Economic Futures of the West

Economic Futures of the West

New Thinking in Political Economy series

Jan Winiecki

Jan Winiecki explores the various problems that the West must deal with in order to remain an efficient competitor in the world economy. These, he argues, are primarily consequences of the ever-expanding welfare state; consequences that are not only economic but also socio-psychological and, therefore, political. The author also considers the evolution of Western Europe and the USA from a new perspective, noting the ‘Europeanization’ of US economic policies and regulation and the ‘Americanization’ of polices and regulation in some European countries. The book concludes that the main challengers to the West – Brazil, Russia, India and China (the so-called BRIC group of countries) – are unlikely to gain economic supremacy over the West any time soon, given that they have to contend with their own difficulties.

Chapter 2: The world is running out of resources (once again)

Jan Winiecki

Subjects: economics and finance, austrian economics, political economy, politics and public policy, international relations, political economy

Extract

A widespread opinion (at least spread widely by sensationalist media) is that the world is beginning to run out of natural resources: metals and energy sources, as well as food. Thus, even if we are not going to be warmed to oblivion as climate alarmists are trying to convince everybody (see the next chapter), our industrial civilization will be weakened or even collapse at some point due to the growing scarcity of basic materials required to keep the world economy going. Various media present the public with alarming-looking diagrams that show the number of years that separate us from the end of copper, lead, crude oil, natural gas and so on. These diagrams are accompanied by interviews wherein prophets of doom announce their increasingly dire warnings. Not only are they predicting the ‘end of the world as we know it’ – like the English philosopher John Gray – but they also expect multiplication of conflicts between countries, warring among themselves for dwindling resources. ‘Wars are coming, hunger is coming’ – predicts the said philosopher. In his dire warnings he resembles prophets rather than philosophers, who – even without fully accepting Socrates’ dictum – should know at least that they do not know everything.

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