Wasted years

In the modern age, we avoid actual controversy because it’s unsociable. As a result, our debates are basically drama about minor modifications to the default path.

That default path is inevitably one of decay for two reasons. First, if you aren’t shooting for something, the many modifications made over time get out of sync with one another and you end up going in a different direction. Second, if your default is a vision from the past, you drift into irrelevance, acting out a drama unrelated to the present.

As part of our non-controversial controversy, we like to toss around the global warming football. It’s an excellent meme-product because it divides a room, and makes each person feel a righteous sense of cheering for the only right team.

But while we’ve been putting window dressing on our inertia, something horrible has happened: we have put ourselves on a path to ecocide through overpopulation.

A new study of mammal populations raises the alarming prospect of a sixth mass extinction, this one a direct result of the effect humans are having on the planet.

Scientists in the U.S. compared extinction rates from the fossil record with the speed at which mammals are vanishing today.

Within the past 500 years, it is estimated that at least 80 species of mammals have become extinct out of a starting total of 5,570 species.

This compares with an average extinction rate for mammals of less than two species disappearing every million years. – Daily Fail

For a nice change, this article doesn’t talk about global warming — it talks about all human effects on our planet. That’s a more intelligent course of argument since if global warming is one symptom, we could focus all our effort on alleviating that without touching the core problem.

We talk about a lot of un-PC things at this blog. Race, class, gender roles, even the rampant stupidity of speeding limits. But the biggest taboo is yet to come: humans do not want to talk about overpopulation, because it inevitably leads to tough decisions. Who do we tell to stop breeding? What do we do if they don’t do it? How do we choose? And finally, what “moral right” do we have to do this?

You know you’re in a dying society when people are talking about moral rights and arguing over how to pick who survives.

Moral rights are abstractions made by humanity that are more fanciful than the most New Age religion you can imagine; they not only do not exist in nature, but nature provides no precedent for them, because moral rights by their absolute nature cause conflicts we cannot solve. If two people have a right to the same thing, what do we do? Our moral system breaks down and we fight it out.

Finally, trying to figure out how to pick who survives is a silly game worthy of being written in a grade school notebook next to which pop stars we find dreamy. Unless you have your hedge wedged in your alimentary canal, you pick the people who are productive, intelligent, healthy and of good moral character.

And those are the “big questions” our fellow nitwit citizens will use to keep us from even looking at the issue. But if the issue is as dire as presented above, how can we not look at it? We can avoid looking at it the same way we handle anything else we’re afraid of: we go into denial, retreating back into that comfortable human world of emotions, abstractions and things to tell other people so they think we’re “nice.”

Humanity is currently experiencing a period of remarkable exponential growth. Just 100 years ago there were fewer than 2 billion people alive; today the world population stands at just over 6.9 billion. That is almost 7 billion people crowded onto our planet. Just as a measure of how many people that is, it would take more than 18,650 cities the size in population of Colorado Springs to hold the world’s population. That is a lot of people.

Recently, humanity has grown so fast that there are now more people alive than have ever died! Our doubling rate is only 40 years. That means that within the life span of the average American, the world’s population will quadruple in size. If humanity maintains the same growth rates over the next forty years, then by 2050 the earth would hold twice its current number of inhabitants. If that is difficult to imagine, then think of what Colorado Springs would be like with twice its current population … within the same geographic boundary — exponential growth in a finite system.

Indeed, many of the world’s ills can be traced directly to overpopulation — resource restriction and depletion, environmental degradation, species extinction, and overcrowding. If you feel the world spinning out of control, you might look no further than the population explosion. –
The Colorado Springs Gazette

The earth did not expand. We did. This means that we’re fitting more people into the same space. But the space itself isn’t the problem; it’s the support structure. If all we had to do was find apartments for these people, we could build seventy-story apartment complexes and cram them all into Kansas. But for each person we need infrastructure space, including farm land for crops, factories, reservoirs, roads, parking lots, hospitals, airports, schools, shopping malls, funeral homes, sewage treatment plants, server farms and discotheques. The amount of space we live in pales in comparison to this vast amount of supporting space.

But what else needs supporting space? Animals and plants. They each need a certain amount of territory per animal not just for it to dwell in, but to hunt on, to frolic in, to search for mates and to socialize in. Too little space, or a space broken up by roads and fences and telephone lines, and their natural habits get distorted and their species begin the death spiral that occurs when population drops below a healthy replenishment and then genetic diversity level. We barely see it happening because they just sort of fall off our radar.

