Thomas Malthus

179 results back to index


The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe

Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, complexity theory, Copley Medal, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, failed state, Isaac Newton, Nelson Mandela, Norman Mailer, Steven Pinker, Thomas Malthus

This being 1858 on a miserable, sparsely populated speck of earth somewhere far, far south of London’s nobs, fops, top hats, and toffs, he has nothing with which to while the time away except for a copy of Tristram Shandy he has already read five times—that and his own thoughts… One day he’s lying back on his reeking bog of a bed…thinking…about this and that…when a book he read a good twelve years earlier comes bubbling up his brain stem: An Essay on the Principle of Population by a Church of England priest, Thomas Malthus.c The priest had a deformed palate that left him with a speech defect, but he could write like a dream. The book had been published in 1798 and was still very much alive sixty years and six editions later. Left unchecked, Malthus said, human populations would increase geometrically, doubling every twenty-five years.1 But the food supply increases only arithmetically, one step at a time.2 By the twenty-first century, the entire earth would be covered by one great heaving mass of very hungry people pressed together shank to flank, butt to gut.

He used his clout as a Gentleman and a leading naturalist to enter Jenny’s cage and study her expressions up close.29 Certain he was…and so what? That left him as stumped as everybody else who was so sure about it, including his grandfather Erasmus Darwin. Erasmus couldn’t figure out exactly how transmutationi—Evolution—occurred, and neither could his grandson. In October of 1838, Charles happened to pick up a copy of Thomas Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population…“for amusement,” as he put it, apparently assuming that no deep thinker could possibly find a book as old and popular as Principle of Population profound.30 He started reading it, and— Ahura! That old Malthusian magic’s got me in its spell! It lights up Darwin’s brainpan precisely the way it would Wallace’s twenty years later—It!—the solution to what naturalists, including Darwin himself until that very moment, called “the mystery of mysteries”: how the littlest creature (or “four or five” of them), smaller even than the smallest invisible biting midge—namely, a cell; never mind those great bulky hares and scorpions and dung-eating beetles—a cell, or a cell and a few brethren, grew up into the most highly developed creature of all, one with a certified Latin name, Homo sapiens.

a According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the word “primitive” can be defined as: “of, belonging to, or seeming to come from an early time in the very ancient past; not having a written language, advanced technology, etc.;…of, relating to, or produced by a people or culture that is nonindustrial and often nonliterate and tribal.” Notes Chapter I: The Beast Who Talked 1 Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (London: J. Johnson, 1798), chapter 2. 2 Ibid., chapter 1. 3 James Hutton, An Investigation of the Principles of Knowledge, and of the Progress of Reason, from Sense to Science and Philosophy, (Edinburgh: Strahan and Cadell, 1794). 4 Erasmus Darwin, Zoonomia; or, the Laws of Organic Life, (London: J. Johnson, 1794). 5 Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Recherches sur l’organisation des corps vivants (Paris: Maillard, 1802).


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

23andMe, 8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, attribution theory, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, Clayton Christensen, dark matter, disruptive innovation, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, Googley, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kickstarter, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, post scarcity, Ray Kurzweil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Singularitarianism, smart grid, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Thomas Malthus, upwardly mobile, World Values Survey, X Prize

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: 279 words: 87,910

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

"Robert Solow", banking crisis, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Bonfire of the Vanities, call centre, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, income per capita, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Paul Samuelson, profit motive, purchasing power parity, Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, union organizing, University of East Anglia, Veblen good, wage slave, wealth creators, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

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: 282 words: 82,107

An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage

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, Kickstarter, 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: 561 words: 87,892

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

Admiral Zheng, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, 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, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, G4S, 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, liberal capitalism, low skilled workers, market clearing, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Naomi Klein, new economy, old age dependency ratio, Paul Samuelson, 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 inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, 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: 370 words: 107,983

Rage Inside the Machine: The Prejudice of Algorithms, and How to Stop the Internet Making Bigots of Us All by Robert Elliott Smith

Ada Lovelace, affirmative action, AI winter, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, animal electricity, autonomous vehicles, Black Swan, British Empire, cellular automata, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, corporate personhood, correlation coefficient, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Fellow of the Royal Society, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, Gerolamo Cardano, gig economy, Gödel, Escher, Bach, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, John Harrison: Longitude, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, new economy, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, p-value, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, Pierre-Simon Laplace, precariat, profit maximization, profit motive, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, stochastic process, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, twin studies, Vilfredo Pareto, Von Neumann architecture, women in the workforce

Around 2002, SFI researcher Jim Crutchfield (along with UC Berkley’s Karl Young) wondered what sorts of models algorithms could infer from the simplest possible capital-C complex system in the world. To examine this they employed the logistics equation, a simplified version of the Malthusian Model, derived from the same Thomas Malthus that inspired Charles Darwin.5 In 1845 the French mathematician Pierre François Verhulst, after he read the famous essay where Thomas Malthus theorized that human population growth would inevitably lead to starvation and misery due to the overuse of limited resources, rendered the idea in mathematical form, calling it the Malthusian Model, which was used to calculate the number of animals that might be grazed on a piece of land without destroying it, and even to explore human demographics, in line with the theories of Malthus.

The only trouble was the prevailing misery and poverty of the times did not reflect this evolutionary utopianism. And, the idea that mankind could work towards a perfect society on earth ran counter to traditional Christian thinking that held that man was innately sinful and the only way of overcoming the present misery was through religious salvation, and a paradise after death. Perhaps because of this, in 1798, curate and academic Thomas Malthus wrote An Essay on the Principle of Population in response to Godwin’s theory that society and universal suffrage would lead towards a perfected world. In the essay, Malthus argued that humankind’s improvement was bounded by a harsh reality: populations could only increase until they exhausted their food supplies, which resulted in poverty, and constrained the vast majority of people in a sub-perfect equilibrium of tolerable starvation.

In the end, this made things balance towards diversity of the antibody population, making Steph’s results precisely correct, and quite amazing. This is exactly what Kalyan’s more literal fitness-sharing algorithm was doing, except in the immune model there was no fitness-sharing function acting numerically on a numerical fitness. Instead, what the simulation showed was that natural resource sharing in the immune system had the emergent effect of maintaining diversity.19 If we recall the theory of eighteenth-century curate Thomas Malthus, limited resources are supposed to assure a sub-optimal social equilibrium, making evolutionary utopianism impossible. Darwin and Wallace transformed that idea into the mechanism of natural selection, which was eventually re-branded ‘survival of the fittest’. In their view, limited resource availability drove evolution because the less ‘fit’ didn’t survive and reproduce, ensuring the population became more and more fit over time.


pages: 264 words: 76,643

The Growth Delusion: Wealth, Poverty, and the Well-Being of Nations by David Pilling

Airbnb, banking crisis, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Branko Milanovic, call centre, centre right, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, Diane Coyle, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Erik Brynjolfsson, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial intermediation, financial repression, Gini coefficient, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google Hangouts, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, income per capita, informal economy, invisible hand, job satisfaction, Mahatma Gandhi, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, mortgage debt, off grid, old-boy network, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, peak oil, performance metric, pez dispenser, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, science of happiness, shareholder value, sharing economy, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, World Values Survey

Air pollution may cause as many as 1.2 million premature deaths a year, but it is equally true that China’s remarkable economic progress has contributed to a leap in life expectancy, which has more than doubled from thirty-five in 1949 to seventy-five today. That outpaces gains in most other countries and reflects a dramatic rise in the standard of living of most people, bringing better food, better hospitals, and better housing. Whether or not China’s growth threatens the planet—as well as its own sustainability—is a matter of conjecture. Ever since Thomas Malthus, a cleric and scholar who wrote his famous An Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798, people have been predicting that the earth is reaching its natural limits. Malthus thought that population growth would always outpace improvements in agricultural production, ensuring that living standards would stall and eventually catastrophe would strike. Malthus has been much pilloried. Like a stock market analyst forever predicting a crash, his ghost has had to watch on as the world has forged ahead into bull market territory.13 Certainly, there have been famines, war and pestilence, but the human population has grown exponentially and despite all the poverty that still remains, has grown immeasurably richer.

According to GFN, we have only relatively recently started exceeding the earth’s capacity to regenerate itself. In 1961 human demand accounted for 0.7 planet’s worth of biocapacity. That meant we were in the black. By the mid-1980s humanity had tipped into the red, and by 2008 the picture had changed dramatically. In that year, GFN said, we needed 1.5 planets to sustain us, something that is clearly unsustainable. It is enough to make Thomas Malthus stir from his grave to say, “I told you so.” * * * — Wealth is a measure not only of the present but also of the future. That is because today’s wealth—the balance sheet of all our assets, natural, physical and institutional—is tomorrow’s income. That contrasts with our standard economic gauge—GDP—which is essentially a backward-looking measure, a way of recording what has already been produced, say in the past year.

Figure 9 Economists struggle to imagine how a country can possibly progress if it is not forever adding people to its workforce. That’s why so many talk about Japan, with its mildly shrinking population and positive per-capita growth rates, as being in a “demographic death spiral.”4 Economists are so wedded to the idea that the economy must always be expanding that they find it hard to break the logic of “just add people.” If Thomas Malthus thought more and more people would be the death of human civilization, modern economists think the reverse. Yet unless we imagine the world’s population increasing indefinitely, we really must begin to imagine a world where the economy eventually stops expanding—in rich, mature economies at least.5 That does not mean that income per capita necessarily needs to stop rising. And that is what ultimately counts.


pages: 330 words: 77,729

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

"Robert Solow", Albert Einstein, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business climate, business cycle, creative destruction, 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, Kenneth Arrow, laissez-faire capitalism, liberation theology, liquidity trap, means of production, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, open economy, paradox of thrift, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, 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, Vilfredo Pareto, zero-sum game

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: 272 words: 83,798

A Little History of Economics by Niall Kishtainy

"Robert Solow", Alvin Roth, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, car-free, central bank independence, clean water, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, first-price auction, floating exchange rates, follow your passion, full employment, George Akerlof, greed is good, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, invisible hand, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, loss aversion, market clearing, market design, means of production, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, new economy, Occupy movement, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, prisoner's dilemma, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, washing machines reduced drudgery, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent

His father, a successful Jewish businessman, believed that a practical education was more important, so at the age of 14 Ricardo was sent to work in the stock market. He was brilliant at it and earned himself lots of money. Later, he helped lend money to the British government to fight Napoleon. One of his deals was effectively a bet on the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. By lending to the government Ricardo was taking a huge risk: if the British were defeated, he’d lose a lot of money. His friend and fellow economist, Thomas Malthus, who we’ll meet properly soon, had a small stake in the loan. Malthus panicked, and wrote to Ricardo to ask him to get rid of his share. Ricardo held his nerve, though, and held onto his own stake. When news came of the British victory, he became one of the wealthiest men in Britain overnight. Ricardo stumbled upon economics in a library where he discovered Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.

Two gentlemen come in to ask for a donation of a few pennies to buy meat and drink for the poor. Scrooge scowls at the men and shoos them out of the room. Speaking about the poor, he says to the departing visitors: ‘If they would rather die they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.’ Earlier, we met a financial genius and one of the great British economists, David Ricardo and his good friend, the clergyman Thomas Malthus. Malthus (1766–1834) wasn’t as good at earning money as Ricardo but turned out to be very good at coming up with economic theories that made people sit up and take notice. He was the first ever professor of economics, appointed in 1805 to the East India College, which trained officers of the East India Company, the famous British trading company. Some thinkers’ ideas don’t become widely known while they’re alive, but Malthus’s most certainly did.

Memories of the widespread starvation came back to Sen when he was developing his theory of famine decades later. At the time, in the 1970s and 1980s, there were terrible famines in Africa and Asia. The most obvious cause seemed to be a lack of food: people starve when the rains fail and the crops die. Or perhaps there were simply too many mouths to feed as a result of rapid population growth, the conclusion of Thomas Malthus in the eighteenth century. Sen saw defects in the common explanations. Droughts happen in America from time to time, but no one ever starves there. And while Malthus warned of the consequences of too many people, famines have happened in Ethiopia and Sudan, places where the populations live thinly scattered over vast areas of land. Sen said that people not having enough to eat isn’t the same as there not being enough food available overall.


pages: 421 words: 120,332

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

Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, clean water, Climategate, colonial rule, deglobalization, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, energy security, flex fuel, G4S, global supply chain, Google Earth, guest worker program, Hans Island, hydrogen economy, ice-free Arctic, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invisible hand, land tenure, Martin Wolf, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, purchasing power parity, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, side project, Silicon Valley, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, standardized shipping container, 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: 405 words: 121,999

The Human Tide: How Population Shaped the Modern World by Paul Morland

active measures, agricultural Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, clean water, Corn Laws, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Donald Trump, European colonialism, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, global pandemic, mass immigration, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nelson Mandela, Ponzi scheme, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, sceptred isle, stakhanovite, Thomas Malthus, transatlantic slave trade, women in the workforce, working-age population

Before this time humanity had experienced without doubt dramatic demographic events, mostly on the mortality side of the equation, such as plagues and massacres, but these had been sporadic rather than part of long-term trends. What long-term trends there had been, such as population growth in Europe and in the world more generally, had been gentle and punctuated with unhappy setbacks. By around 1800 the ‘Anglo-Saxons’ (essentially Britons and Americans) were escaping the constraints on population growth identified and defined by Thomas Malthus, an English clergyman, writer and thinker whose life spanned the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and of whom much will be said later. Ironically, however, they were escaping these constraints precisely as they were being identified. This era marks a meaningful break in demographic history, a demographic corollary of the industrial revolution, a landmark pointing both geographically and historically to global and permanent change.

Natural growth, excluding the effects of emigration, peaked at over 1.7% in the years 1811–25.2 This was much faster than in any other period, whether the high Middle Ages before the Black Death or in the Merry England of the Tudors, and it delivered a far larger population than England had ever seen before. When a population–or anything else–is growing at 1.33% per annum, it doubles in around fifty years, then doubles again in the next fifty years, and that is what the population of England did during the course of the nineteenth century. Just as this revolution was getting under way, the ‘old regime’ from which it was breaking was at last being identified, by the Reverend Thomas Malthus. Malthus was a country parson from Surrey, a prosperous county in southern England, who identified what he believed was an iron law of history. In his famous Essay on the Principle of Population, written, published and progressively revised between 1798 and 1830, he argued that a growing population would always outstrip the ability of the land to support it, which would lead inexorably to misery and death.

