus argued in a 1798 essay that “the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.” Malthus saw the situation from the lens of the time in which he lived. He was viewing the world from the pinnacle of a ratchet that had resulted from many centuries of increasing yields, which had produced more food, more people, more profit-seeking, bigger cities, and still greater demand for a reliable source of food.


pages: 223 words: 10,010

The Cost of Inequality: Why Economic Equality Is Essential for Recovery by Stewart Lansley

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banking crisis, Basel III, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bonfire of the Vanities, borderless world, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business process, call centre, capital controls, collective bargaining, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Martin Wolf, mittelstand, mobile money, Mont Pelerin Society, new economy, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, The Great Moderation, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent, working-age population

A low wage strategy may help profitability, but in doing so it creates a new problem—how is the expanding output that underpins growth going to be bought? Before Henry Ford made his dramatic intervention, a number of economists had explored the economic consequences of a lack of working class purchasing power, a problem labelled the theory of ‘underconsumption’. Such theories were developed during the nineteenth century by a range of British scholars, most notably Thomas Malthus—who developed his own theory of the insufficiency of demand as early as the 1920s—and fifty years later by John A Hobson. Writing at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century, Hobson —who was born in Derby in 1858—challenged much of the accepted economic thinking of the time. He was critical of the methodology of economic science on the grounds that it abstracted from human welfare in its widest sense and developed an alternative theory of the distribution of output which linked economic surpluses to the distribution of power.


pages: 262 words: 83,548

The End of Growth by Jeff Rubin

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Ayatollah Khomeini, Bakken shale, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, decarbonisation, deglobalization, energy security, eurozone crisis, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, flex fuel, full employment, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Hans Island, happiness index / gross national happiness, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, illegal immigration, income per capita, Jane Jacobs, labour mobility, McMansion, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, new economy, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, working poor, Yom Kippur War

In 1972, the club released a report called The Limits of Growth, which argued that pending resource scarcity would make it impossible for the global economy to grow at rates achieved in the postwar era. In the last forty years, the Club has distributed more than 12 million copies of the report, which also asserts that global society is likely to overshoot the planet’s carrying capacity. Once that happens, the club contends, society won’t be able to avoid a large-scale environmental collapse. Prophets of doom have sounded similar alarms before. Some two hundred years ago, Reverend Thomas Malthus warned that population growth was an inexorable force that would exhaust the land’s capacity to provide sustenance. He foresaw starvation and pestilence arising as an inevitable result of overpopulation, bringing about a dying off that would cull the number of people in the world. Along with epidemics that would increase the death rate, Malthus also believed that moral restraint was necessary to keep the birthrate in check.


pages: 369 words: 94,588

The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism by David Harvey

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, call centre, capital controls, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, full employment, global reserve currency, Google Earth, Guggenheim Bilbao, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, land reform, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, means of production, megacity, microcredit, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, place-making, Ponzi scheme, precariat, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, special economic zone, statistical arbitrage, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, women in the workforce

Even without this, the track of perpetual accumulation puts enormous pressures on the supply of natural resources, while the inevitable increase in the quantity of waste products is bound to test the capacity of ecological systems to absorb them without turning toxic. Here, too, capitalism is likely to encounter limits and barriers which will become increasingly hard to circumvent. Nowhere has the idea of limits to capital been more stridently and persistently asserted throughout capitalism’s history than with respect to scarcities in nature. The famous Enlightenment economists Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo both held that diminishing returns in agriculture would eventually lead the profit rate to fall to zero, thus spelling the end of capitalism as we know it because all profit would be absorbed by rent on land and on the supply of natural resources. Malthus went still further, of course, insisting (in the first version of his population theory) that the conflict between population growth and natural limits was bound to produce (and already was producing) crises of famine, poverty, pestilence and war, no matter what policies were implemented.


pages: 791 words: 85,159

Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid

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AltaVista, business process, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, cross-subsidies, disintermediation, double entry bookkeeping, Frank Gehry, frictionless, frictionless market, future of work, George Gilder, global village, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, information retrieval, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, loose coupling, Marshall McLuhan, medical malpractice, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, Productivity paradox, rolodex, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Superbowl ad, Ted Nelson, telepresence, the medium is the message, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Y2K

Planning, meanwhile, preserves markets, providing the regulation to maintain competition and prevent monopolies. As Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian, two economists at Berkeley, argue in their book Information Rules, even an information economy needs some formal institutions to guard against monopolies. 41 The use of deliberate structure to preserve the spontaneity of self-organization may be one of humanity's most productive assets. Since the nineteenth century, when the economist Thomas Malthus gloomily predicted that the geometric growth of population would outstrip the arithmetic growth in resources, predictions appear regularly that humanity is on the edge of destroying itself.42 Most of these predictions take humans to be, like insects, relatively passive in the face of such problems. Whereas, of course, humans are capable of reflecting on such problems and taking collective action against them.43 By organizing together, by researching and planning, by directing investment and restricting destructive behavior, and by developing institutions to unleash and protect individual creativity, people have found ways to increase productivity at a greater pace than population.

The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good by Robert H. Frank

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carbon footprint, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, clean water, congestion charging, corporate governance, deliberate practice, full employment, income inequality, invisible hand, Plutocrats, plutocrats, positional goods, profit motive, Ralph Nader, rent control, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sealed-bid auction, smart grid, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, winner-take-all economy

On the contrary, reading any random passage from the eighteenth-century Scottish moral philosopher’s masterwork, The Wealth of Nations, still causes me to marvel at the depth and breadth of his insights. Charles Darwin was himself no slouch, obviously, yet few people outside academic departments of biology and economics associate his name with ideas in economics. Those who have studied Darwin’s theory of evolution carefully, however, realize that he was in fact heavily influenced by the works of the economists Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo. Malthus had been a student of Smith’s, and Ricardo was heavily influenced by The Wealth of Nations. So even if my prediction comes true, Smith’s fans can still justifiably think of him as the great-grandfather of economics. 16 DARWIN’S WEDGE 17 I base my prediction on a subtle but extremely important distinction between Darwin’s view of the competitive process and Smith’s.


pages: 299 words: 19,560

Utopias: A Brief History From Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities by Howard P. Segal

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1960s counterculture, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, complexity theory, David Brooks, death of newspapers, dematerialisation, deskilling, energy security, European colonialism, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of journalism, garden city movement, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Nicholas Carr, Nikolai Kondratiev, out of africa, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, union organizing, urban planning, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog

By means of well-designed and tightly organized cooperative communities to be set up throughout the British countryside, he hoped to restore that oft-lauded sense of community that supposedly had been lost in the transition from agrarian to industrial society. Such communities would engage primarily in farming and only secondarily in manufacturing, but they would utilize the latest machinery and draw on the best agricultural science. Moreover, they would be able to grow enough food to supply an expanding population that, according to some economists such as Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), was doomed to increase faster than the means of subsistence. The affluence necessary for nearly all serious utopian schemes would thus be available. As envisioned by Owen, these communities would consist of multi-storied “parallelograms,” each housing between three hundred and two thousand men, women, and children. More than either New Lanark or New Harmony, these communities would be scientifically planned.