Now, after an extensive review, biologists and conservation officials agree: The eastern cougar is officially extinct.

The review turned up extensive controversy; many people have claimed to have seen the cougar in the wild in the last 100 years. Many of these sightings, researchers concluded, were of individuals that had escaped captivity. The remainder are thought to be western cougars that have moved into the historical range of the eastern cougar. – TreeMugger

Even better, we’re going to get to see a real-life “domino effect” among other species. Ecosystems are linked animal and plants species, interdependent and interactive, which is how nature achieves its legendary efficiency. Nothing is wasted; each thing feeds on a range of other prey (or vegetation) and serves as feed for a range of predators. The cycle renews itself, unless we break it in enough places, in which case it collapses.

Since they have disappeared, populations of white-tail deer—the eastern cougar’s primary prey source—have exploded, placing pressure on other plant and animal species in the region.

When we look back on the years from 1945-2015, we’re going to think of them as the wasted years. Drunk on a binge of wealth resulting from the two world wars, we ended colonialism, expanded markets, brought on globalism and in doing so, exploded our world population. Even more, thanks to liberal democracy we stopped being hard on ourselves, and thanks to our entitlement programs, we created a huge captive population.

Adding insult to injury, very few of our new global horde actually do anything other than attend jobs and execute functions for which they were trained. Independent thought? Critical thought? Independent action? Or even paying attention to reality — all of these are out the window. They can go to high school, attend and memorize, then go on to jobs and do the same thing. When at home, they buy things impulsively, throw them out and start again. They live in debt and die in debt. They have no religion, no culture, no heritage and no history. They are perfect customers, citizens of the world.

Finally, there is the danger that the dollar’s safe-haven status will be lost. Foreign investors—private and official alike—hold dollars not simply because they are liquid but because they are secure. The U.S. government has a history of honoring its obligations, and it has always had the fiscal capacity to do so.

But now, mainly as a result of the financial crisis, federal debt is approaching 75% of U.S. gross domestic product. Trillion-dollar deficits stretch as far as the eye can see. And as the burden of debt service grows heavier, questions will be asked about whether the U.S. intends to maintain the value of its debts or might resort to inflating them away. Foreign investors will be reluctant to put all their eggs in the dollar basket. At a minimum, the dollar will have to share its safe-haven status with other currencies. – WSJ

And what did we spend this on? Entitlements: the largest single category of rising expenses since WWII. Our defense budget in proportion is roughly the same if not smaller than it was before. But now, we’re spending a lot more on our own citizens, and not in ways that make them challenge themselves and rise above. We’re buying their complicity and encouraging them to think they are good enough as they are, performance or no.

USA budget entitlement programs, from Business Insider

As a related article informs us, we’re going broke because of the one type of payment that has risen since 1945 — the entitlement spending, or government spending directly on its citizens. These payments are problematic because unlike payments to the top of the financial pyramid, where succeeding corporations and individuals then distribute that wealth to the other levels, this pays directly to the bottom, where no more wealth is generated.

We spend a LOT of Education and Defense, of course, but we arguably don’t spend too much on these things, at least as a percentage of GDP. (We certainly spend too much on them relative to what we can afford).

What really busts our budget are the mind-boggling amounts we spend on our entitlement programs–Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (especially Medicare and Medicaid). These programs are wildly more expensive than any other budget items, and they’re also growing like weeds.

If we don’t get Medicare and Medicaid expenses under control, the USA will go broke, pure and simple. And yet, almost no one in Washington has the stones to even talk about this, let alone do something about it. They just kick the can down the road. – Business Insider

And how are these programs working out for us? Surely they are like all bureaucratic initiatives, sheer paragons of efficiency and effectiveness?

The U.S. government has 15 different agencies overseeing food-safety laws, more than 20 separate programs to help the homeless and 80 programs for economic development.

These are a few of the findings in a massive study of overlapping and duplicative programs that cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year, according to the Government Accountability Office.

A report from the nonpartisan GAO, to be released Tuesday, compiles a list of redundant and potentially ineffective federal programs, and it could serve as a template for lawmakers in both parties as they move to cut federal spending and consolidate programs to reduce the deficit. Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), who pushed for the report, estimated it identifies between $100 billion and $200 billion in duplicative spending. The GAO didn’t put a specific figure on the spending overlap. – WSJ

Undoubtedly it’s more than that, but the biggest leak is on unnecessary programs. We have been able to “afford” these entitlement programs because we haven’t actually been affording them; we’ve been signing checks and intending to pay them at some distant point in the future.

