[ExI] Impressive book: Farewell to Alms

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Wed Feb 6 00:49:53 UTC 2008

At 02:20 PM 2/5/2008, Damien wrote:
>At 01:44 PM 2/5/2008 -0700, Keith wrote:
> > >What? "Representative of the whole population" doesn't here mean
> > >"representative of the whole population of will-writers whose wills
> > >are preserved," it means "representative of the whole population."
> >
> >http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/papers/Capitalism%20Genes.pdf
> >
> >"...the custom of making wills seems to have extended well down
> >the social hierarchy in pre-industrial England. In Suffolk in the
> >1620s 39 percent of males who lived past age 16 made a will that
> >was probated....there are plenty of wills available for those at the
> >bottom of the hierarchy such as laborers, sailors, shepherds, and
> >husbandmen."
>Hmm. Okay, thanks. I'm sure there's still a skew, but not as wild as
>it seemed at first blush.

It you think about the basic economy in a Malthusian society, the 
population rises till it is checked at the "sustenance" level, where 
the average person is getting just enough to survive.  If there is 
disparity of "sustenance" and in a money economy that can be measured 
in units like British pounds then it just makes sense that the ones 
with more pounds are going to (for example) have more to eat and be 
able to feed their kids.  In hard times such as a crop failure, that 
means the better off people survive and the poorest starve.

Somewhere around a million poor Irish starved in the potato blight 
famine of 1847, so this isn't that far back in history.

Malthusian society and the Malthusian trap economy is *easy* to 
understand.  Just foreign to our personal experiences.

Without taking on extreme engineering projects we may see a return to 
famine in our lifetimes.  Has anyone looked at how thin the world 
grain reserves are?



More information about the extropy-chat mailing list