Friday, August 31, 2012

Political Analysts Are Worthless

Of course Romney didn't differentiate himself from the former President Bush. Niether did Obama when you look at his actual policies.  Why is it that people continue to lend weight to words, promises, and speeches!  The fact that analysts spend their time analyzing their speeches, which means nothing in regards to how they will govern, other than the policies they actually enacted and supported, a far better indicator of the kind governance substance, just exposes how pointless these hucksters are.

 The older I get the less credibility news political analysts have with their incredible ability to point out the obvious as if it was some keen insight, all the while ignoring the elephant in the room, that differentiating between the GOP and the Democrats is impossible. Substitute out some few key pieces of rhetoric that each party loves to focus on themselves and the parties are really indistinguishable from one another.

This is a long way off when the parties attacked each other for their stance on whether or not money should be gold, to afford monetary stability, or silver, to inflate the currency and help the farmers and homesteaders out west.  There was a real political difference there with real consequences. Today we just have a arguments between the GOP and Democrats on whether we should institute more government or a lot more government.

Shooting Themselves in the Foot

Chicago has lost 100,000 people in the last ten years and it isn't even the worse city in the Great Lakes area.  So why do teachers continue to insist to point a gun at their toes and pull the trigger.  Now to be fair since I know teachers there are plenty that do not want to strike but are forced to because of the Teacher's Union.  The fact however is that after nearly 4 years of less than stellar economic performance people are beginning to be less tolerant of activities such as this.

Cost of Living

While I was thinking about the economic implications of the event, call it the culmination of the decline, I started wondering about standards of living.  It is very obvious to those of us seeing the coming wall that standards of living will drop, how far is the only question at hand.  While thinking about that I started wondering what the equivalent standards of living were.  Visiting this website gave me some idea, though it still left much unanswered.

While incomplete I tabulated a list for each single year out of each decade. I would rather have done a rolling five year average but my day leaves very little time to do number crunching during the weekdays. I found data for home prices, car prices, milk prices, gas prices, and average income.  Now the first thing I will say is that these numbers can vary quite a bit so some skepticism is warranted. The other is that the data shown obviously doesn't include the change from a household being supported by a single person to one that is supported by two individuals.  There is a lot of data that can, and needs to be collected, to really do a thorough assessment on our quality of living then versus now, but it serves as a useful starting ground.

The first chart shoes the nominal price of a home, a car, and wages for each respective year.

The second chart shows listed nominal prices for milk, to cover staples, and gas, covering energy requirements.

These next two charts show the equivalent price today assuming an average inflation rate of around 3%; note the home, car and wages equivalents were taken directly from the website.

What is interesting is that looking at this data absolute wages have increased since 1951.  But the cost of goods have risen as well.  Cars prices were relatively stable from 1971 to 1991, but dramatically increased in price after 2001.  The same thing can be said of homes.

What isn't surprising though is that the incomes as a percentage of homes have remained relatively constant.  Everyone is familiar with the first rule of real estate, location, location, location; however, few recognize the second rule.  The second rule is that the price of real estate cannot be priced more than expected earnings if it wishes to sell, in commercial real estate, and for residential real estate, the property cannot be priced outside of the ability of a person to pay for it. This explains why, excluding the missing bubble years, from 1981 to 2011 that incomes have average around 19% of the price of a home.

This next chart shows the percentage of yearly income a gallon of gas and a gallon of milk are.

More than anything it confirms the notion that there is too little data present  to come to a hard conclusion about the standards of living, in a purely fiscal sense, from 1951 to now.  Due to improvements in agriculture and husbandry the cost of milk is as low now as it was in 1961 when you look at it as a percentage of income.  While the cost of gasoline has increased, though not to the high of 1981.  This seems to suggest that standard of living has been pretty constant in a purely monetary sense. Meaning technological improvements are the result for the increase in the quality of life we enjoy today.

Now there are some obvious holes. Firstly, there is the fact that we are taking a single, very limited, snapshot of a single year every decade.  A lot more data needs to be collected before any real confident conclusion could be made due to that reason alone.  The other is that the data ignores the drastic changes that have resulted to help maintain household incomes were they are.  In 1951 a single man could support his family; today, both parents probably work.  And lastly, this data in no way accounts for the durability of goods manufactured then versus today. Dishwashers, Fridges, Cars, Clothing, etc were far more robust in 1951 than they are today.  America is awash in a consumer culture that throws away goods as fast as they are made.

What I will venture to say is that if this data shows the same trends and results in a more thorough and expansive study then it would suggest that an Americans ability to provide a middle class lifestyle is little improved from 1951.  Yes aspect of our lives are better, the cars are cooler, we have technology devices such as computers and smart phones, and consumers have far more choice. But some of the core items have remained relatively unchanged when compared to our incomes.  This suggests the coming event will be painful indeed. Yes we will still have our cool gadgets, and technology will help ameliorate the pain, but certain core items are going to become more prohibitively expensive if incomes drop significantly.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Is Our Infrastructure Really That Bad?

Necessary? I don't know.
Cool? You bet your ass.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has given our country a pretty dismal score when it comes to our nations infrastructure. When the world's foremost super power cannot even muster a passing grade then it is a sign of a real serious malaise in this country. Or is it?

One thing that bothers me about this score is that the American Society of Civil Engineers aren't exactly an impartial body.  Continued investment in infrastructure, roads, power lines, rail, water, electric, and so on, is in their best interest.  I am not suggesting they are intentionally scoring America lower in order to drum up more government funds towards projects that would directly benefit them. Rather that they are more likely to say more money is needed than not.  There is a obvious conflict of interest.

The other is when they score our drinking water at a D -.  Frankly, I find this absurd and laughable. I have traveled the world and America is one of the few countries that it is safe to drink the tap water.  In all my life I have never heard about, read about, or seen anyone get sick from drinking tap water. In todays alarmist news climate there is no way that people getting sick from our drinking water would go unnoticed.  This alone made me begin to question the rest of the report.

The other is, as Charles Lane points out, that when the US is ranked lower than Barbados when it comes to Infrastructure, or when Guatemala is ranked higher than Italy, you really have to question the veracity of such reports as a whole.  I've been to Guatemala and Italy, and I can tell you from first hand experience, there is no comparison. Italy has an infrastructure that is better by many magnitudes than Guatemala.

This isn't to say that America's infrastructure isn't in need of upgrading, repair, and replacement. Increasing brown and black outs in this country suggest otherwise.  Moreover much of our infrastructure was completed around 50 year ago, about the time for structural obsolescence for these items baring major revisions over the years.  But when I hear claims that our infrastructure is on the verge of failing, which outside my major metropolitan area I have never seen any evidence of anything but well maintained and cared for roads, power lines, and rail in my neck of the country, so I have to wonder if this is true; or if there is some hyperbole going on.  Perhaps those with extensive cross country traveling experience, *ahem* Captain, would like to make their own observations on the state of our infrastructure.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Collapse: Geopolitical Perspective

What will the collapse look like? That has been something that has nestled itself within the crevices of my mind for some time now. Listening to some of the opinions out there it will be a massive civilization catastrophe, others predict chaos and even potential famineStill other's have simply said that it will be a long, slow, and painful decline. I have always thought that crisis would affect us in three ways.  First there are the global geopolitical implications, and then there are the economic implications, and finally the sociological implications.  The economic implications are the most written about and perhaps the best conceptualized; we know there will be massive drop in wealth. Sociological issues have been written about as well.  The one aspect that the ‘event’, as I a call it, that hasn’t been really written about in detail is the geopolitical.  Most we hear short phrases about an end of the empire or hegemony.  But I think there is a little more to it than that.

