On the wrong end of the stick


Being able to produce more is not the same statement as getting richer. Nor is having higher productivity the same statement as getting richer.

I’ll agree entirely that historically these three have been closely aligned. But they’re not the root cause.

Getting richer means being able to consume more. Nowt else either. So if our African farmer is able to consume more in the coming century then our African farmer is getting richer in this coming century. Which could indeed happen through the industrialisation of that continent. Or through us finally reaching true communism, where we have dealt with the scarcity problem in goods (non-positional goods, obviously) and the African farmer is able to consume more.

As with the skinning of cats there is more than one way to reach our goal. Making everything cheaper will make all richer just as well as employing people to make things will.

1 thought on “On the wrong end of the stick”

  1. Good point. We might solve scarcity, but I sincerely doubt it will happen. The hedonic treadmill is probably going to keep rolling. If that’s the case then the people producing (and their neighbours) will continue to be the ones consuming.

    Alternatively, we do solve scarcity and then we get down to distribution. It’s conceivable we’ll have enough left over to allow the Lesotho farmers a good life, but it is by no means certain.

    We’re rich enough in the west so that even people without homes and jobs consumes more than £1000 a year. If somebody is 1000s of miles away will that be possible?

    There’s also enough conservative in me to think that there might be something necessary about working for something. Abundance just happening to you might not be conducive to the good life.

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