MT VOID 08/22/97 (Vol. 16, Number 8)

MT VOID 08/22/97 (Vol. 16, Number 8)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 08/22/97 -- Vol. 16, No. 8

Table of Contents

Outside events: The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-933-2724 for details. The New Jersey Science Fiction Society meets on the third Saturday of every month in Belleville; call 201-432-5965 for details.

MT Chair/Librarian:
              Mark Leeper   MT 3E-433  732-957-5619
HO Chair:     John Jetzt    MT 2E-530  732-957-5087
HO Librarian: Nick Sauer    HO 4F-427  732-949-7076
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist:
              Rob Mitchell  MT 2D-536  732-957-6330
Factotum:     Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433  732-957-2070
Back issues at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

URL of the week: Maureen F. McHugh's web page. [-ecl]


Peanuts are a by-product of good farming methods. The peanut plant restores nitrogen to the soil that other crops take out. Even if there was no nut on the peanut plant, the task of restoring nitrogen would have to be done. Peanuts are just a by-product of re-enriching soil. They are nearly free. Have you seen the price of peanut butter?

I remember back when I was a kid there were all sorts of exciting predictions about the world of the future. We used to look forward to what the exciting, high-powered world of 2000. How much better it would be from the world we knew. But you know the people who made those predictions really did not understand human nature and economics. The prediction of things getting a lot better for the common people are true up to a point and terribly flawed beyond that point. Really the rule seems to be that predictions of abundance in the future are as a rule never true. There will always be a reason why a prediction of abundance will turn out to be false and it is just human nature.

Nuclear power was going to make "electricity too cheap to meter." It is human nature that nothing valued by the recipient will ever be too cheap to meter. It is a corollary to "there is no such thing as a free lunch." The price of electricity, like the price of peanuts, is whatever the public is willing to pay. If the cost of producing electrical power dropped to a tenth of the current cost, it would probably have little effect on the price to the consumer.

How about the old idea that in the future technology would make us so productive that we would have to work no more than an hour a day? What happened to that one? Instead of there being less work to do, the people I know are working as hard or harder than they did even twenty years ago. People are working longer hours. Rather than one breadwinner working an eight-hour day we see both adults working and eight-hour days are rarely the norm. What happened seems to be that if one corporation becomes more productive its competitors have to become more productive just to keep up. Corporations will not pay a full salary for a shorter day. Instead they produce at a faster rate determined by competition and downsize to take up the slack. Higher productivity is not the universal boon that we expected it to be and it probably never could have been. The future age of leisure that was predicted at the 1939 World's Fair is never likely to happen for pure market reasons.

The interesting thing is that we keep predicting the Golden Age as being just ahead. Just this last year saw the release of the film L5: FIRST CITY IN SPACE. It portrayed the L5 colony as a sort of paradise in space: large, beautiful, full of people living in idyllic surroundings fulfilling themselves. If there is an L5 colony it will be small, cramped, and Spartan. It will have been put in space under tight budget restrictions that will limit its construction to the bare necessities for sustaining life. It will be an ugly place to live and will be staffed by a few dedicated people who do not care. That is what the frontier is always like. People came to America because they heard, some of them, that the streets were paved with gold and most ended up in grimy tenements. There may well be a glorious future like we see in the L5 movie, but you know it won't look the way the film portrays it. You have to look at those images and factor in parsimony. If you are predicting the future, always bet on parsimony and never abundance. [-mrl]

                                   Mark Leeper
                                   MT 3E-433 732-957-5619

     There are scores of thousands of human insects
     who are ready at a moment's notice to reveal
     the Will of God on every possible subject.
                                  -- George Bernard Shaw