A short essay by the author of "Guns, Germs, and Steel" - On The Collapse of Complex Societies
I read and liked the book. The short essay seems rather oversimplified. Frequent references to economics terms are interesting in highlighting the one science that deals with opportunity costs -- and it is not history. Overall, however, I am left with a "so what" feeling after reading the essay. We all know that decisions are made by the government, any government, are first aimed to improve the circumstances of those associated with the government. That is why monarchies do not work very well, or populist governments -- they either aim to please too few or too many people -- but rarely aim to actually improve the society/country as an entity but are concerned with transferring means and fruits of production from one set of hands into another.
Considering the author's expertise in social science, I would have preferred to see some counter-examples about tough problems actually *solved* by some complex society. Icelanders managed to somehow deal with topsoil erosion, did not they?