For the Love of Sanity
The Religion of Peace

What is Natural Today?

Jonathan Wilde:

Where governments have allowed markets to function and trade to exist - Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and more recently China and India - economies have grown and prosperity has emerged in less than a generation. It is modern poverty, not wealth, that is unnatural.

Read the entire post and the fine comment as well. I think that this debate on "whether poverty or modern wealth is natural" isn't clear to a few because of the different definitions of natural. Here's my take.

Megan McArdle is correct if by natural we mean 'abundantly available'. Statistically, the West is on the fringe for having such high concentrations of wealth. For example, the US has more billionaires than the rest of the world combined.

Yet Wilde is also correct when he states:

Based of [sic] the economic and empiral [sic] knowledge that we have, there is absolutely no reason to think that in the 21st century, North Korea and Bangladesh are “natural” but South Korea is “unnatural".

Wilde is using the 'natural = occurring in a normal manner' definition. If North Korea and Bangladesh had economic freedom, then they would quickly proceed to embrace capitalism, rule of law, property rights, and join the other Asian tigers. What's holding them back is their governments. Wilde is arguing that today the Third World is denied the tools for creating wealth and there is nothing natural about that.

I agree.

Update: Shannon Love has a good post up on this topic as well. She's also using the 'natural = abundantly available' definition. Her analysis is brilliant especially the last paragraph.


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