I haven’t made my opinions on the end of the American empire unclear. I simply don’t think it will happen. The US has tremendous advantages in geographical, military hardware, and resources that even an event like this won’t fundamentally change that.  When the Roman Empire withered and collapsed the anarchy that ensued over the next couple of centuries, the dark ages, resulted because the empire had totally collapsed and there was a power vacuum within Western Europe.  There are some individuals that predict the US will utterly dissolve, however, this opinion is in the minority. Given that the US will most likely remain politically intact, albeit in a weaker state, we cannot assume that it will collapse the same way as the Romans did. The other argument for the collapse of American hegemony is that America will go the way of the European powers before it during the last major economic and geopolitical event.

The last time the world underwent a combined economic and geopolitical event was over 80 years ago during the 1930s and 1940s.  We all know the specifics about the depression and World War two, but many do not know that these series of events were a long time coming.  Event’s over the past couple of decades, in fact since the 1860’s and 1870s, lead up to this moment.

Ever since Europe become the axis of world trade and focus in the late 16th century; European powers jostled for both world and continental dominance.  Powers were able to obtain one, but never the other, France may have dominated Europe at the turn of the 19th century, however, they could not overcome the British and their control of the seas.  At this point in time Europe effectively controlled the world, and had done so for a few hundred years either directly via colonies or indirectly through diplomatic, economic, and political means.  Of the powers during this lengthy stretch of European global dominion Great Britain was most powerful.

  It’s status as an island, and location, helped ensure that it maintained global control of the seas. Coupled with their technological advantage over non-European nations and it ensured their status as the global sea super power, however, on continental Europe it was merely a very strong power among other equally strong and technologically advanced nations. The United Kingdom simply lacked the ability to directly or indirectly control European political in the way a true hegemon could, though it could play the political game deftly and use alliances to isolate strong European powers within the continent itself.

This is what happened to France during the 19th century.  Much of Europe was embroiled in a series of protracted wars and battles between France, and her client nations, and the United Kingdom, and her allies.  France steam rolled over much of continental Europe, however, was unable to fully secure the continent which allowed the UK to us her naval ability, along with ample ground support from the German kingdoms, duchies, and Italian kingdoms to eventually crush France.  Like the two wars that would come over a 100 years later they were bloody and terrible affairs, leaving many a European nation heavily indebted and nearly crippled.  However, there was no power else were in the world that could challenge the Europeans and so European dominion continued.  However events transpired to change this, the first was the conclusion of the civil war in America in 1860s, and the second was the unification of the German pretty kingdoms into the 2nd reich in 1870s.


The reason why the end of the American civil war was important because the United States had entered the war as a fractious nation hovering near dissolution, as it had been since its founding, to a strongly unified and industrial power.  The US rapidly developed and expanded west ward acquiring new resources and developing strength that would allow it to challenge, and eventually enforce, the Monroe doctrine.  What individuals have to remember is that had the war gone very differently then America probably would never have become the super power she is today.

And the war could have gone very differently, much like the French nearly a hundred years before; the British were weighing the political costs of entering the war on the side of the rebels.  If the UK had done so then the blockade of the southern states, along with the occupation of New Orleans, might not have happened.  At this time the United Kingdom was far more powerful than the US when it came to naval capability.  However, the British feared that risking war with the United States would risk losing Canada to the superior ground forces of America, but even more importantly, tie up the British navy so much that they would risk ceding control of other parts of the world to rival European powers.

Since Great Britain decided not to intervene in the War Between the States, and since it ended in decisive victory for the federal forces. The greatest source of contention and weakness that the US had was eliminated, which allowed the US to focus on developing itself economically and military over the coming decades.  By 1871, scarcely 7 years after the end of the civil war the US had become the world’s largest economy. And by the end of the 19th century the US was formally acknowledge as a great power with large naval stakes in the pacific; though not quite an equal to the United Kingdom.


The other important event was the UK’s inability to contain the rise of Germany the same way they had been able to contain France.  The rise of Germany, and its historically geographically precarious position, ensured that a major and bloody war would result in the continent once again.

Germany had historically been a fragmented series of kingdoms, duchies, principalities, and free states since the fall of the Roman Empire and the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire, known in Germany as the first reich.  This meant that while the Holy Roman Empire was large and a dangerous power when internal factions cooperated, the political entity was never able to wield the strength that its size and wealth would suggest that it could. Moreover, geography contributed to the weakness of the German peoples when it came to trying to maintain political unity.  However, even after unification, which greatly enhanced German power, their nation was left in a position that was not desirable.

Whenever you get a rising power, or established power, that is in a position of uncertainly, conflict will ensue. This is precisely why Imperial Japan, a rising power in the pacific, attacked the United States, an established pacific power. Imperial Japan was a newly crowned great power in the world, however, its island nature and the need to import much needed resources, made them vulnerable to other sea faring powers, such as Great Britain and the United States.  When the US placed an embargo on Japan for their actions in China it set in motion a chain of events.  Japan needed the additional land and manpower of China to continue their economic and imperial growth.  However, it could not continue the war without oil, the US supplied 90% of it to the Island Empire at the time, and with the embargo the only other source was the East Indies, controlled by the Dutch and Great Britain. Since Japan viewed expansion into China as a necessity it should come as no surprise that the war broke out between the two nations.

For Germany that impetus was the vulnerable geographic position that their nation existed in. The northern portion of Germany sits on the Northern European Plain. Which stretches from the Bay of Biscany in France all the way to the steppes of Russia.  This means there are little in they way of natural barriers, specifically mountains or large bodies of water, on which the Germans could anchor their nation and secure their power.  That means that rather than hard defenses situated around terrain buffer zones, either by directly controlling adjacent lands, or through the use of buffer states under their dominion, is Germany's best defense. Moreover with the militarily powerful France adjacently to its west, and Russia separated only by a few weak Eastern European nations, to the East, it is easy to see the uncomfortable position the newly risen Germany was in. Moreover, Germany was also in the unfortunate position of being easily blockaded by the great naval power at the time. No matter how economically prosperous their nation may be, they were always at risk because of their geographic position in the European continent.  However, while the Great Northern European Plain made Germany vulnerable to invasion, it also made other nations vulnerable to Germany.
World War I, in my opinion, was inevitable, and while World War II was not, the policies enforced by the allies, over the objections of President Wilson, ensured that another war would eventually erupt, knowledge of how the first war ended shows clear signs that the fundemental issues that started World War I were not solved.  These two massive wars sucked the life blood out of the Great British empire, who without the buffer of Western European nations that were now under German dominion during Wolrd War II, were unable to exercise an adequate defense of her dominions from the Imperial Japanese.  Everyone knows that Great Britain bleed and paid dearly to ward of Nazi domination over Europe, and perhapes the western world; but what few realize is that the price paid was also the loss of global empire.  If World War II had not happened then Great Britain might have beeen able to reorganize and revitalize it's empire. Unfortunately for the British, the war did happen.
The after affects of the rise of an industrial America and a politically unified German came to fruition interestingly enough at Germany's final defeat.  Though Germany was torn asunder by the Allied powers following up to the Cold War.  The other European powers were too weak to take full advantage of the situation.  Yes the Soviet Union made a made grab for Eastern Europe, but outside of the Warshaw Pact, and the sort lived alliance with the Chinese, the USSR was badly hemmed in and in a very undesirable position, having limited access to the pacific due to the rough terrain of Siberia and being easily blockaded in the west.  Contrast this to the United States, which enjoyed unfettered access after the war, controling both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, but also a massive industrial base untouched by the war, and it is easy to see why the US not only took over Great Britain's role as the leader of major powers, but surpassed it to become the most powerful super power in modern times; and at the end of the cold war, the only superpower.
This leads me to my original point.  Knowing how the last event turned, and what brought about the end of the old global order, we need to ask what would replace the United States as the primary power in the world? The most often powers I hear of are the European Union, China and India.

