That book brought me to a revelation. He points out how mankind is unique in that we continuously build upon and leverage knowledge of past generations to in effect improve our standard of living. He also points out how great innovations most commonly come not from scientists but from entrepreneurs who look at existing processes or methods and revise, combine, etc to develop new tools and technologies. The revelation is this. Despite our very serious debt problems, I think that the next couple of decades will likely actually bring an unprecedented upswing in opportunity and prosperity (in particular in the US where business friction is actually the lowest). The internet is still quite new. When I started college, uvm still had card catalogs in the library! The effort required to find information was absurd. The access that people now have to information and accumulated wisdom of past generations is phenomenal. It’s an explosion. Information and knowledge are the fuel for innovation. There’s a lot of fuel and there’s a lot of innovation coming.
Wow...what a mind! Ridley, darn his hide, has written the book I wanted to write! Observations and data abound about how life is simply BETTER for most sentient creatures than it has ever been on planet earth. While far from naive, Ridley understands that current abiities to TRADE and SPECIALIZE are the keys to prosperity. The sections on environmental policies and the astounding level of wrong headedness in the "green" movement are worth the price of the book. Counterintuitive, reasonable, rational, articulate...Ridley may change your mind about what it means to be alive in the 21st century. And about how "green" basic, but wrong, ideas like eating local, renewable resources, and biofuels are.
I'm already on my second listen. There is a lot of data to absorb that I want to be able to share as needed.
How much we just hate good news!
One thing he got wrong was about farming methods. While I agree he may have a point about organic industrial not being efficient, its worth noting that that particular niche in the market was created by consumer demand. In fact, traditional mixed farms produce far more food per acre than do industrial farms.
This in no way negates the central theme of the book in that things are getting better. Mixed use farming, and biodynamic growing methods are increasing because consumers desire this product and because can produce food on land that might otherwise be very difficult. Efficiency and productivity are increasing to the point where the farmers can feel free to take time off!
The book ranks among 5 best reads on my list of economic titles.
No single moment can be described as best. The whole book is slowly taking on the the well known economic facts/theories and show them from evolutionist perspective. What is remarkable about this book is that the evolutionist point of view is usually more easy to understand and better explains the observed relationships/outcomes/interconnections in the economy.
This one seems to be better.
Evolutionary revolution in economics.
Matt Ridley's ideas challenge conventional wisdom, yours and mine. You need not side with him on every issue but I strongly encourage you to consider the value of rational optimism as a way to solve our biggest problems.
Ridley makes the very important point that the modern world is fundamentally built on trade and the specialization of labor. This idea can often be overlooked. Many people seem to think that we would be better off doing everything ourselves. Ridley shows that this is deeply misguided. However, I agree with William Easterly's review in that there are numerous rants throughout the book that don't really advance any idea and instead chafe otherwise sympathetic listeners. This book could've been a lot better. I was hoping this book would be a nice complement to Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature but it paled in comparison to Pinker's rigor and depth.
I find it better and more connivance for my lifestyle, very good for travelers.
The writer with his sharp observation and sense of humor. Finally a fresh and different point of view.
I like the observation about how we convert energy form solar energy to any other forms of energy.
Amazing History of Trade would sum up the book in ~3 words. But it is so much more. Ridley shows the many false starts of civilization and explains why trade is the key to creating wealth. Why were we stuck in the stone age for 50,000 years? Why did Sumer and other early civilizations fall. How did wealth lead to the substitution of human labor for animal labor in Japan? Why was the bureaucracy of the Ming Dynasty such a disaster? Why did England succeed so radically? This book answers all these and more. This is better than a degree in history. Instead of memorizing what happened, you learn why it happened.