Re: Krugman looks back from 2096

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 13:28:43 MDT

Robin Hanson wrote:
> Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> > > "Third World families ... did not want to watch pretty graphics ...
> > > they wanted to live in nice houses, drive cars, and eat meat.") ...
> > > As I've said, Krugman and most economists can be faulted for not
> > understanding
> > > specific technologies in more detail. But most futurists can be
> > faulted for
> > > not understanding much economics. The later sin seems much greater to me.
> >
> >However, he fails to apply his agriculture argument to production of houses,
> >cars, and meat. When the price of a built house, car, or meat drops to
> >commodity
> >levels (manufactured housing, eco-speck cars, and vat grown meat) then that
> >segment of industry requires a far smaller segment of the population to
> >produce
> >and far smaller percent of per capita income to acquire (just as has happened
> >with food production), then that segment of the economy takes on less
> >importance, as he claims. He myopically fails to forsee any progress in
> >technologies for reducing the cost of these commodities in 100 years time,
> >which
> >I find to be a huge fault of his argument.
> I'll side with Krugman here; yours is a nanosanta scenario where all consumer
> goods are as cheap as wheat. Krugman forsees progress in the cost of ordinary
> consumer goods, but the same sort of progress we have seen. So I'd bet he
> wouldn't expect a nanosanta tech to be available in a century (if ever). He
> might be wrong about that, but if so it's not because of bad economics.

Its doesn't necessarily require a nanosanta at all. normal scale
autoreplicators/automated refinery/assembly processors are sufficient to bring
the cost of cars, houses, refrigerators, stoves, and microwave ovens down to a
commodity/disposable cost range:

Homes that are inflatable with a hardening structural foam can be mass produced
as easily as air matresses.

Cars, well, bring an anti-trust suit against the UAW and 90% of all auto
industry jobs will be robotized in ten years, get rid of dealerships. Basic cars
should be as inexpensive as bicycles are.

refrigerators with 3 cubic foot capacity can be had for $100 already. I had
three in my college dorm 14 years ago. The 6.5 cubic foot AC/propane refer I put
in my camp last summer cost $300

Stoves: are cheap two burner gas or electric stoves can be had for $100

Microwave ovens: less than $100

These are all US prices, I know for a fact they can be had far cheaper in many
asian countries. What is expensive is energy, as most nations lack
infrastructure in roads, electric transmission, gas pipelines and retail
distribution and sales of products. Taxes on energy and other items are highly
punitive, exceeding 100% in many cases.

Just as with starvation and malnutrition, the problem is not with availability,
price, or supply, it is with the tyranny of the governments that do not want to
empower their subjects, leaders who see governance as an opportunity to rape the
nation rather than to build it.

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