Friday, September 11, 2015

Amateurs Talk Strategy, Professionals Talk Demographics

As of this writing Europe is in danger of being over-run by hordes of people nominally fleeing the bloody civil war in Syria (although likely most of these people are not Syrian, but just your typical random grab-bag of people fleeing the overpopulated third world and only claiming to be Syrian to get sympathy).

Many pundits claim that this is blowback for American and European meddling in the middle east.  It is indeed true that much of recent Western policy in that part of the world has been almost unbelievably stupid/evil.  Iraq, Afghanistan…  Whatever the West touches, breaks.  Attacking Syria’s secular government and arming Islamic militants was surely atrocious, but the ultimate has to be Hillary Clinton’s Libya policy.  Muammar Gaddafi was no saint, but lately he had made nice with the United States, cooperating on issues of international terrorism, and his people had the highest standard of living in Africa.  Not a paradise but you can do a lot worse, today. 

So for reasons that still don’t seem to make sense – and perhaps simply do not make sense – Hillary decided that Gaddafi had to go, we bombed his forces and armed Islamic militants, and turned Libya in a post-apocalyptic wasteland that is now a hotbed of ISIS and a gateway for all those desperate refugees streaming into Europe.  Heckuva job, Hillary.

So yes, it might seem that is the Western powers that are responsible for this.  And there is no denying how utterly disgusting the actions of the Western powers have been.  Nevertheless, what’s going on in the places like Syria and Libya etc. is not primarily due to Western misadventures – it’s due to government policies aimed at creating massive population growth, which as always created horrible poverty, and large numbers of angry young men who were hungry and unemployed and looking for an outlet for their frustrations.  When there are large numbers of hungry and unemployed and angry young men looking for an outlet for their frustrations, bad things happen. 

The Western misadventures are not the main problem here.  It is a deliberately created population explosion.  The Syrians are not, primarily, fleeing violence.  They are fleeing the inevitable consequences of people having more children than they can support, generation after generation.

Imagine that one has a rock in a hydraulic press which is steadily increasing the pressure, with no upper limit.  No matter how strong the rock, at some level it will break.  Now suppose one taps on a rock that has not yet broken, and suddenly it shatters.  Certainly this may have been a trigger – but the rock would have broken eventually, with or without the trigger.  To focus only on the tap, and not at all on the hydraulic press, is mindless.

When water cools, it eventually turns into ice.  There is always some microscopic seed that initiates this process.  But if not this seed, it will be some other.  When water turns to ice, does one blame the specific seed crystal?  But if not that seed, there would have been another.  The bottom line is that if you cool water enough it WILL turn into ice. The specific seed crystal is irrelevant.

I have previously detailed what happened in Syria. 

In summary: the Syrian government pushed for ever more population growth, outlawing contraceptives and propagandizing about how women all needed to have six kids each.  The result was an extremely rapid rate of population growth, and increasing poverty.  Around 2012 food started to run short, and there were some nasty riots.  Now the Syrian government was especially brutal in putting down some of these riots – but do you really think that everything would have been sunshine and rainbows if it hadn’t?  The core problems tearing the society apart would not have gone away.  The Syrian government’s brutality – and the misguided western reactions against this brutality – were a symptom, not a main cause.

As Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Malthus, David Riccardo, John Stuart Mills, John Maynard Keynes and Ma Yinchu pointed out, it’s not the number of people per se that is important, it’s the rate of growth.  And more than the rate of growth, it’s whether people have more children than they can support given current circumstances – and government’s role in pushing to make this come about (what is traditionally called "forcing" population growth).

Imagine a poor person in rural Syria who, with a little luck, could maybe have supported two children.  Instead this person has six.  How exactly does this create wealth?  (Even the most abusive society can’t get much work out of a child until they are at least 12 if not older, and even then only if they have tools and resources to work with.)  ‘People are the ultimate resource’ – yeah, if you want them to be a cheap disposable commodity like cattle or fill dirt.  (If only a few people have too-large families then they can get direct and indirect subsidies from everyone else – that can’t happen when everyone is doing it).

When people have more children than they can support, the possibility that these children will be productive in the future after they grow up, does not change the fact that they must first grow up and they are creating poverty now.  And for them to be productive after they grow up, first there must be investments in new tools and developed resources – which requires not just labor, but existing tools and resources, which can only be created using spare production not needed for today’s survival, which does not exist because people are using all they have now to survive today….  The reason that third-world countries are inevitably capital-starved is not hard to fathom.  Finance be damned: with too-rapid population growth you physically can’t get ahead of the game.

When it is physically impossible for something to happen, it won’t.  Changing the marginal rate of taxation on capital gains does not help.

Do you really think that the optimal strategy for human beings is for everyone to have as many children as soon as they can without any regard to their job situation etc?  Do you really think that this will automatically create more wealth?  Should human beings breed like rodents?  Or do you think that people should exercise their own judgment, having more children at earlier ages when times are good, and maybe having fewer later in life when times are bad? 