First we need to examine what will happen to the United States.  The last time a super power completely collapsed it was catastrophic.  When the USSR collapsed it lost almost 72% of its GDP from 1989 to 1992, falling from 2.5 Trillion to 700 Billion.  This was partially caused by the loss of its many internal republics when they declared independence.  This was also because their economy, with the loss of revenue from those republics, could no longer pay for the machinery that had kept the regime alive.  As bad as the event will be, I have never heard anyone postulate a drop of GDP from 14 Trillion to a 3.9 Trillion dollars; which would essentially be a reversal to 1984.  The collapse was particularly bad for the Russians because they were already relatively poor, have a harder time with economic development, and nearly a century of being run by an absolutely morally corrupted system.  Fortunately for the United State's we have not had this, though our situation has degraded.

Knowing this it can also be assumed that our military will not completely self destruct like the Soviet Unions did.  Even assuming we halve our defense spending it doesn't mean that we still cannot maintain a significant military presence in the world.  US military spending was 300 billion dollars in 2000, which was enough to maintain 12 fleets and a massive military.  If our two wars had never happened, then the same military force would cost us 420 billion counting for inflation. So even doing some paper napkin math, and assuming defense spending was halve to around 350 billion, then we see that we could maintain a force 82% the size of what we have now.

Now this is very simplistic.  But the fact is that there are few global powers today, and in fact having a single carrier force counts you as a major military power in the world.  The US has twelve carrier forces, and it is the only one nation with a truly global positioning network system.  Even with a force half the size it is now the US would still be the most powerful nation militarily in the world.  Now on to our potential successors.
Little needs to be said about the European Union other than that the economic crisis has exposed how weak the union actually is.  There is absolutely no chance that the European Union will be able, or even willing, to take the mantle of super power from the United States after the event has occurred.
I have detailed China quite a bit on this blot. But to summarize their nation is still incredibly impoverished, there is massive social instability, and they are beginning to go through their own economic crisis.  That is not the recipe of a nation that will take over the reigns as leader of the world. And while China does hold a lot of US treasury bills, it simply can't make America pay. The Chinese know they have the raw end of the deal but their own situation forces them to continue to play a game stacked against them. And that fact that I can personally attest to the increasing levels of Chinese millionaires seeking EB-5 investment visas doesn't bode well. Millionaires don't leave a country whose future is bright.
India also has massive poverty and instability; though they do benefit from being a democracy.  However, India has been a perennially rising power whose moment is sure to come, and it hasn't come yet.  This could change, and probably will, but given that their nation will also be hit hard by a global economic crisis I don't see them taking over the United States mantle.
Moreover, when the United States replaced great Britain it had a very large, modern, well trained, and experienced military, particularly the Navy; which is required for a global super power. China and India do not.  Though they are in the process of modernizing their military they are much farther behind the United States now than the United States was behind Great Britain over a century  ago.
This gets to my final point. Even though the United States will be hit hard every other nation in the world will also face extreme hardship.  Perhaps one of the advantages of being at the top of the global geopolitical and economic spectrum is that, when it collapses, you have a mound of other nations to fall on top of.  The US has already exploited its position by exporting inflation to other nations and causing social instability elsewhere in the world in order to minimize unrest at home.  Nations do not play fair in the game of geopolitics and it would be unrealistic to think that the United States, as a geopolitical entity, will not do everything in its power to maintain its status as king of the hill.
If anything the USSR has shown us that even a nation that is terribly corrupt, poor, and falling apart internally can be a super power; at least for a period of time.  And at the moment, outside of well run smaller European nations like Switzerland or city states like Singapore, there isn't a nation that is much better, and many are arguably worse, than the US when it comes to corruption and a rotten societal culture.
In the long term this may, and has a decent likelihood, of changing. Forty years from now the geopolitical landscape will have greatly changed. Perhaps Mexico will overcome its systemic corruption to become a rival of the United States.  Maybe Turkey will become strong enough to effectively control the Middle East and North Africa much in the same way the Caliphates had hundreds of years ago.  This could come to pass. But that is far in the future.  
In the near term what I expect to see is a much weakened United States that remains the global power super power; however without the ability to use its status as world's currency reserve holder, to enforce its desires on the world. I also expect to see increasing resistance to American power due to the coming sovereign debt crisis.  This will curb her hegemonic control, but I still don't see any one nation, or any group of nations for that matter due to increasing nationalism, coming in to fill the vacuum.  
Now for the average American this won't mean much outside of the occasional forum flame war or talking head rant. The fact is that much of what happens outside of the United States has little bearing, at least to most Americans, on their daily lives. Whether or not Syria is controlled by Assad, or if China could someday counteract the US, doesn't matter to average Americans.  So even if America remains a super power, or the lone super power, after the 'event' it will have little bearing on what will happen to the standard of living that average Americans will have.  Segue to the economic impacts of the event.

Credit Were Credit Is Due

Even ten years ago instances like this would never have been reported on.  And while it is not headlining news the fact that this was on the front page of this news website, and that it was reported on without the tradition alarmist embellishment should be noted.

Admist Euro Collapse Alternative Currencies Appear In Spain

It doesn't have to be gold or silver, though I would argue that they are the truest form of money, it can be anything.  In the end when money is suppossed to be a representation of the time it took to do a job and the value of our time.  And many Spanish towns are doing just that, creating alternative currencies based on hours or whatever metric they deem sufficent.  Mr. Bernanke and the FED should take note of this as it has even started springing up here in the good ol'
 US of A.

Personally I would be a little hesitant to accept a communitys script since it would be hard to exchange it with businesses and organizaitons outside said community.  Though that could admittedly change as in the 19th century local cities and banks issued their own 'dollars' with their own exchange rates to other competing currencies.  But until that happens I'll accept the greenback, while secretly wishing I was paid in silver or gold.

Monday, August 27, 2012

South American Fertility Rates

For those of you who still are hesitant to believe my piece about the very real danger of depopulation just take a look at the graph below. 

Even relatively poor nations such as Peru has seen a massive decline in their fertility rate since 1960 going from almost 7 children per couple to somewhere around 2.7 today.  A few nations such as Uraguay Brazil, and Chile.  Now Chile, according to the HDI, could be considered a developed nation.  Brazil and Uraguay would be an nearly developed nation.  However, considering that Cuba, Venezuela, and Kazakhstan count as high developed nations that tells you there is still a gulf between them and other nations developed nations.

But what this shows us, as explained by Stratfor, is that before the end of the next century the population levels of South America will begin to decline.  A declining population puts a tremendous strain on developed nations, economically, and socially, as Japan is finding out. Since an undeveloped nation has not faced this dilemma yet it is unclear what will happen to that nation when the time comes. Much of South of America may be developed by 2060, however, the current crisis, and coming event, could put a damper in develop, one only need to look at the poor choices of Argentina over the last century; which took it from one of the most prosperous nations in the world in the early 20th century to the mess it is in today. Considering the historic leftwing tilt the South American nations take whenever economic troubles hit I am somewhat skeptical that they will be fully developed in time.

