Sunday, June 4, 2017

Shortages, Migrations and Rationing

Humans have migrated every time they found that they did not have enough of something they needed to live. Instead of trying to fix their environment, they moved to a place where things were better for them.

More recently, when facing shortages, people do not consider moving. Instead, rationing and redistribution are ways in which such shortages are handled.

"What if Florida goes underwater due to global warming?" People ask this question, as if by asking it, it will make us all want to work hard to prevent the globe from warming up.  As if we could! As if we were that powerful! But isn't the answer obvious: If Florida goes underwater, then people who live there will move someplace else that is more habitable -- Greenland, maybe, if it suddenly becomes green.

Insuring the public against natural disasters has the effect of making life unbearably expensive. If every time a city built below sea level is flooded, it is rebuilt at public expense, if every time a public school built on a flood plain washes away, it is re-built by the taxpayers, then people will never see the wisdom of moving on and going to a place where things are better for them.

Living in a warm place where you need not heat in winter is desirable. Having fruit just growing on the trees, ripe for the picking, is nice. When too many people move into the same place, resources get depleted, as happened in the dust bowl, or in Middle East,  that used to be a place flowing with milk and honey. It was fertile and green there then, but now is arid and desert-like. Yes, we do, at least to some extent, destroy the paradise that we thrive in. But as people with a rich hunter-gatherer heritage, our basic instinct is sound: after you foul the nest, move on to someplace cleaner.

Are we trying to escape ourselves? Absolutely not. We are trying to escape each other. Like Pa Ingalls, we know that when the other people arrive in droves, then it is time to move on. Good neighbors are those we only see occasionally.


  1. It is remarkable how North Africa and the Middle East were both once lush lands.

    1. Yes, things really do change, but people move on and still manage to survive.