Coming Plague (added comment)

Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Tue Aug 8 13:50:12 EST 1995



On Tue, 8 Aug 1995, Jim Owens wrote:

> In article <3vtilm$rbu at jive.cs.utexas.edu> Paul Wilson,
> wilson at cs.utexas.edu writes:
> >
> >   2. Plagues have killed significant fractions of large populations
> >      before.  Even if a plague only killed of 1/3 of the people in
> >      the world, it could be pretty inconvenient, both for those killed
> >      and the survivors trying to keep the world economy going after
> >      the disaster.
> >
> This may read as terribly insensitive, so I apologize in advance.
> 
> Five or so years ago I read a series of three books translated from
> French.  The author, whose name I have forgotten (Memory is the second
> thing to go -- I've forgotten the first!) looked at world history from an
> economic perspective.  He found that for the century after Plague killed
> 1/3 of the world's population the economic lot of the peasants was
> greatly improved.  The hardships caused by all the deaths was confined to
> the years of the Plague.  After that the common people were considerably
> better off than before for  3 or 4 generations.
> 
> As long as there are enough survivors plagues are awful only while people
> are dying.  The rebuilt world will be better than the old one, at least
> for a while.
> 
> One of the first to go in the next plague,
> 
> Jim Owens
> 
> 

Thanks for a piece of a from-a-coffin humor (recalling
Peter Breugel's "Triumph of Death"). 

As I was growing in the Soviet Union in 1950s something
similar was on occasion implicated in "justifying"
Stalin's purges and Gulag, which according to 
Solzhenitzyn's esimates exterminated about 10 to 15 % of 
the total population.

  Greta Garbo in "Ninotchka" (1939) playing a Soviet
NKVD emissar in France is saying "_the mass trials 
have been a great success, comarades. In the future
there will be fewer but better Russians_".
 
 Also popular rythm was "menshe narodu, bolshe 
kislorodu"  (Fewer people, more oxygen).

 Similar effect we observe in research funding: to
 leave funder fewer ("the best") and exterminate the
  rest. [ essence of "selectivity" policy of the
  Canadian NSERC ]

Alex Berezin  
 



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