What is interesting is that this phenomena is that outside of Africa and Central America, South America is the fastest growing continent population wise. North America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia all have birth rates an average that are at or just below replacement rate. Just play around with this chart.  

A lot of individuals focus on statistics of past growth rates to try and postulate the danger we face from overpopulation.  However, those are merely lagging indicators.  Just because the worlds population tippled from the early 20th century to now doesn't mean that this rate of growth will continue.  Looking at fertility rate trends tells us a whole lot more on where we are going.  And the trend shows that the human population will have peaked before the end of this century. Many population alarmist will say that this is a good thing, and to be fair a fertility rate of 2.5 is probably a whole lot healthier than one of 4 or 5, but there have been plenty of documented instances of population declines. As I have detailed before they are invariably catastrophic.

What Will the Collapse Look Like?

I was musing over what the world and the country would look like after the collapse last night. There are a lot of different ideas on what will occur, and I will through my own two cents as well. But before I do a regular post on what I thought about. I think one city in paticular gives us a glimps into the world after the fall of the old economic system, and that city is Chicago.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

News: Chinese Inventory at Record Highs

Not Exactly Just in Time Inventory
The title says it all, despite the efforts of the central government, it is getting harder and harder to ignore the truth when inventories of businesses are at record highs.  Inventories of new cars alone more than doubled from December to June.  Just more evidence that the global correction is coming.  Enjoy your weekend and plan for what comes next.

Friday, August 24, 2012


I read this article today and I found it interesting because while they touch upon some of the core reasons why millennials aren't buying homes and cars it goes into the usual spiel about millenials being an urban generation that wants to live in the city.  As a millennial I can tell you this isn't exactly true, while millenials do live in the city it's not because we (in the royal sense) disdain suburbs in the way New Urbanists would disdain the suburbs. It's simply because cities are were all the partying action is, and because suburbs are the domain of families.  Every single friend I have that I spoke to said that the first thing they would do when they finally get decided to get married, and have kids, they would get out of the city and move into a nice, safe, and quiet suburban city.  The reason why more millennial are staying in the city is simply because marriage comes at a later date than it had in years past.

The fact is, all this talk about lower consumption and sharing of resources, which misses a major mark.  While there are a subset of people who want to do this, and this means use zip car, shop at thrift stores, and live in an urban village, the majority of us are forced into this situation by necessity not choice.  The fact is that if consumption goods were manufactured like they used to be, not as a disposable consumption item, and millenials developed some technical know how then we would be living lifestyles closure to that of our grandparents than this strange existence we have now, which is really just a different form of consumption.

But despite the attempts to look at the positive aspects of whats going on the simple fact is that millenials aren't buying houses and cars are because we can't afford them.  Even if a millennial can get a job that isn't a BBW (Bartending, Barista, Waiter) job then the pay isn't close enough to fund a lifestyle that would have been normal in later years.  For example, I have a friend that recently got full time job, after working as a contract worker for almost two years, that didn't even crack $ 40,000.  Now I know there are some people out there who live in rural or lost cost areas that would think this salary is a pretty good sum.  But in an urban area with a high cost of living, studio apartments average around a cool grand, and the realities of taxes and student loans the income isn't sufficient enough to support a lifestyle of buying new cars and new homes.  Yes this person will be able to make enough to live, have some fun, and save a little after student loans have been taken care of; but the simple fact is that the YUPPIE as we used to conceive of it, is simply no more.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

If You Only Ever Paid Attention to Major News Networks You'd Never Know...

That the left has it's own share of crazed gun men willing to inflict violence on others.  One could argue that  the reason why this incident isn't major news was that only one man was shot, and thankfully not killed, but frankly many individuals are doubtful that its just that.* 

*It is only fair that I note that dozens of LBGT groups disavowed and condemmed the act of violence against their political opponents.

News: Unemployment claims take a surprise jump

This is only a surprise if you actually think government unemployment statistics reflect reality.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mouse Dystopia and New Urbanism

Mega-City One
Not to long ago I posted about the fallacy of Malthusians over population fears. Stares at the world posted a very fascinating study that has stuck in my mind for a little while now.  Now  I must state that I do not agree with Calhoun's fears on overpopulation or that the study translates well very the growing, for now, human population.  That doesn't mean that the earth cannot get overpopulated by humanity, it can, but technological advancement has been able to avoid the over population scenario.  Moreover, while mice are social animals, human beings take it to a greater degree, which helps ameliorate, though not negate, the negative effects of overly large populations being in a smaller area.  That being said I am cognizant of the negative effects of having to many human beings in too small an area.  I mention in my earlier post that we could fit humanity in the area the size of Texas, but that doesn't mean I consider such a scenario as optimal, far from it.

I find the study very interesting, especially from a sociological perspective, and what it means for human beings.  Mr. Calhoun had constructed a veritable paradise for these mice, and while overpopulation did occur, the effects we see socially with these animals are disturbing.  In some ways it was a veritable Jules Verne tale to of the Time Machine.  The mice, living in conditions wholly outside of what could be found in nature, gradually self destructed.

 I wanted to focus on another aspect, or even unintentional consequence, of the Malthusian movement.  That is the New Urbanism movement, which many Malthusians advocate, that has been gaining traction with academics, activist, and even developers over the decades. One of the stated goals of new urbanism is to create very dense cities to minimize the environmental impact that human beings have on their environment. In short, New Urbanism is a refutation of the earlier few that cities were destructive and harmful environments for human beings by seeking to create cities that emulated the countryside.

During the late 19th and early 20th century it wasn't uncommon for city planners or businessmen enormous wealth to try and design cities that echoed the countryside, this general movement is now known as the city beautiful movement.  And even though it was extremely popular for a short period of time, for many decades if not centuries, civic leaders tried to offset the 'unnatural' conditions of the city with the healthier and more 'natural' conditions of nature.  These Thoreauean proponents no doubt idealized nature beyond reason, but they understood that cramming human beings together into small spaces was contrary to their heath.

Naturally New Urbanism, which first grew from the writings of Jane Jacobs, and ironically advocated bottom up city planning versus the top down planning that usually occurred, has become the darling of city planners and progressives everywhere.  Even in my own city the civic leadership is trying to enforce this urban village concept by making cars more prohibitively expensive to park and spending more municipal funds on public transit.  Moreover more and more municipalities are trying to limit urban sprawl via expansion restrictions.  This effectively halts horizontal expansion and forces cities to develop upwards, raising the price of rents, and acting as an informal and loose kind of rent control.

The decreased availability of space makes living in the city that much more expensive and it would be interesting to see the crime rates of cities by density. I would expect there to be a positive correlation to crime rate and the density of a city.  Space was one of the main drivers for mice because of the males territoriality.  Now human beings aren't quite as territorial as mice, Singapore has a population density of 19,000 people per square mile and the crime in that city state is very low, there  however, if we think of territory as a form of currency then the analogy becomes more apt in my opinion.

Male mice need territory to attract females for reproduction.  The larger their territoriality the better they are able to provide for their mates and their young, as a larger territory would have more resources available to that mouse.  This In that sense territory is a form of wealth.  As more and more mice inhabited a finite space, the ability of a mouse to acquire sufficient 'wealth' decreased to the point where it was no longer worth the activity; causing the majority of males from forgoing the activity.

