Desire & Scarcity (was Re: Desire under the Elms)

Joanna Sheldon cjs10 at
Fri Jan 28 17:04:40 PST 2000


>Or, as George Stigler put it:
>"It would be easy to provide everyone with a physiologically adequate
>diet; for example, a [hu]man could perhaps live for a year on the
>following diet, at a cost of about $8 a month in 1950:
> --370 pounds of wheat flour
> --57 cans of evaporated milk
> --111 pounds of cabbage
> --25 pounds of spinach
> --285 pounds of dried navy beans.

As long as part of that cabbage is consumed in the form of sauer kraut or we'll all get scurvy...

>"Thus, from an Olympian peak, one may say that the economic system
>has as its purpose forcing people to find new scarcities. From a
>closer vantage point, the study of economics has as its purpose the
>alteration of a host of circumstances and policies that deprive large
>numbers of people of eminently desirable things a more efficiently
>organized society could afford..." (From The Theory of Price, (New
>York: Macmillan, 1952), pp. 2-3.)
>And, indeed, when I posted the Chez Panisse dinner menu (which has
>changed; today it is all fish even though it is not yet Lent:
> --An aperitif
> --Smoked fish salad with pickled Chino Ranch greens
> --Truffled scrambled eggs with Dungeness crab and garlic croutons
> --Black sea bass cooked on its skin; with roasted root
>vegetables, fried onions, and garden lettuces
> --Hazelnut, coffee, and chocolate ice cream bombe)
>One of the first comments was "how about wine?"...

Damn straight, I know my rights. It should be pointed out that when it comes to meat versus vegetables, one form of thrift begets another. Apparently (I think it was according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald?) part of the reason people reach for the wine during a meaty meal is that it aids in the digestion of animal fat. Something in meat cries out for alcohol.

Take that sea bass off the menu, we'll be all set.


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