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Is wealth natural?

Posted by Richard on June 8, 2005

Over at Catallarchy, Jonathan Wilde has elaborated further on his contention that poverty is unnatural. A very interesting argument leading to:

The thrust of my argument is that, given the current state of human civilization, the body of knowledge acquired through the rise and fall of various societies, the empirical data collected by scientists and philosophers, the ideas that percolate via the spirit of the times, and the ever growing economic sophistication acquired during the last century, it is poverty, not wealth, that is unnatural.

I think his case comes down to this, and I’m inclined to agree: In the absence of artificial constraints (such as those imposed by governments), the sum total of knowledge and ideas — and therefore resources and wealth — will naturally increase over time. At the beginning of the 21st century, humanity has had so much time to accumulate knowledge, ideas, resources, and wealth in a relatively unfettered fashion that it’s the remaining poverty in the world that’s anomalous and in need of explanation.

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