For human beings replace territory with wealth and we have the same phenomena.  As it becomes harder for men to secure the resources needed to attract women, and I have spoken to many women who do consider how much a man makes or his future earning potential. the more likely it is for the men to drop out.  This isn't even a conscious decision, rather, it is an unconscious one born out a growing frat boy and video game culture.  Now this isn't the only reason why men as a whole have elected not to participate in the sexual market place, there are many reasons, but it is one.

When cities, or even counties, actively work against suburban and exurban growth it eliminates the ability for those on the lower rungs of the economic spectrum to grow their wealth. The American, and Canadian, west was built by these very men, often poor and on the lowest social rungs, striking out west to make their fortune and start their businesses. It is far easier to build and operate industries and businesses in the outskirts were land is cheaper than in the heart of a city.  However, the current crop of urban planners and civic activists frown upon business and industrial parks despite the economic advantages it offers to those starting new businesses.

This could even be taken down to more micro-levels where municipalities actively discourage certain businesses that are run out of the home, home salons and home restaurants come to mind.  And the reason why municipalities do this isn't out of malice but necessity.  Human beings, as a whole, if given the option do not won't to live in crowded cities and nor do they want to live in the exurbs; there is a reason why suburban and smaller urban areas continue to be popular, despite the rhetoric of many New Urbanists, and the only way to ensure that sufficient infill to meet city development is to create restrictions even if only de facto. For example my own city moved to toll the two bridges that connect our major municipal center to many of our growing suburban cities.  While the tolls are meant to pay for new mass transit they also have the effect of making it more economically difficult to live in the suburbs and work in the city.

This is all in a misguided, in my opinion, attempt to increase urban density.  These efforts create the same sort of problems that these are trying to solve, in my opinion because they try to force an economy that have a large demand. And ultimately these efforts will fall, because short of institution Chinese style residency laws, individuals will move to were life is safer, affordable, economically vibrant, and more space. There is a reason why many urban cities have seen much smaller, and sometimes even negative, growth rates relative to surrounding suburban or rural urban areas. And fortunately we do not have Chinese residency laws restricting the freedom of movement, because if we did, and individuals were forced to live in over crowded and economically stagnant cities then Mr. Calhouns mouse dystopia.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In Jail Even Though Declared Innocent

It is a unfortunate when an innocent man is convicted and sent to prison; but the world being as it is, murky and unclear, you can see why this would happen occasionally. However, when a wrongfully convicted man is ruled as innocent but then allowed to rot in jail for years on a legal technicality? Forget immigration, this is how you really know that our society is going down the tubes.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Paul Ryan Selected As Romney's VP Candidate. And This Makes No Difference To Me

I know that the circle of blogs that I frequent have differing opinions about Ryan's selection by Romney. To be frank, I am surprised at the level of excitement. I myself cannot muster the same amount of excitement that I have read about.  The fact is, I wasn't planning on voting for Romney and Ryan's selection has not changed this plan one iota. Bear with me as  I explain why.

Ever since my brief stint as a delegate in my congressional district for the republican presidential primaries I have intentionally not paid attention to the presidential race. It was a blissful period that has been temporarily suspended with the news that Mitt Romney has selected Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee. Some of my republican coworkers, my family, and even some bloggers I follow are ecstatic, or at the very least optimistic, about the selection of Paul Ryan.  I can see why it galvanizes many republicans.  But the fact is that I am not going to vote for the Romney Ryan ticket.  Here is why.

For most individuals who believe themselves conservatives Paul Ryan is a strict budget hawk.  However, for true fiscal conservatives his plan is severely underwhelming.  Even if his plan was followed to the letter, and assuming our economic growth was in line with his plans projections, then after ten years we would still be running a 287 billion dollar deficit.  This means that for over ten years we would be added to our national debt by about 4 trillion dollars.

And let us not forget the absurdity of doing budgets over the course of ten years.  There is no way to forecast economic growth or even anticipate the fiscal prudence of multiple administrations. How long did the last balanced budget, that only exist on paper, last? Moreover, to add salt to the wound, he projects an increase in the governments share of our GDP from where it stands now.  Yes his plan is better than Obama's, but that is hardly a tough criteria to beat.  I am tired of half and partial measures when real action is necessary. If you really care about fiscally responsible government then Paul Ryan, compared to fiscal heavy weights like Ron Paul, and his son Rand Paul, is a relative light weight.

Many other libertarians or peace minded conservatives will take umbrage with Paul Ryan's stronger stance on defense.  That doesn't bother me. Not because our current defense spending is unsustainable, it is, but because I recognize that there is little change that can be done.  While Ron Paul spoke of closing all, or rather most, of America's overseas bases, ending foreign involvement via funding and secret dealings; I knew that even if he were president he would be able to accomplish very little of that goal.

The other reason why I am less than enthused is, that despite the fact that he is among a small group of republican party members I actually like, he did after all try to put together a plan when so many other so called conservative congressmen didn't even bother, he will most likely have little impact in the Romney administration.  Dick Chaney's vice-presidency is an anomaly in what otherwise is a very weak office whose influence is minimal at best. The vice-presidency is more useful as a springboard to the presidency, 5 presidents since the 1930's were once vice presidents, than an actual office from which policy can dictated and shaped.  Romney's selection of Ryan is simply a move, an admittedly shrewd one, to galvanize enthusiasm for a campaign that needs it if they are to face Obama. And if you vote for Romney based off of your expecations of Ryans roll in the administration, then I think you will end up being disappointed.

The final reason has little to do with Ryan or Romney and more to do with the party in general.  The republican party has shown that they are completely unable to exercise any sort of real fiscal conservatism, or any sort of conservatism in general, outside of mere plattitudes and promises.  The GOPs actions these last few years has shown that the tea partys' affect has been minimal.  If it had, then the the GOP would never had the gall to try and pass their pitiful budget plan and the presidential primary would have been a little bit different.

Ron Paul's candidacy was always a long shot, and I never expected him to win the nomination, but I did expect him to have a strong showing.  And the fact is that he did have a strong showing, and indeed it would have been stronger if it weren't for the party malfeasance during the primaries.  Now I need to make this clear, I am not pulling this out of my rear, I saw this ill-doing and vote scheming in action as I was selected to be a delegate and represent my district for the next round of voting before the state delegate selection.

The party actively did all it could to make sure that anyone they suspected of being a delegate in the camp of Dr. Paul would not be able to attend.  I received numerous messages from our district leaders about how dates and locations had changed, when in fact they had not.  Moreover, at the district convention itself, the chairperson tried to game the system, and if it weren't for a mass revolt by the delegates, Paul supporter, Romney supporters, and others, then the caucus leaders would have completely shut out all the Ron Paul supporters.

I was utterly disgusted by the spectacle that I saws and realized that the GOP had not learned it's lesson and has become utterly corrupted even at the lower levels.  Whether you agree with Dr. Paul or not, the fact is that he espouses the views for a not so insignificant portion of the republican party, and of the nation as a whole. There have been many instances like this, the Goldwater movement, the Reagan election, Ross Perot's third party bid, the electoral revolution of 94, and the tea party movement.  And the one thing I have noticed with these movements is that the libertarian wing of it has gotten stronger with each incarnation. I remember that at our little convention that even some delegate veterans were astounded by not only the youths that showed up for Dr. Paul, but minorities as well.  And the fact that the GOP party treated the man and his supporters the way that they did has shown that they are, not only willing to risk future losses for short term games, but also incapable of seeing which way the wind is blowing.  The libertarian wing is growing, and it utterly confounds me that a party that often argues the need for cooperation between conservatives and libertarians did everything in their power to make libertarians want even less to do with the party. Now more than ever real conservative principals are not only seen as viable, but increasingly popular amongst large swaths of America.

