Friday, September 02, 2005

Agriculture's downside

Brad De Long has posted an opinion piece from Jared Diamond arguing that agriculture, which displaced hunting and gathering as the means for sustenance, was actually humanity's greatest mistake. The article contends that agriculture promotes a much larger population with a lower quality of life for most people except for a dominating elite. In a recent post, I argued that welfare could be considered compensation for eliminating the right to forage. According to Diamond, that would hardly be a fair deal.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Carson Chow wrote, In a recent post, I argued that welfare could be considered compensation for eliminating the right to forage.

Of course, the right way to go about this is to institute land value taxation and recover most of Ricardian land rent for the public purse.

--SJF

Carson Chow said...

Perhaps, but suppose prime foraging land has very little market value. Then wouldn't the land owners pay a low rent and although all of society may be compensated fairly, those who wanted the land for foraging and opt out of the system would not.

Anonymous said...

If the rent is low, presumably those who want to forage could buy it.

If you want to forage without buying it, too bad. There's no right to forage without the risk of violence from others in the pre-civilized world either.

Carson Chow said...

If they wanted to buy the land they could do it now. Although your George's idea may solve some inequities, it still imposes a system on people who may not want to live in that system. Compensation for that lack of freedom is independent of the taxation and valuation system.