Economic Questions about the Amazon Series
Surely the elves are rich in all the ways that matter? They have peace, beauty, song, long lives, freedom from want etc.
In a sense, Elves are the grandchildren of Keynes' famous essay - they have solved the "economic problem" and live in an "age of leisure and of abundance."
Tolkien's contrast between the Dwarves - who "delved too greedily and too deep" - or men - who were "blinded by their greed" - and the virtue of the Elves is very reminiscent of Keynes:
"When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals... The love of money as a possession -as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life -will be recognised for
what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semicriminal, semi-pathological
propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease."
What if Gandalf is not a shepherd of Middle Earth but a Drug Lord who is introduced to Pipe Weed during RoP. We know he loves the longbottom leaf but what if he loved it so much he helped the Hobbits settle the Shire as a free labor grow farm? As the Orc population grows they threaten his kingdom in the Shire so he hires Aragorn. Not to protect the half-lings because he loves them, but because they grow the best Pipe Weed in all of Middle Earth. If Sauron claims Middle Earth, Gandalf loses a massive chunk of his customer base and Sauron likely legalizes the product. Makes a ya think!!
Hello! I think the reason why elves are were not as rich as an "advanced" economy (e.g. flying cars) is for their thousands of years war with Morgoth. Their resources, time, and intelligence were alloted for defeating Morgoth instead of creating technologies or cultivating their knowledge. As we know from the Endogeneous Growth Theory, it's the from investment in innovation and knowledge that shifts the production possibilities of an (elf) economy.
We know that orcs are carnivorous omnivores with a fondness for meat that maggoty bread does not satisfy. We also know that Mordor is a barren wasteland covered by rolling volcanic clouds from Mount Doom.
The wasteland of Mordor could not support industrialised grain farming to feed livestock to supply meat, and orcs are not known to live agrarian lifestyles. Which implies that there must be a huge volume of trade in meats from the Easterlings or other areas and races, under duress or otherwise. How would this distort meat prices in Middle Earth given the rapid expansion in the orc population in the late third age. What are the orcs trading, if they are trading anything at all, for this meat?
Thanks Brian! More of like this please!
The elves aren't 'richer' because they appear to live in a post-scarcity society. Efficiency loses importance when there isn't a time constraint on anything (except war) due to elven near immortality. We never hear of elven money either which I'm going to use as evidence that elves don't appear to have pressing economic concerns the way that hobbits or men do. Elven magic could also reduce the pressure for wealth accumulation because the barrier to amenities is likely lowered because of magical creation.
Durin III's rejection of Elrond's offer seems to be a classic example of bounded rationality. Absent information that isn't available to the watcher, Durin's objections appear primarily religious and racial. So he's making a sub-optimal economic decision based on his rejection the Elves' quest to "cheat death," likely due to the violent and racist history between elves and dwarves.
OR Durin recognizes that the elves will be in a significantly worse economic position once they lose the light of valinor and he's hoping to take advantage of that. The elves will either become mortal and significantly damage their post-scarcity economic model, or flee to the west and Durin will lead the most economically and technologically advanced civilization in Middle Earth. Either way it opens up significant opportunities for his kingdom.
The LOTR are books written by a white boy about white boys for white boys. The Amazon revival series at least remedies this with inserting women, non-whites, binaries, etc. The end of this series showed a young girl going into the world as the companion of an elderly gentleman. Wow.
More interesting from an economic point of view would be the costs of making this series, how decisions where to allocate the available money are made, how the costs are earned back, etc. The same goes for that other graphics-laden monstrosity, HBO's House of the Dragon.