Its wars were once again fought in distant lands, having little direct impact at home. New social and economic trends came to the fore, and now the trendsetter was the most populous country of the West, the United States. 6 The West since 1945 From Baby Boom to Mass Immigration Living in Surrey in the early nineteenth century, and seemingly oblivious to the revolutionary changes occurring in the industrial heartland a few hundred miles to the north, the Reverend Thomas Malthus was describing a vanishing world. It was a world in which the capacity of land to support people rose only gradually, while growth in human numbers might grow exponentially and would be kept in check, one way or another, by the limitations of slowly growing food production. Yet while Malthus was expounding his theory in various versions of An Essay on the Principle of Population, his agrarian assumptions were being undermined as a whole new society was being born around Manchester and other new industrial centres in England’s north and Midlands.


pages: 626 words: 167,836

The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Benedikt Frey

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, business cycle, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, Corn Laws, creative destruction, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic transition, desegregation, deskilling, Donald Trump, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, factory automation, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, future of work, game design, Gini coefficient, Hyperloop, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, industrial robot, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, natural language processing, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, oil shock, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, Renaissance Technologies, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, social intelligence, speech recognition, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, trade route, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Turing test, union organizing, universal basic income, washing machines reduced drudgery, wealth creators, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

A 1915 article published in Literary Digest confidently predicted that with electrification, it “will become next to impossible to contract disease germs or get hurt in the city, and country folk will go to town to rest and get well.”9 Edison himself was convinced that electricity would help us overcome the greatest hurdle to further progress: our need to sleep. Technology was the new religion of the people. There was the sense that there was no problem that technology could not solve. In hindsight, and in the light of the gains brought by technology, it is astounding to think that economists of the early nineteenth century like Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo did not believe that technology could improve the human lot. The technological virtuosity of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries took some time to trickle down to the economics profession. But in the 1950s, Robert Solow, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1987, found that virtually all economic advance over the twentieth century had been thanks to technology.

Yet other technologies of the Industrial Revolution could have been invented and put into widespread use without advances in science. So why were they not? Broadly speaking, there are two strands of explanations. While some scholars have emphasized constraints on the supply of technology, others have pointed at limited demand. Joseph Schumpeter believed that for a given technology to be adopted, some kind of need must exist.2 This was also the view of Thomas Malthus, who reckoned that “necessity has been with great truth called the mother of invention. Some of the noblest exertions of the human mind have been set in motion by the necessity of satisfying the wants of the body.”3 A number of examples of technological developments since the Industrial Revolution that conform to this view spring to mind, including the Manhattan Project, set up by the U.S. government to develop an atomic bomb before Nazi Germany could do so; the steam engine developed by Thomas Savery to pump water out of British coal mines; and the interchangeable parts pioneered by Eli Whitney to “substitute correct and effective operations of machinery for the skill of the artist which is acquired only by long practice and experience; a species of skill which is not possessed in this country to any considerable extent.”4 To return to the preindustrial world, most demand-driven explanations of the lack of preindustrial growth tend to emphasize the fact that labor-saving technologies, which allow us to produce more with less, make economic sense only if capital is relatively cheap compared to labor.

The period 1900–1970 has rightly been regarded the “the greatest levelling of all time.”53 Incomes were rising for virtually everyone, and they were growing even faster at lower ranks. As Americans in the middle and at the lower end of the income distribution became the prime beneficiaries of progress, inequality went into reverse. Along with every other industrialized nation, America saw the share of income accruing to people at the top, fall. It may be telling that unlike economists of the Industrial Revolution (like Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx) who were all fond of apocalyptic economic predictions, economists living in the aftermath of the Second Industrial Revolution were largely optimistic—perhaps overly so. In any event, the idea that industrialists grew rich on the misery of workers had evidently fallen out of fashion. In the 1950s, Robert Solow advanced a model of a balanced growth path, in which progress delivered equal benefits for every social group; Kaldor put forward his stylized facts of economic growth, showing that the labor share of income had remained roughly constant, at two-thirds of national income, despite rapid mechanization; and Simon Kuznets advanced his hugely optimistic theory of economic progress in which inequality automatically decreases, regardless of economic policy choices.54 Their optimism surely seemed warranted at the time.


pages: 250 words: 88,762

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

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business cycle, 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, zero-sum game

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.


The State and the Stork: The Population Debate and Policy Making in US History by Derek S. Hoff

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Alfred Russel Wallace, back-to-the-land, British Empire, business cycle, clean water, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, desegregation, Edward Glaeser, feminist movement, full employment, garden city movement, George Gilder, Gunnar Myrdal, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, labor-force participation, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, New Economic Geography, new economy, old age dependency ratio, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, pensions crisis, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, urban planning, urban sprawl, wage slave, War on Poverty, white flight, zero-sum game

Yet largely because of the nation’s atypical religiosity, “fertility is high even for white non-Hispanics, for states with the lowest fertility, and for college graduates,” observe demographers Samuel Preston and Caroline Hartnett.6 Rhode Island, the state with the lowest fertility, would rank among the highest fertility nations in Europe if it broke off from the US and joined the EU.7 Historically, Americans have used three overarching approaches when thinking about population. The first, the “limits to growth” perspective, insists that people eventually and disastrously outstrip the supply of natural resources. When twenty-first-century Americans hear the words “population debate,” most think of—but do not agree with—the limits-to-growth principles set forth by British pastor Thomas Malthus (1766–1834). In his Essay on the Principle of Population, first published in 1798 but updated in a more widely read 1803 edition, Malthus concluded that overpopulation and misery were inevitable. “Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio,” he observed. “Subsistence [the food supply] increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will shew the immensity of the first power in comparison to the second.”8 However, Malthus failed to predict the future widespread use of birth control, women’s movements, and dramatic gains in agricultural productivity, or that industrialization and economic growth would lower fertility.

The population policies of the new United States were indirect but powerful: the federal government subsidized the numerical and geographical expansion of the citizenry by acquiring new territories and removing Indians from them, providing cheap land to settlers and introduction 11 railroads, and welcoming the nearly unlimited immigration of people not of “African descent.” But the founders’ “republican” theory of democracy, sprung from the Enlightenment, valued an agrarian society with room to expand and fostered population anxieties among the elite well before Thomas Malthus published his Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798. In the Early Republic, Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party worried that population growth threatened the agrarian republic, whereas the Federalist Party embraced rising numbers, believing they accelerated commerce and spurred beneficial manufacturing. Population concerns remained robust and intimately connected to foundational policy questions surrounding slavery and westward expansion in the decades before the Civil War.

Its followers feared that a rising population was fraught with peril and heralded the kind of fully settled, commercial- and manufacturing-based, deeply inegalitarian, and morally decrepit European society from which the colonists had fled.8 Ideas about population were not a perfect proxy for party affiliation, but whereas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans tended to imbibe republicanism’s aversion to population growth, John Adams’s Federalists and later the Whig Party tended to embrace liberalism’s celebration of it—and hoped to keep it confined to America’s great cities rather than seeing it disperse across the West. Thus Americans had engaged in substantial population debates long before the Rev. Thomas Malthus argued in An Essay on the Principle of Population as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society (1798) that population growth doomed human societies by overwhelming natural resources. (Although Malthus published the first edition anonymously, and it was little read, he made no attempt to hide his authorship. The revised 16 chapter 1 1803 edition with Malthus’s official imprimatur enjoyed a much greater readership.)


pages: 355 words: 63

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

"Robert Solow", Andrei Shleifer, business climate, business cycle, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, clean water, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, endogenous growth, financial repression, Gini coefficient, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, income per capita, inflation targeting, interchangeable parts, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, large denomination, manufacturing employment, Network effects, New Urbanism, open economy, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, 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: 382 words: 105,166

The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations by Jacob Soll

accounting loophole / creative accounting, bank run, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, collapse of Lehman Brothers, computer age, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, delayed gratification, demand response, discounted cash flows, double entry bookkeeping, financial independence, Frederick Winslow Taylor, God and Mammon, High speed trading, Honoré de Balzac, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, new economy, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Scientific racism, South Sea Bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route

From the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century, those societies that managed to harness accounting and long-term traditions of financial accountability and trust did so by full cultural engagement: Republican Italian city-states like Florence and Genoa, Golden Age Holland, and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain and America all integrated accounting into their educational curriculum, religious and moral thought, art, philosophy, and political theory. Accounting became the subject of theological and political works, great paintings, social and scientific theories, and novels, from Dante and the Dutch Masters to Auguste Comte, Thomas Malthus, Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and Max Weber. In a virtuous circle, the elevation of practical, business-minded mathematics into the spheres of high and humane thinking allowed these societies not only to maximize their use of accounting but also to build complex cultures of accountability and awareness of the difficulties posed by such a culture. With this culture of accountability came capitalism and representative government.

From maps, biology, human behavior, and railroads to the probabilities of life and death and the management of time itself, all now came under the purview of the men of numbers. The spread of science into all aspects of life brought great advantages in industry, technology, and medicine, but it was also used for more morally ambiguous purposes.7 Whereas Jeremy Bentham had used a double-entry model to try to calculate happiness, Thomas Malthus used the analogy of a numerical balance in his Essay on the Principle of Population (1798). In a pessimistic parallel to Bentham, Malthus also believed in two sides balancing each other out. In a biological reckoning, human subsistence requirements and the fatalities of vice would balance human population in a natural system of checks and balances, by which “the superior power of population is repressed, and the actual population kept equal to the means of subsistence, by misery and vice.”

Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, ed. by Peter Preston (Ware, UK: Wordsworth Editions, 1996), 102. 4. Henry David Thoreau, Walden or Life in the Woods (Mansfield Centre, CT: Martino, 2009), 26. 5. Ibid., 17, 28. 6. Amanda Vickerey, “His and Hers: Gender, Consumption and Household Accounting in Eighteenth-Century England,” Past and Present 1, Supplement 1 (2006): 12–38. 7. Porter, Trust in Numbers, 17–30. 8. Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 61. 9. Janet Browne, “The Natural Economy of Households: Charles Darwin’s Account Books,” in Aurora Torealis: Studies in the History of Science and Ideas in the Honor Tore Frängsmyr, ed. Marco Beretta, Karl Grandin, and Svante Lindqvist (Sagamore Beach, MA: Watson, 2008), 104. 10. The questionnaire is reproduced in Francis Darwin, ed., The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (London, 1887), 3:178–179.


pages: 190 words: 61,970

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

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Branko Milanovic, Cass Sunstein, clean water, end world poverty, experimental economics, illegal immigration, Martin Wolf, microcredit, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, 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: 464 words: 116,945

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey

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, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, drone strike, end world poverty, 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, Gunnar Myrdal, 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: 453 words: 117,893

What Would the Great Economists Do?: How Twelve Brilliant Minds Would Solve Today's Biggest Problems by Linda Yueh

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, currency peg, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, endogenous growth, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, forward guidance, full employment, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Gunnar Myrdal, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index card, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, lateral thinking, life extension, low-wage service sector, manufacturing employment, market bubble, means of production, mittelstand, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Nelson Mandela, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price mechanism, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, reshoring, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, secular stagnation, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, universal basic income, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working-age population

Due to the war with France, England’s gold supply was under pressure so the Bank of England had stopped paying its notes in gold. Freed from this constraint, Ricardo argued that there was too much money printed by the central bank, which contributed to the high inflation of the time. This critique in his very first publication brought him to the attention of some of the leading thinkers of the time: Thomas Malthus, Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, father of the prominent philosopher John Stuart Mill. An increase in tariffs on imported wheat in 1815 under the Corn Laws prompted his next major work, Essay on the Influence of a Low Price of Corn on the Profits of Stock. The argument against the protectionist Corn Laws formed the foundation for his future and seminal work that set out the basis for trade models in economics.

They eventually married, and Engels ended up supporting their family too. Marxism It was after the 1857 global crisis that Marx began writing his treatise on political economy, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, which was published two years later. He analysed the ideas of the leading political economists of the day, particularly Adam Smith and his chief disciple, David Ricardo, as well as Thomas Malthus, Jean-Baptiste Say and James and John Stuart Mill, among others. Somewhat surprisingly, Marx admired Ricardo, calling him ‘the greatest economist of the nineteenth century’.14 Even though Ricardo was a capitalist, Marx shared his belief in a conflictual course of capitalism. Recall from the previous chapter that Ricardo saw an inevitable conflict between the classes due to international trade.

China’s communist revolt in 1949 was led by rural peasants, which differed from the proletarian revolution in 1917 in the USSR. Even though he lived in the world’s largest city after 1849, Marx became eventually convinced of the significance of agriculture in a capitalist economy and of the importance of social conflict in the countryside for revolution. In part, he gained these views from the French Physiocrats, David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus, all of whom considered the agricultural sector to be an essential part of the development process, and thus a source of capitalist conflict in Marx’s view. In Capital, Marx wrote of the labourers, capitalists, and landowners. Yet in the Communist Manifesto, written nineteen years before, he focused on two classes in a capitalist society: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Marx’s three-class society characterized China better than Russia in this respect.


pages: 374 words: 113,126

The Great Economists: How Their Ideas Can Help Us Today by Linda Yueh

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, currency peg, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, endogenous growth, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, forward guidance, full employment, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Gunnar Myrdal, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index card, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, lateral thinking, life extension, manufacturing employment, market bubble, means of production, mittelstand, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Nelson Mandela, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price mechanism, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, reshoring, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, secular stagnation, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, universal basic income, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working-age population

Due to the war with France, England’s gold supply was under pressure so the Bank of England had stopped paying its notes in gold. Freed from this constraint, Ricardo argued that there was too much money printed by the central bank, which contributed to the high inflation of the time. This critique in his very first publication brought him to the attention of some of the leading thinkers of the time: Thomas Malthus, Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, father of the prominent philosopher John Stuart Mill. An increase in tariffs on imported wheat in 1815 under the Corn Laws prompted his next major work, Essay on the Influence of a Low Price of Corn on the Profits of Stock. The argument against the protectionist Corn Laws formed the foundation for his future and seminal work that set out the basis for trade models in economics.

They eventually married, and Engels ended up supporting their family too. Marxism It was after the 1857 global crisis that Marx began writing his treatise on political economy, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, which was published two years later. He analysed the ideas of the leading political economists of the day, particularly Adam Smith and his chief disciple, David Ricardo, as well as Thomas Malthus, Jean-Baptiste Say and James and John Stuart Mill, among others. Somewhat surprisingly, Marx admired Ricardo, calling him ‘the greatest economist of the nineteenth century’.14 Even though Ricardo was a capitalist, Marx shared his belief in a conflictual course of capitalism. Recall from the previous chapter that Ricardo saw an inevitable conflict between the classes due to international trade.

China’s communist revolt in 1949 was led by rural peasants, which differed from the proletarian revolution in 1917 in the USSR. Even though he lived in the world’s largest city after 1849, Marx became eventually convinced of the significance of agriculture in a capitalist economy and of the importance of social conflict in the countryside for revolution. In part, he gained these views from the French Physiocrats, David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus, all of whom considered the agricultural sector to be an essential part of the development process, and thus a source of capitalist conflict in Marx’s view. In Capital, Marx wrote of the labourers, capitalists, and landowners. Yet in the Communist Manifesto, written nineteen years before, he focused on two classes in a capitalist society: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Marx’s three-class society characterized China better than Russia in this respect.


pages: 235 words: 65,885

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

addicted to oil, anti-communist, Asilomar, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), land reform, means of production, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, 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

autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, basic income, 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, George Santayana, 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 Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, 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, Paul Samuelson, 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 Future of Employment, 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: 314 words: 77,409

The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters by Sean B. Carroll

agricultural Revolution, British Empire, clean water, discovery of penicillin, Fellow of the Royal Society, out of africa, pattern recognition, phenotype, Skype, Thomas Malthus

Based on a maximum doubling time of twenty minutes, one can calculate how long it would take for one bacterium to give rise to enough bacteria to equal the weight of the Earth. The answer: just two days. But the world is not made of solid elephants or bacteria. Why? Because there are limits to the growth and numbers of all creatures. Darwin recognized that. And he understood it because Reverend Thomas Malthus stated it long before in his landmark Essay on the Principle of Populations (1798): Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. . . . The germs of existence contained in this spot of earth, with ample food, and ample room to expand in, would fill millions of worlds in the course of a few thousand years. Necessity, that imperious all pervading law of nature, restrains them within the prescribed bounds.