pages: 445 words: 105,255

Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization by K. Eric Drexler

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Bill Joy: nanobots, Brownian motion, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, dark matter, double helix, failed state, global supply chain, industrial robot, iterative process, Mars Rover, means of production, Menlo Park, mutually assured destruction, New Journalism, performance metric, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Thomas Malthus, V2 rocket, Vannevar Bush

A detailed table of contents and sample chapters for Nanosystems is available at e-drexler.com/d/06/00/Nanosystems/toc.html. 11This vision for the human future: The leading visionaries included Freeman Dyson, Gerard O’Neil, Dandridge Cole, J. D. Bernal, and the father of theoretical astronautics, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. 15fn1missions to asteroids have become part of NASA’s plans: See, for example, http://www.nasa.gov/about/obamaspeechfeature.html. 15fn2because in the end Malthus was right: In his Essay on the Principle of Population, Reverend Thomas Malthus argued that population tended to grow exponentially and that this exponential growth would overrun the limits of food production even if production steadily increased. His general argument regarding exponential growth holds true for any imaginable production technology within the bounds of the material universe. 18His bold visions started early: In our forward-looking conversations Arthur had occasion to mention only a few of his past accomplishments.


pages: 323 words: 90,868

The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-First Century by Ryan Avent

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3D printing, Airbnb, American energy revolution, autonomous vehicles, Bakken shale, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, gig economy, global supply chain, global value chain, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, means of production, new economy, performance metric, pets.com, price mechanism, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, software is eating the world, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, very high income, working-age population

New technologies and enterprises boost the total amount of income earned in an economy, but whether that income flows to the inventors of the technologies, the founders of the enterprises, the workers who staff them, or someone else entirely is determined by the relative bargaining power of the players. The group in shortest supply – for whose cooperation everyone else must bid – enjoys a strong negotiating hand. The Reverend Thomas Malthus6 was one of a handful of English political economists active in the early nineteenth century who made it their business to build on the writings of Adam Smith and work out the laws of economics. Malthus’s working theory of the economy could have been cheerier: he believed the fundamental scarcity of land doomed humanity to misery, and he reasoned that any discovery that boosted agricultural output would simply lead to a rise in population rather than a rise in food (or income) available per person.

Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution by Wendy Brown

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collective bargaining, corporate governance, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, Food sovereignty, haute couture, immigration reform, income inequality, invisible hand, labor-force participation, late capitalism, means of production, new economy, obamacare, occupational segregation, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, sharing economy, The Chicago School, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, Wolfgang Streeck, young professional

See also Michel Callon, “The Embeddedness of Economic Markets in Economics,” in Michel Callon (ed.), The Laws of the Markets (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998), pp. 1–57, where Callon first uses the term. 13. Karl Marx, The German Ideology, in The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York: Norton, 1978). 14. David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo (London: Cambridge University Press, 1973). 15. Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, ed. Geoffrey Gilbert. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). 16. John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (Kissimmee: Signalman, 1936). 17. Gary Becker, Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964). 18. Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, p. 278. 19.

When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence by Stephen D. King

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Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, capital controls, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, congestion charging, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, cross-subsidies, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, Diane Coyle, endowment effect, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, income per capita, inflation targeting, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, loss aversion, market clearing, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, price mechanism, price stability, quantitative easing, railway mania, rent-seeking, reserve currency, rising living standards, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, technology bubble, The Market for Lemons, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Tobin tax, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working-age population

Perhaps, as the Skidelsky family would argue, we already have enough.1 Perhaps we should accept, with equanimity, our declining influence in world economic and political affairs and, as I put it in Losing Control, learn to grow old gracefully. For good or bad, plenty of sages have warned that nature imposes a natural and inevitable limit on living standards and that stagnation, or worse, is our ultimate destiny. Thomas Malthus argued in his Essay on the Principles of Population (1798): Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetic ratio . . . By that law of 37 4099.indd 37 29/03/13 2:23 PM When the Money Runs Out our nature which makes food necessary to the life of man, the effects of these two unequal powers must be kept equal. This implies a strong and constantly operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence.


pages: 344 words: 93,858

The Post-American World: Release 2.0 by Fareed Zakaria

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affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, airport security, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, conceptual framework, Credit Default Swap, currency manipulation / currency intervention, delayed gratification, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, global reserve currency, global supply chain, illegal immigration, interest rate derivative, knowledge economy, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, mutually assured destruction, new economy, oil shock, open economy, out of africa, postindustrial economy, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, Steven Pinker, The Great Moderation, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, Washington Consensus, working-age population, young professional

In a famous letter to George III, the Qienlong emperor, who ruled from 1736 to 1795, rejected Britain’s request for trade, explaining, “We have never set much store on strange and ingenious objects, nor do we need any more of your country’s manufactures.” The Chinese had closed their minds to the world.5 Without new technologies and techniques, Asia fell prey to the classic Malthusian problem. Thomas Malthus’ famous 1798 treatise, An Essay on the Principle of Population, is remembered today for its erroneous pessimism, but, in fact, many of Malthus’ insights were highly intelligent. He observed that food production in England rose at an arithmetic rate (1, 2, 3, 4, . . .) but population grew at a geometric rate (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, . . .). This mismatch, unless altered, would ensure that the country would be hungry and impoverished, and that only catastrophes like famine and disease could raise living standards (by shrinking the population).* Malthus’ dilemma was quite real, but he failed to appreciate the power of technology.


pages: 346 words: 92,984

The Lucky Years: How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health by David B. Agus

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3D printing, active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, butterfly effect, clean water, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, Drosophila, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Kickstarter, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, microcredit, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, placebo effect, publish or perish, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Thomas Malthus, wikimedia commons

The vaccine wars of today, stirred up most recently by outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like whooping cough and measles, are nothing new. They are as old as vaccination itself. When Edward Jenner, a brilliant English country doctor, developed the vaccine for smallpox in 1796, he was both praised and mocked, lauded and feared. Religious authorities accused him of playing God, and even the equally bright economist Thomas Malthus lost sleep over the thought that vaccines would lead to unsustainable surges in the number of people on the planet. And when people first heard about getting an injection of foreign animal matter into their bodies, they were taken aback.4 Jenner himself was the butt of jokes as cartoons emerged showing cows’ horns shooting up from the heads of recently vaccinated people. I’m a big proponent for vaccination among those who are eligible.


pages: 1,336 words: 415,037

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, card file, centralized clearinghouse, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, desegregation, Donald Trump, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, global village, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute cuisine, Honoré de Balzac, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, index fund, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, medical malpractice, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, NetJets, new economy, New Journalism, North Sea oil, paper trading, passive investing, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader, random walk, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, shareholder value, short selling, side project, Silicon Valley, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, telemarketer, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, War on Poverty, Works Progress Administration, Y2K, zero-coupon bond

Carnegie built 2,509 libraries (costing $56 million) and established other public works using over 90% of his $480 million steel-made wealth. 42. Ruane’s first wife, Elizabeth, suffered from a mood disorder and committed suicide in 1988. 43. Bill Ruane and others recalled this speech. 44. Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb. New York: Ballantine Books, 1968; Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principles of Population. The Population Bomb was based on the work of the nineteenth-century demographer and statistician Thomas Malthus, who said that humans procreate in a geometric rather than arithmetic progression; thus the earth’s population would inevitably expand beyond the point at which its resources could support it. At some point, Malthus postulated, misery and vice (e.g., war, pandemic, famine, infant mortality, political unrest) would reduce the population to a sustainable level.

