How to Make a Living

I propose to mix ideas from economics and evolution here. It is notoriously hard to predict what problems evolution will solve and this casts the largest shadow on this note.

I want to make a crude analogy between energy as taught by thermodynamics and wealth as taught by economics. There is no conservation of wealth; when a house burns down its value does not arise elsewhere. Thermodynamics distinguishes between energy and free energy. Energy is conserved but free energy is lost in a closed system. The analogy is thus between wealth and free energy. Fortunately we do not live in a closed system.

Very crudely I want to refer to three modes of making a living:

  1. Creating useful things and selling or bartering them.
  2. Theft.
  3. Rent Seeking, by which some would cynically describe as making theft legal.
Speaking for my self some activities contemporaneously described as rent seeking improved the economy for most people. This classically happens as customs evolve on what should be owned. I am of the cynical school however as regards recent ex-post-facto extension of copyright laws.