Economics Explains Everything

Nov 2017
15
Los Angeles, CA
Horses make it less costly to move resources from point A to point B. The same is true of our ancestors walking upright. As the cost of allocation decreased the frequency increased. More frequent allocation meant more frequent allocation problems.

When monkeys, lions, whales and birds migrate they generally don't have to worry about what they'll take with them. It was a different story with our ancestors. They were able to carry many resources at the same time so they were forced to figure out what to take.

Our ancestors needed weapons for defense and for hunting. If they carried too few weapons then they might be killed by wild animals or other groups. But if they carried too many weapons then it would mean carrying inadequate amounts of food and other necessary resources. They constantly struggled to get the balance right. Getting the balance right depends on information. Groups that were better at storing, processing and sharing information were more successful than other groups. Hence the development of language and trade.

Trade provided more reliable information about the importance of things. This information helped our ancestors make better carrying decisions. Clearly it's better to carry more, rather than less, important things. So groups that traded more were more successful than other groups. Trade is facilitated by horses, which the native Americans didn't have, which is why they were far less successful than the groups that did have them.

Nowadays we still worry about what to carry when we go somewhere. But good or bad carrying decisions rarely influence our reproduction. So we've reached peak intelligence.

We still struggle with the balance of defense. Most people incorrectly believe that small groups of leaders are better than trade is at determining the social importance of defense...

However well balanced the general pattern of a nation's life ought to be, there must at particular times be certain disturbances of the balance at the expense of other less vital tasks. If we do not succeed in bringing the German army as rapidly as possible to the rank of premier army in the world...then Germany will be lost! - Adolf Hitler (1936)
Eventually enough people in one country will realize that taxpayers should have the opportunity decide how many of their own tax dollars to trade for defense and all the other goods supplied by the government. This country will be more successful than other countries. Other countries will quickly follow suit.

Summary...

Theory 1: Our exceptional intelligence was caused by our exceptional carrying ability

Theory 2: Low level of development in Americas was caused by absence of horses to carry things

Theory 3: Better balance of defense would be achieved by taxpayers having opportunity to use their tax dollars to help determine the social importance of defense and other public goods.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
I would say that our intelligence is mostly a product of having a grasping hand with opposable thumb, a product of having an arboreal ancestor, which in itself required greater spacial awareness to move through the trees, and so a few more brain cells.

On migration, well, we did not migrate in the normal sense, we gradually moved from an origin point due to probably a combination of population pressure and searching for a better environment to live. There is no known destination to go to, unlike migrating animals, so hunter gathers who have very little anyway, just gradually move and probably without too much in the way of planning. Something like, the hunting is a bit better in the next valley or a little further down the river, or tribe X are getting a bit too strong for us, so let's set up camp where it's better, and off they walk a few miles. Then in another generation they may move a little further, and on it goes over millenia.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,401
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I would say that our intelligence is mostly a product of having a grasping hand with opposable thumb, a product of having an arboreal ancestor, which in itself required greater spacial awareness to move through the trees, and so a few more brain cells.

On migration, well, we did not migrate in the normal sense, we gradually moved from an origin point due to probably a combination of population pressure and searching for a better environment to live. There is no known destination to go to, unlike migrating animals, so hunter gathers who have very little anyway, just gradually move and probably without too much in the way of planning. Something like, the hunting is a bit better in the next valley or a little further down the river, or tribe X are getting a bit too strong for us, so let's set up camp where it's better, and off they walk a few miles. Then in another generation they may move a little further, and on it goes over millenia.
I would add an observation which I heard in a documentary about flying dinosaurs.

Also flying dinosaurs had a quite big brain. It seems that this is a prerequisite to live in 3D [3 dimensions]. Animals which don't fly or don't live on trees are the ones who live in a 2D world. It's more simple. The ones who live in 3D have to calculate more, it's more difficult.

Once the apes begun to go on trees [thanks to their quite big brain], they used their brain more and more and since they begun to handle objects ... they developed further their brain.

But this wasn't enough ... otherwise chimps would be as intelligent as humans. The prerequisite of an oddly large brain is the starting point ... to go on trees is a passage ... to handle objects is an other passage ...

The development of a language [which is connected with the development of superior thought ... we can still observe this in little children] is related to the development of the society.

Wolves communicate, but they don't need a complicated evolved language: they are predators. All the animals communicate, actually. But they haven't developed a proper language [with a possible exceptions: sea mammals which are suspected to have something similar to a superior thought].

Just the mention of the sea mammals give us the key to understand humans [and Neanderthal, the other intelligent species who has lived on this planet]: we can handle ... in a continuous way. While the other apes [because of the conformation of their legs] cannot handle in a continuous way [their hands are not exempted from locomotion].

To handle in a continuous way has stimulated our brain with more and more problems to solve. Ideas came to mind ... [this is why sea mammals are suspected to have something similar to superior thought: what would have stimulated their brain, since they cannot handle?].
 
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AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,401
Italy, Lago Maggiore
An interesting fact we can observe in little children is that they begin to handle before they talk. And usually they begin to walk before of being able to compose long sentences.

While the needs for interaction of the little child grow, the brain develops more and more activating this and that basic function to reach the point when the individual is able to communicate [even if in a simple way].