By 1990 the world’s population had passed the five-billion mark, mass starvation had not occurred, and Ehrlich’s ideas were no longer taken seriously by many experts—even though the population had grown dramatically. The debate essentially centered over whether technology could outpace population growth, species extinction, and global warming. Buffett looked at the problem of expanding population and diminishing resources in terms of a “margin of safety.” “There is a carrying capacity to the earth. It’s far, far, far, far, far greater than [Thomas] Malthus ever dreamed. On the other hand, there is some carrying capacity, and the one thing about carrying capacity is that you want to err on the low side. If you were provisioning a huge rocket ship to the moon and had enough for two hundred people and didn’t know how long the journey would take, you probably wouldn’t put more than a hundred fifty people on the ship. And we have a spaceship of sorts, and we don’t know how much the provisions are good for.


pages: 935 words: 267,358

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, banks create money, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, conceptual framework, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, distributed generation, diversification, diversified portfolio, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial intermediation, full employment, German hyperinflation, Gini coefficient, high net worth, Honoré de Balzac, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, index card, inflation targeting, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, market bubble, means of production, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, open economy, pension reform, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, refrigerator car, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, very high income, We are the 99%

Malthus, Young, and the French Revolution When classical political economy was born in England and France in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the issue of distribution was already one of the key questions. Everyone realized that radical transformations were under way, precipitated by sustained demographic growth—a previously unknown phenomenon—coupled with a rural exodus and the advent of the Industrial Revolution. How would these upheavals affect the distribution of wealth, the social structure, and the political equilibrium of European society? For Thomas Malthus, who in 1798 published his Essay on the Principle of Population, there could be no doubt: the primary threat was overpopulation.1 Although his sources were thin, he made the best he could of them. One particularly important influence was the travel diary published by Arthur Young, an English agronomist who traveled extensively in France, from Calais to the Pyrenees and from Brittany to Franche-Comté, in 1787–1788, on the eve of the Revolution.

My goal in writing was to make this book accessible to people without any special technical training, while the book together with the technical appendix should satisfy the demands of specialists in the field. This procedure will also allow me to post revised online versions and updates of the tables, graphs, and technical apparatus. I welcome input from readers of the book or website, who can send comments and criticisms to piketty@ens.fr. Introduction 1. The English economist Thomas Malthus (1766–1834) is considered to be one of the most influential members of the “classical” school, along with Adam Smith (1723–1790) and David Ricardo (1772–1823). 2. There is of course a more optimistic school of liberals: Adam Smith seems to belong to it, and in fact he never really considered the possibility that the distribution of wealth might grow more unequal over the long run. The same is true of Jean-Baptiste Say (1767–1832), who also believed in natural harmony. 3.


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Why geography matters: three challenges facing America : climate change, the rise of China, and global terrorism by Harm J. De Blij

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agricultural Revolution, airport security, Anton Chekhov, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, colonial exploitation, complexity theory, computer age, crony capitalism, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Eratosthenes, European colonialism, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global village, illegal immigration, Internet Archive, John Snow's cholera map, Khyber Pass, manufacturing employment, megacity, Mercator projection, out of africa, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, special economic zone, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, UNCLOS, UNCLOS

Government economic policies also play a role. It is not enough to produce a quantity of food for people to sustain themselves; they must also be able to A FUTURE GEOGRAPHY OF HUMAN POPULATION 105 afford to buy it. Well-stocked markets most of whose local customers cannot pay for a pound of rice do not reflect an absence of malnutrition. MOMENTOUS TRANSITION When the English economist Thomas Malthus in 1798 published a warning that the population in Britain was growing faster than the means of subsistence, he predicted that population growth would be checked by hunger within 50 years, leading to the disintegration of the social order. For three decades after sounding the alarm, Malthus faced severe criticism from those who saw the future differently, but he gave as good as he got. The exchange is one of the most interesting debates ever recorded.


pages: 790 words: 150,875

Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson

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Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, Atahualpa, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, BRICs, British Empire, clean water, collective bargaining, colonial rule, conceptual framework, Copley Medal, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Dean Kamen, delayed gratification, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, Hans Lippershey, haute couture, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, land reform, land tenure, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, market bubble, Martin Wolf, means of production, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, The Great Moderation, the market place, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, wage slave, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, World Values Survey

Specialization in meat production for the English market led to an excessive dependence on the potato to feed the rural workforce and therefore acute vulnerability to the blight of that vegetable, Phytophthora infestans, which struck in the mid-1840s. True to Ricardian principles, the British government declined to send emergency food to alleviate the famine; a million people died, vindicating not Ricardo but Thomas Malthus, the author of the Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), which predicted such calamities. The surviving Irish were reduced to exporting themselves, mostly to America. * The ‘dark Satanic mills’ of the text may well refer to the Albion Flour Mills, built by Boulton & Watt in London in 1769 and destroyed by fire in 1791. * The following list of names speaks for itself: Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Estée Lauder, Ralph Lauren, Helena Rubenstein, Levi Strauss.


pages: 476 words: 132,042

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, c2.com, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, charter city, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, computer vision, Danny Hillis, dematerialisation, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, George Gilder, gravity well, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John Conway, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, life extension, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, out of africa, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, Picturephone, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, refrigerator car, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

By following the long-term trends in evolution we can show what technology wants. 7 Convergence In 2009, the world celebrated the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and honored his theory’s impact upon our science and culture. Overlooked in the celebrations was Alfred Russel Wallace, who came up with the same theory of evolution, at approximately the same time, 150 years ago. Weirdly, both Wallace and Darwin found the theory of natural selection after reading the same book on population growth by Thomas Malthus. Darwin did not publish his revelation until provoked by Wallace’s parallel discovery. Had Darwin died at sea on his famous voyage (a not uncommon fate at that time) or been killed by one of his many ailments during his studious years in London, we would be celebrating the birthday of Wallace as the sole genius behind the theory. Wallace was a naturalist living in Southeast Asia, and he endured many serious illnesses as well.


pages: 471 words: 124,585

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson

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Admiral Zheng, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, Atahualpa, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, Corn Laws, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deglobalization, diversification, diversified portfolio, double entry bookkeeping, Edmond Halley, Edward Glaeser, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, German hyperinflation, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, hindsight bias, Home mortgage interest deduction, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, iterative process, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour mobility, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Naomi Klein, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, pension reform, price anchoring, price stability, principal–agent problem, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, RAND corporation, random walk, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, seigniorage, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, spice trade, structural adjustment programs, technology bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, value at risk, Washington Consensus, Yom Kippur War

It was after the New York fire of 1835 that American states began to insist that insurance companies maintain adequate reserves. It was after the Hamburg fire of 1842 that reinsurance was developed as a way for insurance companies to share the risk of major disasters. ag Wallace was also a member of the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh, to which he presented his ‘Dissertation on the Numbers of Mankind in Ancient and Modern Times’, a work which in some respects anticipated Thomas Malthus’s later Essay on the Principle of Population. ah Scott was a victim of the financial crisis triggered by the first Latin American debt crisis (see Chapter 2). Perhaps he was also a victim of his own appetite for real estate. To help finance the cost of his beloved country seat at Abbotsford, the author had become a sleeping partner in the printers that published his books, James Ballantyne and Co., and the associated publishing house of John Ballantyne & Co.