This alone makes me to not want to vote for the GOP candidate simply as a giant 'screw you' to a party that has long since stopped caring about true conservative principals.  I could care less who occupies the office of president, be he democrat or republican, as long as good sound long term policies are implemented.  The GOPs pitiful 100 billion dollar spending cut pledge shows that the party cannot do this.  However, there is a growing minority that remembers what true republican, the idea not the party, virtue is within the GOP. And that is the final reason why I am not voting for Romney.

A lot of bloggers on the manosphere have wrote about the coming economic correction, or what I think of as the final chapter in the depression we are currently in.  This final chapter, if it were to happen, will have long term socioeconomic and political ramifications and I have become convinced that this event cannot be avoided. Even the election of Ron Paul as president probably could not have avoided this even, though the even would certainly be less painful. And I am now thinking about what comes after.  I see two scenarios playing out.  Either we recollect and reorganize ourselves along more republican style principals, or we continue down the path of statism, and true imperialism. The Great Depression was the kind of even that drastically, and fundamentally, altered the nation. It resulted in a government that further strengthened and accelerated the movement towards socialist styled policies that began at the turn of the 19th century.

I do not see how this event, the final chapter in economic collapse, cannot happen by 2016.  We've been in global economic turmoil for over half a decade and the pot continues to boil. It has to boil over, and when it does believe me it matters who is in charge. Because if the democrats are in charge then there is no way they cannot shift the blame away from their socialist policies. Yes they will blame a likely republican controlled congress, but I expect those attempts to fail. However, if Romney is in charge then you will hear no end to how it was a lack of government, no matter how false, that caused this collapse. 

If that is the case, then expect to see an even stronger shift towards populism and authoritative government, like what we have seen in Europe and Latin America.  We have seen how that story ends, and it doesn't end well.

I recognize that there are individuals who will disagree with my decision to not vote for Romney because it will benefit Obama.  Believe me it is not easy considering the disaster that I think a second term will be. But the fact is I am thinking about the longer term consequences and I don't want to inadvertently hurt the long term movement towards a return to true American principals for the sake of some perceived short term gain.  And having participated in two presidential elections already I know this to be true. Voting for someone simply because they are republican and hoping that they will implement real conservative policies is wishful naivete. Just look out how former President Bush's presidency turned out, he usurped the free market in order to save it in his own words.  Never again.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Is South Africa Becoming Increasingly Racially Radicalized?

My girlfriend forwarded this disturbing report today in an instance where South African police fired into a crowd of striking workers, killing 18.  Even more disturbing than an instance of police violence on its citizens is that the striking workers were armed with machetes, apparently this strike has already gone violent in some respects.

The fact that workers, in a country that has long had to deal with poverty for much of its citizens, are becoming more vocally radical isn't too unexpected, though not reassuring.  What really bothers me is that I detected the beginnings of what could become unrest that is more race based.
“N.U.M. is working with the white people and getting money. They forgot about the workers"
I don't expect the old wounds of apartheid South Africa to have healed in only twenty years. But the fact that there are protesters wielding machetes and that some of them specifically mention race, well, that might be a harbinger of things to come. Though I certainly hope that it isn't the case.

Spain's Robin Hood

This is what happens when you follow the socialist route. Since it is fundamentally unsustainable you eventually open yourself up to politicians with a flair for the theatrical, ability to use populism to further their appeal, along with the willingness to break the law. I give you Spain's Robin Hood mayor.  This is troublesome because the man is obviously playing to certain elements; you think his Castro style beard is just a coincidence?

What he is doing is a classic populist playbook to garner support from elements of society that probably most depend on the government dole.  However, the mayor doesn't consider, or more than likely doesn't care to consider, the long term implications of such an action.  It isn't the grocer or the supermarket that causes the price spikes or makes it difficult for the poor to afford food; though I highly doubt people are really starving in Spain.

But mark my words, this man is dangerous because he is willing to use his immunity to break the law, and he is obviously gunning for bigger and better things. It wasn't too long ago that Spain was ruled by strong man Francisco Franc so there is a precedence for Spain's civil government to be co opted by a man who is willing to use populism, and not be bothered by scruples. 

I wonder how long Spain will remain a first world economy if a man, who is willing to try and take over land that is not his, or men like him begin to take control of Spain's government.  We've seen the damage socialism light has wrought on Europe, the damage done by hard socialism will only be worse.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Geopolitical Chess: The Hukbalahap Rebellion

The extent that a nation involves itself in the affairs of others is only tempered by its ability to do so.  America's early isolationist tendency had more to due with our inherent weakness than principal.  The US, even in our early founding, would intervene in the affairs of other countries, such as the overgrow of a Barbary sultan in North Africa during the early 19th century during the Barbary Wars, if it felt that such an action was in its best interest. I feel its important to remember this. Canada and Switzerland do not meddle in the affairs of nations because the nation is inherently more altruistic than others, its because they either lack the ability to due so or because there is no need due to the actions of another party.

Now I am not saying I endorse such actions.  Many of the US foreign policy actions I would say are misguided and happen because we are stuck to a paradigm that has not existed since the end of the Cold War.  The ship of state is a difficult to steer and often does things because of pure inertia. Their motives for doing so also often do not correspond to what other individuals or smaller individuals would hold as interest. This interest being geopolitics. I believe it is important that we on the right understand this. That being said I am going to write about certain historical events in history in hopes that it will bring new knowledge with which it will help shape how we view events in the world.

And so I open up to a rebellion that few Americans, Europeans, or even most Asians would be aware of. But that did exist and that the US help combat for almost a decade in the Philippines.  The rebellion was against the Filipino communists known as the Hukbalahap, a very violent insurgency that was most prominent from 1946 to 1954.

The insurgency came from political differences between different political parties in the Philippines during the 1940s. This culminated when Manual Roxas won the presidency, whom the communists accused of as Japanese collaborator during world war two, and the communists went into open rebellion against the government.  Manual Roxas heavy handed policies didn't help and from 1946 to 1949 the rebellion gained many sympathizers.  Though public opinion shifted when the wife of the 2nd president of the Philippines, who himself had fought against American occupation in his youth before decided to seek civil means to independence, and the leaders of the Huks claimed it was a renegade element that had committed the atrocity.

The Huks were incredibly savage in their dealings. So much so that even other non-affiliated guerrilla fighters, there were many in the Philippines, wanted little to do with the group. They had become almost indiscriminate in their targets. Officials, police offices, clerks, and even simple peasants were often kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. But even with the low public opinion that many held for the communist rebellion they succeeded in spreading their insurgent cells throughout many provinces. They very nearly took Manila, however, many of the leaders were arrested in a surprise raid in the capital city itself.  Even so, President Harry Truman was alarmed enough to authorize the US in sending military equipment and advisers to the country.

The amount of American involvement, specifically of the military advisers, is somewhat unknown. But the fact is that the Americans were involved and that with their help the Filipino military was able to make headway against the insurgency.  It wouldn't be until the mid-1950's that the insurgence was put down for good due to a combination of political reforms and military victories.  However, this would not spell the end for domestic troubles as insurgencies of one form or another have continued to this day. And the actions of the 7th president, suspending habeus corpus temporally, was a precursor to strongman president Ferdinand Marcos.

