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The Coming Plague, New Republic review (was Re: The genetic stability of Ebola virus)

Jim Owens jow at helix.nih.gov
Tue Aug 8 11:32:09 EST 1995

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

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