World Population Awareness

Economics, Western Thinking, and Technology

July 30, 2014

It is time we learned to make more of life from fewer natural resources.   GDP is Not Longer the Primary Indicator of a Country's Wealth. September 04 , 2012, Karen Gaia Pitts, WOA!! overpopulation.org doclink

Technological rabbits pulled out of the magic hat of science usually have large appetites and leave noxious droppings   (Technological rabbits pulled out of the magic hat of science usually have large appetites and leave noxious droppings) Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren doclink
"North Americans, with their boundless optimism, have been particularly susceptible to the philosophy of the open system. As the pioneers marched westward, there were always other mountains and other valleys when the present ones were played out. But when the pioneers reached the Pacific - the western ocean - the system slammed shut. This closing was not preceived immediately, of course, because romantic ideas linger in death. Even today, many still believe that they live in the unlettered open system of the pioneers. But this is an illusion, the other place is here, the future time is now. The new perception was made finally and poignantly dear by the beautiful Apollo photographs of the Earth - a bluish, ethereal and finite sphere lost in the darkness of space."

Lucchitta, I., Schleicher, D., and Cheney, P. (1981). Of Price and Prejudice: the Importance of Being Earnest about Environmental Impact Statements. Geological Society Bulletin, 9:590-591.   doclink

The wide expanses of the North American continent, the pioneer spirit, the development of a superior technology, and business enterprise go hand-in-hand. The pioneers moved West, and created long distances between themselves and their fellow countrymen. Resources in distant places, for example gold and oil, became desirable. Transportation and communication technology was created largely to bridge these distances, either because inventors saw the need to overcome these distances or because the need created a demand for more improvements on the technology. Cars, airplanes, telegraph communication, improved printing techniques, the telephone, radio, and television all came from the desire to bridge the distances. Today we have computers and the Internet which extend the idea.

And so we still hang on to the idea of expanding and now create urban sprawl and displace the animals, forests, and wetlands. And because expansion across the land went hand-in-hand with the expansion of technology, we have come to expect that no problem is unsolvable by technology. In fact, many have come to see technology as all-powerful, even god-like. One name that has been coined for these people is: "Technological Cornucopians."   Technological Cornucopians Karen Gaia - WOA!! doclink

The expansion of our wealth is only possible so long as the oil supply continues to expand, says oil expert Dr. Colin Campbell. The financial and investment community is beginning to accept the reality of Peak Oil, which ends the First Half of the Age of Oil, during which banks created capital by lending more than they had on deposit, being confident that tomorrow's expansion, fueled by cheap oil-based energy, was adequate collateral for today's debt. Oil driven "economic growth" is absolutely necessary for individuals, businesses, and governments to pay off their debts.

Commentator John La Grou writes: ". . . debt service requires economic growth in proportion to the size of the debt. Today's industrialized debt is at its highest 'real dollar' value in human history. Personal debt, corporate debt, government debt - all are at or near historical highs, and growing at historically unparalleled rates. Hence, the level of economic growth required to sustain such debt is at an all time high."

People take out a loan with the expectation that there will be more money available in the future than there is now, not realizing that money is really just a symbol for oil, and there will not be more oil available in the future than there is now and they will have to default on their loan. If many individuals, businesses, or nations begin defaulting on their loans at roughly the same time - as they will once the economy begins to contract due to skyrocketing energy prices - the banks will be unable to make new loans without spiraling the economy into a hyperinflationary meltdown.

An overall "financial collapse" will further devastate our ability to implement alternative systems of energy since the capital needed to develop these alternatives will not be available. In June 2005, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), aka "the central banker's central bank", said that oil prices may well remain high for a prolonged period of time and that further rises may have more severe consequences than currently anticipated . . . Everyone needs to commit to some unpleasant compromises now, in order to avoid even more unpleasant alternatives in the future . . . The US current account deficit means that a further slide in the dollar was "almost inevitable", while the BIS sounded a warning that the deficit could yet lead to "a disorderly decline of the dollar, associated turmoil in other financial markets, and even recession."

Warren Buffet, the world's second richest man, recently warned of "mega-catastrophic risks" and "investment time bombs" currently threatening the global economy. High energy prices, destabilizing resource wars, less than inspiring leadership, a possible currency collapse, - all will add to that. It is not enough to focus solely on the price at the pump, more fuel-efficient forms of transportation, or alternative sources of energy.

A report commissioned by Cheney and released in April 2001 said: "The most significant difference between now and a decade ago is the extraordinarily rapid erosion of spare capacities at critical segments of energy chains. Today, shortfalls appear to be endemic. Among the most extraordinary of these losses of spare capacity is in the oil arena.

In May 2001, George W. Bush said: "What people need to hear loud and clear is that we're running out of energy in America." A Bush energy advisor, energy investment banker Matthew Simmons - regarded by the energy and banking community for his nonpartisan, heavily documented, and virtually infallible research & analysis - said in an August 2003 interview with From the Wilderness publisher Michael Ruppert when asked about the impending natural gas crisis, responded: "I don't think there is one. The solution is to pray. Under the best of circumstances, if all prayers are answered there will be no crisis for maybe two years. After that it's a certainty." For more information on an excellent website, see http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/ (click on above headline link)   Economic Consequences of An Oil Shortage June 28, 2005, Life After the Oil Crash website http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/ doclink

The US Pioneer/Techno Mindset

Aldo Leopold

Technology is of no use to us if it is used without respect for the Earth and its processes. doclink

Albert A. Bartlett

A major use of technology is, and has been, to accommodate the growth of populations, and to remove the recognition of the importance of living within the carrying capacity of the environment. doclink

The Biggest Problem of All: the End of the World is Coming?

October 04, 2012

In talk at Stanford titled "Can a Collapse be Avoided?", Paul Ehrlich listed eight major catastrophic environmental problems that are coming sooner than even pessimists predict - and he asks: should we create a "culture of panic"?

Ehrlich listed eight major problems. For example, global toxification: we filled the planet with toxic substances, and therefore the odds that some of them interact/combine in some deadly chemical experiment never tried before are increasing exponentially every year. Science would not know how to deal with a chemical reaction triggered by the combination of toxic substances in the soil. Many scientists point out the various ways in which humans are hurting our ecosystem, but few single out the fact that some of these ways may combine and become something that is more lethal than the sum of its parts.

Another problem is that the next addition of one billion people to the population of the planet will have a much bigger impact on the planet than the previous one billion. Humans have already used up all the cheap, rich and ubiquitous resources. A huge amount of resources is still left, but those will be much more difficult to harness. For example, oil wells have to be much deeper than they used to be. Iit is not only that some resources are being depleted, but even the resources that will be left are, by definition, those that are difficult to extract and use.

The bottom line of these arguments is that the collapse is not only coming, but the combination of the eight factors plus the internal combinations in each of them make it likely that it is coming even sooner than pessimists predict.

The conclusion was that the ecological collapse is not a fashionable cultural topic. Ehrlich threw the ball in the sociologist's court: we need to create a ubiquitous culture of panic.

The cultural obstacles to action on climate change are: the belief that economies can grow forever, the belief that markets can solve all problems, the belief that central planning always fails, and, of course, the propaganda funded by the corporations that don't want the system to change because it would impact their profits.

In Western Europe people are not so fanatical about the free market, corporations are not so powerful, central planning is respected, and the economies have been anemic for decades. However, the spectacular success of capitalism in raising the qualify of life for billions of people in the developing world have created a mindset that makes it difficult to deal with climate change.

Many problems that took the lives of millions of people were defeated by government-mandated actions. China's very economic boom may be due in no small measure to the one-child policy that stemmed population growth.

The triumph of democracy has created a world that is largely run by politicians whose main job is to get reelected, not to save the world. Democracy is inherently inefficient in tackling complex problems, especially when solutions would inconvenience millions of voters. Now that democracy has spread all over the world it has become difficult everywhere to take unpopular decisions.

Another problem is that ordinary people believe in climate change but not necessarily in the apocalyptic scenarios. People are keenly aware that today they are a lot better off than their parents were. Survival instinct tends to kick in when catastrophe happens, not when life is good.

Not even the most convinced radical environmentalists would be willing to go on a hunger strike for a month or let alone start a violent campaign against those whom they accuse of destroying the planet.

Climate change is another victim of the age of hyperspecialization: most scientists are so focused on their own field that they can only visualize one specific threat related to that field, and don't realize that such threat combined from threats visible to other experts in other fields creates a much bigger threat.

My guess is that democracies are inherently incapable of facing complex problems. Just like they reacted to fascism only when fascism attacked them, so they will find the consensus to act on climate change only when the catastrophe starts happening; and scientists tell us that it will be too late. Meanwhile, the high-tech world will keep manufacturing, marketing and spreading the very items that make the problem worse (more vehicles, more electronic gadgets, more plastic). doclink

U.S.: An Unfair Fight for Renewable Energies

December 02, 2011, Washington Post

By Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California

More energy from the sun hits Earth in one hour than all the energy consumed on our planet in an entire year.

In those terms, it is absurd that our federal government spends tens of billions of dollars annually subsidizing the oil industry, which pulls diminishing resources from underground, while the industry focused above ground on wind, solar and other renewable energies is derided in Washington.

Federal support for development of new energy sources is lower today than at any other point in U.S. history, and our government is forcing the clean-energy sector into a competitive disadvantage. To bring true competition to the energy market, ensure our national security and create jobs here rather than in China or elsewhere, we must level the playing field for renewable energies. In this presidential primary, Americans need to hear where the candidates stand on this critical issue.

When the oil, gas and nuclear industries were forming, federal support for those energies totaled as much as 1 percent of federal spending. Subsidies available to the renewables industry today are just one-tenth of 1 percent.

To read more, click on the link in the headline above. doclink

U.S. Debt

July 2011, http://oilprice.com

doclink

American Psychosis: What Happens to a Society That Cannot Distinguish Between Reality and Illusion?...

September 14, 2010, Project World Awareness.com

Note: I admit that this is a very pessimistic, perhaps unrealistic article. But there many grains of truth to be found here. I know many people around me who seem to have blinders on, to be in denial. I believe Americans have gotten so accustomed to material goods, that they think they deserve them, when, in fact, they are exceeding the carrying capacity of the world ... Karen Gaia

The United States is a country entranced by illusions, captivated by the hollow stagecraft of celebrity culture as the walls crumble. The virtues that sustain a nation-state and build community, from honesty to self-sacrifice to transparency to sharing, are ridiculed each night on television. In the cult of the self, we have a right to get whatever we desire. Once fame and wealth are achieved, they become their own justification, their own morality. It is the ethic of unfettered capitalism.

We seem to believe that because we have the capacity to wage war we have a right to wage war. Those who lose deserve to be erased. Those who fail, those who are deemed ugly, ignorant or poor, should be belittled and mocked.

A society that cannot distinguish reality from illusion dies. The belief that democracy lies in the choice between competing brands and the accumulation of vast sums of personal wealth at the expense of others is exposed as a fraud. The travails of the poor are rapidly becoming the travails of the middle class, especially as unemployment insurance runs out.

America stays afloat by selling about $2 billion in Treasury bonds a day to the Chinese. It saw 2.8 million people lose their homes in 2009 to foreclosure or bank repossessions - nearly 8,000 people a day - and stands idle as they are joined by another 2.4 million people this year. It refuses to prosecute the Bush administration for obvious war crimes, including the use of torture, and sees no reason to dismantle Bush's secrecy laws or restore habeas corpus. Its infrastructure is crumbling. Deficits are pushing individual states to bankruptcy and forcing the closure of everything from schools to parks. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have squandered trillions of dollars, appear endless. There are 50 million Americans in real poverty and tens of millions of Americans in a category called "near poverty." One in eight Americans - and one in four children - depend on food stamps to eat. And yet, in the midst of it all, we continue to be a country consumed by happy talk and happy thoughts. We continue to embrace the illusion of inevitable progress, personal success and rising prosperity.

As the gap widens between the illusion and reality, as we suddenly grasp that it is our home being foreclosed or our job that is not coming back, we react like children. We scream and yell for a savior, someone who promises us revenge, moral renewal and new glory. A furious and sustained backlash by a betrayed and angry populace, one unprepared intellectually, emotionally and psychologically for collapse, will sweep aside the Democrats and most of the Republicans and will usher America into a new dark age. It was the economic collapse in Yugoslavia that gave us Slobodan Milosevic. It was the Weimar Republic that vomited up Adolf Hitler. And it was the breakdown in Tsarist Russia that opened the door for Lenin and the Bolsheviks. A cabal of proto-fascist misfits, from Christian demagogues to loudmouth talk show hosts, whom we naïvely dismiss as buffoons, will find a following with promises of revenge and moral renewal. And as in all totalitarian societies, those who do not pay fealty to the illusions imposed by the state become the outcasts, the persecuted.

The decline of American empire began before the first Gulf War or Ronald Reagan. It began when we shifted, in the words of Harvard historian Charles Maier, from an "empire of production" to an "empire of consumption."

By the end of the Vietnam War, when the costs of the war ate away at Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and domestic oil production began its steady, inexorable decline, we saw our country transformed from one that primarily produced to one that primarily consumed. We started borrowing to maintain a level of consumption as well as an empire we could no longer afford. We began to use force, especially in the Middle East, to feed our insatiable thirst for cheap oil. We substituted the illusion of growth and prosperity for real growth and prosperity. The bill is now due. America's most dangerous enemies are not Islamic radicals but those who sold us the perverted ideology of free-market capitalism and globalization. They have dynamited the very foundations of our society. In the 17th century these speculators would have been hung. Today they run the government and consume billions in taxpayer subsidies.

As the pressure mounts, as the despair and desperation reach into larger and larger segments of the populace, the mechanisms of corporate and government control are being bolstered to prevent civil unrest and instability. The emergence of the corporate state always means the emergence of the security state. This is why the Bush White House pushed through the Patriot Act (and its renewal), the suspension of habeas corpus, the practice of "extraordinary rendition," warrantless wiretapping on American citizens and the refusal to ensure free and fair elections with verifiable ballot- counting. The motive behind these measures is not to fight terrorism or to bolster national security. It is to seize and maintain internal control. It is about controlling us.

And yet, even in the face of catastrophe, mass culture continues to assure us that if we close our eyes, if we visualize what we want, if we have faith in ourselves, if we tell God that we believe in miracles, if we tap into our inner strength, if we grasp that we are truly exceptional, if we focus on happiness, our lives will be harmonious and complete. This cultural retreat into illusion, whether peddled by positive psychologists, by Hollywood or by Christian preachers, turns worthless mortgages and debt into wealth. It turns the destruction of our manufacturing base into an opportunity for growth. It turns a nation that wages illegal wars and administers offshore penal colonies where it openly practices torture into the greatest democracy on earth. doclink

Ralph says: Written by an author who does nor have a true understanding of our world. Karen Gaia says: the author never mentions why the consumption of Americans is not sustainable.

1999, David Pimentel, PhD , entomology/ agricultural sciences, Cornell Univ.

Look at fishery production. We built bigger ships, larger nets, and now the fish populations of the oceans lakes and rivers are lower than they've been since 1970. Look at the Colorado River. As it flows south, California, Arizona, and Colorado take a big piece out of it to support their populations. By the time that river reaches Mexico, it's dry. What technology do we have available, short of manipulating the climate, that can double the flow of the Colorado River? doclink

Ignorance is Bliss

October 2010

If things get really bad, we can build space ships and take the extra people to another planet.
The trouble with space travel is that it will be expensive. Only a few people can afford it. 2.5 people are born in the world every second, so even if everyone could afford space travel, a space ship that held 9,000 people would have to be built and leave the planet every hour, just to keep up with the world's hourly population growth. Can you think of a country that would have the resources and the manpower to build, fuel, and send up a spaceship that big every hour? doclink

Sustainability, Population, and Grow, Grow, Grow!

This Planet Comes with Limits

May 08, 2014, CNN.com   By: Carl Safina

Because economists presuppose that unlimited economic growth is necessary and also believe adding billions more humans to the world is desirable, I would like to share some thoughts about such thinkers, whom I'll call "Growthers."

Growthers and I agree that it's great that farmers can grow more food on fewer acres than in the past. We disagree utterly on why it's great. Growing food with increasing efficiency could solve human hunger and the need to give space back to other animals who need it -- if humanity doesn't continue to grow.

But no-limits people want more food to feed more mouths. That keeps civilization on an endless treadmill of running faster to stay in place. It means that more efficient food-growing accomplishes nothing. It means that more food will not end hunger.

