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What it takes to live so well

July 08, 2007

Re "The wealth between our ears," Opinion, July 3

Jonah Goldberg claims that biologist Paul Ehrlich and 18th century British economist Thomas Malthus were wrong about the relationship between population and resources because "we're still here." The fact is, as virtually every qualified scientist will confirm, the Earth's resources are finite, and although one can argue about when a continuously growing population will result in disaster, there is no question that it eventually will.

Malthus' prediction is already coming true for more than 1 billion people who are forced to live on less than $1 a day. Apparently, Goldberg is unaware that thousands of them die daily of starvation.

He argues that because this is a rich country, "the less we need to live off its natural resources." We are, in fact, the world's greatest per capita consumers of natural resources, and we could not live the life of plenty that he crows about if we were not importing those resources from poorer nations.

SANFORD THIER

Marina del Rey

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Goldberg notes that the World Bank may be on a fool's errand building roads, factories, etc., in the Third World until those nations have the intangible capital to maintain such things. He cites the rule of law as the most important component of intangible capital.

And he references the Marshall Plan's success in rebuilding Europe as being not so much because of the United States supplying concrete and construction but to residents' willingness to live by the rule of law.

Fast forward to Iraq and the Middle East. Although there may be a few residents interested in rebuilding under the constructive rule of law, it would seem that more desire the rule of barbarians.

FRED DICKINSON

Downey

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