An Essay into the Nature and Causes of Poverty — Part 2

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Value and Wealth

Since this is an essay on poverty (part 1 here), it is useful to consider its polar opposite, namely wealth. Defining wealth precisely is therefore the first order of business. Wealth is anything that is of some value to some person. Value is hard to pin down because it varies according to the person doing the evaluating. Just as beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, value lies in the mind of the evaluating person. 


One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure, as the adage states quite correctly. Therefore two people may value the same thing quite differently. That difference is the only reason that people exchange stuff. For example, when Jim buys a sandwich for $5 from Joe, clearly Jim values the sandwich more than he values $5, and conversely Joe values $5 more than he values the sandwich. Also worth noting that exchange involves distinctly dissimilar things. Continue reading “An Essay into the Nature and Causes of Poverty — Part 2”

An Essay into the Nature and Causes of Poverty — Part 1


In the following, I explore a few fundamental ideas relating to the core subject matter of economics. One can precisely date the founding of the discipline with the publication in 1776 of Adam Smith’s seminal work titled An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

Note that the focus was on the wealth of nations, and not  the poverty of nations. Poverty is the default condition of all peoples in all times; it is the nature and causes of the wealth of nations that require explaining.

Economics is a branch of social science. Social science is devoted to the study of human societies and human interactions. Today economics is a vast field with dozens of specialized areas of inquiry. But the discipline was started by, would you believe, philosophers. What we call classical economists today — Adam Smith, David Hume, John Stuart Mill, et al — were philosophers. Smith’s first book Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) laid the ethical and moral foundations for his later book on the wealth of nations. Continue reading “An Essay into the Nature and Causes of Poverty — Part 1”

Einstein’s Ph.D. Thesis

Einstein submitted his PhD thesis in 1905, the “miracle year” (Annus Mirabilis) in which he also published four papers on various matters:

        • Photoelectric effect
        • Brownian motion
        • Special relativity
        • Mass–energy equivalence

It was for his discovery of the photoelectric effect that Einstein was awarded the 1921 Nobel prize in physics, and not for his more famous work on special relativity or for the work which has the world’s most popularly celebrated equation E=mc2.

Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire. His citizenship is interesting. First he was a subject of the Kingdom of Württemberg during the German Empire (1879–1896). After that he was stateless (1896–1901), then a Swiss citizen (1901–1955), Austrian subject of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1911–1912), Subject of the Kingdom of Prussia during the German Empire (1914–1918), German citizen of the Free State of Prussia (Weimar Republic, 1918–1933). He became a naturalized American citizen in 1940. He died on April 18, 1955 in Princeton, NJ (which is about an hour’s drive north of where I am now.)

Thus many countries could claim him — the US, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Einstein himself, though, recognized that he could be rejected by many as well. He wrote, “If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare me a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German, and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.”

Continue reading “Einstein’s Ph.D. Thesis”

The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock


April is the National Poetry Month in the US. “Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.”
Continue reading “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock”

Who is China’s Bitch?

So last month I tweeted this:

People are recognizing that WHO is China’s bitch and is in bed with Xi and his gang. Good news is that Trump halted the US donation to the WHO. I hope this is the first step to giving the WHO a quick burial. And I hope that the UN is also dismantled soon. If Trump can do that it would be marvelous, and all his insanity will be forgiven.

Here’s a short take on why WHO is China’s bitch. Continue reading “Who is China’s Bitch?”

Rectification of the Wuhan Flu Name


Covid-19 is another name for the Wuhan flu that results from a SARS virus, and like the old SARS virus that originated in China, this one also originated in China. Plain enough.

Bill Maher is entertaining and quite often informative as well. In his “New Rule” segment, he says that we should not shy away from calling the new virus by its name.

Bill is not as wise as Confucius the Chinese sage but he makes a good case against people who get their panties in a twist when they hear non-PC language. Confucius would have been very clearly against the poisonous politically-correct culture that infects the modern world. Continue reading “Rectification of the Wuhan Flu Name”

Culling Improves the Herd

Culling is a well-known phenomenon in biology — the process of selective removal of weaker individuals from the breeding stock. Although not done deliberately, something similar happens in markets. Entities that are “weak” are selected out of the marketplace, and the health of the economy improves.

In a previous post, I wrote:

If an unprofitable firm fails, it is bad for the workers of the firm. But the failure of firms within an industry could be good for the health of the industry and for the larger economy. At the next level up, an entire industry could fail and cause misery for its workers, and yet that could be very good for the economy. Continue reading “Culling Improves the Herd”