Digital tech saves us time. It doesn't save elephants and apes, lions and tigers, bears and eagles, salmon and rivers, orchids and forests, giraffes and pandas, coral reefs and turtles.

It's only fair to poor people to let them in on the main secret of wealthy, educated and successful people: smaller families mean larger lives. In the happiest of coincidences, the thing that brings fertility down fastest happens to be the same thing that brings down poverty: educating girls.

Illiterate women bear three times as many children as do literate women, and their children tend to stay poor. Meanwhile, each year of schooling raises women's earning power by 10% to 20%. And when people are a little better off, they desire fewer children. doclink

27 Huge Red Flags for the U.S. Economy

May 20, 2014, The Economic Collapse   By: Michael Snyder

As we look toward the second half of 2014, there are economic red flags all over the place. Industrial production is down. Home sales are way down. Retail stores are closing at the fastest pace since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. U.S. household debt is up substantially, and in 20 percent of all U.S. families everyone is unemployed. In so many ways, what we are witnessing right now is so similar to what we experienced during the build up to the last great financial crisis.

The following are 27 huge red flags for the U.S. economy... (Note: not all are covered here. Click on the link in the headline to see.)

#1 The number one concern for U.S. voters is "Unemployment/Jobs" according to a recent Gallup survey.

#2 Sales for equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, good indicator of where the global economy is going, Unfortunately, were down 13% last month and have now experienced year over year declines for 17 months in a row.

#3 During the first quarter of 2014, profits at office supply giant Staples fell by 43.5 percent.

#6 The labor force participation rate for Americans from the age of 25 to the age of 29 has fallen to an all-time record low.

#7 According to official government numbers, everyone is unemployed in 20% of all American families.

#8 As families struggle to pay their bills, many of them are increasingly turning to debt in order to make ends meet.

#9 Interest rates on student loans are scheduled to increase substantially on July 1st...

#11 Manufacturing job openings in the United States have declined for four months in a row.

#12 Existing home sales have fallen for seven of the last eight months and seem to be repeating a pattern that we witnessed back in 2007 prior to the last financial crash.

#14 The homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.

#16 Jan Loeys, JPMorgan's head of global asset allocation, is warning that the Federal Reserve is creating a huge financial bubble which could "push us into a credit crisis"...

#17 Peter Boockvar, the chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, is warning that the U.S. stock market could experience a 20 percent decline once quantitative easing completely ends.

#20 Poverty continues to grow all over the country, and right now there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.

#21 According to Pew Charitable Trusts, tax revenue in 26 U.S. states is still lower than it was back in 2008 even though tax rates have gone up in many areas since then.

#23 Climatologists are now saying that the state of Texas is going through the worst period of drought that it has experienced in 500 years.

#25 It is being projected that the drought in California will cost the agricultural industry 1.7 billion dollars and that approximately 14,500 agricultural workers will lose their jobs.

#26 Due in part to the drought, the price of meat rose at the fastest pace in more than 10 years last month. doclink

Three Reasons Investors Are Beginning to Take Sustainability Seriously

May 21, 2014, World Resources Institute - WRI   By: Janet Ranganathan

At an annual conference of the CFA Institute there was a session on sustainable investing.

Essential parts of sustainability are food, clean water, pollination, and hazard protection. Business models that exploit these put pressure on the Earth's natural resources.

This session made three points:

1. Environmental degradation and the impacts of climate change are material business risks

Consider the case of Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest beer brewer. Drought in the U.S. Pacific Northwest in 2001 severely affected its operations. When the amount of water available for irrigation dipped, the price of barley, a key ingredient in beer, skyrocketed. At the same time, the availability of aluminum for cans dropped as smelters, which rely on low-cost power from hydroelectric dams, reduced output because of rising electricity prices.

2. Companies that damage the environment can no longer hide

In a similar case, the world-renowned Gibson Guitar Company's reputation was tarnished after it had to pay a fine for its use of exotic wood imported from Madagascar and India.

3. Sustainability is a major driver of business strategy and competitiveness

Philips has committed to investing €2bn (£1.6bn) in green product innovation by 2015. And Wilmar, a leading Asian agribusiness group, which trades more than 45%of the global palm oil supply, is committed to a deforestation-free supply chain.

It will not be easy, but the consequences of business as usual are unthinkable. As Nelson Mandela said: "It always seems impossible until it's done." doclink

Our Chat with Jeremy Grantham

He called the Internet bubble, then the housing bubble. What alarm bell is Jeremy Grantham, the chief investment strategist at GMO, ringing about now?
September 05, 2013, Wall Street Journal

Jeremy Grantham, chief investment strategist at GMO, has a investment advice track record that is hard to beat. He also warns about resources becoming more expensive and about climate change. Because of this record, it is hard to ignore his predictions.

Commodity prices came down for a hundred years by an average of 70%, and then starting around 2002, they shot up and basically everything tripled, he says. This is perhaps due to the ridiculous growth rates in China -- such a large country, with 1.3 billion people using 45% of the coal used in the world, 50% of all the cement and 40% of all the copper. These are numbers that you can't keep on rolling along without expecting something to go tilt.

Grantham says the most valuable and critical resource is phosphate or phosphorous. Phosphorous cannot be made, only placed. We are mining it, and it's depleting. 85% of the low-cost, high-quality phosphorous is in Morocco…and belongs to the King of Morocco, which means the supply is much more constrained than oil in the Middle East ever was. The rest of the world has maybe 50 years of reserve if we don't grow too fast.

Investors are advised to own reserves of phosphorous, potash, oil, copper, tin, zinc, etc. Grantham wouldn't own coal or tar sands because it's hugely expensive to build coal utilities, and the plants they have to build for tar sands are massive, and before they get their money back he suspects that the price of solar and wind will have come down enough to be worthwhile.

Grantham also suggests that investors own very good farmland in distinctly stable countries -- Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, Brazil, Canada, and the U.S.

Politicians and corporations are only interested in the short term. If they are benefiting from the current situation, they don't want change. For example, if the oil industry is making a bundle, they don't want to change to a system that recognizes climate change and the need to have a tax on carbon. So we have vested interests and politicians depend on campaign contributions from the vested interests, so it's a miracle anything gets done.

Grantham was predicting "seven lean years," but with the Fed pushing it, it can go into another bubble. The rising stock prices makes you feel richer and the whole thing bites you, and you have a recession and a bad stock market. doclink

Workers of the World: Relax! How Can We Create a Successful Economy Without Continuous Economic Growth?

September 2013, Center for Humans and Nature

Is continuous growth required for economic a success? No, says Italian economist Stefano Bartolini in his Manifesto for Happiness, which the University of Pennsylvania will publish in English this year.

Over the last hundred years, people have consumed more resources than all of their ancestors. We have damaged our farmland soils, drastically reduced our fish stocks, caused the extinction of countless species, and changed our climate. Although our business leaders would have us continue on that course, it is no longer sustainable. Rapid growth actually leads to economic decay.

But the U.S. economy feeds on continuous growth and consumption. We use GDP to gauge our success. It measures the cost of goods and services that we make, buy, and sell. As Bobby Kennedy said, "It measures, in short, everything except that which makes life worthwhile." Bartolini describes how Madison Ave shapes our choices. Want an attractive image? Buy a hot car… Want nature? Fly to a tropical paradise… Of course you will want a big home and yard. So we now have sprawling burbs where public transit is impractical, cars and long commutes are essential, and we see our neighbors mainly through windows. We have less public space and access to nature. What's more, during the past three decades, while GDP doubled, worker earnings stayed flat. To buy more consumer goods, we work longer hours and buy on credit. Straddled with debt, we call for slashing taxes and cutting support for public services, like transportation, education, and public parks. It's a vicious cycle that leads to health problems, stress, anxiety, and high suicide rates.

Our economy may grow faster than Europe's, where people work and consume less and devote more time to social relationships, but as we run ever faster, we never move forward to better lives. As productivity increases, we increase production to maintain jobs. Bartolini says that working less could produce more economic security and allow more time for self-chosen activity -- exercise, gardening, volunteering, environmental restoration and stewardship, socializing, stress-reducing leisure, personal caregiving. We can stretch our job opportunities by sharing and shortening work hours, taking longer vacations, offering liberal family and sick leave policies, and granting even part-time workers more benefits. So, as Canada's Conrad Schmidt says, "Workers of the World, Relax!"

A better measurement of "success" is the first step toward well-being. The Happiness Initiative promotes ten measures of progress and life satisfaction: financial security; environmental quality; physical and mental health; education; arts and culture; government; social connection; workplace quality, and time balance. And the United Nations now advocates "equitable and sustainable well-being," not just GDP growth. doclink

Karen Gaia says: we could take a lesson from Cuba, one of the world's most sustainable countries. Cuba promotes communities and culture. Its per capita GDP is about $9900, compared to $50,000 for the United States.

U.S.: The Scariest Jobs Chart Ever Isn't Scary Enough

March 7, 2013, NPR National Public Radio

The scary chart from the blog Calculated Risk tracks the job market in every U.S. recession and recovery since WWII shows our 2007 employment recession reaching 6% unemployment after 25 months and headed back up to its previous peak.

The chart cuts off when employment gets back to its previous peak. But, because of population growth, getting back to where we were five years ago isn't enough. To get back to full employment, we need to have millions more jobs than we had then.

Another chart, Recessions and Recoveries Since 1948 - source: Bureau of Labor Statistics - shows that, In previous postwar recoveries, the number of jobs was about 7% above its previous peak by this point, on average.

In other words, if this had been a typical recession and recovery, the U.S. economy would now have roughly 10 million more jobs than it did at the previous peak. In fact, there are now three million fewer jobs.

Follow the link in the headline to see the charts. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Not many people make the link from population to the economy. But when energy EROI reaches 10, energy and money will be used to make more energy and diverted from things like industries, computers, health, education, etc., and employment will no longer keep up with population.

Our Investment Sinkhole Problem

February 08, 2013   By: Gail Tverberg

We have learned to expect that more investment will yield more output, but things don't always work out that way.

Usually GDP growth is a little greater than oil consumption growth. This happens because of (a) Increasing substitution of other energy sources for oil, (b) Increased efficiency in using oil, and (c) A changing GDP mix away from producing goods, and toward producing services, leading to a proportionately lower need for oil and other energy products.

In Saudi Arabia, however, a huge increase in oil consumption does not seem to result in a corresponding rise in GDP. Part of problem is that Saudi Arabia is reaching limits of various types, including inadequate water for a rising population. Adding desalination plants adds huge costs and huge energy usage, but does not increase the standard of living of citizens.

With oil and gas fields it is doubtful that there is an increase in capacity that is proportional to the cost of expensive investment that is needed. New investment just offsets a decline in production elsewhere. It is expensive, but adds little to what gets measured as GDP.

Now the investment sinkhole issue is being seen in the world outside of Saudi Arabia in several forms: water limits that require deeper wells or desalination plants; oil and gas limits that require more expensive forms of extraction; and pollution limits requiring expensive adjustments to automobiles or to power plants.

Higher investment costs mean higher costs of goods using these products which eventually transfer to other products that most of us consider essential: food because it uses much oil in growing and transport; electricity because it is associated with pollution controls; and metals for basic manufacturing, because they also use oil in extraction and transport.

These investment sinkholes mean the economy is becoming less efficient, crowding out other types of investment. From a consumer's point of view, they lead to a rising cost of essential products that can be expected to squeeze out other purchases.

Say, for example, a city government decides to install a desalination plan, because the citizens clearly need the water. But can the citizens afford the desalinated water from their discretionary income? If they spend more on desalinated water, the amount of discretionary income available for other goods will be reduced.

Suppose the air pollution is approaching limits - perhaps too many people in too small a space, and too many waste products for the environment to handle. It is assumed that buyers of electricity or of an automobile will be willing to use some of their discretionary income for pollution control equipment or renewable energy requirements, but these too tend to impose higher costs, and indirectly reduce consumers' discretionary income.

In mining, companies extract the cheapest to extract resources first, and move on to the more expensive to extract resources later, resulting in rising commodity prices.

With energy products, consumers really need the products extracted - the oil to grow the food they eat and for commuting, for example. Oil is the most portable of the world's energy sources, and because of this, is used in powering most types of vehicles and much portable equipment. It is also used as a raw material in many products. As a result, limits on oil supply are likely to have an adverse impact on the economy as a whole, and on economic growth.

New oil development is increasingly occurring in expensive-to-extract locations, such as deep water, Canadian oil sands, arctic oil, and "tight oil" that requires fracking to extract. This oil requires more energy to produce, and more inputs of other sorts, such as water for fracking. Because of rising costs, the price of oil has tripled in the last 10 years.

Worldwide, oil and gas exploration and production spending increased by 19% in 2011 and 11% in 2012, according to Barclays Capital. These investments resulted in only a 0.1% increase in crude oil production in 2011, and 2.2% increase in the first 10 months of 2012, based on EIA data. Natural gas production increased by 3.1% in 2011, according to BP. For 2013, only a 7% increase in worldwide oil and gas investment is predicted by Barclays. Virtually none of the investment growth will come from North America, apparently because oil and gas prices are not currently high enough to justify the high-priced projects needed. This forecast contradicts the IEA claim that North America is on its way to becoming an energy exporter.

To "grow" oil and gas production, businesses will need to keep investing increasing amounts of money (and energy) into oil and gas extraction and prices paid by consumers for oil and gas will need to continue to rise. In the US, the cost of producing shale natural gas is estimated by Steve Kopits of Douglas Westwood to be $8 - far above what it sells for - the Henry Hub spot natural gas price is now only $3.38.

The author suggest that, for most of the developed (OECD) countries, the ultimate impact will be a long-term contraction of the economy.

If more and more investment capital (and physical use of oil) is allocated toward the investment sinkholes, the prices paid for resources that are subject to these sinkholes need to continue to rise, in order to continue to attract enough investment capital. This is true both for goods that directly come from investment sinkholes (oil, gas and water) and from products that depend on rising-cost inputs (such as food and electricity). And products outside of essential goods and services will increasingly be starved of investment capital and physical resources.

People talk about inventing a substitute for oil, but biofuels and intermittent electricity are very poor substitutes. Often substitutes have even higher costs, adding to the investment sinkhole problem, rather than solving it.

When resource prices rise, the impact is felt almost immediately. Salaries don't rise at the same time oil prices rise, so consumers have to cut back on some purchases of discretionary goods and services. The initial impact is layoffs in discretionary sectors of the economy. Then governments need to pay benefits to laid-off workers at the same time they are collecting less in taxes.

As the government attempts to extricate itself from the high level of debt it has gotten itself into, citizens are again likely to see their budgets squeezed because of higher taxes, lay-offs of government workers, and reduced government benefits.

In a way, what we are talking about is the Limits to Growth problem modeled in the 1972 book by that name. It is the fact that we are reaching limits in many ways simultaneously that is causing our problem. doclink

Developing nations: The Challenge of Attaining the Demographic Dividend

December 06 , 2012, Population Reference Bureau blog   By: James Gribble and Jason Bremner

The demographic dividend is often thought to be imminent and within grasp. However, even though child survival has greatly improved in developing countries, birth rates are still high in many of them. These countries will find it difficult to reach their full economic potential unless they act today to increase their commitment and investment in voluntary family planning.

A demographic dividend works if there are fewer births each year, so that a country's young dependent population grows smaller in relation to the working-age population. With fewer people to support, a country has a window of opportunity for rapid economic growth if the right social and economic policies developed and investments made.

In the world's least developed countries, more than 40% of the population is under age 15 and depends on financial support from working-age adults. Another 90 million people between ages 15 and 19 are on their way to becoming financially independent as they enter adulthood. Large numbers of young people can represent great economic potential, but only if families and governments can adequately invest in their health and education and stimulate new economic opportunities for them.

However, if the number of children per woman is high, children and adolescents greatly outnumber working-age adults, and families and governments will not have the resources needed to invest adequately in each child.

25% of women in developing countries want to avoid becoming pregnant or delay or space their births but are not using a modern family planning method, accounting for almost 80% of unintended pregnancies. As a result, the populations of these countries are growing very quickly -- as much as 3% or more per year. Such a high growth rate could double the number of people in these countries in just 23 years.

When women can choose when and how often to become pregnant, they are more likely to have fewer children and are better able to achieve their desired family size.

Population growth can also be slowed by delaying the age at first birth. In countries with the highest fertility rates and lowest average age at marriage (mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia), growth can be slowed by 15-20% by delaying marriage and childbearing by five years.

