Re: Communism vs Capitalism

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Mon Feb 26 2001 - 07:38:23 MST

On Sat, Feb 24, 2001 at 12:52:53PM -0500, Michael Lorrey wrote:
> > If we posit a world in which regional economic imbalances have flattened
> > out, we'll eventually hit a point where downward pressure on food prices
> > can't go any further because if it does there'll be insufficient money to
> > pay for food production -- but consumption os flat. If food is produced
> > at cost, in sufficient quantity and quality for everyone, there is *no*
> > further room for growth (other than through artificially-induced fashions
> > and fads, which offer transient relief through manufactured scarcity).
> This displays a rather dumbfounding display of ignorance of market
> economics.

That's rather a non sequiteur. Would you mind explaining what you mean?

The point I'm trying to make ( ... pause to take deep breath ... ) is
that there is a finite limit to food consumption. If we ignore weird
alternative uses like bathing in asses' milk, we can take a stab
at estimating the maximum food consumption our civilization can ever
demand. (We can even estimate the maximum demand in event of massive,
compulsory extravagence -- everyone bathes three times a day in cognac
and stuffs themselves silly on steak, while taking skiing lessons on
a butter mountain.)

If we hit a point where supply outstrips demand, then prices are going
to fall as suppliers fight each other for market share. But sooner or
later the suppliers reach an equilibrium point where they can't afford
to cut prices further (and remain in business).

The logical end-point is that once we have saturated the market for food,
and once prices have deflated at the lowest level that will support
any producers, there is simply *no* scope for economic growth left in
that field unless we manufacture more consumers.

What part of "there is a limit to how much food I can eat and how cheaply
it can be produced" don't you agree with?

-- Charlie

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:56:48 MDT