[Figure 7.6] What the curves revealed was that the rate of increase of each species was higher when their numbers were fewer, decreased as the populations grew, and then turned negative (the populations decreased). In other words, the rate of change in the population depended on its density. This phenomenon is known as density-dependent regulation. It has been appreciated since the writings of social economist Thomas Malthus that populations will increase indefinitely unless something prevents them from doing so. Imagine, however, a group of large animals in a fixed space, like goats in a pasture. If the population starts out small in number, it can expand as rapidly as the animals can reproduce. But as the number of animals increases, space or food begins to run low. If the population has overshot the capacity of the habitat, it will contract; eventually it will level out to the maximum that can be supported on finite resources.


pages: 301 words: 89,076

The Globotics Upheaval: Globalisation, Robotics and the Future of Work by Richard Baldwin

agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, commoditize, computer vision, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, deskilling, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Downton Abbey, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, facts on the ground, future of journalism, future of work, George Gilder, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, hiring and firing, impulse control, income inequality, industrial robot, intangible asset, Internet of things, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, mass incarceration, Metcalfe’s law, new economy, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, post-work, profit motive, remote working, reshoring, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social intelligence, sovereign wealth fund, standardized shipping container, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, telepresence, telepresence robot, telerobotics, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, universal basic income

They also encouraged employers to pay too little since workers could get public handouts. All this was to be fixed by the 1834 Poor Law Amendment. The 1834 act made it illegal to give support to people outside of workhouses, and then required the conditions in the workhouses to be horrible as a matter of moral principle. And it worked. Workhouses were widely feared—a terrible fate to be chosen only by the most desperate. Victorian social thinkers like Reverend Thomas Malthus viewed poverty as a natural condition that particular workers fell into due to their personal moral failings. To avoid encouraging immorality and sloth, workhouse conditions were designed to be worse than those of the poorest free laborer outside of the workhouse. As Catherine Spence’s example illustrates, such conditions shifted between fair-to-middling in good years to dire deprivation, or simple starvation, in downturn years.

Similar marches as well as mass strikes were common across all the advanced industrial economies. This was a turning point at which history ended up turning. The Great Depression was launched by a historic stock market crash in 1929 that was made much worse by poor policy. Allowing banks to fail proved deadly, but the real fault went much higher. The sitting president, Herbert Hoover, stuck to his philosophic belief in minimal government. Using workhouse logic that would have made Thomas Malthus proud, he argued that helping the destitute would tempt them into laziness and dependency. As the 1929 recession became the Great Depression, a backlash became inevitable. In the United States, this took the form of an electoral landslide for a new type of politician—one who promised to end the view of poverty as a moral failing on the part of the poor and who viewed it as the government’s duty to be caring and interventionist.


pages: 524 words: 155,947

More: The 10,000-Year Rise of the World Economy by Philip Coggan

"Robert Solow", accounting loophole / creative accounting, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, airline deregulation, Andrei Shleifer, anti-communist, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, collective bargaining, Columbian Exchange, Columbine, Corn Laws, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, currency peg, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, Donald Trump, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, germ theory of disease, German hyperinflation, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global value chain, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Haber-Bosch Process, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, hydraulic fracturing, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflation targeting, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kenneth Arrow, Kula ring, labour market flexibility, land reform, land tenure, Lao Tzu, large denomination, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Blériot, low cost airline, low skilled workers, lump of labour, M-Pesa, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, McJob, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, mittelstand, moral hazard, Murano, Venice glass, Myron Scholes, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, popular capitalism, popular electronics, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, railway mania, Ralph Nader, regulatory arbitrage, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, special drawing rights, spice trade, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, TaskRabbit, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, The Great Moderation, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, universal basic income, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, V2 rocket, Veblen good, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

But output can also be improved by new ways of organising production, such as the moving assembly line that allowed Henry Ford to produce cars more cheaply. Financial innovation, such as letters of credit, or legal reforms like the creation of the limited liability company, made it easier for traders to take risks and expand their operations. Perhaps the most important area of innovation has been agriculture. Thomas Malthus, an 18th-century vicar, is famed for his gloomy forecasts about the dangers of population growth. He spotted the underlying problem of civilisation until that time: the limits on the ability to produce more food. New gadgets such as the seed drill may have helped escape this Malthusian trap, as it became known, but just as important were new crops, and new systems of field rotation that boosted output.

Without enormous improvements in productivity, it would never have been possible to shift so many workers out of farming and into manufacturing and services. And without those same productivity improvements, the planet would never be able to support the 7.7bn humans who are alive today. In the first seven decades of the 20th century, an average of 49 people per 100,000 died from famines somewhere in the world; in the subsequent four decades (up until 2010), the average was just 4.5.3 Thomas Malthus, the cleric and scholar whose 1798 essay predicted that food production would never keep pace with population growth, has been proved wrong time and again. As recently as 1950, farming still employed two-thirds of the global workforce.4 We can classify the countries of the world by the proportion of the workforce involved in agriculture. If the figure is under 20%, then it is probably a developed country.

Adam Vaughan, “UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time”, The Guardian, November 6th 2018 Chapter 6 – The great change: 1000–1500 1. C.A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World 1780–1914 2. N.F.R. Crafts and C.K. Harley, “Output growth and the British Industrial Revolution: a restatement of the Crafts-Harley view”, The Economic History Review, vol. 45, no. 4, November 1992 3. Maddison, Growth and Interaction in the World Economy, op. cit. 4. Ibid. 5. Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population 6. Maddison, Contours of the World Economy, op. cit. 7. Jűrgen Osterhammel, The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the 19th Century 8. Ibid. 9. Douglass C. North and Robert Paul Thomas, The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History 10. Standage, An Edible History of Humanity, op. cit. 11. Fernand Braudel, Civilization & Capitalism, 15th–18th Century, Volume 2: The Wheels of Commerce 12.


pages: 653 words: 155,847

Energy: A Human History by Richard Rhodes

Albert Einstein, animal electricity, California gold rush, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Copley Medal, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, demographic transition, Dmitri Mendeleev, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, energy transition, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, flex fuel, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, nuclear winter, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ralph Nader, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, Simon Kuznets, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, Vanguard fund, working poor, young professional

“The man in the street in the 1790s,” Wrigley argues, “would be in no doubt about the occurrence of a revolution across the Channel in France, but he would have been astonished to learn that he was living in the middle of what future generations would also term a revolution.” Nor was the man in the street the only person in denial, Wrigley adds. “The three greatest of the framers of classical economics, Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo, not only were equally unaware of it, but were unanimous in dismissing the possibility of what later generations came to term an industrial revolution.”I14 Wagonways and railways extending to and from canals were numerous by 1800. A few railways hauling coal, like the Merthyr Tramroad, bypassed canals where traffic was heavy. But a colliery engineer, William Thomas, only explored the project of a railroad as we know it today, carrying passengers and freight between cities, on the record for the first time at a meeting of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle on 11 February 1805.15 Thomas proposed what he called “a middle line,” a transportation system with many of the advantages and few of the drawbacks of a canal or a public road.16 Rather than “the common wood rail used in collieries,” Thomas’s railway would run on cast-iron “plates” four and a half feet long and five inches wide, wide enough to accommodate the wheels of ordinary horse-drawn carriages, with a flanged edge “to prevent the carriage slipping off the road.”17 The cars could carry grain to market and “return . . . manure from the town,” Thomas explained, and as the railway passed through more densely populated areas, people would “avail themselves of so cheap and expeditious a conveyance” as well.18 Riding in open cars with loads of animal and human waste must seem unappealing today, but exposure to the sight and smell of manure was an everyday occurrence in a world of animal transportation.

There were more radical methods of pruning undesirables, Brown hinted, only a decade after the Holocaust, but he suspected that such methods “would probably not be palatable to many of us who are alive today.”9 If this cool invitation to racial selection and maiming echoes with the pseudoscience of Nazi eugenics, it does so for a reason: there is a direct link between the original eugenics movement that inspired Adolf Hitler and the veiled postwar eugenics organizations that endorsed Malthusian nightmares of a “population explosion.” Tracing that link in detail is outside the scope of this book, but several scholars have done so, including Robert Zubrin in his 2013 study Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, and Pierre Desrochers and Christine Hoffbauer in a lengthy 2009 paper, “The Postwar Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb.”10 Thomas Malthus, the eighteenth-century English proto-economist, was himself no piker at human pruning, notoriously proposing: Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations.

Harrison Brown, The Challenge of Man’s Future: An Inquiry Concerning the Condition of Man During the Years That Lie Ahead (New York: Viking, 1954), 221. 8. Ibid., 104. 9. Ibid., 105. 10. “The postwar intellectual roots of the population bomb”: Pierre Desrochers and Christine Hoffbauer, “The Postwar Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb: Fairfield Osborn’s ‘Our Plundered Planet’ and William Vogt’s ‘Road to Survival’ in Retrospect,” Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development 1, no. 3 (2009): 37–61. 11. Thomas Malthus, Essay on Population, 6th ed., bk. 4, ch. 5 (London: John Murray, 1826), .300–1, quoted in Robert Zubrin, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism (New York: Encounter Books, 2013), 6. 12. Paul R. Ehrlich, The Population Bomb (San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1969), 12. 13. Ibid., 143. 14. Josué de Castro, The Geography of Hunger (Boston: Little, Brown, 1952), 312, quoted in Desrochers and Hoffbauer, “Postwar Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb,” 54. 15.


pages: 740 words: 217,139

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

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, endogenous growth, 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, land reform, land tenure, means of production, offshore financial centre, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, principal–agent problem, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Right to Buy, Scramble for Africa, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), 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, zero-sum game

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: 321 words: 89,109

The New Gold Rush: The Riches of Space Beckon! by Joseph N. Pelton

3D printing, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Buckminster Fuller, Carrington event, Colonization of Mars, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, global pandemic, Google Earth, gravity well, Iridium satellite, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, life extension, low earth orbit, Lyft, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, megastructure, new economy, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, post-industrial society, private space industry, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Thomas Malthus, Tim Cook: Apple, Tunguska event, uber lyft, urban planning, urban sprawl, wikimedia commons, X Prize

., new “rules of the outer skies” and cooperative space standards and practices—that can allow a fair and equitable set of practices for the “cosmic commons” and (3) the strategic and even military space systems that will “police” the new space economy as it grows and matures further and further away from Planet Earth . Astral Abundance Unless we turn to the commercial opportunities of New Space and breakthrough new technologies here on Earth, we could indeed be in deep trouble. This will be ever clearer as populations continue to rise and resources shrink (Fig. 1.3). Dr. Thomas Malthus, the economic prophet of the eighteenth century who predicted we would eventually run out of food and vital resources, will be proven right even though he was perhaps three centuries premature. Some very capable people have gathered data from all over the world to put together the following chart on so-called “non-renewable resources .” Fig. 1.3Global inventory of scarce global resources This chart was compiled in 2000, when the global population was under seven billion and commodities were more abundant.

CubesatA very small 1 unit cube-shaped satellite 10 cm × 10 cm × 10 cm that is often used for student experiments. There are larger versions that are 2–6 units that are used for many new applications for commercial applications. Earth’s finite resourcesThere have been various warnings about the world’s mounting human population and the limits of natural resources, potable water, and food that the planet can sustain. Thomas Malthus was the first to publicly warn of such a concern, but in more recent times there has been the Club of Rome “Limits to Growth” study, the book Population Bomb and many other books and studies. Global Navigation Satellite Services or Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)Satellites used to provide navigation and targeting capabilities as well as precision timing. There are several such systems now in operation.


pages: 353 words: 98,267

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

Alvin Roth, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, longitudinal study, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, means of production, Menlo Park, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, new economy, New Urbanism, peer-to-peer, 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, ultimatum game, unpaid internship, urban planning, Veblen good, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, Yom Kippur War, young professional, zero-sum game

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: 377 words: 97,144

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

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, Norman Macrae, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, phenotype, placebo effect, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, 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, twin studies, 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: 329 words: 102,469

Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West by Timothy Garton Ash

Albert Einstein, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, centre right, clean water, Columbine, continuation of politics by other means, cuban missile crisis, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Eratosthenes, European colonialism, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, illegal immigration, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), James Watt: steam engine, Kickstarter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Peace of Westphalia, postnationalism / post nation state, Project for a New American Century, purchasing power parity, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, Washington Consensus, working poor, working-age population, World Values Survey

Then, as people become more affluent, women more emancipated, and parents more confident that their children will survive, the curve flattens off—until eventually we start worrying about having too few children rather than too many. Nonetheless, the U.N.’s median prediction puts the likely world population at nearly 8 billion by 2025 and just under 9 billion by 2050.111 Surprisingly, the experts think that, for the foreseeable future, there will be enough food to go around. In 1798, when the world had barely 1 billion people, Thomas Malthus foresaw terrible disasters flowing from the imbalance in “the proportion between the natural increase of population and food.”112 But in a global perspective of two centuries, Malthus has been proved wrong. Thanks largely to the so-called Green revolution, food production per head has increased in every region of the world except Africa since the late 1970s, despite the spectacular growth in the number of mouths to feed.

See United Nations Chronicle, online edition, vol. 36, no. 3, 1999. 108. See http://www.unfpa.org/6billion/ccmc/thedayofsixbillion.htm and UNPD, World Population Prospects: The 2002 Revision, on http://www.un.org/esa/population/unpop.ht. 109. See http://www.unfpa.org/6billion/. Every two-fifths of a second is my timing of that counter. 110. World Population Prospects: The 2002 Revision, p. 1. 111. Ibid., p. vii. 112. Thomas Malthus, Essay on Population, quoted in Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 205. I follow Sen’s argument. 113. Ibid., Table 9.1 on p. 206. 114. Human Development Report 2003, p. 227. 115. Ibid., p. 125. “Water stress” is defined as consuming more than 20 percent of your renewable water supply every year. 116. See Marq de Villiers, Water Wars: Is the World’s Water Running Out?


pages: 391 words: 102,301

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

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, Live Aid, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, offshore financial centre, open borders, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, pension reform, plutocrats, Plutocrats, popular capitalism, 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, zero-sum game

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: 133 words: 31,263

The Lessons of History by Will Durant, Ariel Durant

long peace, mobile money, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Thales of Miletus, Thomas Malthus, trade route

Gaul survived against the Germans through the help of Roman legions in Caesar’s days, and through the help of British and American legions in our time. When Rome fell the Franks rushed in from Germany and made Gaul France; if England and America should fall, France, whose population remained almost stationary through the nineteenth century, might again be overrun. If the human brood is too numerous for the food supply, Nature has three agents for restoring the balance: famine, pestilence, and war. In a famous Essay on Population (1798) Thomas Malthus explained that without these periodic checks the birth rate would so far exceed the death rate that the multiplication of mouths would nullify any increase in the production of food. Though he was a clergyman and a man of good will, Malthus pointed out that the issuance of relief funds or supplies to the poor encouraged them to marry early and breed improvidently, making the problem worse. In a second edition (1803) he advised abstention from coitus except for reproduction, but he refused to approve other methods of birth control.


pages: 370 words: 112,602

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

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, Kickstarter, 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: 361 words: 105,938

The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester

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.