The ball is distant, I want to play with the ball, I saw the ball rolling when I push it ... I say to my mum "the ball!" [hoping that my mum will push it towards me ...].
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,401
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Now, back to economy.

Improper economy in nature exists. We should remind that the word comes from the Greek Oikos [home] and Nomos [rule]. So economy is made by two main columns: the management of limited resources and trade with the purpose to meet needs.

Unlimited resources are not considered part of an economical system.

Well, think to a squirrel which collects food to preserve it for the winter ... that's a way to manage limited resources. That's an improper economical system [a form of trade is absent], but at the end, managing limited resources, the squirrel is an economical subject [potentially it could barter some acorns for some nuts! It doesn't need to eat them all immediately or in the next week ... it has collected acorns for months, so they are an available value for barter].

But the squirrel doesn't trade ...

Humans, after acting like squirrels, realized that collecting food and other resources was nice, but [since they handled] they were able also to produce goods [cloths, weapons, tents ...].

The early forms of trade were probably local and they didn't need horses to carry goods. Barter between two villages some kilometers far was probably run by walking porters. In case they needed to carry many goods there were animals more easy to use than horses [donkeys, camels, lamas ...].

And proper economy started: they collected, produced, transported, bartered.
 
Nov 2017
15
Los Angeles, CA
Corvidius and AlpinLuke, I don't think spacial awareness is a very hard problem that requires significant amounts of brainpower to solve. Most flying animals and most swimming animals don't have very big brains. Whales are of course an exception. But it would be hard to credit their big brains to spacial awareness when most of the other creatures in the ocean don't have big brains.

What flying animals, and swimming animals, and all the other animals don't have is our exceptional ability to carry resources. Deciding what to carry is a very hard problem that does require significant amounts of brainpower to solve. If you forget, or choose, not to carry something important, like weapons, then you might be killed and your genetic material will be wiped out. The individuals and groups that made smarter carrying decisions were more likely to survive and produce more offspring.

AlpinLuke, trade provides information about the social importance of things. If you're willing to accept one obsidian arrowhead for your rabbit then perhaps the two things are equally important. But if you're only willing to accept two arrowheads for your rabbit then perhaps the rabbit is twice as important. If you're only willing to accept 100 arrowheads for your rabbit... then perhaps I need to stop making so many arrowheads and start making something that is more socially important.

Knowing the social importance of things helps members of the group decide what to carry. Better carrying decisions meant greater chances of survival and reproduction.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,401
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Corvidius and AlpinLuke, I don't think spacial awareness is a very hard problem that requires significant amounts of brainpower to solve. Most flying animals and most swimming animals don't have very big brains. Whales are of course an exception. But it would be hard to credit their big brains to spacial awareness when most of the other creatures in the ocean don't have big brains.

What flying animals, and swimming animals, and all the other animals don't have is our exceptional ability to carry resources. Deciding what to carry is a very hard problem that does require significant amounts of brainpower to solve. If you forget, or choose, not to carry something important, like weapons, then you might be killed and your genetic material will be wiped out. The individuals and groups that made smarter carrying decisions were more likely to survive and produce more offspring.

AlpinLuke, trade provides information about the social importance of things. If you're willing to accept one obsidian arrowhead for your rabbit then perhaps the two things are equally important. But if you're only willing to accept two arrowheads for your rabbit then perhaps the rabbit is twice as important. If you're only willing to accept 100 arrowheads for your rabbit... then perhaps I need to stop making so many arrowheads and start making something that is more socially important.

Knowing the social importance of things helps members of the group decide what to carry. Better carrying decisions meant greater chances of survival and reproduction.
What I don't grasp [probably because of my proverbial ignorance] is why the capability to carry the right things should be economical ... that's survival capability, not an economical matter [or are you going to barter the water which could allow you to survive in a desert to obtain a diamond?].

There are alternatives to trade which can be more suitable to increase your survival possibilities ... Romans conquered, Mongols were masters about this ... Mongols didn't trade ... they conquered, they kill a lot of people and they took what they needed. And that wasn't economy!

As usual in nature it's the strongest, the most suitable to survive, not the one who trades ...
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,401
Italy, Lago Maggiore
When I was studying economy [my educational background is economical], facing the nightmare called "political economy", a professors told to the classroom that ...

"economy works when armies are not around".

I still think he was right.

P.S. wars, usually, start just because a power in not able to solve economical problems, so that it has to "orient" the market ... ordering to its arms to charge.
 

Poly

Ad Honorem
Apr 2011
6,698
Georgia, USA
...

Theory 1: Our exceptional intelligence was caused by our exceptional carrying ability

Theory 2: Low level of development in Americas was caused by absence of horses to carry things

Theory 3: Better balance of defense would be achieved by taxpayers having opportunity to use their tax dollars to help determine the social importance of defense and other public goods.

Our exceptional intelligence was caused by our ability to speak

Horses aren't good at carrying things, it's why canals were built in the more developed countries like England

If people voted on taxes, they'd vote to pay the absolute least they could and/or the most beneficial to them and the system would break down.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,641
Las Vegas, NV USA
t ...

"economy works when armies are not around".

I still think he was right.

P.S. wars, usually, start just because a power in not able to solve economical problems, so that it has to "orient" the market ... ordering to its arms to charge.
War has its own economy. Instead of money it's soldiers fit for combat, supplies and possession of good ground.