It is precisely because there is so much poverty, hunger and illness that the world must be very careful not to get in the way of the things that have bettered so many lives already– the tools of trade, technology and trust, of specialization and exchange. It is precisely because there is still so much further to go that those who offer counsels of despair or calls to slow down in the face of looming environmental disaster may be not only factually but morally wrong. Matt Ridley in The Rational Optimist on page 354
This book had me at ‘feeding the nine billion’!
I am a naturally optimistic person and The Rational Optimist: How Properity Evolves gives credence to my inclinations. I have always thought that humans were capable of solving problems and this book hammers that nail firmly in place. His basic thesis is as follows. Humans have the ability to specialize and trade. This allows more bang for an economic buck and we are never going back to pre-barter days. Furthermore, since the advent of fast communication, ideas now have sex with one another resulting in an explosion of new technologies. No DNA to slow things down. This fecundity is the reason so much of the world is better off than it was fifty years ago never mind one hundred years ago. Except for a few cases of governmental disasters (for example the policies of (Mao, Stalin, and Mugabe) the average human being would never trade places with their ancestors, even if that ancestor was very wealthy. For the poor, things have gotten even better. This book is a must read for any leftwing person just so they know the arguments of free market types.