This week I’ll post miscellaneous comments about Robinson Crusoe’s final chapters:
1) Economies of scale:
“I had now been on the island twenty-seven years. My man Friday had been with me about two years, and these had been the happiest of my life. I had everything to make me comfortable and happy”.
If Robinson and Friday had worked together, we should except economies of scale, for their average cost to product should diminish as two workers can handle harvesting much more efficiently and so forth. However, since Friday became Robinson’s servant rather than his friend, and wouldn’t let his master do any of the hard work, at the end we cannot argue that there were scale efficiency gains.
2) Keynes and Functions of Money:
“And so, on the 19th of December, 1687, we set sail for England. I had been on the island twenty-eight years, two months, and nineteen days. I took on board with me the money that had been by me so long and had been so useless”
When Robinson kept this money I found it extremely curious. That made me think about the intrinsic value of money that Keynes has pointed, and how people valuate money independently of the goods it may buy. However, once Robinson left the island all that gold (money) that he kept made sense, for Keynes has pointed other functions of money, including its role as store of value over time.
3) Brazil, Sugarcane and Tobacco
“By chance I learned that my plantation in Brazil was doing well. The man whom I had left in charge of it had made much money from the tobacco he had raised. He was an honest man, and when he heard that I was still alive he wrote me a long, kind letter (…) he also sent me a large amount of money”
Prior to being cast away on the Island, Robinson lived in Brazil for a short while. Actually, the reason he was cast away was exactly an attempt to buy slaves for his production in Brazil. He bought some land and noticed that it was very fertile and it would be easy to grow sugarcane and tobacco. Twenty-eight years later his predictions were met.
If only economists were as good in predictions as our friend Robinson…
4) Idleness doesn’t suit Protestantism nor Robinson:
“I was now a rich man. I might have settled down to a life of ease and idleness; but such was not my wish. Soon I was wandering from one place to another, seeing much more of the world. I had many surprising adventures, I assure you; but I need not tell you about them. You would think any account of them very dry reading compared with the story I have already related. And so, looking back with regretful memories to the years which I spent on my dear desert island, I bid you a kind good-bye.”