Monday, January 3, 2011

The Money Is Not The Problem Economic Theory.

I'd apologize for going off topic, but people never seem to mind--in fact, seems like I get more "ugh, sex again?" mail then I get "hey, stick to the sex!" So if you want your underinformed economic opinions from your kinky sex blogs, read on. (I did take a semester of Econ, but only because I was already buddies with the professor and babysat her kids so I figured easy A... but in the end the "oh god, I can't embarrass myself by turning in junk to my friend!" shame made me work harder. I did get an A though.)

My personal macroeconomic theory is that Money Is Not The Problem. Money is a symbol. A symbol that can mean a lot microeconomically--how much of it you have, or how much your business has, sure feels like it matters--but on the scope of a nation or the world, money isn't the cause of most problems. Goods and services are.

For example, healthcare. The reason healthcare sucks in America is because we don't have enough doctors, nurses, hospital beds, or medications. In the hospital where I work, we often have people stay overnight in extra beds at the back of the ER when they should be admitted, because there isn't a single empty bed upstairs. We also suffer from frequent shortages of medications as basic as morphine. These aren't money problems, these are stuff problems. Declaring morphine free wouldn't make poppies grow any faster.

And I think this is the problem with attempting to address income inequality by redistributing money. If the things to be bought with that money don't change, then socioeconomic classes don't change. If everyone can afford a mansion, but your city has one neighborhood of mansions and ten of run-down high-density apartment blocks... run-down apartments get a whole lot more expensive. (In theory, who lives in the few available mansions could change, but history says good luck with that.)

The problem a society has to solve if it wants everyone to be wealthy, or at least everyone to be doing okay, is how to get everyone good stuff. Money is a small piece of that puzzle. Technology is a much bigger one, as are education and entrepreneurship.

There aren't any doctors sitting around idly in empty offices wishing someone could afford them. You want better healthcare in America? Train more doctors and nurses. Open more hospitals. Make more drugs. What they cost will be a whole lot easier to sort out--in fact, may work itself out--once there's actually enough of them. When you're trying to feed fifty people with one pie, don't waste your time thinking up wacky schemes to cut it just so; go bake a bigger pie.

And this is why I don't buy organic.

40 comments:

  1. I'm great with this up until the organic comment (yes, I get that it was probably meant to be funny, but I have no sense of humor).
    If we accept that eating organic isn't going to cause any social change, it's still not useless: there's still a whole lot of pesticides and other crap that you're not putting in your body.
    Not buying organic because it won't do any good is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
    That said, I love this post, as well as your other posts about politics, even if I don't agree with you all the time. Keep up the good work!

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  2. @Anon, I think the point Holly was making with the organic comment was the economic effects. If more people buy organic, it will cause more arable land to be dedicated to less efficient farming. If land availability is the gating factor for food production, food production will go down, and food prices will go up for everyone, putting food out of reach for some.

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  3. Anon - What Zeeke said, basically. Organic farming when there are famines going on is a waste of good farmland. It's cutting off your nose to spite the poor's face to say "this farm could grow twice as much wheat, but I like fancy special extra-clean wheat, so... hope your kids don't like bread!"

    Admittedly I'm sure I do equivalent things with lots of resources (and I eat too much meat, which is a terrible waste of food crops), but food is such a basic and crucial thing.

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  4. There aren't any doctors sitting around idly in empty offices wishing someone could afford them.

    oh, yes, there are. they're called "plastic surgeons."

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  5. I said doctors.

    And actually a lot of plastic surgeons are quite busy. The ones who do high-end cosmetic work may live on a "two $150,000 operations and I'm off to Cancun for the rest of the month" schedule, but the ones who do reconstructive work (they take patients from our ER occasionally when someone has a particularly horrible facial injury) are definitely working on a "I take as many cases as I can handle" basis.

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  6. @Anon - Many plastic surgeons also do reconstructive surgery.