Even though some countries with high fertility and low development exhibit relatively high levels of economic growth, the growth has not improved the living standards of most people, due to disparity of wealth. Until these countries have more substantial reductions in fertility and complete a demographic transition, the opportunity for a demographic dividend will be delayed for decades. doclink

Green and EcoEconomics

Economists' Growth Insanity

April 29, 2014, MAHB - Millenium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere   By: Paul R. Ehrlich

People that want to keep growing the GDP do not seem to understand that continued growth will destroy our civilization.

Even most smart economists, like Paul Krugman, for example, cannot get over the notion that growth is necessary to solve human problems. Krugman recently was seen on TV talking about how to get growth without bubbles, suggesting that Japan's growth had slowed partly because of its demographic situation.

If economists could (or would) take into account the ongoing depreciation of the planet's natural capital, it is likely that economic growth has already halted, along with (as economists ironically have demonstrated) the growth of human satisfaction.

The critical economic question today is simply: "is there a humane, equitable, and well-being-providing substitute for physical growth and, if so, how can we transition to it?

Economics may be the discipline that has the most to contribute to avoiding a collapse of civilization. It's a great pity that most economists are growthmaniacs -- very much part of the problem rather than the solution. doclink

Why the Next 20 Years Will Be Completely Unlike the Last 20

Presenting the 'Accelerated' Crash Course
June 20, 2014   By: Adam Taggart

Let's pull back for a moment and look at the Really Big Picture:

We're facing a future in which the economic growth the world has enjoyed over the past century can no longer continue.

Over-indebtedness, mal-investment, cronyism, manipulation, and misguided policymaking have all certainly contributed to our current predicament. But the principal causes are much bigger. And much harder to address.

Simply put, we're entering an era when it's becoming increasingly difficult to obtain the resources we need -- at the cost we need -- to power the economic activity we need.

The trends of resource depletion, escalating mining & drilling costs, species die-offs, emptying aquifers, declining energy yields and the like are increasingly pitting the world's 7 billion people (soon to be 9 billion before 2050) against each other in competition for the remaining biomass and minerals that make industry possible.

As a result, massive changes to our way of life are in store. No matter where each of us lives.

This brand-new video shines a bright light on these trends and the risks we face as a result. But it also offers hope. If we take action now, while there's still time, there's much we can do not only to reduce our personal vulnerability to these threats, but also to step into this new future with newfound optimism.

Length: Approx. one hour doclink

Karen Gaia says: everyone should see this video.

This is No Recovery, This is a Bubble – and it Will Burst

Stock market bubbles of historic proportions are developing in the US and UK markets. With policymakers unwilling to introduce tough regulation, we're heading for trouble
February 24, 2014, Mail and Guardian   By: Ha-joon Chang

In the UK the current levels of share prices are extraordinary considering UK economy has not yet recovered the ground lost since the 2008 crash and per capita income in the UK today is still lower than it was in 2007. Also share prices back in 2007 were themselves definitely in bubble territory of the first order.

Even more worrying is the situation in the US. The Standard & Poor 500 stock market index reached the highest ever level in March, surpassing the 2007 peak, even though the country's per capita income had not yet recovered to its 2007 level. Since then, the index has risen about 20%, although the US per capita income has not increased even by 2% during the same period. This is definitely the biggest stock market bubble in modern history.

No one is offering a plausible narrative explaining why the evidently unsustainable levels of share prices are actually justified.

During the dotcom bubble, the predominant view was that the new information technology was about to completely revolutionise our economies for good. Given this, it was argued, stock markets would keep rising (possibly forever) and reach unprecedented levels.

Unfortunately these stock market bubbles of historic proportion which are developing in the US and the UK - the two most important stock markets in the world - are threatening to create yet another financial crash.

One obvious way of dealing with these bubbles is to take the excessive liquidity that is inflating them out of the system through a combination of tighter monetary policy and better financial regulation against stock market speculation. Of course, the danger here is that these policies may prick the bubble and create a mess. doclink

Karen Gaia says: few economists take into consideration what the depletion of natural resouces does to the economy, especially energy resources and the energy it takes to produce them. We are currently living on both monetary debt and the over-withdrawal of non renewable natural resources, and this cannot last.

It's Simple. If We Can't Change Our Economic System, Our Number's Up

It's the great taboo of our age - and the inability to discuss the pursuit of perpetual growth will prove humanity's undoing
May 27, 2014   By: George Montbiot

Although anything close to perpetual growth is unsustainable, our inability to discuss this problem logically could prove our undoing. A calculation by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham shows that after 3000 years of continuous 4.5% growth a single cubic meter would expand to consume 2.5 billion billion solar systems. Considering this example, he concludes that "salvation lies in collapse." To succeed for several generations in meeting our economic expansion goals could lead to our destruction. That is the bind we find ourselves in. Ignore, if you must, climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues miraculously vanished, the mathematics of compound growth make continuous growth impossible.

A few days after scientists predicted the collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet, the Ecuadorean government decided to allow oil drilling in Yasuni national park. Ecuador had offered to leave the oil in the ground if other governments would pay them half of its profit potential. Be this blackmail or fair trade, poor Ecuador has rich oil deposits, so why leave them untouched without compensation when everyone else is taking the money? Ecuador gave the contract to Petroamazonas, a company known for habitat destruction and spills. Petroamazonas may now enter one of the most biodiverse habitats on the planet, where a hectare of rainforest supports more species than exist in all of North America.

In a similar manner, the UK firm Soco hopes to drill in Virunga (Congo), Africa's oldest national park. Virunga is home to endangered mountain gorillas, the okapi, chimpanzees, and forest elephants. Wealthy districts are not exempt. In Britain, possibly 4.4 billion barrels of shale oil may exist in the south-east, so the government is changing the trespass laws to enable drilling without consent while paying off some local people. These new reserves will not for long satisfy our growing needs. Our plans for compound growth have no end in sight, so we will continue scouring of the planet until we have consumed all the extractable oil available. As the global economy expands, all resources will be extracted and dispersed, and some of the world's most biodiverse regions may resemble slag heaps.

While man has occupied the earth for thousands of years, every prior economic expansion collapsed when the growth rate hit a limit. Coal pushed back the barriers and enabled what we now call sustained growth for more than two hundred years. We may credit capitalism for the cumulative wealth of the modern age, but without carbon-fuelled expansion (coal, oil and gas), our current GDP would not be possible. Our economic systems are "mere subplots." Now, with our accessible reserves growing scarce, we must ransack the hidden corners of the planet to sustain our current rates of consumption.

The super-rich now set the pace for global consumption, with giant yachts, personal jets, multiple large homes, they squander scarce resources on things they don't even need. Sensing that this is unsustainable, some now fantasize about colonizing space where an untapped store of new resources awaits us. For those who expect that technological breakthroughs will allow endless growth, the numbers show a different picture. Iron ore production has risen 180% in 10 years. The trade body Forest Industries tells us that, despite digital reading material, "global paper consumption is at a record high level and it will continue to grow." If, we can't cut paper consumption, what hope exists for other commodities?

Efficiency solves nothing so long as growth continues. Philosopher Michael Rowan explains that if we sustain the predicted global growth rate for 2014 (3.1%), even if we miraculously reduced the consumption of raw materials by 90%, we delay collapse by just 75 years. The more we rely on growth, the greater the destruction of the Earth's living systems. But economists rarely mention this. Warnings based on the outcomes of basic arithmetic are conveniently discarded, while the impossible proposition that founds our economy they consider so normal and unremarkable that it isn't worth mentioning. They would rather discuss recipes, renovations and resorts. We can measure the depth of this problem by our inability to even discuss it. doclink

Art says: Reducing population will help, but it will not solve this problem. Even negative growth rates would not restore non-renewable resources. Only a switch to renewable and recyclable resources will solve the long-range problem.

Charles Plosser Thinks There's a Ticking Time Bomb at the Fed

May 20 , 2014   By: Jeffry Bartash

The Federal Reserve is sitting on a ticking time bomb that could severely damage the economy.

There $2.5 trillion excess reserves sitting in the Federal Reserve, available for loanable funds to individual or corporate borrowers through the nation's banks. However demand for loans has been unusually weak amid an economic recovery that's the slowest on record since the Great Depression.

The Fed has created these reserves through unpredented purchases of U.S. Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities, a strategy known as quantatative easing.

If borrowing begins to surge and those reserves start to pour out of the banking system, "that's going to put pressure on inflation," Philadelphia Fed president Charles Plosser said. This might force the Fed to raise interest rates faster and earlier than it would like and perhaps slam the breaks on the economic harm in the process

In the past this was avoided simply by not creating so much excess reserves in the first place. If the excess reserves did not exist, banks could not lend out too much money and trigger an inflationary spiral.

"We have to restrain the pace at which banks lend those reserves out," Plosser said. Go too fast and economic growth could get stunted. Go too slow and inflationary pressures would build rapidly. In the past, Plosser asserted, the Fed has almost always reacted too late.

There is considerable contention about how fast the reserve funds should be drawn down.

When the Fed ends its bond-buying campaign the central bank's total balance sheet could reach a record $4.5 trillion. doclink

Karen Gaia says: sounds like a Ponzi scheme which benefits only the rich and fails in the long run. Our energy-hungry economy is now seeing the effects of a lower EROI and more costly extraction methods. It we're not careful, we will spend our precious energy on things we don't need or that won't work, or are more inefficient than alternatives.

The Economics of Birth Control

November 15, 2013

Spending $1 and getting $4 back sounds like a good deal, doesn't it? Well for every $1 we invest in family planning, we save $4 in other areas like education, public health, and water and sanitation.

It's time to cash in on this deal, and invest in family planning worldwide. When women are able to plan their pregnancies, they live longer, they have smaller families, and they're better able to participate in the workforce. In fact, women who have access to contraception typically make 40% more than those without access — and that economic success is good for the whole country.

So what are we waiting for? Share this infographic to spread the word: birth control isn't just good for women, it's good for the economy.

doclink

Swiss Insurer Invests $1b to Fight Global Warming

November 14, 2013, CNN.com   By: Mark Thompson

The Swiss financial services group, Zurich Insurance, plans to invest about 0.5% of its $200 billion portfolio in green bonds issued by the World Bank and other institutions to support sustainable growth and development without sacrificing financial returns. This investment will make the group the biggest holder of dollar-denominated green bonds, holding about 10% of the global market.

Impact investing is becoming increasingly popular with both institutions and individuals who want to do good while making money. The global financial meltdown, financial scams and Wall Street misconduct have left many people disillusioned with traditional investments. A growing awareness of inequality and diminishing natural resources has also helped fuel a hunger to do good with finance, particularly among young people.

Extreme weather, such as floods and typhoons, has caused $76 billion of insured losses in east Asia over the past three decades.

Naderev Sano, of the Philippines Climate Change Commission, said that the highest increase in measured sea levels over the past seven decades "has been in the waters just east of the Philippines." ... "you shouldn't wait for full scientific certainty before doing something or taking action." .. "How many lives do we want to lose, not just in the Philippines but in communities that have other climate impacts?"

Zurich will finance initiatives such as an energy efficiency project in Turkey aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions by over 1.4 million tons per year by investing in solar, geothermal and other renewable resources. doclink

Top 10 Policies for a Steady-State Economy

October 29 , 2013, CASSE Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy

Herman Daly offers ten ideas as an economic guideline for a more sustainable future. His "steady state economy" explains how to slow the rate of consumption to support a quality life without overwhelming the restorative capacity of our ecosystem. It channels energies toward improving science, technology, and ethics, while discouraging the over-consumption of resources and placing more limits on those who pollute. In the interest of space I have merged or omitted several of Daly's ideas.

Cap-auction-trade:

Each year the government can auction a limited set of rights to consume resources that are scarce or contribute to pollution (e.g. fossil fuels, timber and wild fish). This would prevent over-consumption and create new revenues for "equitable redistribution." The auction revenues can replace several regressive taxes to reduce the burden on those with the lowest incomes. Third parties can freely buy and sell any portion of the quotas purchased at auction. The cap ensures sustainable limits; the auction serves the goal of fair distribution; and trading enables efficient allocation.

An excise tax or quota might be necessary to prevent the rich from always outbidding the poor for end products such as fuel or fresh fish. As an alternative or supplement to the cap-auction-trade system, Daly advocates "ecological tax" reform.  Disincentivize pollution and resource depletion by taxing them, and encourage conservation and the wise use of those resources by not taxing work and investment activities which serve that end. Miners and drillers should pay, not just the cost of extracting natural resources; but also the cost of buying those resources from the public's reserves. Economists have long advocated taxing our resource heritage both for efficiency and equity reasons.

Work toward major income redistribution: 

Perhaps we can't steal form the rich to give to the poor, but we can and should seek fair limits on the range of inequality. The GINI index shows that most prosperous nations enjoy far more equitable ranges of income distribution than we do. Our vast income differences undermine the sense of community we need for democratic harmony. Separated by income differentials of 500%, our rich and poor share few common interests or experiences, and that can lead to social unrest (or recessions).

More and better jobs might help to raise peoples' incomes, but that normally translates into greater productivity and consumption. Other industrial nations that have achieved a better distribution of wealth often spread the work around more by encouraging higher wages, shorter hours and more opportunities for part-time work, longer vacations, extended leaves, etc. Use of the GDP index should also be modified or replaced by a measure that better reflects all of the costs and benefits associated with sustainability and quality of life.   International trade agreements and regulations:

To make American products price-competitive in international trade, companies have forced our workers to do more for less.  To reverse that course, we must renegotiate our trade agreements based on the interests of both our workers and our corporations.  No one can force our nation to sign trade agreements that sell out the interests of American workers.

Those who prefer our markets to our products must be told that we will sign only those agreements that serve the interests of all concerned.  To sell in the U.S., a company or nation must agree to a mutually advantageous set of rules.  This "new protectionism," as critics might dub it, does not shelter inefficient domestic firms. Inefficient firms will still face pressures from both foreign and domestic competitors, as they do now. Our current agreements coupled with free capital mobility leads to a standards-lowering competition that favors price above fairness or human and environmental costs. The new rules “count all the costs," including environmental costs and the fairness of our trade deals with all major partners.

Current WTO agreements allow some nations to set tariffs on what they import from us. If tariffs have a legitimate place in our economy, it should be to ensure that all nations have a healthy balance of trade (i.e., they consume as much as they produce).  Such a change will run afoul of existing WTO, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund agreements, so we must take a firm stand to change those agreements and several international commerce regulations. The new rules must not only help to level the working field, they must also require all firms to pay the social and environmental costs they inflict.

Population and prosperity: 

We should support initiatives for family planning and make contraception available everywhere. Nations that don't support the family planning initiatives of poor nations may find it difficult to stem the flow of desperate immigrants. Nations often accept immigrants for humanitarian reasons or to help fill labor shortages, but they need reasonable, democratically enacted immigration laws to avoid being overrun by the surplus populations of other nations.

We can help to slow this invasion by assisting poor nations. Instead of saddling poor nations with large interest-bearing loans that drive them deeper into debt, we should assist them with free and actively shared knowledge and small grants that enable people help themselves. We should compensate the holders of patents and intellectual property rights in ways that better promote the public good so they do not inhibit the advancement of knowledge and life-saving technologies.

The political environment determines the extent to which we can enact these needed changes. We might expect the new breed of conservatives in the U.S congress to brand most of my proposals as radical. Yet other nations have already enacted some of them and they are seeking solutions to the problems my other ideas address. Some of these ideas may need review and adjustments, but other writers, both current and historical, have offered proposals similar to most of mine.

Rather than attack the basis of our economic system, my proposals call only for reforms and adjustments to make the system sustainable. An endless growth-based system will eventually fail like a Ponzi. For several reasons people have been losing confidence in the fairness of a private ownership economic system where the rich keep gaining the bulk of the wealth. To survive the challenges of the changing world we face, we should consider that private property loses its legitimacy where the rich are disproportionally rewarded; markets lose their legitimacy if prices do not reflect the true costs; and economic rules become absurd if they call for growth beyond the the Earth's capacity. doclink

Global Trade and Resource Privatization

Ignorance by Consensus

November 13, 2012   By: David Korowicz

The headline read: "OECD Economic Outlook 2007 ... GNP growth will average around 3.75% per annum between 2008-2015." How could such acknowledged experts, well resourced, consulted by governments, get things so wrong? Especially when the risk at issue, the popping of a credit bubble, was about as vanilla as an economist could get.

Quite a few people saw the risk of the bubble bursting, but they tended to operate on the fringes of established consensus, and by extension, a social periphery. Thus their views could be dismissed precisely because they represented a fringe view.

