The miracle years of growth, first for Europe, then North America, took place when slowly-collected valuables were plundered rapidly in conquest from the Americas.  This wealth led to further investment in extraction industry and technology, as well as slave agriculture. All these easy pickings have played out over 500 years. A sociologist might find all this grossly immoral; an economist, that it is unsustainable. Theft of land is now a zero-sum game; there are deeds for every piece of land, and ownership rights. Labor, too, has become costly.  For 200 years, slavery has not been an option. The unchallenged sources of unearned wealth are gone.

We hold to the miracle of modernity to have come from reason and industriousness. Perhaps those only were made possible by the blank check the New World handed Europe.

This is not a piece on reparations; malinvested wealth vanishes. The value of rich Inca gold becomes inflated away. The point is really-if we have been riding on a bubble that lasted 500 years and is rapidly ending, what is to come?

Advertisements