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The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World by Jeremy Rifkin

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, borderless world, carbon footprint, centre right, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate governance, decarbonisation, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, global supply chain, hydrogen economy, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, knowledge economy, manufacturing employment, marginal employment, Martin Wolf, Masdar, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open borders, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, purchasing power parity, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, supply-chain management, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, urban planning, urban renewal, Yom Kippur War, Zipcar

French Enlightenment philosopher and revolutionary Marquis de Condorcet captured the euphoria of the new age of progress when he proclaimed, No bounds have been fixed to the improvement of the human faculties . . . the perfectibility of man is absolutely indefinite; . . . the progress of this perfectibility, henceforth above the control of every power that would impede it, has no other limit than the duration of the globe upon which Nature has placed us.16 Giddy over the prospect of creating a material cornucopia on Earth, the classical economists, with the exception of Thomas Malthus, were united in their belief that human industriousness could create a utopian paradise. The very idea that an acceleration of economic activity might result in a degraded environment and a dark future for unborn generations would have been unfathomable. HOW ECONOMIC THEORY BECAME IRRELEVANT This ideological blind spot shows up in nearly every one of the underlying assumptions of classical and neoclassical economic theory.


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Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey Sachs

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agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, British Empire, business process, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, demographic transition, Diane Coyle, Edward Glaeser, energy security, failed state, Gini coefficient, Haber-Bosch Process, income inequality, income per capita, intermodal, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, low skilled workers, microcredit, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, Skype, statistical model, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, unemployed young men, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working-age population

Yet both population and income per capita are rising rapidly. The pressures on the ecological systems are intensifying, and development and dissemination of sustainable technologies are far too slow. If we do little more than scale up what we are consuming today, we will drive many of the planet’s ecosystems, and countless species, to the point of collapse. The most famous early doomsday prediction came in 1798 from the Reverend Thomas Malthus, who noted that populations tend to rise geometrically (in compounded multiples) while food production only rises arithmetically (in added increments). Populations would be held in check mainly by misery. Gains in productivity, Malthus opined, would be quickly swallowed up by further population growth, which would drive temporary advances in living standards back down to subsistence. Thus, for Malthus, humankind was condemned to wipe out any temporary gain in living standards through excess population growth.


pages: 448 words: 142,946

Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein

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Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Bretton Woods, capital controls, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, disintermediation, diversification, fiat currency, financial independence, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global supply chain, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, Lao Tzu, liquidity trap, lump of labour, McMansion, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, Own Your Own Home, peak oil, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Scramble for Africa, special drawing rights, spinning jenny, technoutopianism, the built environment, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail

What else is left to convert into money? As far as I know, the first economist to recognize the fundamental problem and its relation to the money system was Frederick Soddy, a Nobel laureate and pioneer of nuclear chemistry who turned his attention to economics in the 1920s. Soddy was among the first to debunk the ideology of infinite exponential economic growth, extending the reasoning of Thomas Malthus beyond population to economics. Herman Daly describes Soddy’s view succinctly: The idea that people can live off the interest of their mutual indebtedness … is just another perpetual motion scheme—a vulgar delusion on a grand scale. Soddy seems to be saying that what is obviously impossible for the community—for everyone to live on interest—should also be forbidden to individuals, as a principle of fairness.


pages: 386 words: 122,595

Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (Fully Revised and Updated) by Charles Wheelan

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, congestion charging, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, demographic transition, diversified portfolio, Doha Development Round, Exxon Valdez, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, index fund, interest rate swap, invisible hand, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Malacca Straits, market bubble, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Network effects, new economy, open economy, presumed consent, price discrimination, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, random walk, rent control, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus, Yogi Berra, young professional

In short, fostering productivity growth is like raising children: We know what kinds of things are important even if there is no blueprint for raising an Olympic athlete or a Harvard scholar. The study of human capital has profound implications for public policy. Most important, it can tell us why we haven’t all starved to death. The earth’s population has grown to six billion; how have we been able to feed so many mouths? In the eighteenth century, Thomas Malthus famously predicted a dim future for humankind because he believed that as society grew richer, it would continuously squander those gains through population growth—having more children. These additional mouths would gobble up the surplus. In his view, humankind was destined to live on the brink of subsistence, recklessly procreating during the good times and then starving during the bad. As Paul Krugman has pointed out, for fifty-five of the last fifty-seven centuries, Malthus was right.


pages: 510 words: 120,048

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier

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3D printing, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, augmented reality, automated trading system, barriers to entry, bitcoin, book scanning, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Graeber, delayed gratification, digital Maoism, en.wikipedia.org, facts on the ground, Filter Bubble, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, packet switching, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, pre–internet, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks

This is entirely reasonable. Is there really something essential and vital about acoustic instruments that computers can’t touch? Another incarnation of Pascal’s bargain presents itself. I don’t really know, but the cost of holding on to my perception of a difference is manageable, while the cost if I let go might be great, even if the resulting amnesia would hide the loss from me. CAN WE HANDLE OUR OWN POWER? Thomas Malthus articulated fear of an apocalypse in a naturalistic framework instead of the established supernatural ones. The future he dreaded from the perspective of the 18th century was one where our own successes grant us gifts we cannot absorb, leading to catastrophe. In a typical Malthusian scenario, agriculture, public health, medicine, and industrialization enable an unsustainable population explosion, which leads to catastrophic famine.


pages: 467 words: 114,570

Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science by Jim Al-Khalili

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Book of Ingenious Devices, colonial rule, Commentariolus, Dmitri Mendeleev, Eratosthenes, Henri Poincaré, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Joseph Schumpeter, retrograde motion, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, trade route, William of Occam

For when one considers the sheer number of original ideas and contributions across so many areas of economic thought that Ibn Khaldūn invented we are left in absolutely no doubt that he is more worthy of the title.9 Ibn Khaldūn discovered a number of key economic notions several hundred years before their ‘official’ births, such as the virtues and necessity of a division of labour (before Smith), the principle of labour value (before David Ricardo), a theory of population (before Thomas Malthus) and the role of the state in the economy (before John Maynard Keynes). He then used these concepts to build a coherent dynamic system of economic theory.10 Not only was he the forerunner of European economists, such was his intellect that he is also considered to be the undisputed founder and father of the field of sociology. His best-known work is the Muqaddima, which literally means ‘Introduction’ or ‘Prologue’.