We are trying to comprehend our world within the world-views and economic orthodoxies developed over an extra-ordinary, two-hundred year period of compound economic growth. This growth was coincident with increasing wealth, complexity and globalized integration. Part of our dominant consensus is that this trend will continue. Much of what is important to us, how we live, our expectations, what we value and hold dear, was shaped by this process. And we, the global 10%, have done well by it.

The fringe view is that this growth is over - we are at the limits to growth, now. We are moving into a deepening global deflationary depression, interspersed with dangerous and possibly irreversible shocks to the systems that support our basic welfare. We will lose much of what we take for granted and things we have come to call our own. We are entering an era of real danger and unpredictability.

We have reached the limit in the credit backing of our financial, monetary and banking system. We are at the same time hitting profoundly destabilizing ecological limits; we are almost certainly at the peak of global oil and food production. We are also at the limits of the system of trust and solvency that underpins the trade upon which we depend. We are at the limits of the least substitutable energy source that is necessary for economic maintenance and growth. We are at the limits of our most fundamental human sustenance.

Also the changing nature of the globalized economy - increasing integration, complexity, speed and inter-dependence - has made us very much more vulnerable to this convergence. Further, such complexity makes it very difficult, or even dangerous to try and ‘fix' its parts.

If we were to acknowledge this fringe view we would be urgently preparing for profound change - when change is forced upon us we may have much less room for maneuver. We would be embracing austerity because of its inevitability, and in doing so, transform it. We would be working on our food security, the resilience of critical services such as sanitation, monetary systems, governance, and re-working work. We would have begun the personal and collective psychological processes that might allow us avoid some of our species most destructive passions that can emerge in a time of crisis, and instead use it as a source of creative and positive change.

Why worry, it's a fringe view… why with shale gas, technology, markets, stopping austerity, green growth, changing the monetary system …. so many options! Anyway haven't people been saying such stuff since the time of Malthus, and they're still wrong! Aren't the experts in control?! doclink

Karen Gaia says: we could also be working on making family planning available - and the accurate information needed to use it effectively - to women and couples who think they would benefit from it.

Debt Boils Over

June 19 , 2012, Global Footprint Network

One of the hidden drivers behind Europe's financial turmoil is the dramatic increase in resource prices over the last 10 years. Historically, cheap resources have helped fuel economic growth, but the situation has now changed.

When costs increase, to maintain the same level of consumption, debt levels also increase. Now the ability of many countries to service this debt is being called into question.

Between 2001 and 2011, the price of commodities increased by nearly three times in nominal U.S. dollar terms, reversing more than two decades of stable or falling prices. The supply of ecosystem products (such as food and fibre) and more easily exploitable fossil fuel and hydro energy no longer matches the growing demand.

An increasing number of countries are running biocapacity deficits, consuming more resources and emitting more waste than their own ecosystems can regenerate or absorb. To make up their deficits, countries must either deplete their own stocks or become net-importers of ecological services.

While trade can help a country's cover its resource deficit, not all countries can become net importers of ecological services and resources. Instead, the growing global competition for limited resources, coupled with rising global demand, will likely tighten the market for both biological and fossil resources even further.

These burdens on performance are occurring at a time of global economic and financial turbulence and, indeed, may be a factor exacerbating the turmoil. In many countries, rising costs and sluggish economic performance might lead to heightened government deficits and growing sovereign debt.

Advanced assessment tools are needed to help establish whether investments are producing or eroding net present value. The consequences of natural resource deficits in terms of financial instability can be severe at a time when global financial markets are intolerant of imbalances in public finances. doclink

U.S.: California Has 2 Million Kids in Poverty, Says Census Bureau

November 17, 2011, Sacramento Bee

Over 2 million children live in poverty in California - more than any other state, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report. The rate rose from 19.9% to 22% In the U.S., the number of children living in poverty rose from 14.7 million in 2009 to 15.7 million in 2010 with the rate rising from 20% to 21.6%

Mississippi had the highest child poverty rate among the states at 32.5%, with District of Columbia following with 30.4%. Puerto Rico had 56.3%.

Families using food stamps or supplemental nutrition programs rose from 10.3% to 11.9% from from 2009 to 2010. California is below average, going from from 6.2% to 7.4% .

California's huge foreign-born population, some 10.2 million, tends to have a higher-than-average proportion of those who arrived in the state prior to 2005. Other studies have shown that the rate of immigration into California, both legal and illegal, has dropped sharply in recent years due to the state's moribund economy.

86.7% of California's foreign-born came here prior to 2005. States who have experienced recent inflows to satisfy their growing economies and therefore their growing needs for labor, were lower, with North Dakota's 66.9% the lowest.

While California has the nation's largest number of residents over 89 years old, it also has one of the lower percentages of over 89. doclink

How the U.S. is Becoming a 3rd World Country - Part 1

November 11, 2011, Financial Sense

The U.S. is experiencing high unemployment, lack of economic opportunity, low wages, widespread poverty, extreme concentration of wealth, unsustainable government debt, control of the government by international banks and multinational corporations, weak rule of law and counterproductive government policies -- all fundamental characteristics that define a 3rd world country.

While other factors such as public health, nutrition, and infrastructure rank the U.S. above 3rd world countries, they are below European standards, and will rapidly deteriorate in a declining economy.

The evidence suggests that, without fundamental reforms, the U.S. will become a post industrial neo-3rd-world country by 2032.

Offshoring of manufacturing, outsourcing of jobs and deindustrialization are aspects of globalization, shoving the U.S. labor market into a long-term downward trend. The U.S. workforce has declined by approximately 6.5% since its year 2000 peak to roughly 58.2% of working age adults and the U.S. now suffers chronic unemployment of 9.1%. Although the workforce grew in the 1980s and 1990s, as dual income families became the norm, the size of the workforce is shrinking due to a lack of economic opportunity.

Before the Clinton administration, unemployment measures included workers who are now no longer counted as part of the workforce. Thus, while the official long-term unemployment is 16.5%, using pre-Clinton measurements, unemployment exceeds 22%, only 3% below the worst point (24.9%) of the Great Depression, and not far from Armenia at 28.6%, Algeria at 27.3% and the West Bank and the Gaza Strip both at 25.7%. The highest unemployment for countries with over 2 million population is Macedonia with 33.8% unemployment.

Young Americans are being left behind in terms of economic opportunity. Student loans exceed $1 trillion while the labor force participation rate for those aged 16 to 29 who are working or looking for work fell to 48.8% in 2011, the lowest level ever recorded. The fact of millions of unemployed college graduates and lack of economic opportunity for other young Americans, is a political wildcard reminiscent of countries like Tunisia.

American workers cannot yet directly compete for jobs with workers in countries like China and India. In China, for example, gross pay, in terms of purchasing power parity, is equivalent to approximately $514 per month, 57% below the U.S. poverty line. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. trade deficit with China alone caused a loss of 2.8 million U.S. jobs since 2001.

The cost of living is rising faster than wages, leaving Americans who earn more dollars poorer in terms of purchasing power. If household income is adjusted for inflation, most American families have grown significantly poorer over the past ten years. While wages have risen slightly, when adjusted for inflation, the wages of most Americans have not kept up with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Also, according to economist John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics, CPI systematically understates inflation.

Prices rise when the money supply is increased faster than population or sustainable economic activity. Apparent economic growth created through credit expansion, i.e., by increasing the money supply, has a temporary stimulative effect but also causes prices to rise.

The decline in real household income has set Americans back to 1996 levels, despite many households now having two incomes rather than one. The poverty rate in the United States rose to 15.7% in 2011, having risen sharply since 2006 and continues to climb. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as "food stamps," now feeds 1 in 8 Americans and nearly 1 in 4 children.

The household income and wealth of the wealthiest Americans has increased sharply, despite the overall deterioration of the U.S. economy.

Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, warned that concentration of wealth undermines the consumer base of the economy, causing GDP to decline and resulting in unemployment, which reduces living standards.

Economic data from several sources, including the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), show that wealth and income in the United States have become increasingly concentrated with the wealthiest 1% of Americans owning 38.2% of stock market assets, e.g., shares of businesses. For the wealthiest 1% of Americans, household income tripled between 1979 and 2007 and has continued to increase while household wealth in the United States has fallen by $7.7 trillion.

The Gini Coefficient, a measurement of disparity in income distribution, the United States is now at parity with China and will soon overtake Mexico, a still developing country. Even though the U.S. remains a far wealthier country overall, if the current trend continues the U.S. will resemble a 3rd world country, in terms of the disparity in income distribution, in approximately two decades, i.e., by 2032. doclink

Karen Gaia says: we must take the money used for war and use it to prepare for hard times. Let's cut our waste, tighten our belts, become more efficient and build a more friendly social structure for our future.

Don't Be Fooled by Tanking Commodities, Bullish Upside Remains

September 24, 2011, Forbes / Barclays

Barclays say "Fresh peaks still lie ahead" for commodity demand, noting that while it may be slowing down, demand is still coming off exceptionally high levels. Commodity demand is slowing, but not fast enough to ease pressures in the supply side, particularly in crude oil, grains, and some industrial metals like copper.

In crude oil, non-OPEC production has "ground to a halt", while cost floors have been approached (for example, Saudi Arabia needs the cost of a barrel of oil to sell at $90 to $100, according to Barclays). Copper production is set to be "one of the weakest ... since the mid-1990s." Corn and soybean harvest are also expected to come in at record lows. doclink

Karen Gaia says: 1) Prices rise and fall not just with supply vs demand, but with speculation and also manipulation of the markets. but the latter are temporary effects. 2) Perhaps there is such a thing as 'limited resources' after all.

Kids Discuss America's Global Leadership: a Strategic Investment for U.S. Jobs

July 11, 2011, U.S. Global Leadership Coalition'


U.S. Global Leadership Coalition's brand new video illustrates the direct connection between our investments in U.S. global leadership and job creation here at home . . . from a kids point of view. doclink

Karen Gaia says: if you believe that economic growth will occur, given the current state of depleted resources

This Time We're Taking the Whole Planet with Us

March 7, 2011, ReaderSupportedNews.or

By Chris Hedges

The engine of global economic expansion is based on the assurance that there will always be plentiful and cheap oil.

The elites of the world make no pretense of defending the common good. 90% of the large fish in the oceans have been obliterated and half of the mature tropical forests, the lungs of the planet, have been wiped out. By 2030 only 10% of the Earth's tropical forests will remain. Contaminated water kills 25,000 people every day around the globe, and each year some 20 million children are impaired by malnourishment. Soon huge parts of the planet, beset with overpopulation, droughts, soil erosion, freak storms, massive crop failures and rising sea levels, will be unfit for human existence.

On Easter Island the inhabitants, when they first settled the 64-square-mile island during the fifth century, found abundant fresh water and woods filled with the Chilean wine palm, a tree that can reach the size of an oak. Seafood, including fish, seals, porpoises and turtles, and nesting seabirds were plentiful. Easter Island's population, within five or six centuries, swelled to some 10,000 people. The natural resources were devoured and began to disappear.

"Forest clearance for the growing of crops would have led to population increase, but also to soil erosion and decline of soil fertility," Paul Bahn and John Flenley write in "Easter Island, Earth Island." “Progressively more land would have had to be cleared." In the end, nothing but the statues were left.

As food and water shortages expand across the globe, as mounting poverty and misery trigger street protests in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, the elites launch more wars, plunge their nations deeper into debt, and as it all unravels they take it out on the backs of workers and the poor. The collapse of the global economy, which wiped out a staggering $40 trillion in wealth, was caused when our elites, after destroying our manufacturing base, sold massive quantities of fraudulent mortgage-backed securities to pension funds, small investors, banks, universities, state and foreign governments and shareholders. To cover the losses, the elites then looted the public treasury to begin the speculation over again.

The modern belief by evangelical Christians allows for the denial of global warming and of evolution and the absurd idea that the righteous will all be saved and go to heaven. The faith that science and technology, which are morally neutral and serve human ambitions, will make the world whole again is no less delusional. Magical thinking exists in secular as well as religious form.

We think we have somehow escaped from the foibles of the past. We are certain that we are wiser and greater than those who went before us. We in the United States, only 5% of the world's population, are outraged if anyone tries to tell us we don't have a divine right to levels of consumption that squander 25% of the world's energy. President Jimmy Carter, when he suggested that such consumption was probably not beneficial, became a figure of national ridicule.

Bahn and Flenley said: "We consider that Easter Island was a microcosm which provides a model for the whole planet. Like the Earth, Easter Island was an isolated system. The people there believed that they were the only survivors on Earth, all other land having sunk beneath the sea. They carried out for us the experiment of permitting unrestricted population growth, profligate use of resources, destruction of the environment and boundless confidence in their religion to take care of the future. The result was an ecological disaster leading to a population crash. ... Do we have to repeat the experiment on this grand scale?"

The greater the extent of the deterioration the less humans are able to comprehend what is happening around them. There is nothing left on the planet to seize. We are now spending down the last remnants of our natural capital, including our forests, fossil fuel, air and water.

This time when we go down it will be global. There are no new lands to pillage, no new peoples to exploit. Technology, which has obliterated the constraints of time and space, has turned our global village into a global death trap. doclink

Karen Gaia says: how did we let these 'elites' become so powerful? This wasn't supposed to happen in a democracy. Is it because we let ignorance play a part?

The World's Largest Bond Fund Dumped All of Its U.S. Government Debt - The Devaluing of the Dollar

March 09, 2011, Reuters

PIMCO Total Return is the world's largest bond fund. It has dumped all of its U.S. government-related debt in the biggest signal yet of how negative investors have become about the U.S. Treasury market.

The move followed in the wake of a vicious Treasury market sell-off and just days after he questioned who will buy Treasuries once the Federal Reserve halts its latest round of bond purchases in June.

Bond prices have come under severe selling pressure because of a strengthening U.S. economy and as investors brace for what could happen when the U.S. central bank ends its controversial quantitative easing program.

PIMCO's co-chief investment officer has often railed against U.S. deficit spending and its inflationary impact. He has advocated buying bonds with "safe," higher yields -- such as emerging-market bonds -- that can withstand possible erosion of returns by inflation. doclink

Karen Gaia says: We are following the path of unsustainability: Peak oil(when demand exceeds supply), housing speculation and debt-based economics; stagflation; rising food prices and hunger.

Tragedy of the Commons

Science Magazine Explores the Tragedy of the Commons

December 21, 2003, Science magazine

Picture a pasture open to all. Each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible. This may work satisfactorily while tribal wars, poaching, and disease keep the numbers of man and beast below the carrying capacity of the land. Finally social stability becomes a reality and the herdsman concludes he should add more animals to his herd together with all the other herdsmen. Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit in a world that is limited and this brings ruin to all. Cattlemen on the western ranges are asking to increase the head count to the point where overgrazing produces erosion and weed-dominance. Maritime nations bring species after species of fish and whales closer to extinction. As the human population has increased, we abandoned the commons in food gathering, enclosing farm land and restricting pastures and hunting and fishing areas.

The rational man finds his share of the cost of the wastes he discharges is less than the cost of purifying them. So we are locked into a system of fouling our nest. But the air and waters cannot be fenced, and so the cesspool must be prevented by laws or taxing that make it cheaper to treat pollutants than to discharge them untreated.

The pollution problem is a consequence of population. It did not matter how a frontiersman disposed of his waste. But as population became denser, the natural recycling processes became overloaded. A hundred and fifty years ago a plainsman could kill a bison, cut out the tongue for dinner and discard the remainder. Today, with only a few thousand bison left, we would be appalled. It is impossible to spell out the conditions under which it is safe to burn trash or run an automobile without smog-control, so by law we delegate the details to bureaus. Bureau administrators are liable to corruption, producing a government by men, not laws.

Restrictions on the disposal of sewage are accepted in the Western world, but we are still struggling to eliminate the pollution by automobiles, factories, insecticide sprayers, fertilizing operations, and atomic energy installations.

In a finite world the per capita share of the world's goods must steadily decrease and it is clear that this will increase human misery. Any organism must have a source of energy and for man, maintenance of life requires about 1600 kilocalories a day. Anything he does above staying alive will be supported by work calories. If our goal is to maximize population we must make work calories approach as close to zero as possible. No gourmet meals, no vacations, no sports, no music, no literature, no art. The acquisition of energy becomes a problem with large populations.

