Econ 111 Notes - UNIT 1 ECONOMIC HISTORY'S TWO MOST...

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UNIT 1: ECONOMIC HISTORY'S TWO MOST SIGNIFICANT TURNING POINTS I. INTRODUCTION A. Relationship Between History and Economics 1. OLD ECON HISTORY-- German in origin, descriptive/narrative in style, big on data (dates + names) 2. NEW ECON HISTORY-- Austrian, theoretical/analytical, emerged in 1940s/50s, "cliometrics" applies economic models to explain historical events 3. WTF IS HISTORY?? -- Studying ends, means, and consequences. Historians too concrete-bound, relying on first-hand accounts, conventional wisdom, and deny the fact that theory & history are inseperable. a. Counterfactual history-- seeks to explore "what if." For example, what would have happened if JFK hadn't been assassinated? Every causal statement has a counterfactual. 4. WTF IS ECON? -- Studying the logic of choice under the condition of scarcity. B. Nature of Gov't 1."LEGITIMIZED MONOPOLY ON COERCION a. Coercion-- war, taxes, law enforcement, etc. b. Monopoly-- think Waco, TX 2. FUNCTION OF GOV'T-- maintain property systems (how people obtain goods, services, etc), inclduing: a. Homesteading b. gifts c. trade/sell d. coercion II. THE AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION A. Causes and Consequences 1. BACKGROUND: 15,000 yrs ago-- AgRev begins during Neolithic era, categorized by a shift from hunter/gatherer societies to agricultural/animal husbandry societies a. Hunter/Gatherers-- small bands of population, migratory, no cities/states, little trade (did have ritualistic gifts), no property rights, egalitarian, small-scale but incessant warfare, low life expectancy due to war, but generally healthy b. Agricultural/Animal Husbandry-- larger, denser pop'ns, sedentary, emerging city states, markets, complex system of land ownership, hierarchical, more intense warfare but w/ division of labor, longer life expectancy despite unhealthy lifestyles >> "immiseration of the masses" 2. CAUSES-- due in part to climate changes and extinction of megaflora & fauna, but primarily b/c of law of diminishing marginal returns. As population grows, marginal product of labor decreases more rapidly for H/G societies. 3. EFFECTS-- microparasites (diseases from animals) and macroparasites (gov't, i.e. more susceptible to raids and enslavement) a. Thomas Malthus-- if living standards increase, then populat'n increases, which eventually reduces living standards. Believed populat'n growth would ultimately cause widespread famine. B. The Americas before European Contact 1. TIMELINE: 13,000 - 15,000 years ago-- people cross Bering Straight into North America 10,000 BC-- ppl reach Tierra Del Fuego. Population of New World grows to 75 million by 1492, whereas European population was only 70 million. No horses or cattle. 3,500 BC-- AgRev begins in Americas, and not until 2,500 BC in Eastern US. 2. AZTECS & INCAS-- theocratic societies who mastered AgRev and built up huge cities. Aztecs were bloody sons a bitches, extracting tributes, taking slaves, and conducting human sacrifices. Incas were more peaceful. They had no writing, lots of roads, and they were dirty, dirty socialists.
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