How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr

Albert Einstein, book scanning, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, citizen journalism, City Beautiful movement, clean water, colonial rule, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, Donald Trump, drone strike, European colonialism, friendly fire, gravity well, Haber-Bosch Process, Howard Zinn, immigration reform, land reform, Mercator projection, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, transcontinental railway, urban planning, wikimedia commons

Franklin is best remembered for his experiments with electricity and his many inventions (bifocals, the lightning rod, the circulating stove, the urinary catheter), but his demographic research was a large part of his legacy, too. His numbers quickly made the rounds in Europe, only sometimes with his name attached, and entered the thought of such philosophers as Adam Smith and David Hume. The grim prediction by the economist Thomas Malthus that food supply could never keep pace with population growth was largely based on Franklin’s North American calculations (which, Malthus gasped, indicated “a rapidity of increase probably without parallel in history”). Malthus, in turn, was an important influence on Charles Darwin, both of whose grandfathers knew Franklin well. The copy of Malthus’s book in Darwin’s library has the Franklin passages underlined.

They had “white gold,” known in less polite circles as bird shit. * * * To understand why anyone would care about bird droppings, it helps to know a little about preindustrial agriculture. Farming in the nineteenth-century United States was not like it is today, acres of staggeringly prolific fields bristling with high-yield crops. It was a touch-and-go business. The reason Benjamin Franklin’s population numbers had alarmed Thomas Malthus was that Malthus couldn’t see where the food would come from to feed those multiplying generations. New farmland and virgin soil had given North Americans a margin of ease, he acknowledged, but that could only be temporary. In the end, he wrote, “the power of population is so superior to the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.”

Von Valtier, “‘An Extravagant Assumption’: The Demographic Numbers Behind Benjamin Franklin’s Twenty-Five-Year Doubling Period,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 155 (2011): 158–88. “rapidity of increase”: Thomas Robert Malthus, First Essay on Population (London, 1798), 105. Malthus, in turn: Joyce E. Chaplin, Benjamin Franklin’s Political Arithmetic: A Materialist View of Humanity (Washington, DC, 2009), 45. 1890 census: Conway Zirkle, “Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Malthus and the United States Census,” Isis 48 (1957): 62. surpassed that of Britain: MPD. population of France: U.S. and French figures from MPD. For my understanding of U.S. population growth, I am indebted to D. W. Meinig, The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History, vol. 2 (New Haven, CT, 1993), and James Belich, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783–1939 (Oxford, UK, 2009).


pages: 121 words: 36,908

Four Futures: Life After Capitalism by Peter Frase

Airbnb, basic income, bitcoin, business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, cryptocurrency, deindustrialization, Edward Snowden, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, fixed income, full employment, future of work, high net worth, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), iterative process, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, litecoin, mass incarceration, means of production, Occupy movement, pattern recognition, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-work, postindustrial economy, price mechanism, private military company, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart meter, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, The Future of Employment, Thomas Malthus, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, Wolfgang Streeck

In particular, there has always been an understandable fear that capitalism’s dynamic of endless and accelerating growth will collapse when faced with the depletion of the inputs to that growth, whether those are energy inputs like coal and oil or raw materials like wood and iron. But while scarce resources have impinged on capitalist development at various points throughout its history, this has repeatedly happened in ways that caught theorists of the system by surprise. Writing at the turn of the eighteenth century, Thomas Malthus worried that the limits of agricultural productivity, combined with the inevitable propensity of the poor to reproduce, meant that it was impossible to achieve both population growth and increasing economic prosperity. To this day, those who claim that capitalism is ultimately constrained by the carrying capacity of the earth are popularly referred to as “Malthusians,” even if the particular forms of scarcity they point to are very different than those Malthus was interested in.


pages: 437 words: 115,594

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

"Robert Solow", 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, creative destruction, 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 pandemic, global supply chain, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, land reform, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, off grid, 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, standardized shipping container, 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: 131 words: 41,052

Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century by Mark Leonard

Berlin Wall, Celtic Tiger, continuous integration, cuban missile crisis, different worldview, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, global reserve currency, invisible hand, knowledge economy, mass immigration, non-tariff barriers, North Sea oil, one-China policy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pension reform, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, shareholder value, South China Sea, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, Washington Consensus

Over-60s, as a proportion of the population of conventional working age, have increased from 20 per cent in 1960 to 35 per cent in 2000. The figure is forecast to grow to 47 per cent in 2020 and 70 per cent in 2050, leading to a European Commission forecast that annual growth could decline from around 2 per cent to 11/4 per cent by 2040.17 But the fact that demographers have spotted a trend does not mean that it will lead inexorably to disaster: most demographic predictions – dating right back to Thomas Malthus and his apocalyptic visions of the rise in population leading to mass starvation – have been wrong. And there are many signs that today’s merchants of doom will be mistaken. After years of a falling birth rate, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Britain, and France are showing signs of a reverse while others are learning from their example. Italy, Germany, and Spain (three of the countries with the lowest birth rates) are now introducing financial and fiscal incentives to couples to produce more children.


pages: 420 words: 124,202

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

"Robert Solow", Albert Einstein, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, barriers to entry, collective bargaining, computer age, Copley Medal, creative destruction, 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, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, moral hazard, Network effects, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Samuelson, 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, zero-sum game, 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: 424 words: 119,679

It's Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear by Gregg Easterbrook

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, air freight, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, coronavirus, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, factory automation, failed state, full employment, Gini coefficient, Google Earth, Home mortgage interest deduction, hydraulic fracturing, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, labor-force participation, liberal capitalism, longitudinal study, Lyft, mandatory minimum, manufacturing employment, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum wage unemployment, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, The Chicago School, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, uber lyft, universal basic income, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, working poor, Works Progress Administration

His essay on this topic, That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Not Seen, became the foundation of what economists now call “opportunity-cost analysis.” Don’t think solely about what happened; think as well about what did not happen, and thereby is unseen. In our great spinning world, what do we not see? As a prelude to the book’s three goals, ponder for a moment the tribulations our world does not have. Granaries are not empty. It has been two centuries since Thomas Malthus said rising population would lead to mass starvation—unavoidably, as an iron law. During the 1960s, it was predicted that hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, soon would die of hunger. Instead, by 2015, the United Nations reported global malnutrition had declined to the lowest level in history. Nearly all malnutrition that persists is caused by distribution failures or by government corruption, not by lack of supply.

Extending mastery of farming to the rest of the world will make other nations prosperous too. The production of food is the first window to understanding why many expected calamities give way to mostly positive trends. The kinds of steps that prevented expected starvation can work against other challenges to come. Historically, expectations of starvation have been keen. Two centuries ago, Thomas Malthus declared that population would increase faster than food production, leading to general ruin. This would happen inexorably, Malthus said, because nature uses scarcity to control species, and it would be physically impossible to cultivate enough land to feed all those being born. Famines that struck China, India, Ireland, and Japan about a generation after Malthus seemed to confirm his contention.


Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order by Noam Chomsky

Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, declining real wages, deindustrialization, full employment, invisible hand, joint-stock company, land reform, liberal capitalism, 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: 494 words: 132,975

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

"Robert Solow", airport security, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, collective bargaining, complexity theory, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Gunnar Myrdal, if you build it, they will come, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, means of production, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, New Journalism, Northern Rock, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, price mechanism, pushing on a string, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, 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.


Adam Smith: Father of Economics by Jesse Norman

"Robert Solow", active measures, Andrei Shleifer, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Broken windows theory, business cycle, business process, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, centre right, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, Corn Laws, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial intermediation, frictionless, frictionless market, future of work, George Akerlof, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, incomplete markets, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, lateral thinking, loss aversion, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, moral panic, Naomi Klein, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, scientific worldview, seigniorage, Socratic dialogue, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, transaction costs, transfer pricing, Veblen good, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, working poor, zero-sum game

Politicians, academics and pub bores around the world have found the authority of The Wealth of Nations and the simplicity of its core ideas an irresistible combination, and routinely draw on them to dignify and adorn their own beliefs or arguments. The result has been to obscure Smith, to mistake the range and power of his ideas and to breed myths without number. Smith’s reputation advanced by stages throughout the nineteenth century. By the 1820s he was being acclaimed by no less an authority than the great population theorist Thomas Malthus, who echoed Pownall’s early review by remarking that The Wealth of Nations had ‘done for political economy what the Principia of Newton had done for physics’. But Smith’s death itself excited very little immediate comment at the time; and so it remained for several decades. There were few obituaries, and they were desultory and brief: twelve lines in the Annual Register, nine in the Scots Magazine.

The attraction of this approach was its apparent potential to be objective and scientific: to reduce vague moral intuitions to objective facts about human psychology that could in principle be tested. ‘Utility’ became a catch-all for the satisfaction of human wants or preferences, and the general idea of a ‘utility function’, mapping an individual’s consumption of goods to their utility, was born in embryo. Less than a decade later, Thomas Malthus published his famous Essay on the Principle of Population (1798). There he predicted that, left unchecked, the world’s population would grow geometrically, as in the series 1, 2, 4, 8, 16…, while food production could only grow arithmetically, as in the series 1, 2, 3, 4…, creating a gap with potentially catastrophic consequences. The Essay was more than simply a warning, however; it was a pioneering attempt to link what is recognizably proto-economic modelling to policy-making.


A Paradise Built in Hell: Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit

Berlin Wall, Burning Man, centre right, Community Supported Agriculture, David Graeber, different worldview, dumpster diving, Golden Gate Park, illegal immigration, Loma Prieta earthquake, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent control, South of Market, San Francisco, Thomas Malthus, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, War on Poverty, yellow journalism

The very structure of our economy and society prevents these goals from being achieved. The structure is also ideological, a philosophy that best serves the wealthy and powerful but shapes all of our lives, reinforced as the conventional wisdom disseminated by the media, from news hours to disaster movies. The facets of that ideology have been called individualism, capitalism, and Social Darwinism and have appeared in the political philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and Thomas Malthus, as well as the work of most conventional contemporary economists, who presume we seek personal gain for rational reasons and refrain from looking at the ways a system skewed to that end damages much else we need for our survival and desire for our well-being. Disaster demonstrates this, since among the factors determining whether you will live or die are the health of your immediate community and the justness of your society.

It justified callousness toward those who lost out in the economic struggle: they did so because they were unfit, ill adapted, and lazy, rather than because the system was unfair—a common justification of colonial rapacity, the deprivation of the poor, and basis for theories of racial inferiority. They deserved it, or they were at least doomed and could not be saved, if the forces that trampled them down were as inevitable as nature itself. Social Darwinists also tend to share Thomas Malthus’s belief that life must almost inevitably be a scramble for the scarce resources of the earth, a scramble in which some must die because there is not enough for all. Capitalism’s fundamental premise is scarcity, while a lot of tribal and gift economies operate on a basis of abundance. Their generosity is both an economic and an ethical premise. Mutual Aid countered a whole worldview, but it was prompted in particular by a celebrated 1888 essay by “Darwin’s bulldog,” the English scientist Thomas Henry Huxley.


Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All by Michael Shellenberger

Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, Bernie Sanders, Bob Geldof, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, clean water, Corn Laws, coronavirus, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, energy transition, failed state, Gary Taubes, global value chain, Google Earth, hydraulic fracturing, index fund, Indoor air pollution, indoor plumbing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, land tenure, Live Aid, LNG terminal, long peace, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Potemkin village, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, renewable energy transition, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route, union organizing, WikiLeaks, Y2K

Mark Philip, introduction to William Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2013), x–xxii. 38. “Each century will add new enlightenment to that of the century that has preceded it,” Condorcet wrote in 1782, “and this progress, which nothing can henceforth halt or delay, will have no other limits than that of the duration of the universe.” Ibid. 39. Ibid., 41. 40. Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 61. 41. Thomas Malthus, Essay on the Principle of Population: The 1803 Edition (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018), 417. 42. Robert J. Mayhew, Malthus: The Life and Legacies of an Untimely Prophet (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 2014), 45. 43. Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 452. 44. Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, 66. 45. Thomas Robert Malthus, Observations on the Effects of the Corn Laws: And of a Rise or Fall in the Price of Corn on the Agriculture and General Wealth of the Country (London: John Murray, 1915), 30. 46.

Christine Kinealy, The Great Irish Famine: Impact, Ideology, and Rebellion (London: Palgrave, 2002), 105–111. In 1846, Ireland exported three million quarts of grain and corn flour to Britain, and 730,000 cattle and livestock. 49. Quoted in Fred Pearce, The Coming Population Crash: And Our Planet’s Surprising Future (Boston: Beacon Press, 2010), 18. 50. Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population: The 1803 Edition, 265. 51. Thomas Malthus, letter to David Ricardo, 1817, in Thomas Robert Malthus: Critical Assessments, John Cunningham Wood, ed. (London: Routledge, 1994), 262. 52. John and Richard Strachey, The Finances and Public Works of India (London: K. Paul Trench & Company, 1882), 172. 53. The House of Commons of the United Kingdom, “Copy of Correspondence Between the Secretary of State for India and the Government of India, on the Subject of the Famine in Western and Southern India,” in Parliamentary Papers, vol. 59, H.M.


pages: 168 words: 50,647

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

"side hustle", Airbnb, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Black Swan, call centre, cloud computing, commoditize, creative destruction, David Heinemeier Hansson, 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, Marc Andreessen, 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, uber 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: 194 words: 49,310

Clock of the Long Now by Stewart Brand

Albert Einstein, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, Danny Hillis, Eratosthenes, Extropian, fault tolerance, George Santayana, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, life extension, longitudinal study, low earth orbit, Metcalfe’s law, Mitch Kapor, nuclear winter, pensions crisis, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Metcalfe, 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.


pages: 225 words: 54,010

A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright

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, mass immigration, 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: 225 words: 189

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

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, mass immigration, 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: 182 words: 53,802

The Production of Money: How to Break the Power of Banks by Ann Pettifor

Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, borderless world, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, clean water, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, decarbonisation, distributed ledger, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, interest rate derivative, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, light touch regulation, London Interbank Offered Rate, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mobile money, Naomi Klein, neoliberal agenda, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Satyajit Das, savings glut, secular stagnation, The Chicago School, the market place, Thomas Malthus, Tobin tax, too big to fail

Back in 1694 the goal of the Bank of England was to mimic Holland in reducing the rate of interest paid by Dutch commercial firms, and to bring English interest rates into line with those that prevailed in the financially more advanced Netherlands. But this understanding of a system of bank money causing rates of interest to fall was lost in the classical economics of one David Ricardo (a financier). As a result, the theories of credit and associated bank-money policies lived on only, as Keynes put it, in ‘an underworld’ of scholars and activists. These included Henry Thornton, Thomas Malthus and Henry Dunning McLeod, and the sociologists Peter Knapp and Georg Simmel, who were not content to leave the question of the nature of money to the economists. Keynes’s great achievement was to retrieve this understanding from its burial by economic scholars. He understood that basing a theory of the economy on a fallacious theory of bank money would lead to profound misjudgements in economic policy, and to financial and economic crises.


