10 June 2012

When Ideas Have Sex

What does an Acheulean handaxe have to do with the mouse sitting there on your desk?

I heard this story on NPR today.  A new show my local NPR station called the TED Radio Hour.  It is an interview and abridgment of a speech given by author Matt Ridley (video below).  I transcribed one part of the interview that was particularly sharp and one of the more important points I wish critics of free markets would get their heads around.

Can you explain why you measure prosperity in terms of time?

Yes, this was an insight that's occurred to a lot of people in the economics profession before.  This is what economic prosperity, what economic growth is.  It's a reduction in the amount of time it takes to fulfill a need.  That's how we fit so much consumption in our lives; [it] is by reducing the amount of time it takes to earn it.  So I think in the end the real measure of how well off you are is how long you have to work to fulfill a need, or indeed a luxury, and the difference between a need a luxury is often blurred.

Technological advances benefit everyone in the long run.  Looks like there's another book I'll be picking up.

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