dan at rjtorres.net
Fri Feb 7 18:20:10 MST 2003
You are quite right in what you have said. Actually, it's a strange
coincidence, I was reading Polanyi last night (The Livelihood of Men),
who does quite a job putting to rest the entire notion of the "scarcity"
which supposedly drives the economy and immiserates the world. Polanyi
"To speak in this instance of scarce means, instead of merely
insufficient ones--a general practice today--lacks precision and only
creates confusion. Means that have been found insufficient can be
allocated only in the same way they would have been allocated if found
sufficient, namely, to the given end. To call them scarce would imply
that a choice had been induced by the insufficiency of the means, which
is not so. to ignore this operational criterion is to lose the point of
the definition of scarcity altogether--to create the illusion that there
exists some distinctive way of allocating insufficent means, 'a more
conomical one,' so to speak. But insufficiency of means does not in
itself create a scarcity situation. If you have not got enough, you must
go without. For a choice to be set, the means, besides being sufficient,
must also have an alternative use; and there must be more than one end,
as well as a scale of preferences attached to them."
This is from the portion "The Fallacy of Relative Choice and Scarcity."
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