Population growth must eventually equal zero. Most people who anguish over the population problem are trying to avoid overpopulation without giving up any of their privileges. They feel that any decision about family size must rest with the family. A taboo inhibits criticism of the UN; however if we love truth we must deny the validity of their Universal Declaration of Human Rights which says that any choice and decision with regard to the size of the family must irrevocably rest with the family itself; we must get Planned Parenthood-World Population to see the error of its ways in embracing the same ideal. A positive growth rate might indicate that a population is below its optimum. However, the most rapidly growing populations on earth are the most miserable.

In a world governed by the principle of "dog eat dog" how many children a family had would not be a matter of public concern. Parents who bred too exuberantly would leave fewer descendants because they would be unable to care for their children. If each family were dependent on its own resources there would be no interest in controlling breeding. Confronted with appeals to limit breeding, some people will respond more than others. Those who have more children will produce a larger fraction of the next generation than those with more consciences. "If you don't do as we ask, we will condemn you for not acting like a responsible citizen" but "If you do behave as we ask, we will secretly condemn you for a simpleton who can be shamed into standing aside while the rest of us exploit the resources. Freely available resources (commons) are justifiable only under conditions of low-population density. No technical solution can rescue us from the misery of overpopulation. The only way we can preserve and nurture other freedoms is by relinquishing the freedom to breed, and that very soon. doclink

WOA!! does not agree with the part about denying voluntary family planning. Voluntary family planning does work - check out the birth rates of Europeans after the industrial revolution.

Egypt's Perilous Drift

June 15, 2013, New York Times

People are mad at bakers in Cairo because they makes only so many subsidized pita loaves and sell the rest of their government-subsidized flour on the black market to private bakers who charge five times the official price.

Egypt is running out of hard currency and can't buy enough gasoline and diesel for power stations. Long lines are forming at gas stations, electricity cuts are common, and sewers are backing up. To make things worse, climate, water, food and population pressures are now interweaving with the political and economic ones in ways that would challenge even the best of leaders, and Egypt today has far from the best. In the last month, Cairo has seen temperatures as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit, 20 degrees above the daily average high.

With Ethiopia's construction of the biggest hydroelectric dam in Africa, the water supply to Egypt is likely to be reduced, and since Egypt's 85 million people get 97% of their fresh water from the Nile, this has become a huge issue, with sabre-rattling already occurring.

Among non-Islamists voted for Morsi — it was the only way he got elected — there is a widespread feeling that the Brotherhood tricked them and the poor into voting for its members and now they have failed to either fix the country or share power, but are busy trying to impose religious norms. 10 million signatures have gathered so far calling on Morsi to resign and to call new elections.

Egypt needs a revolution, but the truth is that any faction here — the youth, the army, the Muslim Brotherhood -- that thinks it can rule Egypt alone and make the others disappear is fooling itself. (Egyptians today desperately need a "peace process" -- not with Israel, but with one another.

Everyone has to take responsibility for the commons, rather than just grabbing their own. Egypt's commons — its bridges, roads, parks, coral reefs — are crumbling.

On the Red Sea overbuilding, overfishing and rising water temperatures have led to the bleaching of some of the Red Sea's spectacular coral reefs. Hotel owners, to expand their land or gain some beach, simply put landfill over the coral reefs on their shores. Marine activities were unregulated, stressing dolphins in their own resting areas, where they try to sleep safe from the sharks. Fishermen overfished — especially for sharks, which they sold for meat and for fins — and they used dynamite and mesh nets that killed the multicolored reef fish, along with the grouper they were trying to catch. As a result, the whole reef ecosystem became less resilient to global warming.

In 2012, when water temperatures in the Red Sea rose by about two degrees Celsius above their average, the coral died, especially in the most tourist-filled and fished areas. Healthy coral are critical for fish spawning.

Coral requires a healthy ecosystem, starting with the apex predator — the sharks. If too many sharks are killed, too many of the midlevel predators survive and they then eat too many of the smaller plant-eating fish that keep coral healthy by eating the algae off substrates to clear space for coral to colonize. A reef rich in herbivores will be more resilient.

But for a long time the local government and fishermen were not interested and certainly could not grasp global warming's impact on the region. So Hepca, a Red Sea conservation group, estimated that every shark in the Red Sea was worth about $150,000 a year in business from tourists (who fly in to see or swim with the sharks) and lived for 30 years, while a shark killed for meat and fins for soup brought in about $150 one time. So if everyone worked together, if the government passed new zoning laws where people could fish, and dive-tour operators respected them and Hepca was empowered to enforce the regulation with its own speedboats -- the Egyptian coast guard has no boats -- everyone would be better off. It sounds simple, but it was a revolution here.

It would be hard to bring this kind of "shared commons" thinking to the national level here, but the absence of it is what ails almost every one of these Arab Awakenings today, where one group or another thinks it can have it all and too few people are thinking about the common good and how it has the potential make them all better off. Syria is the most extreme version of this disease, but Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen are all struggling with the same issue.

However, Egypt is bursting with talented young people who understand that Egypt needs an inclusive, long-term, sustainable plan for national renewal. And what they also understand is that those who say that the Arabs have tried everything — Nasserism, socialism, Communism, Baathism, liberalism and Islamism — but that nothing has worked, are wrong. There is one ism they haven't tried: environmentalism. doclink

Karen Gaia says: if there is hope for environmentalism, there is hope for family planning. Not having so many children is another way to take care of the commons.

Tragedy of the Commons

January 21, 2012, Durango Herald

By Richard Grossman - First published in the Durango Herald

"In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation…." Great Law of the Iroquois

"They know that they shouldn't fish closer than 500 meters from the coast, but I've seen these boats with their nets out just 200 or 300 meters offshore. The officials don't enforce the laws."

We were visiting the Greek island of Mykonos while on tour with the Durango Choral Society. We walked along the harbor with our guide, David, admiring the many small fishing boats. He explained facets of the failing Greek economy as well as the ancient and modern sites on this beautiful island. The Aegean Sea around Mykonos was so overfished, David said, that there were few fish left to catch.

We found proof that David was correct when we sat down to eat. Restaurants, even those overlooking the beautiful blue Aegean, had menus that listed few seafood dishes. Any seafood was prohibitively expensive since it had been caught in distant seas.

The situation that we encountered in Greece is a good illustration of the "tragedy of the commons". That tragedy can occur when a limited resource is open to uncontrolled use by many people. Any one user may think he can benefit from taking as much of the resource as possible. This behavior is rational only in the narrow sense of self-interest. Regrettably, unbridled use of a resource is likely to lead to its depletion.

The term "commons" referred to pastureland that was available for everyone to graze his sheep in old England. Now it includes many different vital resources such as the air we breathe, the water we drink and the fish in the Aegean.

Most of us learned to share in kindergarten. Unfortunately, some adults never mastered that lesson or have forgotten it. When there are many people using the same resource, any person who takes more than his share may deprive others of their fair share. Even worse, selfish people can deplete the resource, so eventually no one benefits from it.

In the case of fishing off Mykonos, there had been plenty of seafood for centuries. In the past the boats and fishing techniques only allowed small, sustainable catches, so the small proportion of sea life that ended up in nets was quickly replaced. Now, with more fishermen and more effective fishing techniques and many more mouths to feed, the fish supply has been exhausted. The Greek government has tried to prevent depletion by having a "no fish" zone, with poor results. People don't seem to pay attention to the law, or the reason that it is needed.

Human population growth is one factor leading to the tragedy of the commons: more people using the same resource means less for all.

Ironically, some of the pollutants we have unintentionally added to drinking water may serve as a feedback mechanism to slow human population growth. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that have unintended hormonal effects. They are found in much of our country's drinking water. Some come from insecticides and other agricultural chemicals. Many plastics contain BPA, which has undesirable effects. Another source is the waste of women taking hormones. These chemicals have been shown to produce fish and other animals with sexual aberrations. It is possible that endocrine disruptors will lead to decreased human fertility.

The amount of fresh water on the planet is limited and, in some cases, is very slow to be replenished. The Ogallala aquifer is an example of a resource that is being used in an unsustainable manner. Much of the food grown in our country's midwestern breadbasket depends on water from this aquifer. Tragically, there are some places in eastern Colorado (and in other states) that rely on the Ogallala where the water table has dropped 40 feet in just 15 years!

As our human population has grown, the apparent size of the commons has shrunk. Although the first few wells in the Ogallala made little difference to the water table, now we seem to be sucking it dry. Dumping waste into a river or the atmosphere made little difference with few people and fewer factories, but these resources have become toxic in our populous, industrialized nation. We are learning the problems that can be caused by abusing the commons. The people who will suffer the most may be those who come after us, the "seventh generation" in the Iroquois law. Unless we think and plan ahead, our progeny will not have the use of many of the resources that we have enjoyed. doclink

Adjusting the Economy to the New Energy Realities of the Second Half of the Age of Oil

October 07, 2011, Murphy, D.J., Hall, C.A.S

There are numerous theories that try to explain historical business cycles, in order to understand the causes of and solutions to recessions. so that we can accelerate a return to rapid growth during slow or non-growth times. They include ideas based on: Keynesian Theory, the Monetarist Model, the Rational Expectations Model, Real Business Cycle Models, Neo-Keynesian models, and so on. All assume there will be a return to a growing economy. GDP, incomes, and most other measures of economic growth have in fact grown steadily over the past century.

But with peak oil we may be asked to grow the economy while simultaneously decreasing oil consumption. Historically, spikes in the price of oil have been the primary cause of most recessions. Expansionary periods tend to be associated with prolonged periods of relatively low oil prices that increase aggregate demand and lower marginal production costs, all leading to, or at least associated with, economic growth.

For the economy to sustain real growth over time there must be an increase in the flow of net energy (and materi- als) through the economy. Economic production requires energy.

To produce goods and services, energy must be used, and to grow the economy, we must either increase the energy supply or increase the efficiency with which we use our source energy. This is called the energy-based theory of economic growth, which was advanced significantly by the work of Nicolas Georgescu-Roegen, amongst many others .

Research of the data shows that the consumption of every major energy source has increased with GDP since the mid-1800s at nearly the rate that the economy has expanded. Throughout this growth period, however, there have been numerous oscillations between periods of growth and recessions. A common mechanism underlies each recession: oil consumption increases and oil prices are lower during periods of economic expansion while oil consumption decreases and oil prices are higher during recessions.

Statistical analysis supported the hypothesis that energy consumption causes economic growth, and found that about 50% of the changes in economic growth over the past 40 years are explained, at least in the statistical sense, by the changes in oil consumption.

Yet changes in oil consumption are rarely used by neoclassical economists as a means of explaining economic growth. For example, Knoop (2010) describes the 1973 recession in terms of high oil prices, high unemployment and inflation, yet omits mentioning that oil consumption declined 4% during the first year and 2% during the second year.

Economic growth requires lower oil prices and simultaneously an increasing oil supply. The inflation-adjusted price of oil averaged across all expansionary years from 1970 to 2008 was $37 per barrel compared to $58 per barrel averaged across recessionary years, whereas oil consumption grew by 2% on average per year during expansionary years compared to decreasing by 3% per year during recessionary years

When energy prices increase, expenditures are re-allocated from areas that had previously added to GDP, mainly discretionary consumption, diverting money from the economy towards energy only. The data show that recessions occur when petroleum expenditures as a percent of GDP climb above a threshold of roughly 5.5%..

Each time the U.S. economy emerged from a recession over the past 40 years, there was always an increase in the use of oil while a low oil price was maintained. However oil is a finite resource.

The energy return on (energy) invested (EROI) of global oil production has been decreasing. Global oil extraction declined from about 36:1 in the 1990s to18:1 in 2006. Increasingly supplies of oil are originating from sources that are inherently more energy-intensive to produce simply because cheaper resources were extracted before expensive ones. In the early 1990s fewer than 10% of oil discoveries were located in deep water areas. By 2005 the number jumped to greater than 50%. Also, enhanced oil recovery techniques are being used more frequently in the world's largest conventional oil fields. Nitrogen injection was initiated in the once super-giant Cantarell field in Mexico in 2000, which boosted production for four years, but since 2004 production from the field has declined precipitously. Enhanced oil recovery techniques require significantly larger energy inputs to production, offsetting much of the energy gain for society.

In theory, if the price of oil is below the cost of production, then most producers will cease operation. In the areas in which we are currently discovering oil, we can calculate a theoretical floor price below which an increase in oil supply is unlikely.

About 60% of the oil discoveries in 2005 were in deepwater locations. The cost of developing that oil is between $60 and $85 per barrel. Oil prices therefore, at a minimum, must exceed roughly $60 per barrel to support the development of even the best deep water resources. But the average price of oil during recessionary periods has been $57/bbl, so it seems that increasing oil production in the future will require oil prices that are associated with recessionary periods. In other words, growing the economy will require oil prices that will discourage that very growth. Indeed, it may be difficult to produce the remaining oil resources at prices the economy can afford, and, as a consequence, the economic growth witnessed by the U.S. and globe over the past 40 years may be a thing of the past.

Conclusions: (1) Over the past 40 years, economic growth has required increasing oil consumption. (2) The supply of high EROI oil cannot increase much beyond current levels for a prolonged period of time. (3) The average global EROI of oil production will almost certainly continue to decline as we search for new sources of oil in the only places we have left: deep water, arctic and other hostile environments. (4) Increasing oil supply in the future will require a higher oil price because mostly only low EROI, high cost resources remain to be discovered or exploited, but these higher costs are likely to cause economic contraction. (5) Using oil-based economic growth as a solution to recessions is untenable in the long-term, as both the gross and net supplies of oil has or will begin, at some point, an irreversible decline.

Economic feedback system for post-peak oil: (1) economic growth increases oil demand, (2) higher oil demand increases oil production from lower EROI resources, (3) increasing extraction costs leads to higher oil prices, (4) higher oil prices stall economic growth or cause economic contractions, (5) economic contraction leads to lower oil demand, and (6) lower oil demand leads to lower oil prices which spur another short bout of economic growth until this cycle repeats itself. This system of insidious feedbacks is aptly described as a growth paradox: maintaining business as usual economic growth will require the production of new sources of oil, yet the only sources of oil remaining require high oil prices, thus hampering economic growth.

This growth paradox leads to a highly volatile economy that oscillates frequently between expansion and contraction periods, and as a result, there may be numerous peaks in oil production. Campbell (2009) has referred to this as an undulating plateau. In terms of business cycles, the main difference between the pre- and peak era models is that business cycles appear as oscillations around an increasing trend in the pre-peak model while during the peak-era model they appear as oscillations around a flat trend.

What if economic growth was no longer the goal? What if society began to emphasize energy conservation over energy consumption? Unlike oil supply, oil demand is not governed by depletion, and incentivizing populations to make incremental changes that decrease oil consumption can completely alter the relation between oil and the economy that was described in the aforementioned model. Decreasing oil consumption in the U.S. by even 10% would release millions of barrels of oil onto the global oil markets each day. doclink

U.S.: Secular Sign Posts: the View From 30,000 Feet

November 12, 2008, Financial Sense

The core demographic for consumption is the age group entering their prime in terms of income. The distribution of consumer spending reflects a bell-shaped curve in which the middle-aged demographic represents the largest income brackets. As a rise in the rate of change in consumer spending increases with the higher earning income's relative population, so too does the stock market which reflects a rise in GDP. Japan's post WWII baby boom crested in 1990, and Japan's Nikkei 225 index peaked. Since the baby boom in 1990, Japan has suffered from a rising retiree population and a deceleration of consumption spending as the higher income earners retired and the lower income earners grew in relative numbers. The bottom of the Nikkei 225 also coincided with the trough in the relative population ratio of the 35-49 year old to 20-34 year old groups.

This ratio between the higher wage earner and spender (35-49) relative to the lower wage earner and spender (20-34) relating to aggregate consumption and stock prices has also played out in the U.S. . Peaks in the relative population demographic coinciding with peaks in real stock prices (S&P 500). Rising real stock prices are associated with rising relative population ratios of the higher wage earner relative to the lower wage earner.

While there is a positive relationship between productivity and relative population demographics, there is a negative relationship between productivity and inflation. We can infer that there is a negative relationship between inflation trends and relative demographic trends with productivity trends providing the associating link. We can look at what the future may hold. The relative demographic ratio peaked in 2000 and was coincident with the real S&P 500 peak, and does not bottom until 2015. The conclusion is that the secular bear market we entered back in 2000 will not likely end until roughly 2015, and the secular inflationary trend that began in 2003 will be in place until 2015 as well. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Unfortunately this time we have peak oil and depletion of resources to deal with. After the initial tightening of belts by consumers, population numbers will again catch up and resource depletion will continue. It is foolish to think that there is no end to resources and that throwing money at the problem will help.

