BALTIMORE—After an exhaustive review of financial records from the present back to the cuneiform ledgers of ancient Mesopotamia, economists at Johns Hopkins University released a report Wednesday indicating that human civilization is still many years away from turning a profit.
The report confirmed that humanity, driven by valuable innovations such as agriculture, written language, the Gregorian calendar, transistors, and germ theory, has made great progress toward profitability over the past 10,000 fiscal years, but according to economic experts, its overall operating costs will continue to outstrip its revenue for the foreseeable future.
“Despite its many scientific, artistic, and cultural achievements, the human race has yet to translate its productivity into solid earnings,” said the report’s lead author, Linda Holloway, noting that while humankind’s investment in technologies like movable type and the assembly line have led to increased efficiency, it has often been hamstrung by poor strategic decisions, including poor allocation of resources and chronic underinvestment in training new members. “The domestication of animals and the discovery of electricity have propped up humanity for a long time. If it wants to see a return on its investment, though, it will need to have several hundred strong quarters going forward.”
“Overall, human civilization’s financial outlook has certainly brightened since the Neolithic period,” she continued. “But there have been major setbacks along the way, such as the significant decline in output during the Black Death.”
Similarly, famines, occasional ethnic cleansing, and a number of world wars have repeatedly cut into the labor supply, disrupting markets and continually forcing financial analysts to push back their projections for the species.
By the end of the Iron Age, Holloway observed, advances in toolmaking and the birth of classical philosophy had led to several promising fiscal centuries, spurring hopes that civilization could become a profitable enterprise sooner than expected. However, management turmoil during the fall of the Roman Empire is said to have stifled ingenuity and led to an extended period of reorganization that prevented necessary investment in crucial emerging areas, such as infrastructure and international trade.
“In many ways, humanity still hasn’t recovered from the collapse of colonialism, when it was poised to become very profitable indeed,” said Holloway, explaining that mankind “made a killing” through the mid-20th century but that its exploitation of new assets proved unsustainable. “The abolition of slavery and indentured servitude have also severely hampered profitability, causing labor costs to spiral out of control and pushing off the financial break-even point for humanity by at least a millennium. Whatever the case, human beings need to boost earnings somewhere if they’re ever going to get out of the red.”
“Thankfully, they do have the new iPhone rollout on the horizon next year, so that should be a pretty big boost for them,” she added.