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

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John von Neumann, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, mass immigration, megacity, Mitch Kapor, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, social intelligence, 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: 807 words: 154,435

Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making for an Unknowable Future by Mervyn King, John Kay

"Robert Solow", Airbus A320, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, algorithmic trading, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Arthur Eddington, autonomous vehicles, availability heuristic, banking crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, battle of ideas, Benoit Mandelbrot, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brownian motion, business cycle, business process, capital asset pricing model, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Edward Thorp, Elon Musk, Ethereum, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, experimental subject, fear of failure, feminist movement, financial deregulation, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, Hans Rosling, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income per capita, incomplete markets, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Snow's cholera map, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, new economy, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, popular electronics, price mechanism, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, sealed-bid auction, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Socratic dialogue, South Sea Bubble, spectrum auction, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, The Chicago School, the map is not the territory, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Davenport, Thomas Malthus, Toyota Production System, transaction costs, ultimatum game, urban planning, value at risk, World Values Survey, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

Smith was not writing about the manufacture of pins, any more than Akerlof had been describing the activities of the members of the Retail Motor Federation, or Tucker the functioning of the American criminal justice system. They were using these models as illustrations of principles of much more general applicability. Economics subsequently made advances through a whole series of small-world models of this type. Two decades after Smith, Thomas Malthus provided a notorious model of population and growth, which we discuss further in chapter 20 . In addition to his principle of comparative advantage, David Ricardo developed a model of economic rent: the amount received by the supplier of an input in excess of the amount necessary to ensure its supply (many people in the sports and financial services industries would surely work there for lower rewards than they currently receive).

And it is the pervasive nature of radical uncertainty which is the source of the problem. 20 THE USE AND MISUSE OF MODELS Any business craving of the leader, however foolish, will be quickly supported by detailed rates of return and strategic studies prepared by his troops. —WARREN BUFFETT 1 I n the eighteenth century there were country clergymen of exceptional intelligence who had time on their hands. They benefited from a secure reference narrative. Thomas Bayes was one; Thomas Malthus another. In 1798, Malthus set out what might be regarded as the first growth model in economics. He hypothesised that population tended to grow exponentially, as a result of what he coyly termed ‘the passions’, while food supplies could grow only linearly. The rising population would put pressure on food supplies, and then the resulting destitution would reduce that population. The cycle repeated itself in dismal progression.


pages: 226 words: 59,080

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

airline deregulation, Albert Einstein, bank run, barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, business cycle, butterfly effect, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collective bargaining, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, distributed generation, Donald Davies, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Everything should be made as simple as possible, 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, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, loss aversion, low skilled workers, market design, market fundamentalism, minimum wage unemployment, oil shock, open economy, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, 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, Vilfredo Pareto, 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: 202 words: 58,823

Willful: How We Choose What We Do by Richard Robb

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Alvin Roth, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, Bernie Madoff, capital asset pricing model, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, effective altruism, endowment effect, Eratosthenes, experimental subject, family office, George Akerlof, index fund, information asymmetry, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, lake wobegon effect, loss aversion, market bubble, market clearing, money market fund, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Peter Singer: altruism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, Richard Thaler, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, survivorship bias, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, ultimatum game

This spike appears to be the result of bets made in bars by traders goofing around—they put no money behind the contracts, had no money to pay, and perhaps no expectation that the contracts would be enforced. There are no credible contemporaneous accounts of economic distress; the speculation caused only the transfer of wealth, and little wealth was transferred in the end. 2. Zeckhauser, “Investing in the Unknown and Unknowable.” Ricardo persuaded Thomas Malthus to join him in buying bonds, but Malthus chickened out before the battle and sold at a small profit. 3. Smith, Wealth of Nations, 64. Emphasis mine. FIVE For-Itself Decision-Making within a Group 1. Even if the entrepreneur did manage to convince the venture capitalist, many communication hurdles would still lie ahead. The information that must be communicated is at its most intimate, unique, and personal at the start of a firm’s life.


pages: 219 words: 63,495

50 Future Ideas You Really Need to Know by Richard Watson

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, digital map, Elon Musk, energy security, failed state, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, happiness index / gross national happiness, hive mind, hydrogen economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, life extension, Mark Shuttleworth, 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: 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

assortative mating, call centre, clean water, commoditize, 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, Joan Didion, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, late capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, McMansion, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, off grid, oil shock, PageRank, Ponzi scheme, positional goods, post-industrial society, 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: 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

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, British Empire, business cycle, 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, Johannes Kepler, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, means of production, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, Ponzi scheme, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, source of truth, 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: 603 words: 182,826

Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership by Andro Linklater

agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, Ayatollah Khomeini, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, business cycle, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, facts on the ground, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Gini coefficient, Google Earth, income inequality, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kibera, Kickstarter, land reform, land tenure, light touch regulation, market clearing, means of production, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, mortgage debt, Northern Rock, Peace of Westphalia, Pearl River Delta, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, spinning jenny, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, ultimatum game, wage slave, WikiLeaks, wikimedia commons, working poor

If the freedom to acquire property existed independently of the state, it seemed that no government could legitimately restrict it; if the power of the state to enforce human rights was so overwhelming that its citizens could, in Rousseau’s words, be “forced to be free” by the government, then property rights might, as Babeuf argued, lawfully be extinguished by the state. As though to underline the divide, the English economist and cleric Reverend Thomas Malthus wrote an essay in 1800, On the Present High Price of Provisions, in which he explained in terms as uncompromising as Babeuf’s why the unconstrained working of the free-market, even in times of famine, was the most efficient way of feeding a population. “The man who refuses to send his corn to market when it is at twenty pounds a load because he thinks that in two months time it will be at thirty [pounds],” Malthus argued, “if he be right in his judgment and succeed in his speculation, is a positive and decided benefactor to the state.”

There would be an enhanced two-way trade between the colonies and the home country, and where Australia was concerned, the chance of opening up a three-way network exporting cereals to China, Chinese tea to Britain, and British manufactures to Australia. Wakefield’s analysis of the colonies’ economic potential was grounded in the theories of the era’s two preeminent free-market economists, David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus. Ricardo’s theories on profit made it clear that the high price of British property rendered its purchase an inefficient use of capital compared with investing it in cheaper, productive land elsewhere. Malthus’s stark warning of overpopulation focused more closely on the wastage of labor in the unemployed poor: “Increase the demand for agricultural labour by promoting cultivation, and with it consequently increase the produce of the country, and ameliorate the condition of the labourer, and no apprehensions whatever need be entertained of the proportional increase of population.”


pages: 777 words: 186,993

Imagining India by Nandan Nilekani

addicted to oil, affirmative action, Airbus A320, 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, digital map, 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, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), joint-stock company, knowledge economy, land reform, light touch regulation, LNG terminal, load shedding, low cost airline, Mahatma Gandhi, market fragmentation, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, open economy, Parag Khanna, 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: 733 words: 179,391

Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought by Andrew W. Lo

"Robert Solow", Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, Arthur Eddington, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, backtesting, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, break the buck, Brownian motion, business cycle, business process, butterfly effect, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Carmen Reinhart, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computerized trading, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Diane Coyle, diversification, diversified portfolio, double helix, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Ernest Rutherford, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, framing effect, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, housing crisis, incomplete markets, index fund, interest rate derivative, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Meriwether, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, martingale, merger arbitrage, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, money market fund, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Nick Leeson, old-boy network, out of africa, p-value, paper trading, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, predatory finance, prediction markets, price discovery process, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, RAND corporation, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sam Peltzman, Shai Danziger, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stanford prison experiment, statistical arbitrage, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, stocks for the long run, survivorship bias, Thales and the olive presses, The Great Moderation, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, ultimatum game, Upton Sinclair, US Airways Flight 1549, Walter Mischel, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

Competition, mutation, innovation, and especially natural selection are the basic building blocks of evolution. All individuals are always vying for survival—even if the laws of the jungle are less vicious on the African savannah than on Wall Street. It’s no surprise, then, that economic behavior is often best viewed through the lens of biology. The connections between evolution and economics are not new. Economics may have even inspired evolutionary theory. The British economist Thomas Malthus deeply influenced both Charles Darwin and Darwin’s close competitor, Alfred Russell Wallace.8 Malthus forecast that human population growth would increase exponentially, while food supplies would increase only along a straight line. He concluded that the human race was doomed to eventual starvation and possible extinction. No wonder economics became known as the “dismal science.” The good news for us is that Malthus didn’t foresee the impact of technological innovations which greatly increased food production— including new financial technologies like the corporation, international Introduction • 9 trade, and capital markets.

In fact, a common pattern of a genuine scientific discovery is when several different research programs seem to converge to the same idea, something the evolutionary biologist Edward O. Wilson calls “consilience,”24 literally a “jumping together” of knowledge. In addition to Herbert Simon’s notion of bounded rationality, it’s worth reviewing the other strands of academic research, both past and current, that lend support to Adaptive Markets. Ours is certainly not the first attempt to fuse insights from biological systems with economic thinking—we’ve already mentioned Thomas Malthus, who used biological examples to illustrate his principles about population growth. As an Anglican clergyman, he framed his arguments in moralistic terms, but his reasoning can easily be restated in terms familiar to today’s economists. After the death of Charles Darwin, evolutionary theory languished, remaining undeveloped for decades, a crude version of it (“social Darwinism”) used to justify inhumane government policies.


pages: 272 words: 76,089

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

addicted to oil, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, clean water, cosmic abundance, dark matter, demographic transition, Exxon Valdez, F. W. de Klerk, germ theory of disease, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, pattern recognition, planetary scale, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, stem cell, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, zero-sum game

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.


pages: 309 words: 78,361

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

Asian financial crisis, big-box store, business climate, business cycle, carbon footprint, cleantech, Community Supported Agriculture, creative destruction, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, deskilling, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Gini coefficient, global village, IKEA effect, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, 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: 477 words: 75,408

The Economic Singularity: Artificial Intelligence and the Death of Capitalism by Calum Chace

3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, call centre, Chris Urmson, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Engelbart, 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, ImageNet competition, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, lifelogging, lump of labour, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, 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, post-work, precariat, prediction markets, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Rodney Brooks, Sam Altman, 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, The Future of Employment, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, uber lyft, 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: 280 words: 74,559

Fully Automated Luxury Communism by Aaron Bastani

"Robert Solow", autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, computer age, computer vision, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, double helix, Elon Musk, energy transition, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial independence, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, G4S, housing crisis, income inequality, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, land reform, liberal capitalism, low earth orbit, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, market fundamentalism, means of production, mobile money, more computing power than Apollo, new economy, off grid, pattern recognition, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, post scarcity, post-work, price mechanism, price stability, private space industry, Productivity paradox, profit motive, race to the bottom, RFID, rising living standards, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sensor fusion, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, stem cell, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, the built environment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transatlantic slave trade, Travis Kalanick, universal basic income, V2 rocket, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, working-age population

From the perspective of mouths to feed that means it won’t look that different from today – an extra 3 billion people – which is what the world has added since 1974. Indeed, it is rising expectations in diet, combined with declining crop yields as a result of climate change, which represent the biggest hurdles in eliminating world hunger. Claims about rising populations and the natural limits of the Earth are nothing new. Indeed Thomas Malthus, one of the most important thinkers in the early history of political economy, was obsessed by the issue. In his 1798 polemic An Essay on the Principle of Population, he observed how any increase in food production led to a growth in population rather than an improvement in the average standard of living. His resulting conclusion was stark. ‘The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.’


pages: 284 words: 79,265

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

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Wiles, bioinformatics, British Empire, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, 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, Marc Andreessen, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Nicholas Carr, P = NP, p-value, Paul Erdős, Pluto: dwarf planet, publication bias, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, scientific worldview, 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: 252 words: 73,131

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

"Robert Solow", Airbnb, airport security, Al Roth, Alvin Roth, Andrei Shleifer, attribution theory, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Brownian motion, business cycle, buy and hold, centralized clearinghouse, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, clean water, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, continuous double auction, creative destruction, deferred acceptance, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, experimental subject, first-price auction, framing effect, frictionless, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gunnar Myrdal, helicopter parent, information asymmetry, 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, Kenneth Arrow, late fees, linear programming, Lyft, market clearing, market design, market friction, medical residency, multi-sided market, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Occupy movement, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, 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, uber lyft, uranium enrichment, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, 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: 290 words: 76,216

What's Wrong with Economics? by Robert Skidelsky

"Robert Solow", additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive bias, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, full employment, George Akerlof, George Santayana, global supply chain, global village, Gunnar Myrdal, happiness index / gross national happiness, hindsight bias, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, Internet Archive, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, market friction, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, moral hazard, paradox of thrift, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, precariat, price anchoring, principal–agent problem, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, survivorship bias, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, transfer pricing, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, Wolfgang Streeck, zero-sum game

To this day, many, perhaps most, economists take private property rights as given, and explain the greater wealth of some societies in terms of their more efficient distribution of property, without showing much curiosity about why inefficient property distributions persisted for so long, or what functions they played in the life of their societies. This chapter traces ‘growth’ economics from the insights of the classical economists to the emergence of development economics as a distinct subfield of economics in the second half of the twentieth century, and the gradual dissolution of the developmental perspective into the neoclassical Washington Consensus. Population If the economist is a tragedian, the Revd Thomas Malthus has a claim to be considered its tragedian in chief. Before Malthus there was the allure of a more prosperous future; after him gloom. For the first fifty years of the nineteenth century, economics was known as the ‘dismal science’. In An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) Malthus set out to refute the utopianism of writers like Condorcet, Godwin, and Thomas Paine. Excited by the growth of wealth, the advance of science, and the softening of manners, these eighteenth-century thinkers argued that there were no natural limits to economic progress, and with it, human perfectibility.


