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THOMAS MALTHUS:

FUSFELD, CH 4

 THOMAS ROBERT MALTHUS [1766-1834]

þ MAJOR PROBLEM IN EARLY 19TH C. BRITAIN =
  CONCERN FOR THE POOR.

þ IN PREVIOUS CENTURIES, EACH PARISH CARED FOR ITS
  OWN. TAX ON LANDOWNERS --> RELIEF FUNDS -->
  PHILOSOPHY OF NOBLESSE OBLIGE.
 

þ BUT THIS ANCIENT SYSTEM OF POOR RELIEF BROKE
DOWN:

     þ WARTIME INCREASES IN FOOD PRICES;
     þ ENCLOSURES --> MANY MORE PEOPLE DISPLACED
          FROM THEIR SMALL PLOTS
     þ INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
     þ GROWING CITIES & POPULATION
     þ GROWING NUMBERS OF POOR.
 

þ CONSERVATIVE REACTION TO FRENCH REVOLUTION

     þ NEW MEASURES TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY
          IMPOSSIBLE.
     þ REFORM = ANATHEMA

þ YET GREAT INCREASE IN POOR --> BIG FINANCIAL
  BURDEN ON LANDOWNERS.
 

þ PROBLEM OF POOR DUE TO THIS:

     þ FOOD IS NECESSARY FOR MAN;
     þ PASSION OF SEXES WILL REMAIN CONSTANT.
 

2
 THOMAS ROBERT MALTHUS [1766-1834] [C]
 

þ "THE POWER OF POPULATION IS INFINITELY GREATER
  THAN THE POWER IN THE EARTH TO PRODUCE
  SUBSISTENCE."
 

þ STEPS TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY ARE FUTILE. WHY?

     þ BECAUSE POP WILL INCREASE UNLESS CHECKED BY
       MISERY OR VICE.

     þ FOR IF POOR GET MORE FOOD, THEY WILL HAVE
       MORE CHILDREN UNTIL FOOD/PERSON FALLS BACK
       TO SUBSISTENCE LEVEL --> THEN POP INCREASE
       TO STOP.

     þ WAGES ALWAYS TEND TO SUBSISTENCE LEVEL. WAGE
       INCREASE --> WORKER HAS MORE CHILDREN -->
       WORKER FALLS BACK TO SUBSISTENCE.
 

þ TM'S CONCLUSION: PAYING RELIEF TO POOR WON'T
  ELIMINATE POVERTY, BUT WOULD MERE INCREASE INCOME
  OF POOR, ENCOURAGE THEM TO HAVE MORE CHILDREN,
  POOR FALL BACK TO SUBSISTENCE AGAIN.

3
 THOMAS ROBERT MALTHUS [1766-1834] [C]
 

þ TM: OLD SYSTEM OF POOR RELIEF RESPONSIBLE FOR
  POVERTY. SOLN: ELIMINATE RELIEF PROGRAM.

þ RELIEF TO POOR ALSO BAD FOR THESE REASONS:

     þ RELIEF --> POOR -->SHIFT OF WEALTH FROM
       THOSE WHO USED WEALTH PRODUCTIVELY TO IDLE
       POVERTY POP. --> SLOW ECON GROWTH.

     þ INSTEAD, THIS WEALTH SHOULD BE INVESTED IN
       PRODUCTIVE ACTIVITY --> PROVIDE JOBS &
       PRODUCT.
 

þ TM: POOR RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN POVERTY. TO
  ELIMINATE POVERTY, HAVE FEWER CHILDREN. ONLY
  SOLN: MORAL REFORM --> HAVE FEWER CHILDREN.
 

þ TM: LABOR UNIONS NOT SOLN: HIGHER WAGES --> MORE
  CHILDREN --> BID UP FOOD PRICES  --> WEALTH SHIFT
  FROM BUSINESSMEN TO UNPRODUCTIVE LANDOWNERS -->
  REDUCED CAPITAL FOR BUSINESS EXPANSION --> NATION
  WORSE OFF IN LONG RUN.
 

þ TM APPROACH TERRIBLE FOR POOR, BUT GREAT FOR
  CONSERVATIVES BECAUSE IT GIVES THEM GOOD
  ARGUMENTS FOR DOING NOTHING.

þ TM'S PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION --> MAJOR BUILDING
  BLOCK OF CLASSICAL ECONOMICS.

     þ REMAINED BASIS OF WAGE THEORIES FOR CENTURY.

þ TM: PRODUCTION MUST INCREASE FASTER THAN POP. IF
  THERE IS TO BE ANY MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS IN LIVING
  STANDARDS.

     þ EUROPE & N.A ACHIEVED THIS.

     þ BUT IN MANY OTHER COUNTRIES, POP. GROWTH
       EXCEEDS EXPANSION OF PRODUCTION.

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