Re: Limited resources? was: some U.S. observations and notes

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Wed Dec 26 2001 - 09:03:22 MST

From: "Kai Becker" <>
> Am Mittwoch, 26. Dezember 2001 06:37 schrieb J. R. Molloy:
> > Competition due to
> > overcrowding exacerbates conflict, in a neighborhood, state country or
> > region. One person's gain is another's loss. Given one pie--be it finite
> > natural resources or available full-time jobs--adding additional
> > consumers must be at the expense of others.
> Isn't this statement in contradiction to the assumption that improved
> technology will provide more pie - pardon, resources - for all?

That assumption works well in many casses, except that historically (and
predictably) people use new technology (such as medicine) to extend their
lives and to reduce mortality, thus adding to overpopulation. It's more
popular to use technology to save lives than it is to use technology to create
more and better widgets, so while greedy and selfish (according to liberals)
capitalists continue to develop more amazing gagetry, government and
foundation funding goes to institutions which promise to cure disease, etc.
We could reduce the overcrowding problem by slowing human reproduction, but
there's still only so much real estate available on Earth. Some say the
solution is to colonize other planets or to live in space, while others say
extraterrestrial migration constitutes pollution of the universe. Furthermore,
providing more "resources" also means providing more opportunity for crime.
The industrial revolution made possible machine guns used by gangsters.

> I believe
> that history has shown that this is possible, but only if we use technology
> wisely with the profit for all in mind.

Yes, it may be possible, and it's more possible for people to believe this
than it is for people to accomplish it. The wise use of technology implies
comparable wise use of the technologists who create it, and nobody really
likes the idea of being used, wisely or otherwise. So, there will always be
rogue technologists, as witness the abundance of hackers on the Internet.
Sometimes it looks like there's more computer virus technology going around
than there is useful programming.

> The "limited resources theory" does not explain the higher rates of violent
> crimes in the US compared to countries with the same standard of living
> (Europe, Japan, Australia) -

IMO, gun ownership doesn't explain it either. America differs from Europe,
Japan, and Australia in many ways, not just the American right to bear arms.
...and I've noticed that there are more Europeans, Japanese, and Australians
migrating to the US than the other way 'round. So, perhaps people prefer a
certain amount of violence combined with the freedom it seems to announce,
than the crime-free atmosphere of places lacking other kinds of liberty. The
wild West ain't the safest place in the world, but it may be the most open and
unfettered. Guess that's why more folks immigrate than emigrate.

> unless you propose that Americans "need"
> significantly more resources than others (cf. population density,
> pollution, etc.).

Oh yeah, that might explain it... the Yanks need libenschraum, elbow room...
more land of the free and more homes of the brave...
Do you ever find yourself feeling that way?

> IMO, the ideology of limited resources we have to fight about is only good
> for extremists (left or right) who prefer to steal from others, instead of
> exploring new opportunities.

I'm all for exploring new opportunities, and for creating more resources.
That's why I prefer science to politics and laugh at the oxymoron "political
Of course it's convenient to dismiss real problems and run off to explore
supposed opportunities somewhere else, isn't it? With overcrowding comes more
and more explorers who compete for the supposed new opportunities. IMO, the
ideology of stealing new opportunities instead of repairing and maintaining
what we have is only good for crackpots who deny the work that is necessary
for real success.

--- --- --- --- ---

Useless hypotheses, etc.:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism, GAC, Cyc, Eliza, cryonics, individual
uniqueness, ego, human values, scientific relinquishment, malevolent AI,
non-sensory experience, SETI

We move into a better future in proportion as science displaces superstition.

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