    @Holly - The gating factor on food isn't available farmland. We have massive subsidies in place to reduce the amount of food being farmed, in fact, to keep the price "up to sustainable levels". Getting the food to the location is also a significant issue; transportation fees are non-trivial.

    Subsidies and duties are probably the biggest issues with regards to domestic consumption/scarcity, and instability and transport the biggest two issues with foreign scarcity.

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  7. I'm somewhat sympathetic to this argument, but I think a key component that is missing is that you're looking solely at "quality of life." That's really important (the "most" important in my opinion, if we're ranking).

    But as Marxists are so apt to point out, money = power. It's not the only form of power, but it's still power. It buys elections, it buys attention, it buys normalization, it buys acceptance (or at least tolerance), it buys recognition, etc. Quality of life is important, but it can only stop there for people already in power. Only money and the flexibility it offers can adequately protect an individual from ruin and money plays a very significant role in getting marginalized individuals considered for quality of life improvements in the first place.

    I certainly don't think that's ideal, but I think it's realistic.

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  8. Aaron - Okay, that's true. I believe it's still the case that we really couldn't feed everyone if everything went organic, but government price supports on food are really a horrible case of money/stuff confusion.

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  9. Juliet - Money doesn't buy power. Money buys, say, a share in a business, or a contribution to a political campaign, or a swanky house and car and clothes. You have to buy things (some of them concepts, same diff) with that money and then those things give you the power.

    Money should exist, obviously; I'm not saying otherwise. Money is extremely useful as the ultimately convertible meta-thing. But it's nothing without things. Even savings, clearly a good thing to have, become worthless if we run low on things and thing-prices go up. So I think it's most important to keep things cheap and abundant, because otherwise money's just a way of divvying up the scarcities.

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  10. Actually, organic can be fairly efficient if you use polycultures (growing multiple kinds of food on the same land-- basically creating a mini-ecosystem) as opposed to monocultures the way the vast majority of the American food system, organic and non-organic, does. But polycultures are fairly hard to create, so.

    And actually to a certain degree redistributing money helps. It's not going to make everyone live in a mansion, but it's going to make Person X live in a shitty apartment instead of being homeless.

    Sorry for being argumentative: I actually agree with your point. (I blame my sociology major. :) ) I have long suggested that a socialist utopia will be created as soon as we get bunches of robots to do all the boring work, but unfortunately the "bunches of robots" economic plan appears to be rather unpopular.

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  11. Not all health care is emergency care, however. Improving access early on in the process to spot illnesses before they become severe can reduce the demand for more intensive emergency treatment later. A diabetes case that is managed, for example, doesn't come to the ER with gangrene.

    The second issue, as Juliet pointed out, is fairness. Expensive medical care is a tax on the sick and disabled. Market conservatives like to say that medical fees are then incentive to not become sick or disabled, but being sick is itself enough reason.

    Even if shortages are inevitable, different policies have different results. The United States, for example, spends about as much per capita as Canada on public health care (like Medicare), only the US also spends an additional ton of money privately. Health outcomes are not broadly better in the US as a result (depending on the disease, generally).

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  12. A properly run, polycultural organic farm is capable of producing more food per acre than a big ass field full of wheat. The problem is, doing it that way is more expensive and requires more manpower. We don't really have enough farmers to do it anymore.

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  13. And actually to a certain degree redistributing money helps. It's not going to make everyone live in a mansion, but it's going to make Person X live in a shitty apartment instead of being homeless.

    One argument I read recently is that income inequality drives down the savings rate of a society, since "keeping up with the Joneses" is more expensive when the Joneses have proportionally more income. The result is lower savings and more debt.

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  14. Nom de Plumage - Most ER care isn't emergency care. We get people in all the time with stuff they could have gotten treated in a primary care office. Why come to the ER? A lot of them tell us: "because the clinic's next open appointment is in March."

