How did poverty start?

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  • #26
russ_watters
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I wasn't just thinking of absolute poverty.
I suspect that like me, BWV rejects the concept of "relative poverty" as a recently invented perversion of the term "poverty". It appears to me that the term was invented in the west as a way around the politically unpalatable eradication of poverty in the west. A way to try to keep the issue relevant.

In actuality, "relative poverty" is just a re-labeling of inequality, completely unconnected to the actual concept of poverty.

That said, you are indeed correct that the term now exists, so its use becomes necessary to avoid confusion.
 
  • #27
Evo
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This thread seems to be getting off topic Please remain on the topic the OP has clarified.

Okay as suggested I will rephrase my question as this.
So how and why did it start? I am not looking for any specific point in time where it started. Just looking for vague and approximate answers as to why it is so.
Bolding mine. It is an interesting topic. Let's discuss it.

Modern day poverty can be discussed in Economics.
 
  • #28
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except that wealth distributions are not normal - they have a power law - the richest farmer will have a wealth of 10x or 100x the average. If you sampled 100 adult males at random from the global population you could get a very accurate measurement of the height distribution, but a very bad representation of the wealth distribution
Yes, thats why I used the % of total wealth in the model at each iteration as wealth building is kind of like gambling.

But the whole point was that random events can make some wealthy and others not so much depending on how well they learn from past experience.
 
  • #29
russ_watters
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This thread seems to be getting off topic Please remain on the topic the OP has clarified.

Bolding mine. It is an interesting topic. Let's discuss it.
Interesting or not, the difficulty is that it is a wrong question. Poverty didn't start, it is itself the starting point. The zero point from which development is measured. All animals are poor and all humans were poor prior to the development of civilization. And the development of economics only made it easier to start to measure/quantify something that already/always existed.

Whether understanding this leads to a different and more correct and useful question, I don't know, but the attempt to reframe by the Astronuc only further confuses the issue (to me):
Astronuc said:
The better question is "how did economic disparity develop?"
That implies that economic disparity is a measure of poverty (just covered) which isn't really correct on its own. Beyond that, again, economics just made it easier to quantify disparity that already existed. It is misleading to imply that economic disparity "developed" when disparity predates economics. It wrongly implies that people were equal before economics and that after economics developed, disparity developed.

It seems to me that this thread is just an unfocused pile of misconceptions about human development.
 
  • #30
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You might be interested in buying the book Debt: the first 5000 years. It's already been bought up in thread, it charts the history of various forms of monetary systems and loosely discusses their social consequences.

As for the rest of the conversation it would be best to start using terms like absolute and relative poverty rather than the catchall poverty.

I have read David Graeber's writing and thought he was grinding a political ax and his ideas were contradicted by the evidence. Stone Age cultures in New Guinea survived untouched until the 20th century, and they contradict his theories. I've also read some of his commentary on contemporary events in which his ideas were clearly fallacious. This was a few years ago and I've forgotten the details, but I can dig them up if necessary.
 
  • #31
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The zero point from which development is measured. All animals are poor and all humans were poor prior to the development of civilization.
There were huge herds of animals and flocks of birds, so I think that animals were much wealthier than they are now. I'd say extinction of a species is the ultimate in poverty.

As to human beings, consider the Hopi tribe. They seem to have been the first tribe in North America, so in effect they owned the entire continent. They left mounds behind, like the Ohio serpent mound, so there is evidence that they traveled over the entire continent. There was such a wealth of animal life that hunting was easy. One might consider them fabulously wealthy.

BUT the original poster has clarified that the issue under discussion is economic disparity, so all this is irrelevant. He seems to be interested in civilizations.

Originally all wealth came from the land. Some lands produced more human-usable wealth than others, so there was a natural disparity. This remains.

I would guess that the ancient practice of slavery introduced artificial economic disparity. It was certainly one of the earliest forms.
 

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