Science and economics: getting there is half the fun

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I have been inundated with science magazines lately.  I think I must be signing up for subscriptions in my sleep. 

 

 

In any case, I am learning a lot. 

 

 

For one thing, according to an article in a recent issue of Science, population growth turns out to be not a problem; people adapt to it, as technology continues to improve

 

 

Aren’t you delighted to hear this?

 

 

This study was based on a location in Kenya where, in the early twentieth century, overfarming and overgrazing looked as if they might overwhelm a whole area.  Experts were gloomy.  But!  Technology rescued everyone!  (After a while.)  Nowadays, it’s a thriving area!

 

 

Everything about this story is wonderful, except that middle term: “after a while.”  There was considerable human suffering and stress for perhaps ten, twenty, thirty years. 

 

 

That middle term worries me.

 

 

Macroeconomics has the same middle-term blind spot. Allow me to oversimplify: “Markets shift.  There are busts, and booms.  If you can just hang on long enough, recessions and depressions will ease, and the market will shift to an upward trend.”

 

 

Ah yes.  If you can hang on long enough.

 

 

And getting there is half the fun.

 

 

Re the Kenya story: how many people suffered / starved / died before the present optimal state was achieved?  Re the macroeconomics theory (let’s take the 1930s in the USA for an example): how many people suffered / starved / died before the economy recovered?

 

 

One does not have the numbers at one’s fingertips, but one seems to recall that, during the 1930s here in the USA for example, the human-suffering level was significant.

 

 

So: problem leads to solution.  The laws of nature, and demographics, and economics, take their course.

 

 

But getting there is half the fun.

 

 

And you had better dearly hope that you are not one of the (statistically insignificant) people who suffer, or starve, or die in the middle of the equation, during the time in which the situation is correcting itself from negative to positive . . .

 

Ah me.

 

 

Hang on.  It’s going to be a bumpy ol’ ride.


 

 

About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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