The reason why the Americans were involved are pretty obvious.  This was the height of the cold war, and the red scare. The US was afraid of the consequence of the Philippines falling into the communist camp, a very real fear if we take into account the importance of the South China sea today since it would severely hamper US naval capabilities in the region. It would have given the Soviets a base in the south east pacific that would act as a staging point and a buffer zone to the Indian Ocean and beyond. The defeat of the rebellion helped keep the Philippines, and the naval bases that the navy used, in the Americans courts; but as we see the actions had long term affects that the Filipino people continue to deal with to this day.

Stratfor: Evolving Relationship Between Communist Party And the Army

Too busy at work to do a post yesterday, or this morning, hoping to have some time tonight. Here is a short video on the evolving political enviroment of China and its military.  Unlike the US were our army is beholden, at least in idea, to the nation or the government.  The army in China is expressly the property and tool of the party.  However, this may be beginning to change.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Don't Get a Finance Degree

Diploma burning has replaced
flag burning as the youths protest
of choice
Meeting with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while when I heard some interesting news. He had recently changed jobs, which in of itself isn’t an item worthy enough to blog about, however, what his new job was is interesting.  You see my friend recently was employed at a major bank/investment firm to do investment work, once again nothing too interesting, and he doesn’t have a degree in math, finance, or accounting.  He has a degree in criminal justice, originally wanted to be a cop and probably would have been a good one too, and a master’s in public administration, he worked for local government for a little while but arguing down his boss from spending $2,000 on garbage receptacles grew tiresome.  This is interesting because as someone with a finance degree I had no illusions that my chance of even obtaining an interview, much less being hired, at any one of those big companies was next to nil.  How he get his job would give the Captain an aneurysm but considering that I know him to be a very capable individual it illustrates something.  Most business degrees are not worth your time or effort.

The fact that I, as someone who focused on finance, couldn’t even get my foot in the door as a bank teller when I first left college, and that someone with no mathematical experience whatsoever could work for a firm, illustrates this fact all too clearly.  And this isn’t to chastise or wave my finger at my friend for using connections to get a job, that would be hypocritical since after almost two years of unemployment I was forced to do the same thing for my previous job, it’s to illustrate an important reality that all too few college kids think about.  Who you know is extremely important, more so than what you know. The other is that your business degree isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

Plenty of articles have cropped up about how it is difficult to find work if you have a liberal arts or some other soft degree relative to a hard knowledge degree; however, people fail to realize, that outside of accounting, business is just as nebulous as a liberal arts degree.  Now some of you might say I am leaving out economics, I intentionally did not lump it with accounting, and finance.  With finance, while it may have one point been a good degree to get, it’s the simple fact that:

a)      There are far too many of them. It was easily the most popular business degree at my university and perhaps the most popular degree outside of liberal arts.

b)      Outside of highly leveraged investing they don’t teach you anything that you couldn’t learn on the job in a couple of weeks.

Though as my grandma would say, the proof is in the pudding, and while I could try to drum up some sort of statistics I am going to allow myself the liberty of anecdotal evidence.  The three things I noticed with finance degrees are that

1)      After failing to land a real analyst job they end up becoming, or continuing, to be a teller a bank

2)      Go back to get an MBA

3)      End up working in ‘investments’, and by investment I mean they become a salesperson with title like ‘investment coordinator’, ‘client accounts representative’, ‘personal banking broker’  or some other ludicrously long name for a salesman.

Now there’s nothing wrong with sales.  But sales jobs do not need a degree, and I highly doubt that people getting a finance job want to end up in sales.  They simply end up in those jobs because they are the only ones that will accept their applications after college, believe me I know as I sent out hundreds of applications and only one that I got a response back was for an actual analyst job while the rest were sales of some sort.  If you are like my brother who is the greatest bull shitter and networking I know, he somehow leveraged a 6 month ‘job’ in Germany from someone he me with and corresponded with over email a few times, then this kind of job is great.  However, if you’re more introverted or analytically minded then these jobs are nothing sort of a sentence to a living hell.  But mark my words, if you major in finance, then you will most likely end up in sales.

The other reason it is hard to get a good analytical job is simply that a college degree just doesn’t mean anything because anyone who isn’t functionally retarded, or simply lazy, can get one if given enough time.  Have you noticed how it is taking more and more individuals longer than four years to get a degree?   Part of it is the ever increasing requirements to take worthless classes such as basket weaving, or that it is simply harder to get the classes that one needs. But the other aspect is that you have more people going to college who simply are not up to the challenge, at least at that point in their life but colleges will not flunk all but the most slothful of students.

If you don’t believe me then try and recall how many of your friends who attended college washed out?  Remember the stereotypical dull professor saying ‘look to your left; now look to your right. One of them will not be here in four years’? The idea was the college was so difficult that there were individuals who simply could not handle the load.  No longer, remember colleges are businesses, as now the university system will hand hold you the entire way through.  If you have a finance degree and don’t have anything better than a 3.7 GPA then expect to have a more difficult time finding good financial work.  You could have a 3.2 GPA but because of grade inflation and hand holding you might as well have a 2.5 GPA because of it. I routinely applied for jobs that stated that any resume with a GPA less than a 3.5 wouldn’t even be looked at, regardless of work experience.

The other aspect not thought about is what university you went too.  You could have graduated magna cum laude and been the valedictorian of your class, but if it was in a university that no one outside of you state would know about, then you will struggle mightily outside of that area. If you want to work in Wall Street you better hope you went to somewhere like Harvard, Yale, and NYU or else you are going to be sorely disappointed.  The pedigree of your degree matters, regardless of whether or not the pedigree that academic institution have is still actually warranted. I am of the personal opinion that most schools are pretty equivalent to each other when it comes to teaching hard sciences and mathematics, but sadly my opinion doesn’t rule the day.

What this means is that if you want to get that investment job you either need to go to a really prestigious school, at least for your neck of the woods, and work your ass off. Or you need to network like crazy.  Because it doesn’t matter if your bright or highly competent.  Outside of being a wunderkind, that isn’t enough. It matters far more who you know or where you went.  Because if you know the right person, aren’t a moron, and interview well then it doesn’t matter what degree you get.

I won’t lie, I was a bit jealous when I heard the news. Though knowing him I am sure he will do very well and excel in his new job. And to be honest, knowing what I know now I am actually worried for him.  A lot of people are employed in a sector that is going to be hurt very badly when the boomers start retiring and they will have a hard time finding the same kind of lucrative jobs once the financial sector goes through a much needed generational correction.  He’s got a family and kids to look after, one of my few millennial friends who are married with kids by the way, and he needs a well paying job far more than I.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Malthusian Lie

This is an 'issue' that has been raised countless times since it was first conceptualized almost three centuries ago. One that has recently been adopted by academics and green-minded individuals around the world, but particularly in the gilded halls of American academia. It's the concept of the Malthusian catastrophe, colloquially known as over population, that some say is so immanent that it will spell doom for the world.  It's is one of the worst misconceptions perpetuated today.  The science its based on is outmoded, and history itself has proven time and again that the concept is a falsehood.  It is perhaps one of the most powerful tools in the leftist playbook with which the cause of statism has been advanced.

