Chicken please


My liberal Boston high school used to hold an annual Oxfam “hunger banquet” to raise money and awareness for world hunger. Everyone in the school would draw a ticket to determine which meal they got:

  1. 15% get a normal cafeteria meal
  2. 35% get rice with a bit of gravy or beans
  3. 50% get a small portion of rice

Perhaps it’s time for Oxfam to change the game to reflect a changing world. Today’s middle class constitutes 30% of the world population, and that figure will rise to 52% by 2020 (see FP article). The growth will come in large part from developing countries (China, India).

This is great news for poor people, but also means increases in commodity prices (fixed supply on earth, rising demand). In addition, I can think of several big-picture economic implications:

  1. American hegemony will slowly recede as populations in other countries have increased access to education and military resources
  2. The new economic winners will no longer be those who use technology developed in rich nations to exploit natural resources or labor in poor nations (as during colonization, oil exploration, banana plantations, etc)
  3. The new economic winners will invent or apply technologies allowing fixed natural resources to meet growing consumer demand or otherwise increasing efficiency in peoples’ lives

The last of these suggests we should pay more attention to the Hand’s tech expert (here here here).


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