Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Oy vey!

Jared Diamond is a very smart man who has written some wonderful books. So I find his piece in this morning's NY Times stunning (to say the least). In a nutshell, when the world's poor begin to consume as much as we (32 times, comparing their present consumption with ours), there will be "big consequences." The problem is that we consume much too wastefully.

But prices and markets are not considered.

Pete Boettke notes "What we are up against" by referring to an equally disappointing treatment in another recent NY Times piece. Missing from Diamond's discussion is the simple idea that the only way that the poor will ever consume more is when they produce more.

All the doomsday forecasts have been wrong because they simply extrapolated the technology of their time. But no one can predict which resources will be how scarce when the poor are 32 times more productive than now. Craig Newmark lists some sources that document the relevant history.