Jakarta Says to Sue If Freeport Snubs Complaints

March 24, 2006, Forbes

Indonesia will sue U.S. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold if it fails to follow recommendations to stop pollution from its Papua operations. Critics say the mine creates environmental damage by polluting streams and killing wildlife. The report said tailings, had flowed through the nearby Ajkwa river and recommended the firm better manage its tailings, for example by using them for building construction. The firm might have up to three years to follow the recommendations. Freeport said it had implemented some of the recommendations and would follow through on the rest. The Grasberg mine is believed to hold the world's third-largest copper reserves and one of the biggest gold deposits. Indonesia needs foreign investment to speed up the recovery of an economy that verged on collapse in late 1990s. "If they look at it in a reasonable way they will know that it is for the long run," said a key member of President Yudhoyono's campaign team. He also said that haze from Indonesian forest fires could cloud skies again this year. That is bad news for neighbours Malaysia and Singapore where the smoke has caused health problems and shut down airports, close schools, and businesses. The haze, much of it caused by slash-and-burn at palm oil plantations, tends to be an annual problem but its intensity varies with the severity of the dry season. The problem has persisted and interest in resolving the issue tends to fade when rain comes. The government has been trying to litigate against plantation firms, many owned by Malaysians, whose practices cause haze, but could do nothing if courts fail to severely punish them. The government plans to open palm oil plantations near the Indonesian border on Borneo island. They will start by making use of the areas ready for planting and strongly oppose cutting down forest for the replanting of palm oil plantations. doclink

U.S.: Court Clears Way for Suit on Energy Projects Abroad

August 25, 2005, Sacramento Bee

A federal judge has given a green light to a lawsuit filed by cities and environmental groups that contend the U.S. government's quest for oil abroad will promote climate change across the globe. The suit, filed by the California cities of Oakland, Santa Monica and Arcata, as well as Boulder, Colo., and the environmental groups Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, seeks to halt energy projects being developed on five continents until assessments are conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act. Named as defendants are officers of the Overseas Private Investment Corp. and the Export-Import Bank of the US that provide insurance and loan guarantees. The suit contends they have approved more than $32 billion in foreign fossil fuel projects in the past decade to assure supplies for the US. Judge Jeffrey White denied the government's request for summary judgment. White said those suing had provided evidence of a threat to their interests that might be averted if the studies were performed. A lawyer for the US said no decision had been made regarding an appeal. The suit was based on declarations concerning greenhouse gas emissions and quoted a declaration by consultant Richard Heede, who said projects like these have been responsible for 1,911 million tons of carbon dioxide and methane emissions a year. He said 162 such projects were funded in the past 20 years such as in Mexico, China and India. Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown said the government's conduct "injures the citizens of Oakland and every person in this country." doclink

Out of the Dark In Rural China - Electricity Transforming Village Life

June 25, 2004, Washington Post

In this ethnically Tibetan village in China's southwest, villagers haul water from the river for cooking, washing and drinking and walk a day down a dirt trail to get to the nearest market town. Yet a hydro generator the size of a coffee can, installed last year, kicks to life. Single bulbs cast light through the five houses. In one home, villagers stare transfixed at a TV drama beamed by satellite from Beijing. As China seeks energy for industrial expansion, here in Yunnan province, villages are being wired with electricity. Television penetrates the remote corners of the country, giving people an inkling of the world. Isolated farmers are seeing how quickly their country is developing and how little wealth reaches them. 98% of households now have electricity, yet there are millions of people without. The government reckons China has potentially hydropower capacity of 87 million kilowatts. The Three Gorges Dam accounts for much of the plans. But dams have displaced millions of people and raised environmental concerns. The Ministry is now pressing to subsidize small-scale hydro projects. Deforestation in these areas of the Yangtze is blamed for the floods and villagers dependent on firewood must find other sources. Gonjo a village of 200 people, is connected by a highway paved in 2002. Wheat and cornfields encircle the houses, but many residents supplement incomes as truck drivers, hauling from towns to the south for upriver villages. Gonjo has had electricity for 15 years and runs refrigerators, electric stoves, televisions, water filters and washing machines. Plumbing has yet to arrive. Three hours' walk upriver five families occupy mud houses beneath a Buddhist stupa. They tend to the grain fields or orange groves, harvesting fruit they sell in towns, carrying it on their backsto Gonjo. Most families live on less than $1,000 per year. Firewood is stacked up outside every house, but a satellite dish looks over the river. The electrical system installed seven years ago has brought TV news from Kunming and Beijing. One family put their savings into the purchase of a washing machine and a refrigerator where they can keep their vegetables and fresh meat. Two years ago, they installed a plumbing system to bring water up from the river. Farther upriver, electricity did not arrive until last December. The five families each paid $10 to buy the tiny generator that operates from 8 p.m.-to-midnight. Villagers used to spend three days a month harvesting pine branches they used as torches. Now, they have more time for farming, gathering the mushrooms they sell, giving them more cash to buy goods such as the tape player, the television and the DVD player. The township government supplied a satellite dish. Electricity has also heightened awareness of how poor this area is. The television images of Shanghainese riding around in cars and buying designer clothes in steel and glass malls makes them frustrated. A day's walk upriver, the village of Bala had electricity arrive last June. It runs between 7:30 and 10:30pm. The township government donated the diesel generator but keeping it running is the responsibility of the locals. Twice a year, each of the nine families must trudge down the road to buy diesel fuel and bring it home on the back of a donkey. Each household contributes about $4 per month. If they had more electricity, they could use an electric stove, tape players, a rice cooker, a washing machine. Household income here is around $300 per year. The teacher at the school sees the television as a force of economic ascendance. He is one of the only people who can speak Mandarin Chinese, most speak only a unique dialect. His students sit nightly in front of the television, absorbing entertainment in Mandarin. It helps them understand life outside the village. doclink

Disparity of Wealth

Is Youth Bulge a Crucial Determinant of Stability?

October 7, 2013, Fund for Peace   By: Katherine Carter

Nations with a "youth bulge" have high percentages of under 24 year olds and usually also high percentages of kids under 14. A severe youth bulge often serves as a high-risk indicator for the Failed States Index (FSI), although a bulge does not, by itself, ensure a low FSI ranking. The availability of education, employment, and health care also play a crucial role. Where governments have strong enough economies to provide jobs with upward mobility, a young population can drive national growth. But in poor nations, young people are often uneducated, unprepared for work, and vulnerable to extremism and civil strife. Of the 67 nations now experiencing youth bulges, 60 have civil unrest.

Of the lowest 20 states on the FSI, only Haiti and Pakistan, have a median age over 20 years old. In all but four of those countries, children under 14 years old account for more than 40% of the population. Somalia, now ranked lowest on the FSI, came in as the sixth youngest nation in the world with 66.1% of its population under 24 and a median age of 16.3 years old. Of the bottom twenty countries on the FSI, the percentage under 14 almost doubled the percentage between 15 and 24, while in developed nations those numbers rarely diverge by more than 5%.

Today about 44% of the world's 7.2 billion people are under 24 years old and 26% are under 14. Of those, 82% live in less developed nations - primarily sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Currently, the global median age is 29.2 years old, a sharp contrast to Europe, where the median age is 41. Of the 20 states with the lowest median ages, 18 are in sub-Saharan Africa. The populations of many of the developing and least developed countries will triple in by 2100, and in Burkina Faso, Malawi, Niger, Mali, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia populations are predicted to grow by 500%.

Conversely, the most stable countries on the FSI had older populations. In the twenty highest ranked nations, only three had more than 20% of their populations under 14 years old or more than 15% between 15 and 24. Finland ranked 178th on the FSI with 16.4% of its population under 14 years old and 12.3% between 15 and 24. Its median age (42.3) is slightly higher than the European average. Japan (ranked 156th) had the oldest median age (46), closely followed by Germany at 45.5 (ranked 165th).

However, while the nations that ranked highest on the FSI tended to have older median ages, nations with the oldest and youngest populations often shared a similar problem. All nations need a good tax base and labor force to provide their citizens with basic services and security. As defined by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a nation's "dependent population" consists of children under 15 and adults over 65, neither of which pay much in taxes or contribute much to the labor force, and both of which rely on others and state or community funded programs (e.g. schools and social security).

Government spending nears 50% of national GDP in the world's ten oldest nations, and most of them carry high public debts. Only Finland (the ninth oldest) ranked in the FSI's highest ten, although each of the other nine nations placed within the 50 highest FSI states. Most of the oldest countries are European and were thus impacted by the European Debt Crisis. Japan experienced its own economic turmoil after the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster, but the economy stagnated before those events and is about the same size today as it was in 1992. Its public debt is now over twice the size of economy. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Should families be encouraged to have more children when they are impoverished by an economy brought down due to the burden of taking care of the senior bulge? Is it beneficial to families and communities to raise children under these conditions? Shouldn't we be spending our resources on preparing children already born for the future?

Costs of Economic Growth Have 'Outweighed Benefits'

Despite rising GDP, a measure of global wellbeing has dropped since 1978
July 19, 2013, SciDevNet

Pockets of affluence do not suggest national well-being, so a nation's GDP sheds little light on the quality of life for most people. World GDP has increased more than three-fold since 1950, which shows that some people now have more money. However, general economic well-being, as estimated by five other indicators, has been decreasing since 1978.

The study, covering 17 nations with 53% of the world's population, compared GDP estimates from 1950 to 2003 with the GPI (Genuine Progress Indicator), the HDI (Human Development Index), the Gini co-efficient (for distribution of wealth), and measures of Life Satisfaction, Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity. Despite variations between the different nations, the study showed several major trends. Global per-capita GPI peaked in 1978, about the same time that the global ecological footprint exceeded global bio-capacity. In almost all of these countries life satisfaction did not improve significantly since 1975. Globally, per-capita GPI does not increase much after per-capita GDP reaches $7,000 ($28,000 for a family of four).

If incomes were distributed more equitably, the current world GDP ($67 trillion/yr.) could support 9.6 billion people at $7000. GPI is not the perfect economic welfare indicator, but it is better than GDP. Development policies need to shift to better account for real welfare and not merely GDP growth. Development policies should urgently shift from trying to maximize production and consumption towards attempts to improve real welfare - but getting that proposal through today's U.S. Congress would be close to a miracle. doclink

Karen Gaia says: The above GPI distribution ($7000) is based on today's GDP, which is inflated, having borrowed heavily from earth's reserves. To be sustainable, we would have adjust that $7000 downward. We have a footprint of 1.5 earths, so we need to get down to 2/3 of that, with a distribution of only $4670 for each of 9.6 billion people.

Of course, it's hard to see how we are going to wrestle all that concentration of wealth from the rich and middle class people.

U.S.: Ten Numbers the Rich Would Like Fudged

March 10, 2013, USA Against Greed

1. Only 3.6% of taxpayers in the top 0.1% were classified as entrepreneurs based on 2004 tax returns. 90% of the assets owned by millionaires are held in bonds and cash, personal business accounts, the stock market, and/or real estate, according to both Marketwatch and economist Edward Wolff. The great majority of entrepreneurs come from middle-class backgrounds, with less than 1% of all entrepreneurs coming from very rich or very poor backgrounds, according to a 2009 Kauffman Foundation study.

2. The U.S. has greater wealth inequality than every measured country in the world except for Namibia, Zimbabwe, Denmark, and Switzerland.

3. 50% of the GDP - $8 to $12 trillion - is held untaxed overseas by rich Americans, according to a Tax Justice Network estimate. Based on a historical stock market return of 6%, up to $750 billion of income is lost to the U.S. every year, resulting in a tax loss of about $260 billion.

4. Corporations paid an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, and an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes. U.S. corporations have shown a pattern of tax reluctance for more than 50 years, despite building their businesses with American research and infrastructure. They've passed the responsibility on to their workers. For every dollar of workers' payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it's 22 cents.

5. Ten Americans made a total of $50 billion in one year - enough, according to 2008 estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN's World Food Program, to feed the 870 million people in the world who are lacking sufficient food.

6. Tax deductions for the rich could pay off 100% of the deficit. Research by the Tax Policy Center, deferrals and deductions and other forms of tax expenditures which largely benefit the rich are worth about 7.4% of the GDP, or about $1.1 trillion.

7. The average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 in net worth, says the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. That's much less than 1% of the median wealth for single white women. Also, for every dollar of non-home wealth owned by white families, people of color have only one cent.

8. Elderly and disabled food stamp recipients get $4.30 per day for food from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and food stamp programs.

9. Young adults have lost 68% of their net worth since 1984 - now less than $4,000, which has to pay for student loans that average $27,200. Or, if you're still in school, for $12,700 in credit card debt. 16- to 24-year-olds have an unemployment rate of almost 50%,and 40% of recent college graduates are living with their parents. Apple, which makes a profit of $420,000 per employee, pays about $12 per hour.

10. The American public paid about $4 trillion to bail out the banks (the same amount of money made by America's richest 10% in one year). The super-rich in the U.S. get $200 trillion from the derivatives market which have netted zero sales tax revenue for the U.S. doclink

Karen Gaia says: what are the chances of getting just $8 billion of those trillions of dollars freed up for international family planning and domestic contraception programs?

Growth is the Problem

September 10 , 2012, Truthdig   By: Chris Hedges

The ceaseless expansion of economic exploitation has come to an end. Experts squander resources in attempting to re-create an expanding economic system that is moribund. The steady depletion of natural resources, especially fossil fuels, along with the accelerated pace of climate change, will combine with crippling levels of personal and national debt to thrust us into a global depression that will dwarf any in the history of capitalism.

To achieve growth now means mounting debt, more pollution, an accelerated loss of biodiversity and the continued destabilization of the climate. If there is no growth existing debt levels become unsustainable. The elites are trying to fix the economic crisis, but it cannot be prevented. "We can only decide whether we will adapt to it or not."

Richard Heinberg, the author of "The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality," and a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, argues that we cannot grasp the real state of the global economy by the usual metrics -- GDP, unemployment, and so on -- although even these measures point to severe and chronic problems. Consumer debt cannot continue to grow as house prices decline to realistic levels. Toxic assets litter the portfolios of the major banks. The Earth's natural resources are being exhausted. Climate change is beginning to exact a heavy economic toll on countries, including the United States, through the destruction brought about by droughts, floods, wildfires and loss of crop yields.

"The highly dysfunctional U.S. political system," paralyzed and hostage to corporate power, is unable to respond rationally to the crisis, he says. Government policy decisions arise from unaccountable government agencies and private interest groups.

"It could implode in a few weeks, in a few months or maybe in a few years," Heinberg said, "unless radical steps are taken to restructure the economy" .. "And when it does the financial system will seize up far more dramatically than in 2008. You will go to the bank or the ATM and there will be no money. Food will be scarce and expensive."

"The collapse will also inevitably trigger the kind of instability and unrest, including riots, that we have seen in countries such as Greece. The elites, who understand and deeply fear the possibility of an unraveling, have been pillaging state resources to save their corrupt, insolvent banks, militarize their police forces and rewrite legal codes to criminalize dissent."

It remains possible in the industrialized world to provide the basics -- food, water, housing, medical care, employment, education and public safety. This would require a radical reversal of the structures of power, a massive cancellation of debt, and the slashing of bloated militaries, heavy regulation and restraints placed on the financial sector and high taxes imposed on oligarchic elites and corporations in order to reduce unsustainable levels of inequality. These measures would not mitigate the effects of climate change and the depletion of natural resources but would create the social stability needed to cope with a new post-growth regime.

Communities will have to create collectives to grow their own food and provide for their security, education, financial systems and self-governance. It will be the time to get to "know your neighbors," setting up food banks and farmers' markets, and establishing a local currency, carpooling, creating clothing exchanges, establishing cooperative housing, growing gardens, raising chickens and buying local. It will a time for "learning practical skills, becoming more self-sufficient, and forming bonds of trust with our neighbors to realize the quality of our lives and the lives of our children.

But such efforts may "be discouraged and perhaps criminalized by those in authority." The reconfiguration will arise not through ideologies, but through the necessities of survival forced on the poor and former members of the working and middle class who have joined the poor. doclink

Karen Gaia says: the author does not mention family planning: does he think it is too late? Perhaps he takes contraception for granted, thinking that is will always be available.

U.S.: Food Prices + Hunger Index = Riots, Civil Wars and Revolutions

September 17, 2012, Financial Sense   By: Russ Winter

A new report from the IMF tells us that, for every 10% increase in global food prices there is a 100% increase in anti-government protests. Prices in global ag commodities are up about 20% so far this year -- it's no wonder there are Arab Fall flare ups (this time directed at America) breaking out across the globe. A 20% increase in foodstuffs would triple the levels of unrest, by the IMF formula, and that seems to be precisely what's happening.

