Monday, November 06, 2006

Wasting Resources

The industrialized nations of the world consume almost 90% of the years of college in the world; nearly 50% is used by the US alone. There are only a finite number of books, but Europe and North America greedily suck up 75% of this precious resource. We have more than our share of lawyers and football players, and the European languages, especially English, account for a shameful percentage of the number of words used worldwide.

In some specialized resources, American use is so predominant that there is almost nothing else left for the rest of the world. Among these niche markets would be American flags, Slim Whitman CD's, and all varieties of Boone's Farm "wine."

Remember this concept when some green or anti-poverty group tries to sell you on the idea of American wastefulness. We use electricity because we make it. We have more wealth because we make it, not because we steal it. (I grant the exception that our agricultural subsidies do contribute to world poverty). We are not running out of everything. If you want to eliminate poverty, there are two American/Western products that will do it: the rule of law and the free market.

4 comments:

Michael said...

Do they still make Boone's Farm wine? That was a staple of college budgets back in the day when you and I were making our way through. Not to mention that we were legal in 1973.

We've had doomsayers for decades. I saw or read something recently that said that one of the doomsayer books of the 70's said that there would simply not be enough food production by the end of the century and we'd all starve. And my kids wonder why I have a healthy skepticism of the "global warming" issue.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

It was probably Erlich's "The Population Bomb."

He joined the Prometheus Society while I was in in the 1980's, and it appalled me how the membership fawned over him. Yes, we're obscure and he's a big name, but he's wrong.

Anonymous said...

I believe I agree with you, AVI, but could you elaborate on how farm subsidies contribute to world hunger?

---BubbaB

Assistant Village Idiot said...

In general: if someone can do it cheaper, it's better for everyone. I believe the sugar subsidies are the worst, as we reward a very small number of Americans by protecting the sugar grown here. Cutting sugar cane in the Caribbean may be a crummy job, but it is better than no job. If Guatemala or Trinidad can produce sugar more cheaply, they should be allowed to. The few Americans who lose a lot are far counterbalanced by the 300,000,000 of us who all save a little.

If you want to take action to protect those Americans dependent on sugar from a sudden crash, that's okay, I suppose. But if no sugar were grown in the US, and all those people were absorbed into other parts of the economy, it wouldn't even be a blip on the unemployment screen.

I read one estimate that suggested that if Europe and North America eliminated agricultural subsidies, it would solve 50% of the remaining world hunger in ten years, even if no other action were taken. If the truth is even close to that, it's impressive.