Michael Battalio

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Serious conversations (part 54):

        This series is a continuation of my conversations with an atheist friend of mine. These are my edited responses from that conversation. The fifty-third and fifty-fourth entries begin a discussion on wealth.

        Last time we began with a discussion on where does wealth come from. We now consider its limits.

        In the closed system of the universe I suppose that there is a finite upper limit to the amount of wealth that can be generated, and I guess it comes back to thermodynamics and specifically the second law of thermodynamics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_law_of_thermodynamics) (i.e. that entropy must alway increase)  What is the highest efficiency with which we can extract those elements that generate the highest produce for humanity?  There is a limit to the natural resources of the universe and a limit to how well we can exploit them for our utility.   Assuming humanity becomes a type IV civilization (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale), which is the type of civilization that can harness the energy of the entire universe, I guess we will run out of wealth to generate at some point because the universe will have fused, fissioned all elements to iron.

        One thing I have noticed is the obsessive need for growth.  I don’t really understand why growth is so needed.  As long as wealth is continuing to be produced to supply the utilitarian needs of man why must there be the production of more?  Is it simply a result of the fact that the population of man is also growing?  Would we need growth to sustain the economy if the population stopped growing?

        As neither my friend nor I really know much about economics or wealth, we now turn to literature to provide us some insight. The next entries in the Serious Conversations will involve discussions on the book The Origin of Wealth by Eric D. Beinhocker, which will begin whenever we start reading it. (I do not profit from clicks).


(ed. the conversation on wealth will be moved to a new series entitled “Discussions on Wealth” to separate it from the“Serious Conversations”)

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