Re: playing catch-up

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Wed Jan 02 2002 - 11:33:07 MST

> > resources remains the same--the amount of solar energy the planet
> > can harness. It's only the efficiency with which we can use it
> Not so. The effective amount of wealth does not remain the
> same.

I didn't say that, and I never would. Please don't misquote me.
I understand the difference between natural resources and "wealth".
But my statement stands: the former /is/ finite and limited.

Our disagreement, if there is one, is that I believe that this
limitation will become a /more/ significant factor limiting
wealth as we advance, and you seem to contend that it will
become less of a factor, and that more of our wealth will be
informational and such. Your scenario is quite possible, and
I won't discount it out of hand, but I can't share it. No matter
how much wealth we create over and above natural resources,
someone with more natural resources can still create more than
someone with less.

> That it is not literally infinite is rather beside the point.
> It is certainly not be any stretch "scarcity" of the kind our
> economic system was designed to cope with unless we create
> artificial scarcity by insisting the commons stays artificially
> small and everything imaginable has a price tag slapped on it.
> I have actually heard some go so far as to claim that every atom
> of matter and erg of energy must be owned by someone.

Yep, I'm one of those. Owned things get put to effective use;
things in the commons are inevitably destroyed and neglected.

> > Just because it's harder for humans to visualize the difference
> > between 1 and 2 billion than to visualize the difference between
> > 1 and 2 hundred doesn't mean the difference doesn't exist. As I've
> > said before, when everyone on the planet is a billionaire, the guy
> > with 10 billion still gets the girl, the bigger spaceship, the
> > asteroid in the better neighborhood, and the nicer toys. "Scarcity"
> > is a relative thing.
> I would hope that we grow out of this kind of adolescent rivalry
> fairly soon. But I won't hold my breath.

Competition is life. There is no higher purpose, or nobler pursuit.
It is only when competition deteriorates into predation and violence
that there is a problem, and I would certainly hope that we grow
out of /that/. But as for competition in general, if there weren't
such a thing, I can't imagine wanting to live.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

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