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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Thursday (1/27/11) 4:23pm - ... wherein Peter is not an economist, people.

My latest formspring answer:

Is poverty inevitable?  Does the fact that some people are rich mean that there have to be other people who are poor? [1/23/11, by robbyslaughter -- looks like he's been asking everybody this one]

I'll take the second question first.

Yes, semantically, if some people are rich, it implies that other people are poor.  That's kind of a vacuous statement, though -- in English, we define "rich" and "poor" as relative terms, as opposed to tying them to absolute values of wealth.

The first question is more interesting, because I personally define "poverty" in absolute, not relative terms.  "Poverty", to me, means that you have trouble getting the bare necessities of life:  food, shelter, basic medical care, and the like.

I do not think poverty is inevitable.  That said, this is also kind of a vacuous statement.  Really, all I'm saying is, "out of all of the infinite possibilities for how the global economy might theoretically work, I'm sure there is some finite subset of economies that don't have a sizeable class of people below the poverty line."  Whether we ever actually achieve that, who knows?  I guess it all comes back to Malthus:  if technology advances to a point where there are enough resources for everybody, and population doesn't explode to overshoot those resources, then we could theoretically distribute things in such a way as to avoid poverty.  And I don't think human nature makes this inherently impossible.

That said, it may be *practically* inevitable.  Of that infinite set of theoretical global economies, our world will only walk through a few possibilities.  Maybe all of those future economies include a large, miserable underclass just trying to not die of malaria.

I honestly have no idea.  (And really, who would expect me to have any idea?)

Ask me questions at my formspring page!

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Mood: [mood icon] contemplative · Music: none
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