freeblrBETA

Economics

Home Economics Text

On overcoming scarcity

by LA Liberty

Unfortunately, though human advancements and innovations can make things more abundant and allow for less human discomfort, there’s no such thing as post-scarcity.

Unless every demand can be immediately met at all quantities without a third party, a good is scarce. Because even if there were a superabundance of a good (enough to fulfill all demands), there’d need to be a way to transfer the good to where the demand is and in the demanded quantities. Here we get into the problem of economic calculation. This is not something any computer or committee of geniuses, no matter how powerful, could ever compute — not even if they literally had instantaneous psychic access to the thoughts of every individual since subjective preference cannot be perceived absent action.

As Rothbard explained:

“How will we know when the world has achieved “post-scarcity”? Simply, when all the goods and services that we may want have become so superabundant that their prices have fallen to zero; in short, when we can acquire all goods and services as in a Garden of Eden — without effort, without work, without using any scarce resources.”

But let’s say scarcity of resources can be eliminated in some hypothetical scenario. Some benevolent alien species beams down to every human a device that is able to sap energy from another dimension and convert it into matter of our choosing without incurring any unseen consequences. A Star Trek replicator for every man, woman, and child!

Even supposing such magic, we still exist in time and space, which are both scarce. 

Land is inherently scarce as the planet has finite surface area and, also, not all land is the same. Not all of us can swim in the Ganges every morning. We couldn’t all have a beach house on the shores of Cuba. We couldn’t all live at the Taj Mahal or in the Trump Towers penthouse or play at the same craps table in Vegas. Even if the same benevolent aliens gave us personal teleportation devices that allow us to travel around the world instantly, we could only be in one place at a time (and as any physicist would tell you, only one of us could occupy the same space at the same time). Such scarcity (and “inequality”) is often overlooked but still relevant.

Even more crucially, any action we choose to do is at the expense of another. We cannot go to the Bruce Springsteen concert in Jersey and eat a sushi dinner with friends in Manhattan and go surfing in Australia and eat a gelato in Italy and build a snowman in Canada and drink from a fresh coconut in Jamaica. The preference not chosen is known as the opportunity cost, and it reflects the scarcity of our finite lives.

Even if — due to an overabundance of resources and the invention of some magical transportation device — we could do anything and go anywhere, we still could only be in one place and do one thing at a time. We cannot do everything simultaneously: We’d have to choose to do a certain thing at the expense of all other options using our individual subjective determinations. Even granting completely unrealistic assumptions, we still must succumb to the irrevocable scarcity of every moment.

So dissuade yourself of the post-scarcity fairy tale as anything feasible.

The best way to meet our myriad subjective demands upon scarce resources is to allow free exchange to calculate and meet the desires of free individuals.

You might be interested in . . .

Have questions? Get answers!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Resources

You can make use of the following text and video to expand your knowledge and understanding of the topic covered in this unit.

A History Of Economic Booms And Busts

An Anti-Capitalism Anarcho-Capitalist

An Orgy Of Innovation

An Individualist Formulation Of Collectivist Property

Are Market Anarchists For Or Against Capitalism?

Are We Better Off If We Buy Local?

Beyond the Boss: Protection From Business In A Free Nation

Can Artists Make Money Without Copyrights?

Capitalism

Comparative Advantage And The Tragedy Of Tasmania

Designing Poverty

Division Of Labour: Burgers And Ships

Does Capitalism Exploit Workers?

Does The Minimum Wage Hurt Workers?

Econ Chronicles: Everything’s Amazing And Nobody’s Happy

Econ Chronicles: Can Capitalism Save Lives?

Econ Chronicles: Foreigners Are Our Friends

Econ Chronicles: Four Ways Economists Think We’re All Wrong

Econ Chronicles: Make Progress, Not Work

EconPop: The Economics Of Back To School

EconPop: The Economics Of Cast Away

EconPop: The Economics Of Dallas Buyers Club

EconPop: The Economics Of Demolition Man

EconPop: The Economics Of Elysium

EconPop: The Economics Of Ghostbusters

EconPop: The Economics Of House Of Cards

EconPop: The Economics Of It’s A Wonderful Life

EconPop: The Economics Of The Hudsucker Proxy

EconPop: The Economics Of The Lego Movie

EconPop: The Economics Of The Shawshank Redemption

EconPop: The Economics Of The Treasure Of Sierra Madre

EconPop: The Economics Of RoboCop

EconPop: The Economics Of WALL-E

Externalities: Market Failure Or Political Failure?

Fair Trade: Does It Help Poor Workers?

Fear The Boom And Bust

Fight Of The Century

Free Markets And Monopoly

How The Division Of Knowledge Saved My Son’s Life

Is Capitalism Moral?

Is Laissez-Faire Capitalism Exploitative?

Is Price Gouging Immoral?

Is The Cost Of Living Really Rising?

Jeff’s Story

Kill Private Capital, Kill Civilisation

Market Prices — Purpose Vs Arbitrariness

Marx As Utopian

McDonald’s And The Minimum Wage

Micro vs Macro Economics

Minimum Wage Business Realities

Minimum Wage Is A Cruel Policy For Poor People

Monopolies In A Stateless Society

On Overcoming Scarcity

On Slavery In A Free Market

Opportunity Costs: The Parable Of The Broken Window

Ownership Of The Product By Capitalists

Private Property Or Possession: A Synthesis

Should You Need The Government’s Permission To Work?

Subjective Value

The Austrian Business Cycle Theory

The Broken Window Fallacy

The Hockey Stick Of Human Prosperity

The Most Dangerous Monopoly: When Caution Kills

The Top Three Myths About The Great Depression

The Truth About Savings And Consumption

The Truth About The Minimum Wage

Three Reasons You Can’t Find A Job

What Are The Myths Of Socialism?

What Is Austrian Economics?

What Is Exploitation?

What Is Free Banking And Why Should I Care?

What Is Property?

What Prices “Know” That You Don’t

Why Does One Percent Of History Have Ninety-nine Percent Of The Wealth?

Did you know that the creator of freeblr is on Minds?

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CHANNEL