pages: 497 words: 153,755

The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession by Peter L. Bernstein

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Albert Einstein, Atahualpa, Bretton Woods, British Empire, California gold rush, central bank independence, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser, falling living standards, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, Francisco Pizarro, German hyperinflation, Hernando de Soto, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, large denomination, liquidity trap, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, price stability, profit motive, random walk, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route

On August 29, a 38-yearold stockbroker as spokesman for this community submitted the first of three letters on this matter to the Morning Chronicle, complaining that the public "do not seem to be sufficiently impressed with the importance of the subject, nor of the disastrous consequences which may attend the further depreciation of the paper."" His name was David Ricardo, and this was the first time his name had appeared in print. The letters and additional commentary subsequently appeared as a tract titled "The High Price of Bullion." Ricardo was born in 1772, when Adam Smith was fifty years old and Thomas Malthus, Ricardo's beloved friend and unremitting intellectual opponent, was six years old; Ricardo first met Malthus in 1809 at the very moment he was sending in his letters to the Morning Chronicle.19 Ricardo's father was a Jewish merchant banker and stockbroker jobber, as the English call it-who took his son in as an employee when the boy was only fourteen. The firm prospered, even though it had to limit its trading activity to a section of the Royal Exchange known as Jews Walk.


pages: 565 words: 164,405

A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World by William J. Bernstein

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Admiral Zheng, asset allocation, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, British Empire, call centre, clean water, Columbian Exchange, Corn Laws, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, domestication of the camel, double entry bookkeeping, Eratosthenes, financial innovation, Gini coefficient, ice-free Arctic, imperial preference, income inequality, intermodal, James Hargreaves, John Harrison: Longitude, Khyber Pass, low skilled workers, non-tariff barriers, placebo effect, Port of Oakland, refrigerator car, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, working poor

In economic terms, the attorney has a comparative advantage in legal work and a comparative disadvantage in woodworking. (Note that pleasure and preference do not enter into Ricardo's analysis. Our attorney may enjoy carpentry and decide to do the job himself-a valid emotional choice, but not an economically rational one.) Alas, Principles, and Ricardo himself, arrived too late to save England from the draconian Corn Law of 1815. In response to a pro-Corn Law tract by Thomas Malthus, Ricardo wrote an anti-Corn Law pamphlet, "An Essay on the Influence of a low Price of Corn on the Profits of Stock." In it, he pointed out that the major advantage of the "real" England (as opposed to the hypothetical England of Principles) lay in its factory machinery. The corn laws, he wrote, impeded the purchase of foreign grain and forced England to waste its precious labor in less productive farmwork.


pages: 589 words: 147,053

The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life When Robots Rule the Earth by Robin Hanson

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8-hour work day, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, business process, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, correlation does not imply causation, demographic transition, Erik Brynjolfsson, ethereum blockchain, experimental subject, fault tolerance, financial intermediation, Flynn Effect, hindsight bias, job automation, job satisfaction, Just-in-time delivery, lone genius, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, market design, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nash equilibrium, new economy, prediction markets, rent control, rent-seeking, reversible computing, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, smart contracts, statistical model, stem cell, Thomas Malthus, trade route, Turing test, Vernor Vinge

But as hardware supply is very elastic, and may even be downward sloping, em wages should stay low, at least in the absence of strong wage or population regulations. Malthusian Wages Thus the introduction of competitively supplied ems should greatly lower wages, to near the full cost of the computer hardware needed to run em brains. Such a scenario is famously called “Malthusian,” after Thomas Malthus who in 1798 argued that when population can grow faster than total economic output, wages fall to near subsistence levels. Note that in this section we are assuming that enough ems are willing to copy themselves to fill new job openings, and that they have not organized to avoid competing with each other. We shall consider these assumptions in more detail in the section “Enough Ems”. Note also that having em wages near subsistence levels should eliminate most of the familiar wage premiums for workers who are smarter, healthier, prettier, etc., than others.


pages: 566 words: 163,322

The Rise and Fall of Nations: Forces of Change in the Post-Crisis World by Ruchir Sharma

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3D printing, Asian financial crisis, backtesting, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, business climate, business process, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, colonial rule, Commodity Super-Cycle, corporate governance, crony capitalism, currency peg, dark matter, debt deflation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Freestyle chess, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflation targeting, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, Malacca Straits, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, megacity, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, mittelstand, moral hazard, New Economic Geography, North Sea oil, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, smart cities, Snapchat, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, trade route, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, working-age population

Just before oil prices started to plunge that year, President Putin was celebrated on magazine covers as “the most powerful man in the world” following a string of apparent foreign policy successes including the occupation of the Crimea.8 It was a classic case of hype peaking after the end of a trend: Russia was already falling behind the West in average income, and its oil-fueled recession would accelerate the slump. The Rosy Disaster Scenarios Although the fortunes of commodity economies have strong links to volatile price swings, the hype for them is often driven by an emotional form of straight-line thinking derived from the Malthusian disaster scenario. Ever since the English scholar Thomas Malthus first predicted in the early nineteenth century that rising global population would outpace farm output and lead to mass starvation, experts have put forth pessimistic theories every few decades, if not every few years, despite Malthus’s prediction never having been realized. Just after a spurt in food prices in 2011, the international organization Oxfam warned that a slower rate of increase in farm output amid rising population would lead to food shortages.


pages: 469 words: 146,487

Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World by Niall Ferguson

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British Empire, Cape to Cairo, colonial rule, Corn Laws, European colonialism, imperial preference, income per capita, John Harrison: Longitude, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, land reform, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, Mahatma Gandhi, night-watchman state, profit motive, Scramble for Africa, spice trade, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, union organizing

Charles Buller, his private secretary, had been born in Calcutta, studied history with Thomas Carlyle and had won a reputation as a brilliant barrister before entering the House of Commons; while Durham’s principal adviser, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, had written extensively on land reform in Australia – ironically, while languishing in Newgate prison, where he had been sent for three years for abducting an under-age heiress. He was just one of many thinkers of his generation who were haunted by the spectre, conjured up by the statistician Thomas Malthus, of unsustainable population growth at home. To Wakefield, the colonies were the obvious answer as an overflow for surplus Britons. But to encourage free settlement, as opposed to continued transportation, he was convinced that some kind of accommodation had to be reached with the settlers’ inherently British sense of independence. Durham, Buller and Wakefield spent just six months in Canada before returning to England and presenting their report.


pages: 422 words: 113,830

Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism by Kevin Phillips

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algorithmic trading, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, currency peg, diversification, Doha Development Round, energy security, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Gilder, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, imperial preference, income inequality, index arbitrage, index fund, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, large denomination, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Martin Wolf, Menlo Park, mobile money, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, Renaissance Technologies, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route