And politicians know that in a democracy, you lose elections for cutting entitlements, and win elections for supporting them. As a result, the sick comedy rolls on of The PeopleTM wanting everything and wanting to pay for nothing, and the politicians shrugging and saying “sure, if that’s what YOU think is a good idea,” signing up their grandchildren for a swampload of debt.

Interestingly, our society has evolved toward this aversion to paying its bills as well. There’s a huge consumer debt bomb matching the government debt bomb, because if government is this out of control, we know it’s all going to blow up at some point — and we’re counting on all being forgiven, or at least a clean slate:

In Stanley’s new book, a millionaire is defined as someone with net-value investments of $1 million or more. The investments include cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and equity shares in a private business. The author said he eschewed the traditional way people calculate wealth, particularly as it relates to the value of a home. If your net worth was $1.5 million with 85 percent of that from your home, and the value of your home depreciated by 50 percent — which it has for too many people — then your wealth wasn’t real.

Stanley’s research does a great job of proving there’s a big difference between income and net worth. Many pretenders have become very good at generating income and enjoying a high standard of living. But take this Stanley gem to the bank: “Those who are among the least productive in transforming their incomes into wealth are in the higher-status occupations.” – Washington Post

Wealth is not the consumer goods you own. Those are at the bottom of the pyramid, and will generate no more wealth. Once you’ve bought that BMW it does nothing but depreciate, and the wealth transfer involved in its purchase has already dissipated to the parts suppliers for BMW and its labor. You are not going to use that BMW to start a new business. Instead, you’ll watch it lose value, where if you’d bought the same worth in stock, you’d be generating wealth and pumping your money toward the top of the economy, where people keep it moving quickly and use that quick money to invest in new profitable things.

Like our government, we the people have frittered away the greatest economy on earth by slamming our money into inconsequential things. Instead of looking toward the future, and leaving our children a good momentum, we have undermined them and borrowed money from them — money we do not intend to repay.

The end result of all of this is an end to the Utopian years of the post-WWI west. The first world war, brought on by unresolved nationalism-versus-empire conflicts exacerbated by colonialism, sent us into a tailspin of despair. Modern war was so dehumanizing, modern life so depersonalizing and atomizing, and modern futures so bleak, we kind of chucked it all in the fire and decided to party on the main deck while the Titanic sank.

As our Utopian visions fade, we return to brass tacks — or rather, to conservative ideals, which have been in decline since WWI ended. Both economically and socially, we’re swinging to the right, which means we put consequences before feelings, politeness and social happy.

Federal data indicate how urgently we need reform: The unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid already exceed $106 trillion. That’s well over $300,000 for every man, woman and child in America (and exceeds the combined value of every U.S. bank account, stock certificate, building and piece of personal or public property).

The Congressional Budget Office has warned that the interest on our federal debt is “poised to skyrocket.” Even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is sounding alarms. Yet the White House insists that substantial spending cuts would hurt the economy and increase unemployment.

Plenty of compelling examples indicate just the opposite. When Canada recently reduced its federal spending to 11.3% of GDP from 17.5% eight years earlier, the economy rebounded and unemployment dropped. By comparison, our federal spending is 25% of GDP. – WSJ

That’s the Tea Party position: an intersection between libertarian economic ideals, social ideals that emphasize self-reliance and Social Darwinism, and cultural ideals that reject pluralism and polyarchy in favor of a “right way” to do things, measured by consequences. All of these are conservative motions.

Polyarchy, as defined by Alain de Benoist, is the result of states that are not only democracies but liberal democracies, such that they believe in pluralism, or having many competing groups coexist at the same time. Pluralism and polyarchy go hand-in-hand as a way of agreeing to disagree, yet keep pretending that we’re all in the same civilization because we agree that we can disagree, and that’s “freedom.”

The idea that we could both have our cake and eat it too, and agree to disagree and still have a society, is fading. Along with other Utopian ideas in which we first focus on feelings and social emotions, it has proven itself obsolete. We have left a trail of wreckage behind us in our post-WWI maneuver, which has been a retreat from all wisdom of the past to embrace the unproven and conjectural ideas of liberalism, which is more of a social philosophy than a political or economic plan.