But before I get into why overpopulation is nothing more than a bunch of hot air; let me talk a little about how it came into being. In waining century of that great economist Adam Smith, the 19th century, an economist by the name of Thomas Robert Malthus an essay on the principal of population; in which he wrote that a societies population was checked by famine, disease, and war. He was a contrarian as such as that, unlike many economists, he did not see society as inherently perfectible.  Perhaps the most important statement he made in his essay was this little quotation:

The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.
 It is essentially a summary of his belief that eventually man's ability to provide himself would not be able to meet demands of growth.  He pointed to the fact that even with all the technological achievements by mankind over the past centuries that those technological achievements did little to improve mankind's ability to feed and sustain himself.  He was wrong, but he can be forgiven being wrong because the phenomenon known as the Industrial Revolution still had as yet not yielded any major improvements in the field of agriculture. Man had plowed the fields in 1798 much the same way he had done so in 3000 BC.  The tools had gotten a bit better, but the yields had not gone up, or not to the degree that they were about to.  But as we know now, agricultural yields did improve, for example, today American famers feed 6 times more people than they could only forty years ago.

Moreover many Malthusian proponents forget just how large the earth is, much of it is entirely empty. The most dense city in the world by population is Manila, with over 110,000 souls for every square mile.  By contrast, using my calculations, if you took the entire world's population and fit it an area the size of Texas you would have a population density of 26,000 people per square mile, or around the size of New York City.  Expand that area to include the entire Mississippi River Basin (which covers all or some portion of 26 states in this great nation) and the population density drops to a little over 6,000 people per square mile, or a around a fourth of New York City.  Expand that area to include the United States and your population density drops down to being equivalent to Taiwan. Double the world's population and the US density would only rise to equivalence to the island of Malta.

However, the counter the Malthusian proponents will make is that it is not the number of individuals living, but the resources they consume and the pollution they create.  Using the metrics from before lets look at water, arguably the most precious resource in the world outside of oxygen consumption.  Human beings need about eight liters of water a day to maintain adequate bodily health.  Simply multiplying this number by the worlds population and you we get to a global demand for water at around 56 billion liters a day. That is a lot of water, but considering that most people in the world aren't dying of thirst we already know that the world produces at least that much water.  However, what is interesting is that even if we located all of humanity in a single location, there are places in the world that could provide more than enough water for humanity to survive.

The Mississippi River Basin, which covers 26 states in the United States, has an average discharge of three million cubic feet per second, which is 84 million liters per second.  This means that in a singe hour the river basin discharges more than 305 billion liters of water, about five and a half times more than what human beings need to survive.  In my mind that is more than enough water for humanity to not only survive, but use for agriculture and any other use we could think of.

Now this isn't to make light of the problems of pollution or environmental degradation of the surrounding area, the great garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean is a visual illustration that human beings do have an impact on the environment.  However, despite the fact that many Malthusians are often major proponents of recycling, they forget that humanity has become much more efficient with the use of the resources available than in the past.  Solar power, via satellites, offers a nearly unlimited power source, offering the benefit of mobility if transported via laser or microwaves for humanity. And we are already well underway in hydroponics and areoponics, which uses a tenth of the water needed to grow crops and has the advantage of being able to make use of the height in addition to area. In my mind this means that an area used for a sporting event, such as a football stadium, could conceivably provide enough food to feed millions if not tens of millions of people a year.  Coupled with the in-vitro (lab) grown meat and the idea that some how human beings will not be able to feed one another is exposed as nothing more than an absurd alarmist fantasy.

But all this doesn't matter.  The fact is that statistics have shown us that its not overpopulation, but population degradation, that we face in the near future. Just play around with google statistiscs and you will see that the global fertility rate has halved in forty years, with many developed, and some developing nations, falling below replacement rate levels.  Many population alarmists, invariably progressive, champion this as good news for the earth. However, they fail to realize that the falling population assures that the socialist dream will never come to fruition. The socialist experiment relies on there being more people paying into the system than taking out of it. And unless a society is producing slightly more than 2.1 people, which replaces the parents and offers marginal population growth to counter act premature death, then you are left with a shrinking population.  We are seeing this system collapse in Europe simply because productive individuals are throwing their hands in the air and saying screw it.  Europe could easily solve this problem by adopting a more capitalistic friendly system. The solution to solving dropping fertility isn't so simple, as Japan has learned .

This is precisely why China will not surpass the US. Their communist leaders committed demographic suicide and have assured that even if they can defy economic history, history showing us that governments cannot manage economies well, that they will succumb to demographics.  The population fertility rate phenomena isn't limited to developed countries, but developing ones as well.  There isn't a nation on earth that hasn't experienced a drop in their fertility rate, and it is estimated that sometime by the end of this century the global fertility rate will drop below the replacement rate. This will have a major impact for an economy that has been based on ever growing populations for the last 400 years. Barring a complete usurpation of most activities by robots and computers, not unrealistic, then there will be a minor economic crisis.  Developed societies are going to need funds to pay for their generous and well established social safety net and there will not be enough young workers to pay for the elderly.  It isn't inconceivable that nations would start competing very aggressively for skilled or unskilled individuals from overseas.

The greatest danger though is population bust.  A population bust would be an explosive contraction of population that far outstrips any way for societies to cope.  This is why Japan has become so desperate because they face the very real possibility of seeing their civilization disappearing.  This doesn't have to mean that one day there simply aren't any Japanese left in the world, though this has happened in the past.  But it can mean that a population is unable to maintain its sovereignty and becomes subsumed in a larger stronger polity, something that Russia fears given their demographics.  Don't believe me? Then tell me, who has heard of the Etruscans? Hyskos? Hittittes? Philistines? or the  Sabini? (I am willing to wager that anyone who bothers to read this blog actually gives a damn about real history and not the bastard brother that is taught in schools today.) The Ainu, a people who live in Japan, and are slowly disappearing, are a modern day example of this.  Why is it that you think the Jews throughout history kept to themselves and tried very hard to maintain their identity? It's not only human beings that have an imperative to try and pass on its seed, civilizations and societies do as well. It's the reasons why much of the world resents globalization, which they think will further westernize their civilizations.

So the question is why, given the obvious dangers that are inherent in population collapse, that so many individuals, and progressives being chief among them, hem and haw so hard about the threats of over population?  Well 95% of individuals who worry about overpopulation don't know any of these statistics, or if they are presented this information they shut their eyes, its the other 5% who should know better. I am talking about the politicians and academia.  And I think it largely has to due with academia's unwillingness to come to terms with the truth.  You see, if they admit that there is no threat of overpopulation, and in fact a dire threat of population reversal, then many of the actions they have taken this last century are not only wrong, such as feminism being a prime example, but criminal, other ideas that I need not mention.  Also, many other of their pet ideological holding points suddenly become untenable when that reality is accepted. It also makes religion, which too many left leaning academics sneer at, look less backward and more wise.

There is a reason why the bible says go forth and multiply. The ancients understood something that we modern folk have forgotten.  Even if you aren't a religious individual, but you are an intellectually honest one, you will see that religion came into being partially to help counteract the negative aspects of human nature, cuckoldry, adultery, violence, slothfulness etc, and to ensure a societies survival.  If you look at it from a secular perspective, then you will see that the ten commandments was a survival guide for the Hebrew people while they wandered through the desert as a people without a home, and it seems to have worked, since the Jews are still around while many of their societal peers are nothing more than dust in the ruins of history. And the sooner the Malthusian Lie becomes dust the better.

About Me

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.