Here I would not single out, as some do, the process described by historian Karl Polanyi in The Great Transformation . To Polanyi, an upheaval in late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century Britain yanked the nation’s financial markets from a previous position of being embedded in society and religion and stood them on their own—the rise of the unregulated and self-correcting market, which Polanyi discerned in economic developments and also in the theories of David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus, with some reference back to Adam Smith.33 Much more was involved than just that. Over more than two decades of studying the circumstances of the three leading world economic powers that preceded the United States, I have been drawn to see other origins—a kind of passing of the baton that initially included non-Anglo-Saxons. As we have seen, the Spain to which the gold and silver treasure ships of the Americas sailed was also the linchpin of the Hapsburg Empire, which included Europe’s most sophisticated financial centers—Genoa, Florence, and Venice in Italy; Augsburg and other southern German towns; Portuguese Lisbon; and Hapsburg Burgundy and Flanders.


pages: 468 words: 123,823

A People's History of Poverty in America by Stephen Pimpare

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affirmative action, British Empire, car-free, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, dumpster diving, East Village, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Gilder, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, index card, Jane Jacobs, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, payday loans, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, union organizing, urban renewal, War on Poverty, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration

60 The households in Beverly Stadum’s study of relief applicants from 1900 to 1930 are also ones in which addicted, philandering, and abusive men are common, men whose presence, as often as not, is deemed by women to be more harmful than beneficial; sometimes even by caseworkers who usually sought to enforce a “traditional” family structure—even they could see that a two-parent home was not always the best solution.61 Finally, as Raphael writes:The presence of abusers in the lives of large percentages of women on welfare means that we need to seriously rethink conventional wisdom about the large numbers of single mothers supposedly raising their children without the presence of a male.62 Sex, Power, Poverty Throughout American history, relief policy has been obsessed with the sexual and reproductive behavior of poor women, if not always in a consistent or coherent fashion. Some of this might be traced back to English Parson Thomas Malthus and his fear that the unchecked reproduction of the lower classes would lead to scarcity in the food supply. Malthus had a profound influence on the English Poor Law of 1834 (which sought to end cash relief and provide aid only in the workhouse) and, by extension, on ours.63 Much of his line of argument was adopted by the morality-minded reformers of the Gilded Age, like Josephine Shaw Lowell:While the acknowledgment is made that every person born into a civilized community has a right to live, yet the community has the right to say that incompetent and dangerous persons shall not, so far as can be helped, be born to acquire this right to live upon others.

The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be by Moises Naim

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additive manufacturing, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, colonial rule, conceptual framework, corporate governance, crony capitalism, deskilling, disintermediation, don't be evil, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, intermodal, invisible hand, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Martin Wolf, megacity, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, new economy, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, open borders, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, private military company, profit maximization, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey

Is the world spiraling toward an updated, twenty-first-century version of Hobbes’s war of all against all, made more complicated by the cross-cutting and blurred lines between nation-states, nonstate actors, unmoored financial flows, charities, NGOs and Gongos, and free agents of all kinds? The default answer is yes—unless, and until, we adjust to the decay of power and accept that the ways we cooperate across borders, both inside and outside the framework of governments, must change. There is no reason we cannot do so. The collapse of the world system has been repeatedly predicted at times of technological change and cultural and demographic flux. Thomas Malthus predicted that the world could not carry an expanding population. Yet it did. Witnessing the industrial revolution and the expansion of global markets and trade in the nineteenth century, the Marxists anticipated a collapse of capitalism under the weight of its internal contradictions. It did not. World War II and the Holocaust deeply shook our faith in the moral character of humanity, yet the norms and institutions the world established in response have endured to this day.


pages: 475 words: 149,310

Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire by Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri

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affirmative action, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, conceptual framework, David Graeber, Defenestration of Prague, deskilling, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, friendly fire, global village, Howard Rheingold, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, Joseph Schumpeter, labour mobility, land reform, land tenure, late capitalism, means of production, Naomi Klein, new economy, private military company, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, reserve currency, Richard Stallman, Slavoj Žižek, The Chicago School, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, transaction costs, union organizing, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus

We will consider in more detail in the next section some of the political institutions that rule over these hierarchies of the global system. Finally we should add, as in a sinister cookbook, one final ingredient that completes the recipe of the global topography of poverty and exploitation, one final portion about demography, the social science most firmly linked to biopower. Already in nineteenth-century England, Thomas Malthus, an economist and Anglican minister, warned of the catastrophic consequences of overpopulation. It is not uncommon today to hear similar calls for population control from international aid organizations and the NGO community. What these organizations propose (in charitable and humanitarian tones) is often in fact dictated and enacted in much more sinister terms by the major international agencies and national governments.


pages: 523 words: 143,139

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths

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4chan, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anthropic principle, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, Bill Duvall, bitcoin, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, constrained optimization, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, Danny Hillis, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, diversification, double helix, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Firefox, first-price auction, Flash crash, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, global supply chain, Google Chrome, Henri Poincaré, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, knapsack problem, Lao Tzu, linear programming, martingale, Nash equilibrium, natural language processing, NP-complete, P = NP, packet switching, prediction markets, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Robert X Cringely, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, sorting algorithm, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, stochastic process, Thomas Malthus, traveling salesman, Turing machine, urban planning, Vickrey auction, Walter Mischel, Y Combinator

Thus the bigger the applicant pool gets, the more valuable knowing the optimal algorithm becomes. It’s true that you’re unlikely to find the needle the majority of the time, but optimal stopping is your best defense against the haystack, no matter how large. Lover’s Leap The passion between the sexes has appeared in every age to be so nearly the same that it may always be considered, in algebraic language, as a given quantity. —THOMAS MALTHUS I married the first man I ever kissed. When I tell this to my children they just about throw up. —BARBARA BUSH Before he became a professor of operations research at Carnegie Mellon, Michael Trick was a graduate student, looking for love. “It hit me that the problem has been studied: it is the Secretary Problem! I had a position to fill [and] a series of applicants, and my goal was to pick the best applicant for the position.”


pages: 331 words: 60,536

The Sovereign Individual: How to Survive and Thrive During the Collapse of the Welfare State by James Dale Davidson, Rees Mogg

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affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, borderless world, British Empire, California gold rush, clean water, colonial rule, Columbine, compound rate of return, Danny Hillis, debt deflation, ending welfare as we know it, epigenetics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial independence, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Gilder, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, Isaac Newton, Kevin Kelly, market clearing, Martin Wolf, Menlo Park, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, Parkinson's law, pattern recognition, phenotype, price mechanism, profit maximization, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, school vouchers, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, spice trade, statistical model, telepresence, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, Turing machine, union organizing, very high income

Adam Smith may not have been the first writer on economic matters to reduce the welfare of nations to the action of individuals, but he put it most succinctly and with the greatest authority: Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command. It is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of the society, which he has in view But the study of his own advantage naturally, or rather necessarily, leads him to prefer that employment which is most advantageous to the society. Thomas Malthus, the founder of population studies, saw that the Adam Smith argument could be applied not only to the development of the economy of nations but also to the survival of human populations. He is well known for his proposition that "Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second." 294 Malthus even saw, long before Darwin, that the same principle applied throughout nature: Through the animal and vegetable kingdoms, nature has scattered the seeds of life abroad with the most profuse and liberal hand~ She has been comparatively sparing in the room, and the nourishment necessary to rear them.


