Total poverty and free marketsSubmitted by KongVault on Sun, 07/29/2012 - 00:00
Can you guys explain for me the economic situation outlined in the Grapes of Wrath? Citizens fleeing the dust bowl, going to CA, only to be among a million other workers competing for scarce jobs and slave wages. How long did the situation go on before the minimum wage law was passed? What if it hadn't been passed? Would you expect citizens to very soon start opening up businesses of their own, even though they can't even afford decent food and they live in tents? What about all those resourceful people who managed to build and run their own farms in their native states - they couldn't figure out some way to make a living? Or was the situation different than how Steinbeck described it? I have trouble trying to explain how free markets will resolve situations like this on their own.
Similarly in parts of Africa, I think. Millions of people living in slums, no jobs, hardly any food. What's stopping their economy from growing? Is it just a case of being in a place with no natural resources and/or corrupt people stealing all the resources and enslaving people rather than paying them wages?
Obviously any new settlements where people arrive with very little often work out despite the initial hardship. But in the case of the US colonies, I believe they initially did a lot of trading with the natives. And in more distant times, hunters and gatherers passed down a lot of basic information on how to stay alive, so that they could move around a lot easier and figure things out.