The Rational Optimist, by Matt Ridley February 1, 2020
The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley a book on evolving world prosperity
I completed this book January 29, 2020 and found TRO tedious at first. His opinions, I supposed, needed to review early examples of doing business, and he did that by looking at man’s pre-historic life without transactions with other men. Like animals, men ate what they killed, they wore the skins and built shelters; they did it all and relied on no one.
When man realized that he did certain things well, and other men did certain other things well, they could then trade their skill sets or their products for the other man’s skills or products. Let’s say one was a good fisherman and the other was a good tool maker. They worked this by bartering fish for tools and both benefitted from the others work. When one multiplies these actions many times over, with many different skills, one’s prosperity can be greater than when one does it alone. And instead of simple bartering, money was created to buy other men’s skills or products. And International Trade became the watchword where worldwide transactions using money increased the number of transactions possible. More transactions created more money in the hands of those who controlled these affairs; and they became rich and prospered beyond previous procedures could ever have produced. And the workers also prospered as a direct result, and they bought and sold amongst their neighbours. And then specialization was born where some countries and peoples were better than others with certain tasks and with their natural products like Minerals, because they had more of the raw materials and/or manufactured products like Spices, they could sell them abroad at less money than other countries and make a tidy profit. That made them unique while other countries were specialized in other ways. This led to increasing prosperity and so on into our times where profit, prosperity and confidence born from prescient characteristics recognizing issues and procedures that continually change the lives of all of the Earth’s people.
The fine points of all of this are many and opined in this book with skill and ease, and that this skill makes this a great read right down to its last page.
Here's a good example: South Africa's Wine Industry, started by Groot Constantia Winery and created in the seventeenth Century, currently makes great wine and sells it worldwide. Constantia relies on French Oak Trees and French Craftsmen to make and supply their oak barrels, and they also rely on Portuguese Cork to supply the corks to seal the bottles. (Nothing else will satisfy their process.) One barrel will produce five barrels of wine over five years and that barrel is then replaced with a new one from France. The barrel is filled to the brim with wine and stored until perfect, bottled, corked and shipped around the world. What could be better? Full Stop.