pages: 603 words: 182,781

Aerotropolis by John D. Kasarda, Greg Lindsay

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3D printing, air freight, airline deregulation, airport security, Akira Okazaki, Asian financial crisis, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blood diamonds, borderless world, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Clayton Christensen, cleantech, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, food miles, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, fudge factor, full employment, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, gravity well, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, intermodal, invention of the telephone, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Kangaroo Route, knowledge worker, kremlinology, labour mobility, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, megacity, Menlo Park, microcredit, Network effects, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pink-collar, pre–internet, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Seaside, Florida, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, telepresence, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, thinkpad, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Tony Hsieh, trade route, transcontinental railway, transit-oriented development, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, Yogi Berra

You see serious people overreacting so they can claim they’re ‘doing something,’ and they’re doing something before they assess the real costs of whatever it is they’re doing, not to mention the benefits of what we already have. We could go back to the Stone Age if we really wanted to reduce our carbon footprints to zero, but the cure would be worse than the disease. “People seem to be very Malthusian right now,” he added. “Thomas Malthus argued food supply would increase, and so would population— only faster—until the latter outraced the former and then you would have famine and catastrophe. Instead, for the last two hundred years, population grew, standards of living went up, and life expectancy soared. Connectivity was the key—connectivity and trade. Every study has shown that more connectivity equals more opportunities for social mobility.


pages: 654 words: 204,260

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Arthur Eddington, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Brownian motion, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, clean water, Copley Medal, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Attenborough, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, out of africa, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers

One thing Darwin didn't do on the voyage was propound the theory (or even a theory) of evolution. For a start, evolution as a concept was already decades old by the 1830s. Darwin's own grandfather, Erasmus, had paid tribute to evolutionary principles in a poem of inspired mediocrity called “The Temple of Nature” years before Charles was even born. It wasn't until the younger Darwin was back in England and read Thomas Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population (which proposed that increases in food supply could never keep up with population growth for mathematical reasons) that the idea began to percolate through his mind that life is a perpetual struggle and that natural selection was the means by which some species prospered while others failed. Specifically what Darwin saw was that all organisms competed for resources, and those that had some innate advantage would prosper and pass on that advantage to their offspring.


pages: 651 words: 180,162

Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Air France Flight 447, Andrei Shleifer, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, discrete time, double entry bookkeeping, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, financial independence, Flash crash, Gary Taubes, Gini coefficient, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, informal economy, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, moral hazard, mouse model, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, principal–agent problem, purchasing power parity, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Silicon Valley, six sigma, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, stochastic volatility, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, Yogi Berra, Zipf's Law

There were two main sources of technical knowledge and innovation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: the hobbyist and the English rector, both of whom were generally in barbell situations. An extraordinary proportion of work came out of the rector, the English parish priest with no worries, erudition, a large or at least comfortable house, domestic help, a reliable supply of tea and scones with clotted cream, and an abundance of free time. And, of course, optionality. The enlightened amateur, that is. The Reverends Thomas Bayes (as in Bayesian probability) and Thomas Malthus (Malthusian overpopulation) are the most famous. But there are many more surprises, cataloged in Bill Bryson’s Home, in which the author found ten times more vicars and clergymen leaving recorded traces for posterity than scientists, physicists, economists, and even inventors. In addition to the previous two giants, I randomly list contributions by country clergymen: Rev. Edmund Cartwright invented the power loom, contributing to the Industrial Revolution; Rev.


pages: 778 words: 227,196

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes

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Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, British Empire, Copley Medal, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, Etonian, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Harrison: Longitude, music of the spheres, placebo effect, polynesian navigation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, trade route, unbiased observer, University of East Anglia, éminence grise

Cambridge was also Newton’s shrine, and the base of the powerful ‘Trinity and John’s’ group of scientific academics. This time the list of those attending included almost all those who would soon become the rising stars in the firmament of early Victorian science: Michael Faraday, Sir John Herschel, John Dalton, Charles Babbage, Sir David Brewster, Adam Sedgwick, William Whewell, Thomas Chalmers, Thomas Malthus and William Somerville. The only notable absentee was Charles Darwin, just then botanising in Uruguay during the Beagle’s voyage.34 Some of ‘the ladies’ were also pressing for admittance, including several powerful scientific wives, like Margaret Herschel and Mary Somerville. They pretended to be fully engaged in hosting receptions and choosing the menus, while unofficially they listened at the back of the lecture halls, took notes, and critically judged the quality (and appearance) of the speakers.


pages: 661 words: 169,298

Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, Commentariolus, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, delayed gratification, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, Karl Jansky, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, planetary scale, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers

13 and, “Is any record kept of the diameter attained by the largest Pansies?”14 Darwin’s second premise is that all living creatures tend to produce more offspring than the environment can support. It’s a cruel world, in which only a fraction of the wolves and turtles and dragonflies that come into existence manage to find sustenance and avoid predators long enough to reproduce. The English economist Thomas Malthus had quantified these harsh facts of life by pointing out that most species reproduce geometrically, while the environment can support no better than a linear increase in their populations.* Darwin read Malthus’s An Essay on the Principle of Population in London in 1838—“for amusement,” he recalled—and the hypothesis of evolution by natural selection began to take form in his mind. “One may say,” he wrote, that “there is a force like a hundred thousand wedges trying [to] force every kind of adapted structure into the gaps in the [e]conomy of nature, or rather forming gaps by thrusting out weaker ones.”15 It was in the combination of the boundless fecundity of living things with the limited resources available to support them that Darwin found a natural, global mechanism that worked constantly to extinguish most variations, preserving only those carried by individuals who managed to survive and reproduce.


pages: 695 words: 194,693

Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible by William N. Goetzmann

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Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, compound rate of return, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, delayed gratification, Detroit bankruptcy, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, double entry bookkeeping, Edmond Halley, en.wikipedia.org, equity premium, financial independence, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, frictionless, frictionless market, full employment, high net worth, income inequality, index fund, invention of the steam engine, invention of writing, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, laissez-faire capitalism, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, new economy, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Ponzi scheme, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, spice trade, stochastic process, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, time value of money, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, tulip mania, wage slave

Although the debate between Condorcet and Malthus was never consummated face to face, in the centuries that followed, it would frame one of the greatest challenges of the modern world—universal provision for an uncertain future. So the creation of life annuities and the imagining of a future in which they could help everyone in society—not just those who could afford to buy them—led to the realization of another previously un-imagined consequence: humanity would become the victim of its own success. The negative shadow of Thomas Malthus hovered over the shining hope of finance. 16 EFFICIENT MARKETS Nineteenth-century print of the Paris Bourse. The Enlightenment tradition of mathematical inquiry was stimulated by the financial markets and the variety of unusual securities traded in them and vice versa. In this chapter, we take a look forward in time. We deviate a bit from the historical timeline to follow the probability rabbit down the rabbit hole.