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  15. Long time reader, first time poster. I agree broadly with your post, but you neglected one factor. Along with money, technology, education, and entrepreneurship, there is regulation. If it was easier, legally speaking, to become a healthcare provider, make drugs, and open hospitals, there would be more of them, and they would (I believe) cost less.

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  16. re: plastic surgeons: yeah, i'm mostly just bitter that i was sent to shadow one who doesn't do reconstructive work, or, apparently, much of any other kind. out of the five hours i was there, we sat in his office and gossiped for four and a half.

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  17. Hershele OstropolerJanuary 3, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    Rev, that's true as far as it goes, but it runs up against, coming the other way, if it's easier to become a doctor or make drugs there'd be proportionately more incompetent doctors and harmful drugs.

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  18. Though I understand your point of view, I completely disagree. Money is a gatekeeper. To food, to shelter, to education, to power, to wealth, to influence, and the list can go on.

    If by taking a snapshot of the present, your example of crappy health care here in the US makes sense. But time moves. Ten years ago, if we had used all the trillions of dollars spent on the Iraq/Afganistan war alone (not even counting the bailout cash for Goldman Sachs) was used toward a full scholarships/books/room & board for students interested in the medical field, we'd not have problems with a shortage of doctors, nurses, technicians, etc. The same goes for updating and building new facilities.

    Presently, those with the most money have embedded themselves and created their own system that will perpetuate itself through regulations and laws bought through campaign contributions, lobbying and revolving doors.

    Money and the greed to gather more of it causes a LOT of problems.

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  19. @Hershele Ostropoler-

    Harmful drugs have been made and sold, approved by the FDA, for decades.

    And rich kids have gotten through med school with bought degrees in the same times.

    Reputable doctors allow ghost written research papers praising a new drug to be published under their name for grants.

    Money IS a problem.

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  20. Not burning fields of poppies in Afghanistan would help, too.

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  21. Or at least letting the cancer patients stand downwind.

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  22. Holly: This is a very useful way of looking at many issues, especially relating to health care, social security, projected budget deficits, etc.

    At the end of the day, a given country produces a finite amount of goods and services in any given period. There are two completely separate issues involved: The total quantity produced, and how efficiently these goods and services have been allocated to solve people's wants and needs.

    The fundamental problem with healthcare in the US is one of quantity (more comonly expressed as the percentage of GDP spent on healthcare - an identical concept). We know how to produce an overwhelming array of really awesome medical goods and services, many of which are beyond the wildest dreams of American's of even a generation ago. We also have a huge cohort of consumers (the baby boomers) reaching the period of max consumption of healthcare, and we simply don't have enough to go around.

    This scarcity leads to price increases, and the price increases lead to various allocation inefficiencies. Yes, being poor in America means you don't get the same health care as the rich. But addressing this as an inequality issue is like passengers on the Titanic arguing over who gets seats on the lifeboats. The fairest system in the world of allocating seats won't produce another lifeboat out of thin air, and there aren't enough lifeboats.

    What we need is ways of making healthcare a lot more efficient, and that is - as you say - precisely a question of technology and entrepreneurship.

    It sucks that people are in a situation where they can't afford, say, AIDS drugs, or chemotherapy. But you know what? Nobody in the US is in a situation where they can't afford aspirin or band-aids. It's mathematically impossible to make everyone able to afford the most expensive treatments; instead we need to make the expensive treatments affordable, and that means GROWTH, not redistribution. To borrow a sickening cliche - yet an accurate one all the same - we need to grow the pie, not argue about how to slice it.

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  23. Money is useful in as a short-hand for talking about how we're doing the wrong things, too.

    When someone says "we're wasting healthcare money on expensive, unnecessary tests", they mean "we're spending to many (wo)man-hours building MRI machines and not enough on actually treating patients".