There is evidence that right-to-work laws—or, more broadly, the pro-business policies offered by right-to-work states—matter for economic growth. In research published in 2000, economist Thomas Holmes of the University of Minnesota compared counties close to the border between states with and without right-to-work laws (thereby holding constant an array of factors related to geography and climate). He found that the cumulative growth of employment in manufacturing (the traditional area of union strength prior to the rise of public-employee unions) in the right-to-work states was 26 percentage points greater than that in the non-right-to-work states. – WSJ

Conservatism cares about results, and the effects on all of us; liberalism cares about the individual, and defends the ability of that individual to be oblivious to consequences, and thus take whatever they want from society and ignore its effects.

As a result, liberalism denies consequences. It affirms feelings, appearances and what other people think of you based on what you think is necessary, so you’d better edit yourself to come up with some free entitlements or we’ll think you’re a jerk. We’ve let this outlook run amok for almost a century and now we’re seeing the results: greater instability; nuclear proliferation; ecocide; water wars; peak oil and perhaps worst of all, a neurotic society in which we like hamsters on wheels execute the functions we have trained for, but find no joy in them. Then we drive home through choking traffic in our ugly polluted cities, yell at our faithless spouses, ignore our kids on drugs and try to watch enough late-night TV (or porn) to make it all seem worthwhile.

As the Utopian ideas die, both Europe and the USA are swinging to the right. We want a civilization based around not just an idea (“freedom, equality, liberty, fraternity, justice, peace, non-violence, and harmony”) but an organic unity of all ideas. We must match up values, heritage, language, customs, culture and idea; that’s a conservative notion, and one we threw out with WWI and WWII, which we blamed on nationalists even if now we’re seeing they were nationalist reactions to a coming horrible world order.

A Populus poll found that 48% of the population would consider supporting a new anti-immigration party committed to challenging Islamist extremism, and would support policies to make it statutory for all public buildings to fly the flag of St George or the union flag.

Anti-racism campaigners said the findings suggested Britain’s mainstream parties were losing touch with public opinion on issues of identity and race.

The poll suggests that the level of backing for a far-right party could equal or even outstrip that in countries such as France, the Netherlands and Austria. France’s National Front party hopes to secure 20% in the first round of the presidential vote next year. The Dutch anti-Islam party led by Geert Wilders attracted 15.5% of the vote in last year’s parliamentary elections. – The Guardian

Our politicians — the same soulless whores who have nodded while we spent ourselves into oblivion — talk in Boolean terms about people who are either “tolerant” or “intolerant.” But that’s Utopian talk, airy words not about consequences but, if you really boil it down, about feelings. It’s like a big cocktail party in modern politics. Did you make everyone feel included? Then you look good, altruistic even, and so you’re a good salesman, or politician, or something. Feelings are out. Consequences are in.

Even more, we’re starting to look again at those organic factors that unite us. Not imposed political ones, like lecturing every schoolchild in tolerance and equality, but inherent ones like genetic bonds and culture itself:

“This is the first empirical study we know of that shows a relationship between racial identity and happiness,” said Stevie C.Y. Yap, doctoral candidate in psychology at MSU and lead researcher on the project.

Previous research has found a relationship between racial identity and favorable outcomes such as self-esteem, Yap said, but none has made the link with happiness.

For the study, the researchers surveyed black adults in Michigan. The results suggest the more the participants identified with being black – or the more being black was an important part of who they are – the more happy they were with life as a whole, Yap said. – PhysOrg

As we’ve said on this blog a number of times, anarchy doesn’t work — you need some kind of social order. You either have a government that makes and enforces rules, or you have a consensus of values, culture, customs, language and heritage. A consensus means that society influences its rules by shaming those who violate them, but more importantly, by rewarding those who uphold its ideals. In a consensus society, you know that you will be rewarded for striving for what is right. An impersonal government can’t claim that; your file probably got lost between the desks of bureaucrat #42371914 and bureaucrat #64019386.

When we look back over these wasted years, it suddenly becomes clear that it took about a century for the results to come in, but our swing to the left has been an unmitigated disaster. It was all good feelings, all promises, and all a lot of socially acceptable hogwash that translated to horrible results.

And so the pendulum begins its swing backward, and not a moment too soon — if we stop our wasted years now, we may be able to control our population somewhat, and avert the worst of the ecocide.

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