The food and hunger-induced chaos in 2011 was heartwarmingly marketed by propagandists as democratization. The primary cause was food inflation, not stupid remarks or films. The author hypothesizes: Food Price Index + FAO Hunger Index = Riots, Civil Wars and Revolutions.

The FAO Global Hunger Index (GHI) measures levels of food stress around the world. A hunger level above 30 is considered extremely alarming, 20 to 29 is alarming and 10 to 19 is serious. Nigeria, where 10% of U.S. oil imports - sweet crude that cannot be substituted - come from, has a hunger index of 16. Yemen, which is in open disorder and a completely failed state, had a hunger index of 25 in 2011. Angola, another oil producer, had an alarming hunger index of 27. Cameroon, severely impacted by food riots during the 2008 commodity bubble and a small African oil producer, had a score of 18. Bangladesh and India were both ranked an alarming 24. Both countries were impacted this year by a poor monsoon period, which normally brings much-needed rain for crops. Pakistan is 21.

Even in the U.S. the 48 million Americans qualifying for food stamps are affected. A 35% rise in prices for people already paying 30% of their income on food has the effect of triggering civil unrest.

Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer, with 60% of what it consumes from varied global sources, is highly vulnerable to rationing and steep prices.

Wheat prices might go up with the Fed's open-opended QE announcement. It aggravates the effect of the drought and encourages speculators to pile into commodities that are already facing rationing. The Bank of Japan reported that some of the big players are substituting foodstuffs and other commodities for near-zero-percent returns at the bank, the heightened interest in these commodities goes far beyond normal economic demand which will result in a massive misallocation of capital, resulting in global hunger and social-political instability. Indeed, this is Ben Bernanke's ultimate gesture to global food consumers. doclink

Dire Poverty Falls Despite Global Slump, Report Finds

March 06, 2012, New York Times

A World Bank report indicates that the global recession, contrary to economists' expectations, did not increase poverty in the developing world.

The report shows that the proportion of people living in extreme poverty-- living on less than $1.25 a day -- fell in every developing region from 2005 to 2008.

This has allowed the world has met the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half five years before its 2015 deadline.

Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute and the United Nations' special adviser on the Millennium Development Goals said "There has been broad-based progress in fighting poverty, and accelerating progress. There's a lot to be happy about."

Strong growth in countries like Brazil, India and especially China has helped buoy economies in Africa and South America. High commodity prices also aided exporting nations.

In addition, shortly after the recession, with growth stagnating in countries like the United States and in western Europe, the world's investors plowed money into emerging markets. And, according to Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, said: "this time ... we did not see developing countries follow the United States and Europe into long recessions and slow recoveries." and "growth in developing countries has helped developed countries as well," he added.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty fell below 50% for the first time. Through the 1990s the proportion of people living in extreme poverty actually increased, before declining in the 2000s. Extreme poverty there fell to 47.5% in 2008 from 55.7% in 2002.

China moved nearly 700 million people out of poverty between 1981 and 2008, with 84% of the population in extreme poverty falling to 13% during that period. The country's annual pace of economic growth never dipped below 9%.

Extreme poverty in the Middle East and North Africa fell to just 2.7% in 2008 from 4.2% in 2002.

"Long-term changes are really starting to take hold," said Mr. Sachs, citing favorable market conditions, policies to tackle public health problems and technological change bringing tools like cellphones and Internet connections to even the most remote and rural areas.

Mr. Sachs said that climate change and its attending droughts and floods, the threat of armed conflict and a persistently high birth rate among the very poor threatened to reverse the decline in poverty. But he said he most likely saw them getting better. "Looking at the balance of data, this is a very promising time for fighting poverty," Mr. Sachs said.

Another Millennium Development Goal -- halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water -- was five years ahead of its 2015 target. From 1990 to 2010, over two billion people gained access to improved drinking water, according to UNICEF and WHO Now, 89% of the world's population has safe drinking water, up from 76% in 1990. doclink

Note: "The Chinese economy grew at an annual pace of 8.9% in the fourth quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday, marking a slowdown from a 9.1% growth rate in the prior quarter."

"China's economic engine has also begun to lose momentum, as the country's exporters are being hit by weaker demand amid slowing world economic growth."

http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/16/news/economy/china_gdp_growth/index.htm

How the U.S. is Becoming a 3rd World Country - Part 2

November 29, 2011, Financial Sense

The United States is quickly coming to resemble a post industrial neo-3rd-world country, likely by 2032.

High unemployment, lack of economic opportunity, low wages, widespread poverty, extreme concentration of wealth, unsustainable government debt, control of the government by international banks and multinational corporations, weak rule of law and counterproductive policies are defining characteristics of 3rd world countries. Other factors include poor public health, nutrition and education, as well as lack of infrastructure—factors that deteriorate rapidly in a failing economy.

In response to the economic downturn that began in 2007 and the start of the financial crisis in 2008, the U.S. federal government and the Federal Reserve resorted to a radically inflationary policy intended to save banks and to shepherd the U.S. economy through a recession. Instead, radically inflationary policies greatly increased the concentration of wealth.

Under ordinary circumstances, monetary inflation has the effect of redistributing wealth in favor of those recipients who receive newly created money first because they can spend it before it loses value. In a declining economy, however, the wealth redistribution effects of inflation are magnified.

When the Federal Reserve or the federal government supports banks and financial markets through liquidity injections, bailouts, asset purchases, quantitative easing, etc., the lion's share of financial support, i.e., newly created money, is captured by the largest financial institutions and by the wealthiest 1% of Americans. Money printing skews the distribution of money over the economy while the value of money, i.e., the purchasing power of wages and savings, is reduced.

U.S. government debt and deficit spending have markedly accelerated over the past decade. For example, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created and the U.S. military grew to 3 million active duty and reserve personnel, not including contractors. Since 2001, the U.S. spent approximately $1 trillion on military expansion while the total cost of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been estimated to exceed $3.7 trillion.

As of 2012, the majority of new federal government debt will stem from interest on existing debt. Treasury bond issues totaled $2.55 trillion in 2010, roughly 2x the federal budget deficit of $1.3 trillion.

The U.S. federal government's fast growing debt is $14.94 trillion, approximately 100% of GDP. Additionally, future liabilities total $66.6 trillion, including Medicare at $24.8 trillion, Social Security at $21.4 trillion, and Federal debt at $10.2 trillion.

The eventual insolvency of the U.S. federal government cannot be averted through any combination of taxes, budget cuts or realistic GDP growth. Increasing deficit spending by the federal government and debt monetization by the Federal Reserve, would devalue the U.S. dollar and potentially trigger a hyperinflationary collapse of the currency. To stave off the inevitable, interim measures might include tax increases, exchange controls, nationalization of pension funds or other measures similar to those taken in 3rd world countries.

Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), explained that the finance industry had effectively captured the U.S. government, a state of affairs typical of 3rd world countries.

Corruption, cronyism and weak rule of law are typical of 3rd world countries. The United States exhibits a clear corporate influence over elections and legislation and, arguably, relatively little law enforcement action where large, legally well-equipped corporations are concerned.

Critics have alleged that, underlying the sub-prime mortgage meltdown that triggered the financial crisis in 2008 was rampant fraud. Despite an avalanche of alleged crimes under existing federal law, no firm or individual of any significance in the financial crisis has yet been prosecuted.

More than any other aspect of America's progression towards 3rd world status, the federal government's low level of law enforcement action where "too big to fail" banks are concerned is perhaps the most insidious because it raises questions of legitimacy and of the social contract. A financial and legal system of moral hazard implies that victims face double jeopardy while they are deprived of legal recourse, i.e., those allegedly defrauded might face inflation and tax burdens stemming from preferential treatment of favored corporations or from further bailouts.

According to the Tax Policy center at the Urban Institute, Brookings Institution, 46% of American households will pay no federal income tax in 2011. The reasons include income tax exemptions for subsistence level income, dependents and nontaxable tax expenditures for senior citizens and low-income working families with children.

Assuming that big banks, multinational corporations and the wealthiest 1% of Americans remain off limits in terms of tax policy, the range of income taxed is likely to fall on what remains of the once much larger middle class: professionals, small business owners and dual income families in urban areas, etc. These are the households that have managed to stay ahead of inflation, declining real wages and falling household incomes.

Among other things, U.S. tax policies will erode capital formation within the remnants of the middle class, which is the engine of small business creation and the source of most American jobs. The eventual result will be a three-tier socioeconomic structure consisting of a super rich wealthy class, a much poorer working class and a massive, politically and financially disenfranchised underclass, similar to that of a 3rd world country. doclink

A 20-Rule Manifesto for New No-Growth Economics

August 30, 2011, Market Watch

By Paul B. Farrell Classical economics is a fraud which sabotages investors and will destroy America.The cards are stacked in favor of the banks and their co-conspirators, political lobbyists, corporate CEOs and the Super Rich.

All classical economic ideas derive from one central idea, an unproven hypothesis - from Ben Bernanke's Fed staff, economists in the World Bank, IMF, CBO and White House economic advisers, to economists at Wall Street banks, think tank and academic economists - is the unquestioned acceptance of the dogma of "Eternal Growth," the unscientific assumption that the global economy will continue growing indefinitely … that the world's economies will be able support global population growth indefinitely … and that all necessary commodities and essential natural resources will be available indefinitely to sustain the world's relentless economic and demographic growth.

That's impossible, absurd, irrational, proving the need for a New No-Growth Economics. After the 2008 meltdown it became painfully obvious that America's 15,000 economists were clueless (as were more than 50,000 portfolio managers and all government leaders in both parties). Less than 0.01% of America's best and brightest economic leaders and economists predicted the 2008 meltdown that essentially bankrupted America. Since 2008 leaders and economists have done nothing to protect us against a new crash. Quite the opposite: The same banks and their economists are working feverishly with lobbyists, politicians and the Super Rich to kill all reforms.

Even with another market meltdown, taxpayers may still get duped into bailing out the banks again. Eventually, however, they will wise up.

New No-Growth Economics are essential to our survival. Here's how the 20 rules will work:

1. Basic supply/demand equation flawed. We're "eating our young." Earth's resources can support about five billion people. We already have 7 billion. And maybe 10 billion by 2050. Demand (population growth) is rapidly outstripping supply (commodity/resources). This leads to disastrous world wars, starvation, poverty, pandemics, and more.

2. Worst-case scenario: Population explodes to 10 billion if we do nothing. We continue using and wasting commodities and nonrenewable resources at a rate equivalent to six Earths. Multiple catastrophic events, kill economics, trigger a global wake-up call

3. Next worst-case scenario: Population not reduced back to 5 billion. Earth has too many people. Like having huge debt. Disasters will soon end denial.

4. Population control is an economic necessity, the last taboo falls. Soon, this massive "conspiracy of denial" will be shocked awake by economic, political and military catastrophes that threaten the planet and human existence.

5. Mass denial ends in aftermath of global catastrophes. We don't know what will shock the world, finally bankrupt America and wake us up. But we do know that it's dead ahead.

6. Revolution topples dominance of Super Rich capitalists. There is a widening income gap between the Super Rich and the other 99% of Americans. This is undermining America's future and will erupt in increasing class warfare similar to the Arab Spring revolutions fueled by unemployed youth angered by their inequality.

7. Once powerful banks are forced to balance public welfare ahead of shareholders.

8. Commodities and natural-resources pricing will be set by negotiators and international agreements.

9. New regulations reign in quants and hi-risk derivatives traders; This casino gambling no longer serves the common good and will gradually disappear.

10. Fed monetary policy no longer dominated by Wall Street banks and will balance more Main Street and global needs.

11. Behavioral economics and behavioral finance get new careers

12. Oil and carbon-based energy epiphany, invest in alternatives

13. Self-destructive no-compromise political gridlock ends; cooperation is essential to global survival.

14. GOP returns to principles of Lincoln, tea party disappears; no rigid minority can hijack the public good.

15. Inequality gap drops when the Super Rich wises up to the reality that their blind addiction to money is causing the destruction of the planet.

16. Lobbyists will no longer run Washington as a private anarchy

17. American imperialism ends; Half our tax dollars go to wars: Unnecessary in the post-catastrophe economy.

18. The rise of a powerful, new democratic United Nations; international cooperation will be more essential than ever.

19. End of climate-deniers, after the ticking time-bomb explodes

20. Beginning of New Global Era … the New No-Growth Economy

The long-term survival of all nations and peoples on Earth depends on interaction across the globe; therefore we must cooperate and live in peace. doclink

Karen Gaia says: 1) Note that the author did not say what flavor of population 'control' he was talking about. WOA does not advocate 'population control', but rather providing the means for couples to choose the size of their families, recognizing the they usually have smaller families when able, and that there is a great unmet need for family planning and reproductive health (which is a conveyance for family planning, but not necessarily abortion. Family planning prevents abortion). 2) I don't see these as rules, but as an order of progression. There are other sources that offer more guidance on No Growth Economy. 3) I would like to see something that addresses the average American. If we stop buying goods that are not needed, as well as tighten our belts, which we may do in a recession/depression anyway, we may force a no-growth economy.

Migration and Jobs

doclink

January 01, 1000

... doclink

Brain Drain

Devastating Exodus of Doctors From Africa and Caribbean

October 27, 2005, Push Journal

There has been an increasing amount of doctors who are leaving Africa and the Caribbean to seek emplyoment in United States, Britain, Canada and Australia. This exodus of physicians has left an already pandemic criplied country with fewer doctors than two at most hospitals. The ratio being only 6:100,000 people in most areas. Women are dying in childbirth more and more due to the lack of obstetricians. The poorest countries of Africa and the Caribbean are loosing between 30% to 41% of the their trained doctors to English speaking countries. Due to the exodus of doctors, there is a fear that neglect for the sick in the poorest countries will also threaten the health of Americans in the face of potential outbreaks of avian flu and SARS. At a World Health Organization forum on global staffing issues, there was international outcry to train more doctors for the pandemic cripplied African and Caribbean countries. doclink

Western Man, a Curious Creature

U.S.: Western Civilisation Slow Decline Or Fast Fall?

March 10, 2012

Niall Ferguson's newest book is Civilization: The West and the Rest. What follows is a summarization of Niall's thoughts on the book.

Niall Ferguson wrote his book after pondering a question arising from his reading Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: whether or not the modern West could succumb to degenerative tendencies similar to the ones described so vividly by Gibbon.

Niall does not believe that Western civilization is in some kind of gradual, inexorable decline; rather the shape describing the decline is more like an exponentially steepening slope that quite suddenly drops off like a cliff. He gives the example of Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas which was lost in less than a decade starting in 1530 after foreign invaders came with horses, gunpowder, and lethal diseases.

Jared Diamond's 2005 book, Collapse focused, on man-made environmental disasters as the causes of collapse. But Neil says that, when you look back on the history of past civilizations, a striking feature is the speed with which most of them collapsed, regardless of the cause.

The Roman Empire collapsed within a few decades in the early fifth century, tipped over the edge of chaos by barbarian invaders and internal divisions. The Ming dynasty's rule in China also fell apart in a little more than a decade in the mid-17th century, succumbing to internal strife and external invasion. The collapse of the Soviet Union fell apart as quickly.

The postcolonial dictatorships of North Africa and the Middle East imploded this year, starting with Messrs. Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Gaddafi secure in their palaces, legitimate in the eyes of their people, just a year ago.

Looking at financial markets, it is far from clear that the European Monetary Union can be salvaged from the dramatic collapse of confidence in the fiscal policies of its peripheral member states. In the realm of power, you are fine until you are not fine—and when you're not fine, you are suddenly in a terrifying death spiral.

The West surged ahead of the Rest, starting in about 1500 due to these 6 applications:

1. Competition which developed with the fragmentation of Europe into multiple monarchies and republics, which were in turn internally divided into competing corporate entities

2.The Scientific Revolution

3.The Rule of Law and Representative Government based on private-property rights and the representation of property owners in elected legislatures.

4.Modern Medicine

5.The Consumer Society, starting with the Industrial Revolution.

6.The Work Ethic. Extensive and intensive labor combined with higher savings rates, permitting sustained capital accumulation.

By the early 20th century the West controlled 58% of the world's land surface and population, and 74% of the global economy. However, starting with Japan, one non-Western society after another has copied these 6 applications and is now catching up.