    It's not as though (most) doctors are saying "well, I'd retire to Cancun, but there's such a desperate shortage of doctors that I'd better keep working"; certainly non-doctor healthcare workers aren't saying that. Nor are hospital administrators saying "well, I'd build another wing, but I just can't find any construction workers available". So the issue is not only the stuff we don't have enough of, but the stuff we're going to stop making to make that other stuff (whether that stuff is currently healthcare based (fewer MRIs, more nurses) or not (fewer private jets, more nurses)).

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  24. wow, Holly, this is a horrifying quote to me.
    "Organic farming when there are famines going on is a waste of good farmland. It's cutting off your nose to spite the poor's face to say "this farm could grow twice as much wheat, but I like fancy special extra-clean wheat, so... hope your kids don't like bread!"

    I live in an agricultural area, and buy organic food with a clear conscious (actually, I trade for it, but that's another story in economics). I see the damage "conventional" agriculture does to the farmland, the surrounding environment, the people who work the fields, the kids going to school next to the fields, and in my own body after being raised on poisoned food. I see farms run by people who have a deep understanding of natural life cycles that actually ADD to their soil's fertility with their farming practices and choices, rather than depleting it's nutrients with harsh petroleum based fertilizers.

    It might seem like a good idea to temporarily boost yields with toxic chemicals, but that's a pretty short-sighted view. Organic agriculture (which is how we've grown food, until the last 60 years) has great yields, and a future. Conventional agriculture is just another one of the things wiping out plant and animal populations and speeding our demise.

    Maybe you'll just see this as another crazy environmentalist rant, but I've seen the difference between conventional and organic on the ground, and it ain't pretty.

    p.s. I love your blog and read it every day :)

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  25. Hear hear to Seedshare. I see what you're thinking about organic food, Holly, but you've hit on the wrong issue here. Hunger amongst the poor is not a problem of there not being enough food to go around. On the contrary, we let tons of food go to waste (as much as half of what's produced: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/realitybase/2008/08/26/how-much-food-do-humans-waste-try-half/) as part of a really problematic system of food production, transportation and distribution.

    Eating organic produce is often seen as a rich man's luxury, which is ironic since it's how the poor survived for millenia. We CAN feed the world, we just haven't prioritized it. And in the meantime, eating food that doesn't hurt the land, the water or our bodies doesn't hinder that effort one bit.

    If you're interested in a deeper dissection of the topic, I recommend this talk with the really-smart-about-food-guy Dan Barber -- http://blog.ted.com/2010/03/17/qa_with_chef_da/

    I don't eat organic at every meal, but I go for organically produced food over conventionally produced food whenever I can, and I go for food from small, local farmers over that (soooo much energy, pollution and preservatives go into shipping food across the country or from overseas). I also love your blog and read it every day, for the record. :)

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  26. Abby C, seedshare:

    The historical, economic, and social illiteracy of your comments is horrifying. Even a few minutes of very basic research would allow you to recognize the huge mistakes in your comments.

    The carrying capacity of a world using pre-industrial agricultural techniques (ie, the "organic" techniques we used for almost all of human history) is around 750 million short, malnourished, unhappy people. It's only as late as 1800! that we've managed to begin emerging from the hell that is peasant-based "organic" farming, and large swathes of the world are still stuck there.

    Seriously. When you talk about pre-industrial techniques, and "how the poor survived for millenia" you are talking about vast majorities of the world STARVING TO DEATH, and the remainder being VASTLY poorer, hungrier, and unhealthier than you are today. That's not something crazy prediction I pulled out my hat; that's what the world you ACTUALLY said you wanted to see was ACTUALLY like.

    Sorry for the caps, but BLOODY HELL that's a damn stupid idea, and it deserves to be shot down and ridiculed wherever it appears.

    (By contrast, the carrying capacity of a world using modern farming techniques is extremely high - perhaps 2-3 times the current population, and perhaps even now - without any more technological improvements - higher than the long term global population maxima. And of course, at these scales health and life-span are just a function of the gap between carrying capacity and population. The smaller the gap, the unhealthier the population.)

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  27. "The reason healthcare sucks in America is because we don't have enough doctors, nurses, hospital beds, or medications."

    I'm not sure I follow your thesis through this bit. At least one of those is definitely a money problem. We haven't got any nurses because nurses, generally peaking, get paid shit relative to their degree of education. So kids looking at college by and large choose something else that's gonna pay.

    You can't just proclaim you're going to train more doctors and nurses unless you want to institute slavery. You have to, well, redistribute some money.

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  28. Wow kettle of fish :)
    these posts are all over the place.

    Definitely need more medical staff. When education is a commodity, not a right, only those who already have resources can train as doctors.

    Its really hard to be a doctor, and thats the way it should be. its time consuming and a high stress environment. We don't want someone who doesn't study really really fucking hard all the time being our heart surgeon.

    We want the lady that spend every fucking waking hour studying and practicing. The problem being she can't do that if shes working to pay her way through school, only the rich fuckers with money to burn and no day jobs can study hard enough to get the grades.

    Not to say we don't have doctors who didn't work themselves through school, but its a long hard trip.

    I wonder how many doctors we would have if med school wasn't so pricey.

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  29. not entirely on topic ...

    A job as a medical professional, by and large, just seems so thankless. I considered it and decided that it wasn't worth the various kinds of pain that it would entail. Not that there aren't plenty of great people, but you know, in any other job, I can often tune out the assholes, as opposed to getting puked on by them. Plus it's insanely hard AND it takes years to pay back those loans ...

    I'm surprised there are as many nurses/doctors/etc as there are. (And I try very very hard to be nice to the few that I encounter.)

    So I have the greatest respect for Holly that she would even be in the medical field.

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  30. Cody: While I certainly appreciate the intent of your post--(I for one have absolutely no interest in living the life of an 18th century subsistence farmer, and no delusions that I'd end up 'on top' enough to avoid it in that world)--your example fails to take into account both the potential effects of the industrial revolution (see also: tractors) and say, 150 years of pre-genetic-manipulation hybridization work to create more productive seed that still counts as non-GMO.

    In short, there's probably some balance to be had between zero-tech subsistence farming and full bore "drown 'em in bugspray" corporate megalith farming.

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  31. Just so you know, economics is my *thing* (I think I'm in my 7th year of studying the dismal science).

    Anyhow, I wasn't going to comment at length, and I haven't read the other comments in great depth - but on the organic/famine thing, have you read Amartya Sen on the topic? He says the key is political institutions - (sufficiently well-functioning) democracies don't have famines. I'm afraid I can't remember the details but might be worth checking out if you have a particular interest in this area.

    I broadly agree with your argument, except that money does matter - or rather productive capacity (potential real GDP) matters, and then how you work out how to use it matters. Education is so important because it increases productive capacity (by improving people's general skills, but also because generally the innovators who come up with new productivity-boosting technology are very well educated). (Plus all the great philosophical reasons why education is so good, obviously - I may be an economist but I'm not a soulless philistine.)

    Also relative prices/wages also matter in resource allocation decisions. That's what living in a (mostly) free market economy is all about - it's *driven* by relative prices.

    If you're saying that money doesn't matter in that purely "nominal" factors don't matter (here we're talking money supply, interest rates, more finance-y stuff), I have a lot of sympathy for that view. But then I'm a microeconomist who's bored to tears by monetary policy and finance, so I'm not really qualified on that one.

    Ok, I said I wasn't going to comment at length, and then I did. Sorry!

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  32. Ok, I could have sworn I succesfully posted a long comment. Oh well.

    First off a disclaimer (or something) - I'm an economist.

    Second off - Holly do you mean that nominal stuff doesn't matter, only real stuff - i.e. goods and services? In which case broadly yes, but the nominal stuff can cause significant hiccups in the short run (and an economist's short run can be quite a long time).


    Overall, goods and services are undoubtedly what matters. But if you live in a country with at least partially free markets, then relative prices (including wages) play a major role - and then you're talking money. Sure what you're really interested in relative productivity and relative need/desire for the goods and services that can be made, but money's a very useful shorthand - and discussions about whether or not it's about money become semantic quibbles.

    If you're interested in the economics of famine, I recommend Amartya Sen, who wrote about famine and democracy. Political and social institutions are, unsurprisingly, very important.

    Cody, from my understandings of US healthcare (and I'm a Brit) it's not really quantity that's the problem. As one of the countries with the highest real GDP per capita, and given your proportional and absolute spendings on healthcare, you should be seeing much better results! Some of it might be linked to factors that are not directly associated with health (e.g. whatever causes the national obesity problem - I'm not saying you're the only country that's got one by the way), but some of it's got to be down to your healthcare industry structure. We're talking incentives here - game theory and all that joy. Read some Krugman - he's hot on this.

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  33. Significant parts of corporate agriculture are not about making more food, they are about making more money. Look at the "Terminator" genetically engineered seeds from Monsanto. They are specially bred as two separate lines which are crossed, and the resulting seeds sold to farmers: the plants coming from those seeds are sterile, so the farmer must buy from Monsanto again next year. There is no food-production reason for this technique; it is there purely to prevent farmers from saving seed for next year. Monsanto was capable of making equally good plants that are also fertile, but there's less money in that.

    I am not opposed to GMOs in principle, but I buy organic because I don't want to support techniques like Terminator and Roundup-Ready: they are bad for everyone except Monsanto. They don't get more food on hungry peoples' plates; they just screw over farmers in favor of corporations.

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  34. Mary Kaye:

    Unfortunately, whatever else Monsanto's crimes may be, there IS a reason for that technique in particular. Ironically it comes from the anti-GMO "Frankenfood" crowd, a close relative of the (perhaps slightly more modern) Organics movement.

    In the '80s/'90s, when genetically modified crops were first becoming available, one of the million fears people raised about "Frankenfood" was that some horrible mutant would get out of the fields and hybridize all its wild relatives. Apocalypse ensues as its anti-pest genes, or altered nutrition, or whatever wipes out its herbivorous predators and collapses the food chain.

    Actually, there was another reason too, that came up after the first GM products were out- the horrible legal can of worms that ensues when a GM crop hybridizes a neighboring farmer's non-GM crop.

    Ensuring that GM crops are infertile is, therefore, a necessity in the current legal and economic climate.

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  35. To anonymous talking about medical school costs:

    It is very, very easy to get student loans as a doctor. Loan companies *want* to give you money because they know you'll be making lots of money once you complete residency. There are very few doctors who are forced to work their way through medical school. However, there is a point to be made about the cost of medical school causing a shortage of physicians in low-paying fields.

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  36. perlhaqr: Yes, there is some scope for a happy medium...but I would point out that a lot of the activists are explicitly looking to overturn all of the innovations that had the largest effects on efficiency. In this very thread people were wishing (admittedly, probably without realizing it) for a return to techniques which would - if adopted universally - result in upwards of 50% of the current world population starving to death. I think we've had QUITE enough of that during the 20th century to last humanity the rest of our time here on Earth, thank you very much.

    And don't forget that tractors and synthetic fertilizers both depend on fossil fuels. I wouldn't neccesarilly want to assume "hey, we can afford to give up on GMOs because tractors and fertizilers make farming so efficient we can still feed the world". We may find outselves needing every bit of efficiency GMOs can offer and more just to keep up with the declining availability and increasing costs of tractor fuel and fertilizers. (And before anyone says anythin: No, current EV and fuel cell technologies aren't at all suitable for replacing tractors, and may never be. No, sufficient manure isn't available for replacing conventional fertilizers.)

