Long Term Economics

HARRY R. ERWIN (herwin@osf1.gmu.edu)
25 Feb 1995 23:37:41 GMT

I'm posting this here due to the evidence (Joseph Tainter and others) that
the collapse of complex societies is intimately connected with long-term
effects of the economic and social policies of administrative elites.

Observing current political events in the USA, I'm reminded of Trout
Rader's book, Economics of Feudalism. In that book, he addressed the
long-term effects of elite policies that 1) permanently placed significant
segments of the population outside the economic system (in Rader's
analysis, due to a slave system; in America, due to the massive expansion
of the prison system) and 2) that permanently impoverished major segments
of the population through policies that denied their children access to
economic opportunity due to poor health, nutrition, education, or economic
disability. The primary effect was a accelerating contraction of the
economy and population to the point that the urban centers of the area
were abandoned, and the area became a rural backwater. Although this
process usually started out slowly, the final stages could be quite rapid
(<10 years).

How quickly would this take place? Has anyone done a long-term economic
analysis of the policies currently being proposed?

Harry Erwin
Internet: herwin@gmu.edu