Adam and Eve and The Economist

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The Economist is an English weekly news magazine, or newspaper as they style themselves Economist.com. It focuses not only on financial affairs as the name suggests but also on politics. The way things are now, it would be virtually impossible to separate economics and government. However, it is not the intertwined realms of power and money that drive their weekly output of news articles. it is that, thanks to Adam and Eve, the defects of humanity.

The Long-Term Evidence

The Economist does not do history but it is appropriate to start with the long-term effects of our human defects. The historian Arnold Toynbee described the rise and fall of about 20 civilizations in support of his theory of history. Another historian, John Glubb Pasha, did much the same thing in “The Course of Empires. The consistency of history in regard to the arcs of human cultures indicates that possibly there is some driver of history that has operated for a long period of time.

The Short-Term Evidence

The Economist brings us the short-term evidence of the results of our flaws. The evidence is not just that bad things happen. Those could be simply the result of adverse circumstances. After all the farmers are not responsible for the drought that destroys their crops. Or are they? What if they neglected to build water storage facilities because they could not agree whose land to flood, or they had no resources because the buyers of their crops were too stingy and the people who loaned money charged too much interest, or the government taxed them too much and protected them too little. Nature brings short-term misery but the long drawn out stuff probably has its roots in human failures.

Institutions at Risk

Every institution is at risk of decline because they are all populated by “bent” people. This means The Economist has an inexhaustible supply of material for their newspaper. The problems faced by print news media are not the result of any slacking off in people doing what they should not. As long as people bear 500-year-old grudges, parties in nations faced with deadly insurgencies think the power of their faction is all that matters, and governments cannot restrain the natural human tendency to freely spend other people’s money, there when always be a plentitude of bad news.

Solutions

The people who put out The Economist are quite remarkable people. They have an idea of what other people should do in almost every circumstance to remedy the situations they have reported. This means most problems are not without an evident solution. So, does anybody take their good advice? The answer seems to be: very rarely. This is the point where it seems they should put a picture of Adam and Eve at the entry to their headquarters so they can give them an appreciative nod each time they enter. For humanity’s ancestors ensured they would never run out of something to print.

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