pages: 551 words: 174,280

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Bonfire of the Vanities, conceptual framework, cosmological principle, dark matter, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, first-past-the-post, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, illegal immigration, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John Conway, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, William of Occam

But those attitudes are not what I am referring to either: they are matters not of philosophy but of psychology – more ‘spin’ than substance. The terms can also refer to moods, such as cheerfulness or depression, but, again, moods do not necessitate any particular stance about the future: the statesman Winston Churchill suffered from intense depression, yet his outlook on the future of civilization, and his specific expectations as wartime leader, were unusually positive. Conversely the economist Thomas Malthus, a notorious prophet of doom (of whom more below), is said to have been a serene and happy fellow, who often had his companions at the dinner table in gales of laughter. Blind optimism is a stance towards the future. It consists of proceeding as if one knows that the bad outcomes will not happen. The opposite approach, blind pessimism, often called the precautionary principle, seeks to ward off disaster by avoiding everything not known to be safe.


pages: 1,072 words: 297,437

Africa: A Biography of the Continent by John Reader

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agricultural Revolution, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, clean water, colonial rule, discovery of the americas, illegal immigration, land reform, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, new economy, out of africa, Scramble for Africa, spice trade, surplus humans, the market place, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, urban sprawl, women in the workforce

The plan to settle British emigrants along the eastern border of the Cape Colony has been described as ‘nothing but a political manoeuvre by a Tory Government, desperate to demonstrate public concern for the unemployed in order to stave off pressures for more radical reform’.1 Certainly there was widespread social unrest in Britain at the time, and the government was under pressure to act. Mass unemployment and political riots had followed the turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars, and theories of ‘overpopulation’ derived from Thomas Malthus's gloomy Essay on the Principles of Population, published in 1798, provided a convenient explanation for these troubles. Malthus had pointed out that in all creatures – including humans – the potential to produce offspring exceeds the growth of the resources needed to feed them. If overpopulation was the problem, a growing body of influential opinion surmised, emigration was the solution. Shiploads of convicts taken from Britain's overcrowded prisons were dispatched to Australia; attempts to populate the empty spaces of Canada with surplus free citizens were made, but abruptly halted when it became apparent that many emigrants were using their assisted passages to Canada as cheap tickets to the United States.2 The proposal to send several thousand settlers to the Cape was an attractive alternative, and in June 1819 parliament was persuaded to provide a grant of £50,000 for the emigration of roughly 4,000 settlers to the Zuurveld.


pages: 1,152 words: 266,246

Why the West Rules--For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future by Ian Morris

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Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, defense in depth, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, Doomsday Clock, en.wikipedia.org, falling living standards, Flynn Effect, Francisco Pizarro, global village, hiring and firing, indoor plumbing, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, knowledge economy, market bubble, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, New Journalism, out of africa, Peter Thiel, phenotype, pink-collar, place-making, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Silicon Valley, Sinatra Doctrine, South China Sea, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, upwardly mobile, wage slave, washing machines reduced drudgery

Japan and guns: Perrin 1979. Financial crises and fiscal revolutions: Bonney 1999, Goldstone 1991. British and Dutch commerce and institutions: Brenner 2003, H. Cook 2008, de Vries and van der Woude 1997, Jardine 2008, Pincus 2009. Anglo-French trade and war: Findlay and O’Rourke 2007, Simms 2008. Mercantilism: Tracy 1990, 1991. Political economy: the classic texts are Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776), Thomas Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population (1st ed., 1798), and David Ricardo’s Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (1817), all republished many times. 10. THE WESTERN AGE Bayly 2004 and Darwin 2008 and 2009 are outstanding recent surveys on the global scale, but Eric Hobsbawm’s four-volume treatment (1964, 1975, 1987, 1994) remains my favorite. Estimates of economic growth: Maddison 1995, 2001.


pages: 768 words: 291,079

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell

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Berlin Wall, British Empire, Corn Laws, cuban missile crisis, full employment, James Watt: steam engine, Khartoum Gordon, laissez-faire capitalism, Louis Pasteur, means of production, Murano, Venice glass, Thomas Malthus, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, wage slave, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce

Free Trade for the last fifty years: free trade assumes that trade should occur without the constraints of import duties, export bounties, sub- sidies, quotas, or licences. The 1846 repeal of the Corn Laws (which had excluded cheaper foreign wheat) was often understood as the symbolic initiation of Victorian free trade. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gladstone had by 1860 removed import duties on over 400 categories of goods, leaving only a few luxury items subject to tariffs. ‘Over-population!’: Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), in his influential Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), argued that population grows faster than food supply and that poverty was thus a condition with the force of a law of nature. 19 poverty in France?: French fertility levels moved down from 38 to 40 per thousand before the French Revolution (1789), to 25 per thousand by the 1870s. ‘Drink is the cause of most of the poverty’: view disseminated by the nine- teenth-century Temperance Movement.


pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon

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3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yield management

The most distinctive aspect of U.S. demography was the rapid rate of population growth, which from the founding of the Republic in 1790 to the eve of the Civil War in 1860 had averaged 3.0 percent per year, an unprecedented rate that implied a doubling of the population every twenty-three years.12 After 1860, the population growth rate slowed to 2.3 percent during 1860–1890, 1.9 percent during 1890–1910, and 1.4 percent during 1910–1930. Nevertheless, these rates were high compared to the developed countries of western Europe, where population growth rates during 1870–1913 were 1.2 percent per annum for Germany, 0.9 for the U. K., and a mere 0.2 for France. As early as 1798, Thomas Malthus commented on the high fertility and large family sizes in the United States, which he attributed to the extreme cheapness of farm land: And on account of the extreme cheapness of good land a capital could not be more advantageously employed than in agriculture…. The consequence of these favorable circumstances united was a rapidity of increase probably without parallel in history. Throughout all of the northern colonies, the population was found to double in twenty-five years.13 Table 2–1 places several aspects of American demography in 1870 into perspective by providing the same data for 1940 and 2010.


pages: 1,445 words: 469,426

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power by Daniel Yergin

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anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, Berlin Wall, British Empire, colonial exploitation, Columbine, cuban missile crisis, energy security, European colonialism, Exxon Valdez, financial independence, fudge factor, informal economy, joint-stock company, land reform, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, new economy, North Sea oil, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, postnationalism / post nation state, price stability, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Thomas Malthus, Yom Kippur War

Ibn Saud and the other leaders of the time, as well as the various potentates since, were under the thrall of David Ricardo, a fantastically successful stockbroker in late-eighteenth-century and early-nineteenth-century England. (Among other things, he made a killing on Wellington's defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.) By origin a Jew, Ricardo became a Quaker, then a learned member of the House of Commons, and was one of the founding fathers of modern economics. He and Thomas Malthus, his friend and intellectual rival, constituted between themselves the successor generation to Adam Smith. Ricardo developed the concept that was to provide the framework for the battle between nation-states and oil companies. It was the notion of "rents" as something different from normal profits. His case study involved grain, but it could also apply to oil. Let there be two landlords, said Ricardo, one with fields much more fertile than the other.