[extropy-chat] gm biodiesel 'em

Jeff Davis jrd1415 at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 30 05:22:24 UTC 2005

--- David Lubkin <extropy at unreasonable.com> wrote:

> I see those expressions -- "economics of scarcity"
> and "economics of 
> plenty" -- occasionally. They seem like a
> hand-waving fancy.

Could it be that you don't know what they mean and
aren't really interested in finding out?
> First, I don't see how there's more than one
> economics.

Not an unreasonable position.  Try this: Those
prevailing economic conditions where demand, in
particular demand for the basic necessities of life,
outstrip supply, versus those economic conditions
where supply -- again, of the fundamental necessities
--  outstrips demand.  And if you might be curious as
to how this turnabout from the current conditions --
conditions of scarcity -- could come about, it would
be the result of the historic and unrelenting natural
progression, the constant increase in industrial
productivity.  Mediated by technology, but more
commonly called simply automation.

> Second, it seems to me that there will always be
> scarcity.

Indeed that seems likely, but in what particulars? 
What are the characteristics of a thing which can not
be produced in arbitrarily large quantities.  I've
thought about this at some length.  I invite others to
add to the list.  I've come up with two categories of
'things': personally-created "originals", items such
as original art or anything personally hand-crafted;
and the time of or time in the company of any
> You may mean a future where what we today consider
> the essentials of 
> life are trivially available to all. That may
> happen. But the goalposts keep moving.

For pathologically driven human cravings that have no
correspondence to genuine human need or fulfillment,
yes.  For basic human necessities, no.

> Want will always exceed supply, since the former is
> effectively infinite and the latter is effectively 
> finite.

Want is effectively infinite because want is
essentially irrational.  An impulse from the
pre-rational era of life guided by instinct.  The
distinguishing feature of humanity is the
interconnected suite of abilities: consciousness,
cognition, judgment, forethought, and planning; to be
human is to use these abilities to forge one's own
destiny.  The 'want' of which write is jungle-bred,
thoughtless, insatiable acquisitiveness.

> There also seems to be a socialist tinge in talking
> of haves and have-nots. 

Egad!  We can't have that.  Next thing you know people
will be insisting on justice and freedom from
violence.  Bad socialists, bad bad.

> One of the consequences of technology has always 
> been, and will continue to be, increasing the gap 
> between the top and the bottom of the asset curve.

"...has always been, and will continue to be..."
He speaketh and verily it is so.  

I wish you all the wealth your heart desires, and then
like Johnny Rocco, "More.  Yeah, that's it, I want

Or perhaps you might hope to rise above the
insatiable, irrational animal within, the animal of
the endless craving, dial that down some, and connect
with the more judicious more human notion of
proportionality.  Find out what you need -- what you
REALLY need -- and, having gained that, try to figure
out what you -- not your primordial impulses -- want
to do with what's left.  

Best, Jeff Davis

     Natural selection constructs a mind that wants 
      things that would have helped you reproduce 
       in the ancestral environment,...

            ... whether or not that helps 
                      you reproduce now.
                            Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005 

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