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

airport security, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, book scanning, Cass Sunstein, commoditize, 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, Johannes Kepler, 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, 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: 329 words: 85,471

The Locavore's Dilemma by Pierre Desrochers, Hiroko Shimizu

air freight, back-to-the-land, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, Community Supported Agriculture, creative destruction, edge city, Edward Glaeser, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, intermodal, invention of agriculture, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, 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: 262 words: 83,548

The End of Growth by Jeff Rubin

Ayatollah Khomeini, Bakken shale, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business cycle, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, Kickstarter, 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, zero-sum game

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: 281 words: 79,958

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

23andMe, agricultural Revolution, Anne Wojcicki, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Asilomar, 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: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Simon Singh, Skype, stem cell, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, twin studies, 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: 791 words: 85,159

Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid

business process, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, cross-subsidies, disintermediation, double entry bookkeeping, Frank Gehry, frictionless, frictionless market, future of work, George Gilder, George Santayana, global village, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, information retrieval, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, Just-in-time delivery, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lateral thinking, loose coupling, Marshall McLuhan, medical malpractice, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, Productivity paradox, Robert Metcalfe, rolodex, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, Shoshana Zuboff, 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.


pages: 280 words: 83,299

Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline by Darrell Bricker, John Ibbitson

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Berlin Wall, BRICs, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, commoditize, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, gender pay gap, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, global reserve currency, Gunnar Myrdal, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, income inequality, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Snow's cholera map, Kibera, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, off grid, offshore financial centre, out of africa, Potemkin village, purchasing power parity, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, urban planning, working-age population, young professional, zero-sum game

doc=76 46 World Health Organization; World Food Program; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; United Nations Children Fund. 47 Max Roser, “Life Expectancy,” Our World in Data, 2017. http://ourworldindata.org/data/population-growth-vital-statistics/life-expectancy 48 Max Roser and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina, “World Population Growth,” Our World in Data, April 2017. https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth/ 49 Mike Hanlon, “World Becomes More Urban Than Rural,” Gizmag, 29 May 2007. http://www.gizmag.com/go/7334 50 Soylent Green, DVD, directed by Richard Fleischer (Los Angeles: MGM, 1973). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070723/ 51 Inferno, DVD, directed by Ron Howard (Los Angeles: Sony, 2016). 52 Donna Gunn MacRae, “Thomas Robert Malthus,”Encyclopedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/biography/Thomas-Robert-Malthus 53 Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population as It Affects the Future Improvement of Society, with Remarks on the Speculations of Mr. Godwin, M. Condorcet, and Other Writers (London: J. Johnson, 1798). http://www.econlib.org/library/Malthus/malPop1.html#Chapter%20I 54 Ibid. 55 Ibid. 56 Ibid. 57 Ibid. 58 Ron Broglio, “The Best Machine for Converting Herbage into Money,” in Tamar Wagner and Narin Hassan, eds., Consuming Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century: Narratives of Consumption 1700–1900 (Lanham: Lexington, 2007), 35. https://books.google.com/books/about/Consuming_Culture_in_the_Long_Nineteenth.html?


pages: 334 words: 82,041

How Did We Get Into This Mess?: Politics, Equality, Nature by George Monbiot

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, bilateral investment treaty, Branko Milanovic, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Attenborough, dematerialisation, demographic transition, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, first-past-the-post, full employment, Gini coefficient, hedonic treadmill, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, land reform, land value tax, market fundamentalism, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mont Pelerin Society, moral panic, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, old-boy network, peak oil, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, rent-seeking, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, urban sprawl, wealth creators, World Values Survey

But as the US academics Fred Block and Margaret Somers explain in their fascinating book The Power of Market Fundamentalism, those who implemented it seemed to recognise that occasional unemployment was an intrinsic feature of working life.2 But in 1786, as economic crises threw rising numbers onto the mercy of their parishes, the clergyman Joseph Townsend sought to recast poverty as a moral or even biological condition. ‘The poor know little of the motives which stimulate the higher ranks to action – pride, honour, and ambition’, he argued in his Dissertation on the Poor Laws.3 ‘In general it is only hunger which can spur and goad them onto labour; yet our laws have said, they shall never hunger.’ Thomas Malthus expands on this theme in his Essay on the Principle of Population, published in 1798.4 Poor relief, he maintained, causes poverty. It destroys the work ethic, reducing productivity. It also creates an incentive to reproduce, as payments rise with every family member. The higher the population, the hungrier the poor become: kindness results in cruelty. Poverty, he argued, should be tackled through shame (‘dependent poverty ought to be held disgraceful’) and the withdrawal of assistance from all able-bodied workers.


pages: 289 words: 87,292

The Strange Order of Things: The Biological Roots of Culture by Antonio Damasio

Albert Einstein, biofilm, business process, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, double helix, Gordon Gekko, invention of the wheel, invention of writing, invisible hand, job automation, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Steven Pinker, Thomas Malthus

Curiously, affect and consciousness also happen to be the faculties that got away, forgotten in the throes of the rationalist and cognitive revolutions. They deserve special attention. By the end of the nineteenth century, the role of biology in the shaping of cultural events was acknowledged by Charles Darwin, William James, Sigmund Freud, and Émile Durkheim, among others.1 At about the same time, and into the early decades of the new century, biological facts were invoked by a number of theorists (among them Herbert Spencer and Thomas Malthus) to defend the application of Darwinian thinking to society. These efforts, generally known as social Darwinism, resulted in eugenic recommendations in Europe and in the United States. Later, during the Third Reich, biological facts were misinterpreted and applied to human societies with the goal of producing a radical sociocultural transformation. The result was a horrifying and massive extermination of specific human groups targeted because of their ethnic background or political and behavioral identity.


pages: 365 words: 88,125

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, borderless world, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, ending welfare as we know it, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, German hyperinflation, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market fundamentalism, means of production, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, Myron Scholes, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, post-industrial society, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, rent control, shareholder value, short selling, Skype, structural adjustment programs, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Tobin tax, Toyota Production System, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

They believed that people belonged to different classes – capitalists, workers and landlords – and behaved differently according to their classes. The most important inter-class behavioural difference was considered to be the fact that capitalists invested (virtually) all of their incomes while the other classes – the working class and the landlord class – consumed them. On the landlord class, opinion was split. Some, like Ricardo, saw it as a consuming class that hampered capital accumulation, while others, such as Thomas Malthus, thought that its consumption helped the capitalist class by offering extra demands for their products. However, on the workers, there was a consensus. They spent all of their income, so if the workers got a higher share of the national income, investment and thus economic growth would fall. This is where ardent free-marketeers like Ricardo meet ultra-left wing communists like Preobrazhensky.


pages: 283 words: 81,376

The Doomsday Calculation: How an Equation That Predicts the Future Is Transforming Everything We Know About Life and the Universe by William Poundstone

Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Arthur Eddington, Bayesian statistics, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, digital map, discounted cash flows, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, double helix, Elon Musk, Gerolamo Cardano, index fund, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Feynman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Sam Altman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, time value of money, Turing test

On average the Commandant can expect to roll the dice thirty-six times to get double sixes once. A thirty-sixth round would demand a fresh group of 9 x 1034 prisoners. That’s well over 10 trillion trillion times the current world population. The Commandant would need more than the world population just to advance to the eleventh roll. Are we being overly literal in pointing this out? I would say so. The shooting room invokes exponential growth for the same reason that Thomas Malthus and Gordon Moore did. It’s our lived reality, for the time being. A sizable fraction of all the people who have ever lived are living right now—in the last round? So let’s suspend disbelief on the numbers. Crowd-management issues aside, there is nothing magical or mysterious about the shooting room. Everything that happens is determined strictly by throws of dice. The odds of rolling dice have been understood for centuries.


pages: 223 words: 10,010

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

"Robert Solow", 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 cycle, business process, call centre, capital controls, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, Everybody Ought to Be Rich, 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, John Meriwether, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Martin Wolf, mittelstand, mobile money, Mont Pelerin Society, Myron Scholes, new economy, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Right to Buy, 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: 927 words: 216,549

Empire of Guns by Priya Satia

banking crisis, British Empire, business intelligence, Corn Laws, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, European colonialism, Fellow of the Royal Society, hiring and firing, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Khyber Pass, Menlo Park, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, rent-seeking, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, spinning jenny, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transatlantic slave trade, zero-sum game

In 1796, Boulton determined that little money was to be made in fashion goods and gave up manufacture of “Golden toys or ormolu ornaments, paintings etc.” “In lieu thereof,” he built “iron furnaces & foundrys which . . . is more perminant [sic] & more profitable in proportion to their being more usefull to the publick.” He advised his son “to confine his persuits to things usefull rather than ornamental.” The war and the expanding market for steam engines underwrote his embrace of utility. After the wars, the influential political economist Thomas Malthus claimed, “In carrying the late war, we were powerfully assisted by our steam-engines.” In fact, war had assisted the spread of steam engines. These inventions—steam engines, lathes, the puddling process—facilitated the rise of large-scale industry. They were interdependent and mutually reinforcing, and the state stood at the center of the networks around them. Cort clearly thought of government as the patron of technical change.

At first, the iron produced by Cort’s process appeared too weak for arms making. Later investigations into the chemical properties of the ore improved its strength, enabling the use of puddled iron in arms. M. Brown, Firearms in Colonial America, 380. They, too, multiplied: John, “War and the English Economy,” 334. “Golden toys or ormolu”: Matthew Boulton, 1796, quoted in P. Jones, Industrial Enlightenment, 228. Thomas Malthus claimed: Quoted in Crouzet, “The Impact of the French Wars on the British Economy,” 209. Other big purchasers: Shenhav, “At a Gun Point,” 26. worth “unremitting exertions”: Deakin to Mulgrave, October 27, 1814, and Deakin to Ordnance Board, August 18, 1814, in Deakin, Plain Narrative of the Circumstances That Have Occurred in the Transactions, 16 and 24–26. the period’s single most: See, for instance, Duffy, “The Foundations of British Naval Power,” 58–59, 62.


pages: 824 words: 218,333

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Benoit Mandelbrot, butterfly effect, dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, longitudinal study, medical residency, moral hazard, mouse model, New Journalism, out of africa, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Scientific racism, stem cell, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, Thomas Malthus, twin studies

What hand, Darwin asked, had guided the creation of such different varieties of finches on those distant volcanic islands or made small armadillos out of giant precursors on the plains of South America? Darwin knew that he was now gliding along the dangerous edge of the known world, tacking south of heresy. He could easily have ascribed the invisible hand to God. But the answer that came to him in October 1838, in a book by another cleric, the Reverend Thomas Malthus, had nothing to do with divinity. Thomas Malthus had been a curate at the Okewood Chapel in Surrey by daytime, but he was a closet economist by night. His true passion was the study of populations and growth. In 1798, writing under a pseudonym, Malthus had published an incendiary paper—An Essay on the Principle of Population—in which he had argued that the human population was in constant struggle with its limited resource pool.


pages: 767 words: 208,933

Liberalism at Large: The World According to the Economist by Alex Zevin

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, business cycle, capital controls, centre right, Chelsea Manning, collective bargaining, Columbine, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, desegregation, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, hiring and firing, imperial preference, income inequality, interest rate derivative, invisible hand, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Khartoum Gordon, land reform, liberal capitalism, liberal world order, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Martin Wolf, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Journalism, Norman Macrae, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, Philip Mirowski, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, railway mania, rent control, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Snapchat, Socratic dialogue, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, unorthodox policies, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, WikiLeaks, Winter of Discontent, Yom Kippur War, young professional

Yet it is just as easy to see the appeal his early tracts against protection held out to enterprising landowners. In Influences, his clearest point was conveyed in statistical tables which claimed to show that production costs in England were competitive with Europe; given other variables, like soil conditions and cost of transport, foreign grain was unlikely to flood the home market.17 Still more significant, however, were the theoretical foundations for this claim. In contrast to Ricardo and Thomas Malthus he did not see class conflict as an inherent fact of economic life: from the former he discarded or modified the theory of marginal rents and wages, and from the latter the pessimistic forecast that population always outpaces food supply. Ricardo suggested that landed capital gained at the expense of industrial capital, and Malthus that working-class wages tended towards the bare minimum necessary for survival.

In the new century, Bush’s good intentions were also unjustly criticized, for America ‘waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq against a genuine but elusive foe, extreme Islamism’, even if operations in Iraq were unhappily less well informed and prepared than in Afghanistan.36 As an economic doctrine, liberalism is scarcely less sanitized. In the nineteenth century, laissez-faire is dismissed as an urban legend, without mention of Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Malthus or James Wilson, let alone the famines in Ireland or India that its doctrines justified. Rather, Liberals were eminently practical arbiters of the mutable borders between the state and the market, rivals that also needed one another – resisting the supremacy of either, viewing both as variable instruments to be used according to the changing needs of ‘human betterment’, and by the mid-twentieth century getting the balance right.


pages: 257 words: 94,168

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

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: 369 words: 94,588

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

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, creative destruction, 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, Gunnar Myrdal, 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, Myron Scholes, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, 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: 346 words: 90,371

Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing by Josh Ryan-Collins, Toby Lloyd, Laurie Macfarlane

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, basic income, Bretton Woods, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, debt deflation, deindustrialization, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, full employment, garden city movement, George Akerlof, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, land tenure, land value tax, Landlord’s Game, low skilled workers, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, money market fund, mortgage debt, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, Pareto efficiency, place-making, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Right to Buy, rising living standards, risk tolerance, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, the built environment, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, universal basic income, urban planning, urban sprawl, working poor, working-age population

Thus wages were related to the productive capacity of marginal land, and not the productivity of labour. Ricardo’s ‘law of rent’ challenged established theories of wages that existed at the time, in particular the belief that as the population of a country increased, wages would inevitably fall to just above that which was required for sustenance. This was the ‘iron law of wages’ associated with Thomas Malthus (1872).3 One important aspect of Ricardo’s argument is that the landowner is not free to choose the economic rent they charge for the use of their land. This rent will change over time as land is developed around any particular plot, out of the control of any individual landlord. But equally, economic rent is not related to the investment the landowner has put into the land. In other words, rent is determined by collective rather than individual investment and activity.


pages: 442 words: 94,734

The Art of Statistics: Learning From Data by David Spiegelhalter

Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Bayesian statistics, Carmen Reinhart, complexity theory, computer vision, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science, Hans Rosling, Kenneth Rogoff, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nate Silver, Netflix Prize, p-value, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, publication bias, randomized controlled trial, recommendation engine, replication crisis, self-driving car, speech recognition, statistical model, The Design of Experiments, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus

Communication This chapter has focused on summarizing and communicating data in an open and non-manipulative way; we do not want to influence our audiences’ emotions and attitudes, or convince them of a certain perspective. We just want to tell it how it is, or at least how it seems to be, and while we cannot ever claim to tell the absolute truth, we can at least try to be as truthful as possible. Of course this attempt at scientific objectivity is easier said than done. When the Statistical Society of London (later the Royal Statistical Society) was set up in 1834 by Charles Babbage, Thomas Malthus and others, they loftily declared that ‘The Statistical Society will consider it to be the first and most essential rule of its conduct to exclude carefully all opinions from its transactions and publications – to confine its attention rigorously to facts – and, as far as it may be found possible, to facts which can be stated numerically and arranged in tables.’7 From the very start they took no notice whatsoever of this stricture, and immediately starting inserting their opinions about what their data on crime, health and the economy meant and what should be done in response to it.


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

carbon footprint, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, clean water, congestion charging, corporate governance, deliberate practice, full employment, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Paul Samuelson, 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: 346 words: 92,984

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

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, longitudinal study, 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: 342 words: 88,736

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

agricultural Revolution, Columbian Exchange, demographic transition, double helix, European colonialism, food miles, Francisco Pizarro, Haber-Bosch Process, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, John Snow's cholera map, out of africa, planetary scale, premature optimization, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, social intelligence, Thomas Malthus, trade route, 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.


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

Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, business cycle, 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, fixed income, 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, Kickstarter, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, loss aversion, market clearing, mass immigration, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, old age dependency ratio, 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.


