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Conflation of "education" with "lecture" is, at best, questionable pedagogy.
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Pavlos has got it entirely -- bravo. The only thing I would add is that I believe the population of Dwarves was never very large to begin with in the 3rd Age, which suggests their influence would only be very regional.
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Many thanks to gordon for the Middle Earth history outline -- most helpful. I also agree with Frances that the best analogue with respect to the massive injection of specie into an economy is 16thC Spain -- not a pretty picture, really. I am not sure, however, that I buy Smaug's removal of the hoard from circulation as his (?) most significant economic impact. The Dwarves were hoarding most of that gold to begin with -- that's how the treasure got there in the first place. Smaug didn't gather it up and take it out of circulation, it was already there in a gigantic pile. Furthermore, Dwarves don't behave as "rational economic actors" in the way that we pretend human beings do; nor for that matter do Elves, nor Orcs and so on. I am not sure that there is much (other than our mutual amusement, the value of which I rate rather highly) to be gained from the thought experiment unless you pretend that these fantasy beings are more like, than unlike, humans. Back to Smaug -- the destruction of lives and otherwise productive communities is his greatest impact. In that sense, he is not unlike the other nasty creatures that beset Middle Earth around this time (better described in gordon's history than I could match), interdicting communication, travel and trade between the "nicer" elements (Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits and some humans). Now, once Smaug is destroyed and the hoard disbursed, bring on the inflation, eh?
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Jan 3, 2013