Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Malthusian Mad Logic Hits Twitter

Henry Blodget tweets:
RT @Bill_Gross: "We need about 1.5 Earths to sustain our current level of economy." Paul Gilding @ #TED
Damn supply and demand, damn marginal utility, lets all stick our heads in the sand and arithmetic and exponetial draw graphs.

Murray Rothbard put Malthusian madness in proper light when he quoted Edwin Canna and wrote:
For spurious Malthus's ratios undoubtedly were. There was no proof whatever for either of these alleged ratios. The absurdly mechanistic view that people, unchecked, would breed like fruit flies cannot be demonstrated by simply spelling out the implications of the alleged "doubling itself every twenty-five years."...Malthus's one attempt at proof of his ratios was extraordinarily feeble. Priding himself on relying on "experience," Malthus noted that the population of the North American colonies had increased for a long while in the "geometric ratio" of doubling every 25 years. But this example hardly demonstrates the fearful outstripping by population of the "arithmetically increasing" food supply. For, as Edwin Cannan astutely notes, "This population must have been fed, and consequently the annual produce of food must also have increased in a geometrical ratio." His example proved nothing.

Cannan adds that by the sixth chapter of his Essay, Malthus "seems to have had some inkling of this objection to his argument," and he tries to reply in a footnote, that "In instances of this kind, the powers of the earth appear to be fully equal to answer all the demands for food that can be made up on it by man. But we should be led into an error, if we were thence to suppose that population and food ever really increase in the same ratio." But since this is precisely what had happened, Malthus is clearly totally unwitting that the second sentence in this note is in flat contradiction to the firs


  1. Henry Blodget has gone full retard in his quest to eliminate the competition so that he can get back into the investment industry after being banned.

  2. It seems plausible to me that the *limits* of food supply growth are indeed arithmetic, even if our actual food supply growth was geometric, due to increasing efficiency. i.e. once you hit max efficiency, you are limited to arithmetic growth, while until then, you can experience geometric growth.

    So imagine a graph with two lines, one of constant slope upwards from left to right (the limits of food growth), the other with a steepening upward curve from left to right (representing actual population growth and comcomitant food supply growth).

    For most of the graph, the curved line is below the straight line. But at some point, the steepending curved line intersects the straight line. That's what Malthus was worried about.

  3. @anon 12:32

    What you said is certifiably true, and I agree. However, I think that in order to reach that end point on the line, this example requires there be no changes in the means of production. Ever.

    I gather from your post you are not arguing for the Malthusians, if history is any teacher, rarely is anything held constant.

  4. Regarding a growing American population via birthrate, I am more concerned about the cost of raising a family not being applicable for a good percentage of the population. For example, I am a lower-middle class bachelor. I just paid off my student loans, my car loan, and NOW I am saving money. I am 32 yrs old. I cannot afford to buy a house/condo anywhere near I am (currently) employed. Yet my unemployed neighbor, who works under the table, has been collecting, who is squatting in a house he cannot afford, told me he will not marry his new child's mother due to the loss of government benefits. I truly think Mike Judge's "Idiocracy" is happening.

  5. "RT @Bill_Gross: "We need about 1.5 Earths to sustain our current level of economy." Paul Gilding @ #TED"

    ...and yet here we are, making it on only 1.0 Earths!

  6. Our current centralized, industrial food systems r based on cheap oil ($2) wwhich permeates all tiers within that supply chain. So if we have $6 gas then low to upper classes will be eating seasonally for sure. That's all that post said to me at least.

  7. Sounds like a dangerous situation. Maybe we need a sustainability czar and a second Earth czar to start working on these problems.

  8. There is only one thing that will limit food supply; government diversion of it to energy. And government regulation is impervious to supply and demand and common sense.