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Monday, February 13, 2012

The Great Stagnation - Why We don't Have Jetpacks

  Joseph Friedlander has written a guest post on Next Big Future on why the astonishing scientific breakthroughs seen almost daily and reported on that site, haven't led, at least in the developed world, to fantastic growth rates.

   Spoiler alert - Joe has quoted later in the article from me several times and once from Adam Smith, so it may be argued that the fact that his conclusions are similar to mine is not fully independent support. On the other hand if he gets no factual or logical dispute either, just as I have not had either here or on ThinkScotland, it does tend to confirm that we have got our facts indisputably correct.

    "Tyler Cowen's 'Great Stagnation' (explaining the rather disappointing future we live in compared to projections of where we would be by now) makes (most famously) the ‘we ate the low-hanging fruit’ argument that the easy things have been invented and the high yield moves made, and thus the economy faces the point of diminishing returns--...

   My own understanding is that a number of things are necessary for economic growth and prosperity:
1. Freedom of endeavor (which I define more completely below, but basically an environment in which your every move is not checked in advance by powerful connected parties in government, professional associations, cartel-like groups in the economy, and in which your surplus is not siphoned away by the same parties) An environment in which endless permits are not required to start a business, nor endless bribes or legal maneuvering to keep it open, and in which you are free to make your decisions chiefly with reference to your customers’ needs with an eye to future business. The right of freedom of transaction, association and the right to decline unfavorable relationships and transactions.
2. Cheap energy and transport that is reliably available upon demand without political interference. (In some countries in the vicinity of Europe, for example, car prices are double USA prices (taxes and customs) and gas is $10 a gallon. In the USA many poor people get started salvaging junk with an old truck and driving it to a place they can get money for it. That would not really be possible with the $10 a gallon gas (and restricting the supply of new cars drives the cost of used cars sky high as well)
3. A tolerable administration of justice, taxation (and what ever governmental functions exist) in the area where economic operations are being undertaken
4. A rule of truth and true (rather than politically-dictated) equality of transaction and information, with no game playing. This means no rigged markets, that no actor is above the law, and that no unquestionable ‘high priesthood’ of favored people get to create lying statistics, (ask yourself why the site Shadowstats exists--)) dictate accounting rules that destroy the ability to discover truth by a simple examination of accounts, and it means that ONLY those who lose bets pay them, not the general public getting to bail them out.
5. Reasonable land prices. High land prices are not a sign of national wealth, but rather of real capital fleeing productive uses.
6. Capital that pools for easy investment in new ventures, and is not drained by deliberate inflation or games played by government or the favored connected players’ “patronage economy” or sapped by excess circulation. Capital is like blood or sap—produced at a certain rate, and easily drained out by vampire like parties with not as much interest in sustainability as the producing party. Note that restricting access to capital by elaborate SEC type rules makes it much harder to start businesses while apparently not doing much to stop fraud (Enron existed after SEC, Sarbanes Oxley basically stopped new startup and small IPO formation, "

     The Adam Smith quote is
Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: All the rest being brought about by the natural course of things. 
Adam Smith

  with which I, or any but the most unbending libertarian would agree. The latter would remove would the "little else" qualification. I am confident that Smith formed his opinions entirely independently of my blog.

   I also added this comment
Taking the low hanging fruit analogy, technology is an extendable ladder. Before the taming of fire the resources of northern Europe and Asia were out of reach. Currently we have the technology, any time we decide to use it, to mine the asteroids. Where the analogy breaks down is that trees get smaller at the top whereas resources, both geographical and in the ability to manipulate them (silicon chips and flint axes are made of not dissimilar material but one can do more with the former) are much larger at the top.

  I strongly reccomend that anybody interested in a successful human race read the whole thing here.

  Bill Willingham, writer of the Fables comic books also wrote on the Great Stagnation, blaming it on the safety culture (not the same as the problem of overgovernment  but largely a consequence of it). He pointed out some interesting cases of where our technology, mostly computer related, is actually far ahead, even centuries ahead, of where we were promised it would be when we were being promised jetpacks, just not in the big visible stuff.
    It is also a good article and wholly independent of the others here.

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On the other hand if he gets no factual or logical dispute either, just as I have not had either here or on ThinkScotland, it does tend to confirm that we have got our facts indisputably correct.

The only way you convince yourself that you get no "dispute" and that your "facts are indisputably correct" is by censoring anyone who proves you wrong, Mr. Craig.
The dispiriting thing is the moronic level of the comments on NBF. If the readers of a science blog in the former "land of the free" are really that full of leftist shite the country will fall.
The anon above is Skip, supported by "Scienceblogs" in his claim to be a major (American) scientist whose expositions on catastrophic warming have been "published in the finest journals".

He knows perfectly well that I have never cut anything from this eminence of American science that could be defined as a "factual or logical dispute" since he has never felt able to make one. As one can see, even here, while complaining that I have censored his factual disputes he has, again, been unable to make one.

However in light of the support Skip has unconscously given to Mr Ecks' lament I think it proper to let him display his intellect for all to see. Yet again I invite Skip to make any factual or logical dispute he feels able to.

Unlike Skip I do not approve of censoring ideas & will do so if he ever has any.
Unlike Skip I do not approve of censoring ideas & will do so if he ever has any.

As usual incomprehensible jibberish from the lying Nazi censor.

Ok then, Mr. Craig: I *dare* you to *re*publish the exchange we had regarding David King and your idiotic claim that *he* claimed Antarctica would be the only habitable region of Earth by 2100.

I *dare* you. But of course you will censor and delete this, too. You're a Nazi. You censor and you lie. I can prove it. And your only defense is to delete my comments. You show your true colors every time you delete me, you proven coward.

BTW: I am printscreening everything that happens on this forum so I dare you--I dare you--to censor me again and try to get away with it. Nazi scum . . .
Skip is, of course, lying.

His denial that sir david King said what he said about "Antractica wil be the only habitable continent" by 2100 was dealt with sufficiently successfully here that he was unable to reply.

PS He can't spell gibberish either which shows a lack of self awareness.
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