December 25, 2013

FROM THE ARCHIVES: MORE IMPORTANTLY, IT'S THE WORST SCIENCE EVER:

Malthus and Scrooge: How Charles Dickens Put Holly Branch Through The Heart Of The Worst Economics Ever (Jerry Bowyer, 12/24/12, Forbes)

What was Dickens really doing when he wrote A Christmas Carol? Answer: He was weighing in on one of the central economic debates of his time, the one that raged between Thomas Malthus and one of the disciples of Adam Smith.

Malthus famously argued that in a world in which economies grew arithmetically and population grew geometrically, mass want would be inevitable. His Essay on Population created a school of thought which continues to this day under the banners of Zero Population Growth and Sustainability. The threat of a "population bomb" under which my generation lived was Paul Ehrlich's modern rehashing of the Malthusian argument about the inability of productivity to keep pace with, let alone exceed, population growth.

Jean Baptiste Say, Smith's most influential disciple, argued on the other hand, as had his mentor, that the gains from global population growth, spread over vast expanses of trading, trigger gains from a division of labor which exceed those ever thought possible before the rise of the market order.

Guess whose ideas Charles Dickens put into the mouth of his antagonist Ebenezer Scrooge.

Remove the zero-sum game and there's nothing left of Darwinism.



[originally posted : 12/27/12]

Posted by at December 25, 2013 4:14 AM
  

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