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

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, Philip Mirowski, Ronald Reagan, sexual politics, 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, zero-sum game

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.


pages: 344 words: 93,858

The Post-American World: Release 2.0 by Fareed Zakaria

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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), knowledge economy, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, mutually assured destruction, new economy, oil shock, open economy, out of africa, Parag Khanna, 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, zero-sum game

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: 372 words: 94,153

More From Less: The Surprising Story of How We Learned to Prosper Using Fewer Resources – and What Happens Next by Andrew McAfee

back-to-the-land, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, Corn Laws, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, Erik Brynjolfsson, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Haber-Bosch Process, Hans Rosling, humanitarian revolution, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, intangible asset, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Khan Academy, Landlord’s Game, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, market fundamentalism, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, precision agriculture, profit maximization, profit motive, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Davenport, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Veblen good, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog, World Values Survey

You will continue to receive exclusive offers in your inbox. Notes Introduction: README Jesse Ausubel’s amazing essay: Jesse Ausubel, “The Return of Nature: How Technology Liberates the Environment,” Breakthrough Journal 5 (Summer 2015), https://thebreakthrough.org/journal/issue-5/the-return-of-nature. Chapter 1: All the Malthusian Millennia “the passion between the sexes is less ardent”: Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society with Remarks on the Speculations of Mr. Godwin, M. Condorcet, and Other Writers (1798; repr., Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project, http://www.esp.org, 1998), 12, http://www.esp.org/books/malthus/population/malthus.pdf. “That in all old states some such vibration does exist”: Ibid., 10. “Population, when unchecked, increases”: Ibid., 4–5.


pages: 304 words: 90,084

Net Zero: How We Stop Causing Climate Change by Dieter Helm

3D printing, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, blockchain, Boris Johnson, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid-19, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, demand response, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, fixed income, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Haber-Bosch Process, hydrogen economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, market design, means of production, North Sea oil, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, planetary scale, price mechanism, quantitative easing, remote working, reshoring, Ronald Reagan, smart meter, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, Thomas Malthus

Future generations should also benefit from any sustainable economic growth which takes place from now until their time comes. Some environmentalists claim that there can be no more economic growth at all, and hence the future generation will not be better off in this respect.[5] The argument is that the earth has finite resources and hence the population runs up against natural constraints. It is not just that we should not have economic growth, but that we will not. It is the argument advanced by Thomas Malthus, and later by Paul Ehrlich and the Club of Rome.[6] This is far too pessimistic. There is (sadly) no chance of us running out of fossil fuels, nor of many of the other main minerals that are crucial to the economy. But, more importantly, there is one resource which we continually invent and do not run out of. It is ideas, and these lead to new technologies which are passed down the generations.


pages: 753 words: 233,306

Collapse by Jared Diamond

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: 846 words: 232,630

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

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, assortative mating, 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, Rodney Brooks, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, 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: 828 words: 232,188

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

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, disruptive innovation, 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, information asymmetry, invention of the printing press, iterative process, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, labour management system, land reform, land tenure, life extension, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, means of production, Menlo Park, Mohammed Bouazizi, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, Nelson Mandela, new economy, open economy, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, Port of Oakland, post-industrial society, 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, Vilfredo Pareto, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

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: 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

Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business cycle, collective bargaining, congestion charging, Corn Laws, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Akerlof, information asymmetry, invention of movable type, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, market design, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, new economy, Pearl River Delta, 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: 443 words: 98,113

The Corruption of Capitalism: Why Rentiers Thrive and Work Does Not Pay by Guy Standing

3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, Bonfire of the Vanities, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, disruptive innovation, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, ending welfare as we know it, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Firefox, first-past-the-post, future of work, gig economy, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, housing crisis, income inequality, information retrieval, intangible asset, invention of the steam engine, investor state dispute settlement, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, mini-job, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Neil Kinnock, non-tariff barriers, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, nudge unit, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, openstreetmap, patent troll, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, quantitative easing, remote working, rent control, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Right to Buy, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, structural adjustment programs, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, the payments system, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Y Combinator, zero-sum game, Zipcar

The final part of the urban commons is known as the ‘allotment’ in the UK and by a host of other evocative names in other countries. Allotments are small plots for city dwellers and others to grow vegetables and fruit for consumption by themselves, family and friends. They symbolise the historical continuity of the commons. Allotments have had a chequered history. At the time of the Speenhamland system, they were opposed by Thomas Malthus and Edmund Burke on the grounds that they would reduce labour supply to employers and slow capital accumulation. But gradually through the nineteenth century, sentiment changed. Three Parliamentary Acts between 1887 and 1908 empowered local authorities to acquire land to turn into municipal allotments and, in rural areas, County Smallholdings Estate. In the twentieth century, attitudes fluctuated, as did the number of allotments.


pages: 343 words: 101,563

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, basic income, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, cognitive bias, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, endowment effect, energy transition, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, failed state, fiat currency, global pandemic, global supply chain, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Joan Didion, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, life extension, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, megastructure, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, postindustrial economy, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Whole Earth Catalog, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator

Since just 1980, that boundary has moved fully 140 miles east, almost to the 98th parallel, drying up hundreds of thousands of square miles of farmland in the process. The planet’s only other similar boundary is the one separating the Sahara desert from the rest of Africa. That desert has expanded by 10 percent, too; in the winter, the figure is 18 percent. * * * — The privileged children of the industrialized West have long laughed at the predictions of Thomas Malthus, the British economist who believed that long-term economic growth was impossible, since each bumper crop or episode of growth would ultimately produce more children to consume or absorb it—and as a result the size of any population, including that of the planet as a whole, was a check against material well-being. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich made a similar warning, updated for a twenty-first-century planet with many times more people on it, with his widely derided The Population Bomb, which proposed that the economic and agricultural productivity of the earth had already reached its natural limit—and which was published, as it happened, just as the productivity gains from what’s called the “green revolution” were coming into focus.


pages: 299 words: 19,560

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

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, G4S, garden city movement, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, liberation theology, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, Nelson Mandela, 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: 336 words: 97,204

The Mystery of Charles Dickens by A. N. Wilson

British Empire, Columbine, Corn Laws, Etonian, Fellow of the Royal Society, George Santayana, Honoré de Balzac, James Watt: steam engine, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Ralph Waldo Emerson, sexual politics, spinning jenny, Thomas Malthus

Wordsworth prayed in 1800 that the Cumberland Beggar would never be made captive in a workhouse. The draconian, Malthusian New Poor Law of 1834, however, was trying to address a question which demanded more than the occasional Christmas turkey being taken to a delighted Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim. The population had grown, and expert opinion, in and out of government, agreed with the Reverend Thomas Malthus’s view that there was only a fixed amount of food available at any one time: therefore when the population grew, the poor were in trouble. Malthusian economics, moreover, taught that the more the wages of the poor were subsidized, the less money there would be: there being, in this wrong-headed view of things, only a fixed amount of money to pay wages or subsidies. Plainly, the cost of subsidizing low wage-earners and paying for the indigent poor had rocketed.


pages: 801 words: 242,104

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

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: 372 words: 107,587

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

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, business cycle, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, liberal capitalism, mega-rich, money market fund, 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, 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, WikiLeaks, working poor, zero-sum game

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: 445 words: 105,255

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

3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Bill Joy: nanobots, Brownian motion, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, conceptual framework, continuation of politics by other means, 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, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Thomas Malthus, V2 rocket, Vannevar Bush, zero-sum game

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.


A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford

23andMe, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, bioinformatics, British Empire, colonial rule, dark matter, delayed gratification, demographic transition, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Google Earth, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, out of africa, phenotype, sceptred isle, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, twin studies

They must become the acknowledged dependents of the State . . . but with complete and permanent loss of all citizen rights – including not only the franchise but civil freedom and fatherhood . . . George Bernard Shaw, also on the political left, said ‘The only fundamental and possible socialism is the socialization of the selective breeding of man.’ The British never did adopt a eugenics policy, despite England being the intellectual birthplace of the idea. Before Darwin and Galton, Thomas Malthus had formally fretted about population growth and control, and therein laid the foundations of improving the ‘stock’ of a people. But in the USA, and a few other countries (notably Sweden), the forced, involuntary and often secret sterilization of undesirables was embraced enthusiastically. From 1907 when Indiana passed the first mandate, until 1963, forced sterilization was legally administered in thirty-one states, with California the most vigorous adopter.


pages: 374 words: 111,284

The AI Economy: Work, Wealth and Welfare in the Robot Age by Roger Bootle

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, anti-work, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Sanders, blockchain, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, computer age, conceptual framework, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, facts on the ground, financial intermediation, full employment, future of work, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, license plate recognition, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mega-rich, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, positional goods, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, social intelligence, spinning jenny, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, universal basic income, US Airways Flight 1549, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, wealth creators, winner-take-all economy, Y2K, Yogi Berra

(Economists know this as the law of diminishing returns.) Moreover, a higher rate of population growth would mean a higher ratio of nonproductive children to productive adults. (Mind you, just as in many poor societies today, stringent efforts were made to make children to some degree productive from an early age.) The constraints on living standards imposed by rising population were the central element in the theory propounded by the Reverend Thomas Malthus, who was both a minister of the Church and one of the early economists. These days his rank pessimism has been completely discredited. And rightly so. He really did give economics and economists a bad name. Writing in England in 1798, he said: The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.


pages: 935 words: 267,358

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

"Robert Solow", accounting loophole / creative accounting, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, banks create money, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, central bank independence, centre right, circulation of elites, 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, Kenneth Arrow, market bubble, means of production, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, open economy, Paul Samuelson, 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, twin studies, very high income, Vilfredo Pareto, We are the 99%, zero-sum game

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.


pages: 443 words: 112,800

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

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Albert Einstein, American ideology, 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, industrial cluster, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, knowledge economy, manufacturing employment, marginal employment, Martin Wolf, Masdar, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open borders, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, purchasing power parity, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, 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.


pages: 422 words: 113,525

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand

agricultural Revolution, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, land tenure, lateral thinking, low earth orbit, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, microbiome, New Urbanism, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, out of africa, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Calthorpe, 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, wealth creators, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, William Langewiesche, 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: 422 words: 113,830

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

algorithmic trading, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, buy and hold, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, corporate raider, creative destruction, 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, money market fund, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, old-boy network, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, Renaissance Technologies, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Satyajit Das, 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: 403 words: 111,119

Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist by Kate Raworth

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Asian financial crisis, bank run, basic income, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, clean water, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, disruptive innovation, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, full employment, global supply chain, global village, Henri Poincaré, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, land reform, land value tax, Landlord’s Game, loss aversion, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, megacity, mobile money, Mont Pelerin Society, Myron Scholes, neoliberal agenda, Network effects, Occupy movement, off grid, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, price mechanism, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, smart cities, smart meter, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, the market place, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Torches of Freedom, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, wikimedia commons

It may not feature in the textbooks but this S curve is no newcomer to the theatre of economics: it is, in fact, one of the oldest but most miscast of all actors in the play. Its shape first stepped on to the economic stage in 1838 when the Belgian mathematician Pierre Verhulst drew it to depict the trajectory of population growth, showing that populations would not increase exponentially, as the Reverend Thomas Malthus had believed, but would tend to a limit set by the availability, or carrying capacity, of resources such as food. It was a brilliant insight – worthy of an economic Oscar – but hardly anyone noticed the S curve’s star-like qualities, so it got dropped from the cast list for over a century. Left to languish backstage, the S curve’s talents were spotted by ecologists, biologists, demographers and statisticians who realised that it was a strong fit for describing many processes of growth in the natural world – from a child’s feet and the world’s forests to bacteria in a Petri dish and tumours in a body – and so they have used it ever since.


pages: 409 words: 118,448

An Extraordinary Time: The End of the Postwar Boom and the Return of the Ordinary Economy by Marc Levinson

affirmative action, airline deregulation, banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boycotts of Israel, Bretton Woods, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, car-free, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, clean water, deindustrialization, endogenous growth, falling living standards, financial deregulation, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Gilder, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, informal economy, intermodal, invisible hand, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, late capitalism, linear programming, manufacturing employment, new economy, Nixon shock, North Sea oil, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, price stability, purchasing power parity, refrigerator car, Right to Buy, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, rolodex, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, statistical model, strikebreaker, structural adjustment programs, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, unorthodox policies, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent, Wolfgang Streeck, women in the workforce, working-age population, yield curve, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

And while the authors were careful to qualify their forecasts with caveats, their tone was decidedly apocalyptic: “When there is plenty of unused arable land, there can be more people and also more food per person. When all the land is already used, the trade-off between more people or more food per person becomes a choice between absolutes.” Warnings about a world unable to feed its population were nothing new; the English cleric Thomas Malthus had predicted much the same in 1798. But Malthus had fallen out of favor, largely because, nearly two centuries on, the anticipated catastrophe had not happened. The Limits to Growth went beyond Malthus in predicting a world short of oil to heat its homes, metals for its factories, and even clean water to drink. Its real innovation, however, was its scientific gloss. With forty-eight charts and six tables, and discussions of computer runs and positive feedback loops, the study seemed to have a quantitative rigor Malthus lacked.


pages: 474 words: 120,801

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

additive manufacturing, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, business cycle, 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, creative destruction, crony capitalism, deskilling, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, 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, intangible asset, intermodal, invisible hand, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, liberation theology, Martin Wolf, mega-rich, 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, zero-sum game

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: 401 words: 115,959

Philanthrocapitalism by Matthew Bishop, Michael Green, Bill Clinton

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Bernie Madoff, Bob Geldof, Bonfire of the Vanities, business process, business process outsourcing, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, cleantech, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, Dava Sobel, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, don't be evil, family office, financial innovation, full employment, global pandemic, global village, God and Mammon, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, James Dyson, John Harrison: Longitude, joint-stock company, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Live Aid, lone genius, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, mass affluent, microcredit, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, new economy, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Peter Singer: altruism, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, profit motive, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, wealth creators, winner-take-all economy, working poor, World Values Survey, X Prize

But British empiricism also helped foster a growing skepticism about philanthropy. The economist David Ricardo argued that handouts to the poor pushed up the wages at which people were willing to work, and so increased unemployment. By saving today’s poor from hunger, charity was only perpetuating or worsening the problem by ensuring there would be more mouths to feed tomorrow, argued the Reverend Thomas Malthus in his 1798 “Essay on the Principle of Population,” in which he predicted that demand for food would outstrip supply as the population continued to grow. Although neither critique stood the test of time particularly well, Malthus and Ricardo shook the confidence of philanthropists in the rectitude of what they were doing, helping to bring the second golden age of philanthropy to an end with a whimper.


pages: 385 words: 118,314

Cities Are Good for You: The Genius of the Metropolis by Leo Hollis

Airbnb, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Boris Johnson, Broken windows theory, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, cellular automata, clean water, cloud computing, complexity theory, congestion charging, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, East Village, Edward Glaeser, Enrique Peñalosa, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Gini coefficient, Google Earth, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Masdar, mass immigration, megacity, negative equity, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, openstreetmap, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, place-making, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, spice trade, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, the High Line, The Spirit Level, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, trade route, traveling salesman, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, Y2K, Yom Kippur War

As the writer Suketu Mehta so rightly observes, Mumbai is a city where one is always adjusting, bunching up and making a little more room for the next person. Amongst this traffic, going by foot seemed the best of all possible methods of getting around. Hanging on to the train’s door jamb, it was easy to think that at that moment the world was too full. Mega-cities can be seen both as a sign of increasing efficiency in our management of lives and proof that we are over-populated. In 1789 the Reverend Thomas Malthus warned that mankind was doomed if it ever reached 1 billion, because ‘the power of population is infinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man’.3 In 1968 Paul Ehrlich came up with the same cry for help in his influential book, Population Bomb, whose first editions started with the prediction: ‘The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.’4 Even James Lovelock, the father of Gaia, warned in 2009 that we faced ‘death on a grand scale from famine and lack of water [unless there is] a reduction to 1 billion people or less’.5 However, cities might just be the only solution we have in the face of such prophesies.


pages: 467 words: 114,570

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

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, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, liberation theology, retrograde motion, scientific worldview, 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: 524 words: 120,182

Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell

Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, dark matter, discrete time, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, Paul Erdős, peer-to-peer, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, scientific worldview, stem cell, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine

He was convinced by Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology (1830) that geological features (mountains, canyons, rock formations) arise from gradual processes of erosion, wind, myriad floods, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes, rather than from catastrophic events such as the biblical Noah’s flood. Such a view of gradualism—that small causes, taken over long periods, can have very large effects—was anathema to religious fundamentalists of the day, but Lyell’s evidence was compelling to Darwin, especially as, on his voyage, he could see for himself the results of different kinds of geological processes. Thomas Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) drew Darwin’s attention to the fact that population growth leads to competition for food and other resources. Malthus’s essay was about human population growth, but Darwin would adapt these ideas to explain the evolution of all living organisms via a continual “struggle for existence.” Darwin also read Adam Smith’s free-market manifesto, The Wealth of Nations (1776).


pages: 457 words: 125,329

Value of Everything: An Antidote to Chaos The by Mariana Mazzucato

"Robert Solow", activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, bank run, banks create money, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, business cycle, butterfly effect, buy and hold, Buy land – they’re not making it any more, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, cleantech, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, European colonialism, fear of failure, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, financial repression, full employment, G4S, George Akerlof, Google Hangouts, Growth in a Time of Debt, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index fund, informal economy, interest rate derivative, Internet of things, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, light touch regulation, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, means of production, money market fund, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Pareto efficiency, patent troll, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, profit maximization, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, QWERTY keyboard, rent control, rent-seeking, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, sharing economy, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, smart meter, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, software patent, stem cell, Steve Jobs, The Great Moderation, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Tobin tax, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, very high income, Vilfredo Pareto, wealth creators, Works Progress Administration, zero-sum game

But food comes from agriculture, so the price of food regulates wages: a low price of food (or ‘corn', as Ricardo wrote in the language of the day) will permit lower wages and therefore higher profits and incentives to invest in future production (for example in manufacturing) and promote economic growth. A high wage due to low productivity in agriculture will mean lower profits, and hence little investment in future production, which in turn leads to slower economic growth. Ricardo inherited this ‘dismal theory' of wages from his contemporary Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), another English writer on political economy, who proposed that whenever real wages are above subsistence level, the population will grow until it is so large that the demand for food will push up food prices enough to bring wages back to subsistence level.35 In Ricardo's view, then, wages depended heavily on the productivity of agriculture: if productivity rose and food became cheaper, wages would fall.


pages: 389 words: 112,319

Think Like a Rocket Scientist by Ozan Varol

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Andrew Wiles, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Arthur Eddington, autonomous vehicles, Ben Horowitz, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, dark matter, delayed gratification, different worldview, discovery of DNA, double helix, Elon Musk, fear of failure, functional fixedness, Gary Taubes, George Santayana, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Inbox Zero, index fund, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Johannes Kepler, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, late fees, lateral thinking, lone genius, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, Marc Andreessen, Mars Rover, meta analysis, meta-analysis, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, multiplanetary species, obamacare, Occam's razor, out of africa, Peter Thiel, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, Yogi Berra

Lyell’s theory bucked conventional wisdom, which attributed these geological features solely to catastrophic or supernatural events like Noah’s flood.66 Darwin read Lyell’s book while sailing on the Beagle and applied the geological idea to biology. As rocket scientist David Murray explains, Darwin argued that organic material “evolves just as inorganic material does: with minute changes in each descendant that, over time, accumulate to form new biological appendages like eyes, hands, or wings.”67 Darwin also drew inspiration from the late-eighteenth-century economist Thomas Malthus. Malthus argued that humans tend to outgrow resources like food, creating a competition for survival. This competition, Darwin believed, drove the evolutionary process, leading the species best adapted to their environment to survive.68 Combinatory play is also the hallmark of great musicians. The renowned record producer Rick Rubin tells his bands not to listen to popular songs while they produce an album.


pages: 1,336 words: 415,037

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

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Bob Noyce, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, card file, centralized clearinghouse, Charles Lindbergh, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, desegregation, Donald Trump, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Everybody Ought to Be Rich, global village, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute cuisine, Honoré de Balzac, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop - Herbert Stein's Law, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, index fund, indoor plumbing, intangible asset, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Meriwether, 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, money market fund, moral hazard, NetJets, new economy, New Journalism, North Sea oil, paper trading, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, 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, yellow journalism, 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: 471 words: 124,585

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

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, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, commoditize, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, 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, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, iterative process, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour mobility, Landlord’s Game, liberal capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, negative equity, Nelson Mandela, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Parag Khanna, 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, stocks for the long run, structural adjustment programs, technology bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, undersea cable, 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.


pages: 421 words: 125,417

Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey Sachs

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, creative destruction, demographic transition, Diane Coyle, Edward Glaeser, energy security, failed state, Gini coefficient, global pandemic, Haber-Bosch Process, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, mass immigration, microcredit, oil shale / tar sands, old age dependency ratio, 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: 510 words: 120,048

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier

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, commoditize, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Graeber, delayed gratification, digital Maoism, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Everything should be made as simple as possible, 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, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peter Thiel, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, pre–internet, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, 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, zero-sum game

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: 386 words: 122,595

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

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, business cycle, buy and hold, capital controls, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, congestion charging, creative destruction, 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, fixed income, 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, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, Malacca Straits, market bubble, microcredit, money market fund, 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, Sam Peltzman, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, the rule of 72, 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, zero-sum game

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: 452 words: 126,310

The Case for Space: How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up a Future of Limitless Possibility by Robert Zubrin

Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, battle of ideas, Charles Lindbergh, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, cosmic microwave background, cosmological principle, discovery of DNA, double helix, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, flex fuel, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, gravity well, if you build it, they will come, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Kuiper Belt, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, more computing power than Apollo, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, off grid, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, place-making, Pluto: dwarf planet, private space industry, rising living standards, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, telerobotics, Thomas Malthus, transcontinental railway, uranium enrichment

The fact that this case for oppression, tyranny, war, and genocide is entirely false has made it no less devastating. Indeed, it has been responsible for most of the worst human-caused disasters of the past two hundred years. So let's take it apart. Figure 12.1. Contrary to Malthus's theory, human global well-being has increased with population size, and at an accelerating rate. Two hundred years ago, the English economist Thomas Malthus set forth the proposition that population growth must always outrun production as a fundamental law of nature. This theory provided the basis for the cruel British response to famines in Ireland and India during the latter part of the nineteenth century, denying food aid or even regulatory, taxation, or rent relief to millions of starving people on the pseudoscientific grounds that their doom was inevitable.1 Yet the data show that the Malthusian theory is entirely counterfactual.


pages: 468 words: 123,823

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

"Robert Solow", 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, hedonic treadmill, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, index card, Jane Jacobs, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, 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.


When Computers Can Think: The Artificial Intelligence Singularity by Anthony Berglas, William Black, Samantha Thalind, Max Scratchmann, Michelle Estes

3D printing, AI winter, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, availability heuristic, blue-collar work, brain emulation, call centre, cognitive bias, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, create, read, update, delete, cuban missile crisis, David Attenborough, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, factory automation, feminist movement, finite state, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, general-purpose programming language, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Gödel, Escher, Bach, industrial robot, Isaac Newton, job automation, John von Neumann, Law of Accelerating Returns, license plate recognition, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, natural language processing, Parkinson's law, patent troll, patient HM, pattern recognition, phenotype, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine, Turing test, uranium enrichment, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons, zero day

Today, the term “Luddite” is used to refer to people that foolishly wish to live in the past, but at the time they had considerable sympathy from many sectors of society. It is difficult to appreciate just how grim life was for ordinary people for most of man’s recorded history. If families had an average of five children each, then on average three of them had to die in order to maintain a stable population that could be supported by the available resources. This was famously documented by Thomas Malthus, who wrote in 1798 that “the power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man … that the actual population is only kept equal to the means of subsistence by misery and vice”. Providing more food for the destitute merely increases their number and thereby multiplies their misery. There have indeed been substantial improvements in agricultural technology over the millennia, which include the heavy plough, new crops such as potatoes, and the practice of rotating crops.


Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake

biofilm, buy low sell high, carbon footprint, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, discovery of penicillin, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, late capitalism, low earth orbit, Mason jar, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, moral panic, NP-complete, phenotype, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, the built environment, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, traveling salesman

Rudolf Virchow understood the organism to be made up of a community of cooperating cells, each working for the good of the whole, just as a population of interdependent cooperating citizens underpinned the operation of a healthy nation-state (Ball [2019], ch. 1). to exist at all: For “close to the margins” see Sapp (2004). The relationship between Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, Thomas Malthus’s analysis of food supply and human populations, and Adam Smith’s theory of the market has received considerable scholarly attention. See for example Young (1985). “bodily, intellectual, and moral”: Sapp (1994), ch. 2. “for this year’s Symposium”: Sapp (2004). free of cultural bias: For Needham see Haraway (2004), p. 106; Lewontin (2000), p. 3. and “market gains”: Toby Kiers, professor at Vrije University in the Netherlands, is one of the leading proponents of applying “biological market frameworks” to plant and fungal interactions.


pages: 481 words: 121,300

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

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, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Nelson Mandela, 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: 476 words: 132,042

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

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, Douglas Engelbart, 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, Joan Didion, John Conway, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, life extension, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, off grid, out of africa, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, Picturephone, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, refrigerator car, Richard Florida, Rubik’s Cube, 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, wealth creators, 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.


To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland's Global Diaspora, 1750-2010 by T M Devine

agricultural Revolution, British Empire, deindustrialization, deskilling, full employment, ghettoisation, housing crisis, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, land tenure, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, railway mania, Red Clydeside, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Scramble for Africa, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, women in the workforce

As national populations rose and social tensions increased because of economic change, so governments became more interested in emigration, seeing it not as a source of loss, as previously, but rather as a potential safety-valve for emerging demographic problems. In Britain, the ideology of ‘systematic colonization’ became a fashionable set of ideas and theories associated with Edward Gibbon Wakefield and others. Building on the theories of Thomas Malthus, it was argued by advocates such as Wakefield that emigration could be a blessing rather than a curse, creating markets abroad for British industry while, at the same time, easing population pressures at home. These views became widely influential and in 1837 the New Zealand Association was formed in London along the lines suggested by Wakefield to support emigration to the Antipodes. The new ideas also inspired government intervention in the emigrant trade, particularly to Australia, thought too distant and unappealing to attract unsubsidized immigration.


City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age by P. D. Smith

active transport: walking or cycling, Albert Einstein, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Broken windows theory, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business cycle, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, congestion charging, cosmological principle, crack epidemic, double entry bookkeeping, edge city, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, en.wikipedia.org, Enrique Peñalosa, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, garden city movement, global village, haute cuisine, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of gunpowder, Jane Jacobs, John Snow's cholera map, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, Kickstarter, Kowloon Walled City, Masdar, megacity, megastructure, multicultural london english, mutually assured destruction, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, peak oil, RFID, smart cities, starchitect, telepresence, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, Thomas Malthus, trade route, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Victor Gruen, walkable city, white flight, white picket fence, young professional

In his ‘Builder’s Creed’ (1917), Eaton said – somewhat immodestly – that he aspired to create ‘God’s garden’: ‘I shall try to build at Forest Lawn a great park, devoid of mis-shapen monuments and other customary signs of earthly Death, but filled with towering trees, sweeping lawns, splashing fountains, singing birds, beautiful statuary, cheerful flowers.’73 With its wide roads, carefully manicured lawns and ornamental flowering shrubs, the memorial park was thoroughly suburban and for many Americans this final resting place felt just like home. The Urban Graveyard Effect Cities were once decidedly bad for your health. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, more people died in cities than were born in them, a situation referred to as the ‘urban graveyard effect’. It was Thomas Malthus, in his Essay on the Principles of Population (1803), who first described the urban graveyard effect. He calculated that half of all children born in Manchester and Birmingham died before the age of three. Malthus put this high mortality rate down to the ‘closeness and foulness of the air’. In 1861, the life expectancy of a male baby born in Liverpool was twenty-six years compared to fifty-six for one born in the rural community of Okehampton, Devon.


pages: 448 words: 142,946

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

Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Bretton Woods, capital controls, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, corporate raider, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, disintermediation, diversification, fiat currency, financial independence, financial intermediation, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global supply chain, God and Mammon, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, land value tax, Lao Tzu, liquidity trap, McMansion, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, 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: 469 words: 146,487

Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World by Niall Ferguson

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, liberal capitalism, Livingstone, I presume, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, night-watchman state, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, profit motive, Scramble for Africa, spice trade, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, the new new thing, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, undersea cable, union organizing, zero-sum game

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: 502 words: 128,126

Rule Britannia: Brexit and the End of Empire by Danny Dorling, Sally Tomlinson

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, anti-globalists, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, British Empire, centre right, colonial rule, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Etonian, falling living standards, Flynn Effect, housing crisis, illegal immigration, imperial preference, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, knowledge economy, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, megacity, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, out of africa, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, University of East Anglia, We are the 99%, wealth creators

Sheffield steel is a case in point: it really doesn’t make a great deal of geographical sense to produce steel in Sheffield today, but some companies still exhibit high levels of market competitiveness, as noted in the case of the special steel exported to the USA – though only when they are protected from below-cost steel imports from China or prohibitive tariffs imposed by the USA. Trade is never free, and freedom means far more than having the right to trade. WHAT WAS FREE TRADE? What are the British actually good at? One thing the British produce is an unusual number of economists, including those who later came, through their work, to define the academic subject. Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus and James Mill are remembered now, perhaps unfairly, for talking about the magical invisible hand of the market (Smith), the problem of poor people having too much sex (Malthus), and how India was a basket case until the British arrived (Mill).5 Their ideas all had great influence, but none of those ideas have actually survived the test of time as much as those of their contemporary David Ricardo and his theories about free trade.6 David Ricardo, son of a Dutch stockbroker, was born in London in 1772.


pages: 539 words: 139,378

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

affirmative action, Black Swan, cognitive bias, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, index card, invisible hand, lateral thinking, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, Necker cube, Nelson Mandela, out of africa, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, social intelligence, social web, stem cell, Steven Pinker, The Spirit Level, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Tony Hsieh, ultimatum game

Plato’s model in the Timaeus, as in the Phaedrus, was actually that there are three parts to the soul: reason (in the head), spirit (including the desire for honor, in the chest), and appetite (the love of pleasure and money, in the stomach). But in this chapter I’ll simplify it as a dual-process model, pitting reason (above the neck) against the two sets of passions (below). 10. This famous phrase was coined by Herbert Spencer, but Darwin used it too. 11. Darwin 1998/1871, part I, chapter 5. More on this in chapter 9. 12. The idea was developed by Herbert Spencer in the late nineteenth century, but it goes back to Thomas Malthus in the eighteenth century. Darwin did believe that tribes competed with tribes (see chapter 9), but he was no social Darwinist, according to Desmond and Moore 2009. 13. Hitler was a vegetarian too, but nobody would argue that endorsing vegetarianism makes one a Nazi. 14. Pinker 2002, p. 106. 15. Rawls remains one of the most cited political philosophers. He is famous for his thought experiment in Rawls 1971 asking people to imagine the society they would design if they had to do so from behind a “veil of ignorance” so that they would not know what position they would eventually occupy in that society.