Wealth is knowledge – poverty is ignorance

technologyGive unlimited resources to a caveman and he will chop down trees and burn them as firewood.

Give unlimited resources to a Victorian and he will burn coal to power a steam engine.

Give the same to a 20th century person and they will burn gas to make electricity.

In the 21st century we might make solar panels so that we don’t need to cut down the forests or burn fossil fuels.

It’s not what you have, it’s what you know that determines what you can do. A resource is an idea, not a physical object. Wealth is knowledge, not money or gold.

And if wealth is knowledge, then it can be taught.

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13 responses to “Wealth is knowledge – poverty is ignorance

  1. I do like this kind of snappy sloganeering, even if it’s a bit facile. You could also say “Give (x) unlimited resources, and the ones nearby who don’t have those resources will go to war with (x) over it.” Resources vary widely between geographic groups.

    • Some of the richest countries in the world have little or no natural resources. Some of the countries with the most oil and diamonds are among the poorest.

      • Quite true, but my observation was about one of the causes of conflict (resources), not who is or isn’t “rich”.

      • Resources are only useful when there are proper instituitions to make use of them. Having resources does not necessarily make a country poor. So if you have resources and good instutions that would make a country very rich, look at Kuwait. But then again ofcourse there are many other factors that affect growth and I think it would be unsafe to simplify it to just one or two factors. But yeah, having resources and no proper instituitions can be very bad on a country’s growth.

  2. Good thoughts to ponder! Even if when there is access to knowledge plenty of people seem to choose to be unteachable. Viewing knowledge as wealth may make education (or all sorts) seem more attractive to more people…? No easy answers.

  3. Well said. Knowledge is power, wealth, comfort, capability, and often peace of mind. I’m often surprised by those who are uninterested in it.

  4. Well, sorry for being so cynical but sometimes the only way to get knowledge is to ‘buy’ it through wealth.

    • I’m not really talking about the knowledge of individual people here. Having a PhD doesn’t make you rich. But the knowledge base of a society is the fundamental factor that determines its wealth. And of course you are correct that we have to invest in study, research and education in order to continually raise levels of knowledge.

      All kinds of things would be possible if we only knew how. Nuclear fusion holds out the prospect of converting sea water into electricity with no greenhouse gas emissions, if we could just improve our engineering of fusion reactors.

      With more knowledge we could eradicate cancer and heart disease, travel wherever we want at hypersonic speeds, and have machines to do all the jobs we don’t want to do ourselves. One day we will.

  5. Wealth is ignorance when those around you suffer yet you go to the bank to save. To be born is wealth, to allow hunger and homelessness while you hang on to more than you need is ignorance, greed and immaturity in your thinking. The inability to control your freewill and your lack of vision to see that we are all family, work on vision.

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