Now the average South Korean works about 39% more hours per week than the average American. The school year in South Korea is 220 days long, compared with 180 days in the U.S. While life expectancy in the U.S. has risen from 70 to only 78 in the past 50 years, Japan has gone from 68 to 83 in Japan and China from 43 to 73. On 15 of 16 different issues relating to property rights and governance, the United States fares worse than Hong Kong. The U.S. ranks 86th in the world for the costs imposed on business by organized crime, 50th for public trust in the ethics of politicians, 42nd for various forms of bribery, and 40th for standards of auditing and financial reporting.

The OECD's Program for International Student Assessment tests on "mathematical literacy" reveal that the gap between the world leaders—the students of Shanghai and Singapore—and their American counterparts is now as big as the gap between U.S. kids and teenagers in Albania and Tunisia. More patents originate in Japan than in the U.S.,with South Korea in third place in 2005, and China in fourth, ahead of Germany. Finally, there's the extraordinary social polarization of Occupy Wall Street's 1% that collects 20% of the income, vs the 99% who are poor.

While we could go towards collapse by way of the upsurge in civil unrest and crime of the 1970s or a loss of faith on the part of investors in Greece, or the spike of violence in the Middle East, or a paralyzing cyberattack from China, social scientist Charles Murray calls for a "civic great awakening"—a return to the original values of the American republic - the 6 killer applications listed above; most Americans remain instinctively loyal to these values of Western ascendancy, from competition all the way through to the work ethic.

We need to delete the viruses that have crept into our system: the anticompetitive quasi monopolies that blight everything from banking to public education; the politically correct pseudosciences and soft subjects that deflect good students away from hard science; the lobbyists who subvert the rule of law for the sake of the special interests they represent - to say nothing of our crazily dysfunctional system of health care, our overleveraged personal finances, and our newfound unemployment ethic. Voters and politicians alike dare not delay: if what we are risking is not decline but downright collapse, it could very well be in a time frame of only one election cycle. doclink

Karen Gaia says: We also need to throw into the mix dealing with limited resources and switching to a no growth economy.

Vatican Decries 'Religion of Health'

February 17, 2005, Associated Press

Vatican officials decried what they called a "religion of health" in affluent societies and held out Pope John Paul II's suffering as an antidote to the idea that modern medicine must cure all. In rich countries they claim, the concept of health as well-being creates unrealistic expectations about medicine to respond to all needs and desires. The medicine of desires, egged on by the health care market, increases the request for pharmaceutical and medical-surgical services, and soaks up public resources beyond all reasonableness. A Vatican academic, hailed John Paul as the living alternative to the health-fiend madness. Officials took pains to put a positive spin on limitations that such health problems bring. John Paul no longer walks in public, and Parkinson's leaves his speech unintelligible. The Vatican's chief bioethicist, "Does a right to health at all costs exist? Medicine has become impossible to manage because it can't fulfill the desires of consumers for perfect health. Vatican officials stressed that all people should have access to basic health care but "it is difficult to establish what a decent minimum is," said Faggioni, when asked about criticism over unaffordable health care for many in the U.S. doclink

Osama Bin Laden's Got a Point

November 24, 2002, Guardian (London)

This article is the full text of Osama bin Laden's online "letter to the American people" that appeared on the internet in Arabic and has since been translated and circulated by Islamists in Britain. Among his perhaps more legitimate claims are: We are fighting and opposing you because: "You attack Muslims in Palestine; you attacked us in Somalia; you supported the Russian atrocities against us in Chechnya, the Indian oppression against us in Kashmir, and the Jewish aggression against us in Lebanon .. You steal our wealth and oil at paltry prices because of you international influence and military threats .. Your forces occupy our countries; you spread your military bases throughout them; You corrupt our lands, and you besiege our sanctities, to protect the security of the Jews and to ensure the continuity of your pillage of our treasures .. You have starved the Muslims of Iraq, where children die every day. It is a wonder that more than 1.5 million Iraqi children have died as a result of your sanctions, and you did not show concern. Yet when 3000 of your people died, the entire world rises and has not yet sat down." Bin Laden claims "Islam is the religion of Unification of God, sincerity, the best of manners, righteousness, mercy, honour, purity, and piety. It is the religion of showing kindness to others, establishing justice between them, granting them their rights, and defending the oppressed and the persecuted. It is the religion of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil with the hand, tongue and heart. And it is the religion of unity and agreement on the obedience to Allah, and total equality between all people, without regarding their colour, sex, or language." Bin Laden calls upon Americans to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest. He says: "Your law is the law of the rich and wealthy people, who hold sway in their political parties, and fund their election campaigns with their gifts. Behind them stand the Jews, who control your policies, media and economy. ... You are a nation that exploits women like consumer products or advertising tools calling upon customers to purchase them. You use women to serve passengers, visitors, and strangers to increase your profit margins. You then rant that you support the liberation of women. .. You have destroyed nature with your industrial waste and gases more than any other nation in history. Despite this, you refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement so that you can secure the profit of your greedy companies and*industries. .. Your law is the law of the rich and wealthy people, who hold sway in their political parties, and fund their election campaigns with their gifts. .. Your policy on prohibiting and forcibly removing weapons of mass destruction to ensure world peace: it only applies to those countries which you do not permit to possess such weapons. As for the countries you consent to, such as Israel, then they are allowed to keep and use such weapons to defend their security. Anyone else who you suspect might be manufacturing or keeping these kinds of weapons, you call them criminals and you take military action against them. .. You are the last ones to respect the resolutions and policies of International Law, yet you claim to want to selectively punish anyone else who does the same. Israel has for more than 50 years been pushing UN resolutions and rules against the wall with the full support of America. .. In America, you captured thousands the Muslims and Arabs, took them into custody with neither reason, court trial, nor even disclosing their names. .. We call upon you to end your support of the corrupt leaders in our countries." doclink

Bigger is Not Better

The Great Growth Disconnect: Population Growth Does Not Equal Economic Growth

September 30, 2013, Atlantic Cities, The

While many people use population as a way to gauge regional growth or decline, it actually tells us little about economic growth. A study by José Lobo of Arizona State University and researchers at the Martin Prosperity Institute used figures from the U.S. Census and the Bureau of Economic Analysis to track the entire decade of the 2000s.

Trends in population growth and productivity growth (measured as economic output per capita) were examined for all 350-plus U.S. metros.

Roughly 46% of metros had above average population growth, while 43% had above average productivity growth over this period. Fewer than one in five metros experienced both population growth and productivity growth over the past decade. There was no statistical association between the two, according to the team's analysis.

Only one of the top 10 leading population growth metros broke into the top 100 in terms of productivity growth, Austin in 64th place. Six of out of the top 10 metros with the highest rates of population growth saw real declines in productivity over the course of the decade. And the average rate of economic growth across these top 10 metros was also negative, (-0.53 percent per year) and beneath the U.S. metro average (of 0.48 percent annually). When it comes to fast growing large metros, Houston and Atlanta both experienced considerable population growth rates over the past decade, while seeing real declines in productivity over the period.

It's time to put to rest the conventional notion that a growing population equals a growing economy. More than a decade ago, urban economist Paul Gottlieb dubbed this disconnect between population and economic growth "growth without growth," dividing metros into "population magnets," where population grew but not income, and "wealth builders," where incomes rose much faster than population. Population growth, in fact, creates a troubling fake illusion of prosperity.

Follow the link in the headline to see the maps, charts, and graphs. doclink

Workers of the World: Relax! How Can We Create a Successful Economy Without Continuous Economic Growth?

September 2013, Center for Humans and Nature

Is continuous growth required for economic a success? No, says Italian economist Stefano Bartolini in his Manifesto for Happiness, which the University of Pennsylvania will publish in English this year.

Over the last hundred years, people have consumed more resources than all of their ancestors. We have damaged our farmland soils, drastically reduced our fish stocks, caused the extinction of countless species, and changed our climate. Although our business leaders would have us continue on that course, it is no longer sustainable. Rapid growth actually leads to economic decay.

But the U.S. economy feeds on continuous growth and consumption. We use GDP to gauge our success. It measures the cost of goods and services that we make, buy, and sell. As Bobby Kennedy said, "It measures, in short, everything except that which makes life worthwhile." Bartolini describes how Madison Ave shapes our choices. Want an attractive image? Buy a hot car… Want nature? Fly to a tropical paradise… Of course you will want a big home and yard. So we now have sprawling burbs where public transit is impractical, cars and long commutes are essential, and we see our neighbors mainly through windows. We have less public space and access to nature. What's more, during the past three decades, while GDP doubled, worker earnings stayed flat. To buy more consumer goods, we work longer hours and buy on credit. Straddled with debt, we call for slashing taxes and cutting support for public services, like transportation, education, and public parks. It's a vicious cycle that leads to health problems, stress, anxiety, and high suicide rates.

Our economy may grow faster than Europe's, where people work and consume less and devote more time to social relationships, but as we run ever faster, we never move forward to better lives. As productivity increases, we increase production to maintain jobs. Bartolini says that working less could produce more economic security and allow more time for self-chosen activity -- exercise, gardening, volunteering, environmental restoration and stewardship, socializing, stress-reducing leisure, personal caregiving. We can stretch our job opportunities by sharing and shortening work hours, taking longer vacations, offering liberal family and sick leave policies, and granting even part-time workers more benefits. So, as Canada's Conrad Schmidt says, "Workers of the World, Relax!"

A better measurement of "success" is the first step toward well-being. The Happiness Initiative promotes ten measures of progress and life satisfaction: financial security; environmental quality; physical and mental health; education; arts and culture; government; social connection; workplace quality, and time balance. And the United Nations now advocates "equitable and sustainable well-being," not just GDP growth. doclink

Karen Gaia says: we could take a lesson from Cuba, one of the world's most sustainable countries. Cuba promotes communities and culture. Its per capita GDP is about $9900, compared to $50,000 for the United States.

Growth Bias Busted: Hounding the Pro-growth Media Machine

June 21, 2013, GrowthBiasedBusted website

A website by Dave Gardner of Growth Busters. Rates people and media on their growth-promoting or growth-retarding actions, and places them in a Wall of Fame and a Wall of Shame. doclink

Humanity is Still on the Way to Destroying Itself

December 07 , 2012, Spiegel Online International   By: Dennis Meadows

In 1972, environmental guru Dennis Meadows in his "The Limits to Growth" predicted that the world was heading toward an economic collapse. The core message of the book remains valid today: Humanity is ruthlessly exploiting global resources and is on the way to destroying itself.

We have developed industries and policies that were at one time appropriate but now start to reduce human welfare. The political and financial power of the oil and car industry, for example, is so great and they can and likely will, prevent proactive change. Instead we are going to have to evolve through crisis.

While the predictions of exponential growth of the world's population, and widespread environmental destruction have come true, the prediction of economic growth ultimately ceasing and collapsing hasn't occurred so far; but that doesn't mean it won't take place in the future. We have the choice of seeing the necessity of change ahead of time and making the change, or of not making the change until we are finally forced to do it anyway.

It doesn't look like private companies are reacting to dwindling resources with innovation in an effort to maintain profitability. Our history with fishing shows that we are destroying the oceans' ecosystems, for example. And we're using our atmosphere as a free industrial waste dump. Nobody has an incentive to protect them.

There are universal problems, and there are global problems. Universal problems can be solved by small groups of people because they don't have to wait for others. You can clean up the air in Hanover without having to wait for Beijing or Mexico City to do the same. Global problems, however, cannot be solved in a single place. There's no way Hanover can solve climate change or stop the spread of nuclear weapons. On the global problems, we will make no progress.

While environmentalist Paul Gilding argues in his book "The Great Disruption" that humanity will mobilize to fight a crisis that they see coming as they would during times of war, we may get stalled out by long delays, such as in climate change. Even if we were to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to zero today, warming would still continue for centuries. The same is true for soil, which we are destroying globally. Recovery can take centuries.

While technological innovation has served to reduce the impact of some long-term problems - for example, modern medicine has increased life expectancy and reduced infant mortality rates and new technologies have dramatically increased harvests and computers and the Internet have brought the world closer together and improved access to education - these achievements were the results of decades of hard work, and someone has to pay for these programs. Big sources of money such as the military and corporations, are not motivated to solve global problems,. Drug companies in the U.S. spend more money on hair-loss prevention than on preventing HIV infections since the former makes greater profits.

Even if we discovered a major new energy source, it would take decades for it to make an impact.

While there seems to be plenty of oil available, the oil reserves we are talking about are scarce and very expensive to exploit. And they, too, will be depleted one day.

Collapse will look different in different places. Some countries are already collapsing, and some people won't even notice. There are almost a billion people who are starving to death these days, and people here basically aren't noticing.

The difference between a decline and a collapse is speed. The rich can buy their way out of a lot of things. The end of fossil energy, for example, will be gradual. But climate change will come to the industrial countries no matter what. And the geological record clearly shows that the global temperature doesn't increase in a linear way. It jumps. If that happens, a collapse will occur.

Societies rise and fall. They have been doing so for 300,000 years. doclink

Underminers is a New Book by Keith Farnish

What Can We Do? Take Control of Our Own Destiny. Reject the Principles of Industrialization, the Belief That Economic Growth is a Good Thing.
November 22, 2012

Underminers is a new book by Keith Farnish. What can we do? Take control of our own destiny. Reject the principles of industrialization, the belief that economic growth is a good thing. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I have not read the book, but the video seems to be headed in the right direction.

U.S.: The Next President's Inaugural Speech (if Only…)

September 17 , 2012, Center for Advancement of the Steady State Economy   By: Brent Blackwelder

Note: this is an excellent speech, well worth clicking on the link in the headline and reading the entire thing. Some excerpts:

The presidential campaign, including my campaign, dodged the most important issue of our era: coming to grips with the ecological reality confronting life on this planet. Today I pledge to make our nation once again the leader in solving economic, environmental, and social crises.

We have built a global economy that refuses to recognize ecological limits to growth. Repeated financial collapses, mushrooming corruption, and rampant speculation have characterized the last twenty years.

Our global population of over seven billion needs access to goods and services, but almost a billion are already struggling to obtain the bare necessities. Our civilization is using natural resources much faster than the earth can regenerate them.

We have futureless growth that destroys resources, such as water and farmland, that will be needed by our children and grandchildren.

Iceland has become the leader in empowerment of women; women hold the majority of jobs in university education and have nearly half the seats in parliament. Bhutan has become the leader in measuring progress; this small Himalayan nation has committed itself to maximizing gross national happiness rather than gross national product.

We can no longer stand still and watch other nations pass by on the way to a sustainable twenty-first-century economy.

We will adopt a four-day work week. There is no winner in a rat race. We will share the work, so that everyone can have a job, and we will trade the high productivity of our workers for a time dividend — meaning more time spent with our families and less time spent at the office.

We will take up the challenge of leadership so that we can once again pursue the noble vision of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. doclink

America Then and Now (Jan 2009 - Dec 2011)

June 02, 2012, US Congress House Ways and Means Committee

 

Before

Now

Change

Number of Unemployed1

12.0 Million

13.1 Million

+9%

Long-Term Unemployed2

2.7 Million

5.6 Million

+107%

Unemployment Rate3

7.8%

8.5%

+9%

"High Unemployment" States4

22

43

+95%

Misery Index5

7.83

11.46

+46%

Price of Gas6

$1.85

$3.39

+83%

"Typical" Monthly Family Food Cost7

$974

$1,013

+4%

Median Value of Single-Family Home8

$196,600

$169,100

-14%

Rate of Mortgage Delinquencies9

6.62%

10.23%

+55%

U.S. National Debt10

$10.6 Trillion

$15.2 Trillion

+43%

  1. Number of unemployed in January 2009 and December 2011. http://www.bls.gov/data/#unemployment.
  2. "Long-term unemployed" means for over 26 weeks; data for January 2009 and December 2011. http://www.bls.gov/data/#unemployment.
  3. Unemployment rates in January 2009 and December 2011. http://www.bls.gov/data/#unemployment.
  4. "High unemployment" means having a 3-month average unemployment rate of 6% or higher. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics' "Extended Benefits Trigger Notice" for January 18, 2009 and January 22, 2012. http://www.ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/trigger/2009/trig_011809.html and http://ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/euc_trigger/2012/euc_012212.html.
  5. The "Misery Index" equals unemployment plus inflation. For January 2009 and December 2012. http://www.miseryindex.us/indexbymonth.asp.
  6. Average retail price per gallon, January 2009 week 3 and January 2012 week 4. http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=EMM_EPMR_PTE_NUS_DPG&f=W.
  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture, values represent monthly "moderate" cost per family of four for January 2009 and November 2011. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodCost-