Does the labor theory mean that more people will make us rich?

Barry Brooks durable at
Tue Dec 3 12:22:01 MST 2002

The pope has recently taken the line that since people create wealth then more
people will not cause poverty, rather they will create even more wealth.

The pope has made the strongest argument against population control with his
economic argument. It doesn't depend on revealed teachings and it appeals to
reason.  It appears to secular society as good news; we were wrong to worry
about over population, more people will make us rich!

The labor theory of value plays an important role in getting people to accept
the pope's assertion.  The labor theory is correct about prices in the human
economy.  The resource base input component of our income doesn't play a role in
prices because nature can't be paid for the resources we take. Thus, prices and
wages are mostly about the division of labor among humans. That's why the labor
theory of value is true.

But, that doesn't mean that wealth "comes" from labor. Prices based on labor
inputs act properly to divide the economic output, but if resources are scarce
prices will just act to divide a declining economic output.  It's not surprising
that we have ignored resources as a limitation on economic output or as a source
or wealth since resources were abundant and had little effect on prices. We have
been focusing on what was the weak link in production, labor. But, the idea that
only people create wealth is based on our ignorance of the resource base as
economic input and the potential for automation to replace human labor.  The
need to limit resource consumption will make resources economically scarce
(hopefully before they physically scarce), while technology will make labor
surplus, with or without more people.

So, the pope is wrong about povery and population even when he agrees with Marx
about the labor theory.  People don't make the resources we consume.  We are
parasites and we should respect our host, this little planet.  People who
understand that wealth depends on more than human labor will reject the pope's
argument and have one more reason to join in the effort to stabilize the world


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