    In short, yes there is a balance possible. For example, no-till farming has a lot of promise, and appears to be MUCH better for the soil, reduces errosion, uses less labour, fuel, and water, and - basically - makes a lot of sense for all the reasons that doctrinaire organic farming does not. Does this represent a balance between conventional intensive agriculture and organic farming? In many ways, yes, but it's a lot closer to conventional farming than organic.

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  37. @Cody --

    I'm going to let this go after this because I don't think it's adding to Holly's blog, but dude. I linked to a scientific report and an expert's opinion. You used caps and bolding (just because you apologized doesn't make it not obnoxious). And yet you're accusing me of not doing "a few minutes of very basic research"? That's some great rhetoric technique there. Where do you think I got the links from if I hadn't looked into the topic?

    Also, who said anything about pre-industrial techniques? You are mistaken in conflating organic agriculture with a luddite-style view that rejects all innovation and advances. Here, do a little reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_farming_methods

    This is hardly pre-1800 stuff. Modern science has taught us about the importance of nitrogen in soil. Organic farmers use that knowledge and make sure their soil has enough nitrogen, they just do it in such a way that they're preserving their soil and water resources in the long term rather than valuing short term gains in productivity over long-term sustainability. How will a barren, depleted and poisoned earth feed the masses? Sure we can pile on more and more and MORE chemicals, or we can look for another way.

    Yes, there have been reports that support your point of view. On the other hand, the UN Environmental Programme's report says that organic agriculture can have yields comparable to conventional agriculture and that teaching organic techniques such as rotating crops, composting, planting cover crops, rainwater harvesting, integrated pest management, etc, can greatly increase crop yields in poor areas. That's a lot of very smart people doing a lot of studying of the subject and coming up with something diametrically opposed to your point of view. And yet you're not willing to concede that there's any possibility you're wrong? You actually think that the pesticide-free apple is the thing that's going to destroy the world?

    And I've just *got* to ask -- is it really necessary to accuse me of not doing research, or of actively wanting half the world to starve? Seriously.

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  38. I have been reading your blog for quite a while now and really love the way you write. What you write about sexual relations inspires me.
    My opinion about economics is, that money is not the problem in an economic system, that depends on producing valuable commodities to sell them and gain more wealth. Of course money will create a certain amount of power.
    but i wouldn't critisize that. But i think, what is wrong about capitalism is that commodities are produced to accumulate worth and not to fulfill the needs of their producers. Therefore the needs of the people are simply a sideeffect of the capitalist production and not its goal. I want a society, where every human being only produces things to fulfill its own or the needs of others..

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  39. Several items:

    Organic Greenhouse farming
    - No pesticides
    - Less resource use (water, fuel/electricity, etc.)
    - High density food production
    - Longer growing seasons in temperate climate

    Health Care Costs

    - More health care professions does not necessarily lower costs - http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/391/more-is-less

    Wealth redistribution

    - The mansion example is flawed, because it ignores the difference between inelastic and elastic supplies. Inelastic supplies cannot or are slow to catch up to demand. Elastic supplies easily keep pace with demand. Housing is a fairly elastic supply as long as it's being consumed for use - not investment. If there isn't room to build new housing, low quality housing can be destroyed and replaced with better quality housing. Most durable goods are highly elastic goods. Food, Water, Natural Resources, and High Skill/Specialized Labor are probably the most inelastic supplies.

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  40. Wow.

    Did you have any idea your following would raise such an uproar over organic farming?

    I really like it when someone has seen the results of a problem, first hand (i.e. your healthcare example). It gives them a perspective that others don't have, and can't always be made to understand.

    I have to ask one question that I hope you'll answer. Does it bother you that your economic beliefs in this entry of your sex blog sound very similar to the views of Glenn Beck?

    (I only ask to further stir up your readers.)

    I swear, I'm only posting as Anonymous because I don't a Google Account, etc.
    That, and I'd have a hard time explaining why I'm reading about economics in a blog primarily dedicated to sex issues.

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