Or do you think that the people themselves should not be trusted to make this decision, and the ‘correct’ number of children that people should have should be determined by government ‘experts’?  I note that, essentially without exception, whenever governments take it upon themselves to make people have the ‘correct’ number of children, or to over-rule this decision via mass immigration, it is a disaster.

It is said that the definition of a domestic animal is that the owner controls its breeding.  For people?  Really?

No society in all of recorded history has industrialized faster than Japan.  However, even the best that flesh-and-blood human beings have ever achieved was not enough to keep up with rapid exponential population growth, and by the eve of WWII Japan was on the brink of collapse and chaos.  The Japanese militarists had no illusions about their chances of defeating the United States.  It’s just that they had no alternative: without invading and colonizing other lands their own exploding population would soon have destroyed their society (Read John Toland’s wonderful book “The Rising Sun”).  As you might expect, that exploding population was not the “inevitable” consequence of industrialization, it was the result of a deliberate Japanese government policy to maximize population (Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics, Vol.6, pp158-9, 1996).

Now fast-forward to Iraq.  Like the pre-WWII Japanese government, Saddam pushed for more population growth and ignited a population explosion (see “Sanctioning Saddam: The Politics of Intervention in Iraq”, by Sarah Graham Brown).  As expected, this created great poverty, and a lot of angry young men.  One wonders: why did Saddam Hussein attack first Iran, and then Kuwait?  Was he stupid?  Perhaps.  But the Japanese militarists did not attack the United States because they were under any illusions about their chances of winning, rather they attacked because at that point they were desperate: without stealing the resources of other lands their own exploding population would have caused their own society to collapse.  One wonders if Saddam Hussein was following the same pattern, and tried to invade other lands because he realized that, left to its own devices, Iraq would have self-destructed.

Then the United States invaded, and much blame for Iraq’s current misery is placed upon the astonishing levels of incompetence and corruption of the occupying US authorities.  For example, Paul Bremer, the US acting governor of Iraq, disbanded the Iraqi army, and sent all those angry young men back home to be unemployed and heavily armed and gee that did not turn out well.

Nevertheless, I propose that for all the undeniable mis-steps that the United States made in Iraq, this is not the real issue.  It’s the massive population explosion created by Saddam Hussein, which continues on long after his death (look up ‘demographic momentum’ in Wikipedia).  The bottom line is this: no society without an open frontier has ever become stable or prosperous with the kind of population growth rates that we see in Iraq.  That’s the root problem.  American intervention was largely irrelevant: without it, Iraq would inevitably be about the same as it is today.

Intervening in a society like Iraq or Afghanistan is pointless.  Unless one addresses the demographics factors, there is NOTHING that an occupying force can do to improve things.  It's like building a sand castle and the tide comes in: no amount of architectural finesse will prevent it from being washed away by the larger currents.

I blame not so much the people of these lands, as their governments.  But more, I blame those western intellectuals who allowed this to happen.  Where were the economists and political scientists when Saddam and Assad etc. were outlawing contraceptives and demanding that women turn themselves into little more than breeding stock?  They were sitting in their nice comfy offices collecting checks for going along to get along, and burbling happy nonsense about more people always being a better thing regardless of circumstance, and viciously attacking any dissenters as racist.  For shame.

If you encounter a bunch of hungry rats, and you feed them, in the long run you don’t get a bunch of well-fed rats: you get an even larger number of hungry rats.  It may seem impolite to compare people to rats, but when people are compelled or tricked into breeding like rats, the same brute physical laws apply, and they will live and die like rats.

And this where the world is today.  For 50 years the Western world has given enormous boons of resources and technology to the third world – more than enough to have transformed these nations into rich countries themselves.  Instead we denied the obvious power of exponential population growth to suck up any amount of economic progress, and these resources were used to feed a population explosion.

So now the Western world has no more gifts of technology, and increasingly little of resources, to give, and the third world is as poor as it ever was, but now numbers in the billions, with demographic momentum meaning that there will be many more billions in the years to come.  If the West allows all these refugees to invade, this won’t help: the West will itself be dragged down to the level of the third world, and every refugee that makes it to the West will simply make room for one more person to survive back home, and the third world will remain dirt poor.  If we give boons of food to the third world, the people will simply multiply and consume it all and then come back, even hungrier and more numerous than before.

If we had addressed these issues honestly just two or three decades ago, much of this could have been avoided.  Instead the West refused to address this: partly out of political correctness, but mostly because the rich want cheap labor and any honest talk might have resulted in rising wages which would have come out of their profits.  And now the chance is nearly over, and the world begins to slide into a new dark age.  The only serious question is whether any parts of the world will manage to avoid being dragged down.

If a person is drowning in the middle of a lake, it would be moral for a person to jump in and attempt to save them.  However, if a person is drowning in the middle of a lake and they have a ton of concrete chained to their ankles, trying to save them would be pointless, they would only drag you down with them.  The moral thing would be to dissuade a person from chaining a ton of concrete to their ankles and jumping into a lake before it’s too late, but this simple logic is apparently beyond the brainwashed West.

If there is to be any hope for the future, it will come not from pointless masochistic sacrifices, but from an intelligent and honest appreciation of reality.

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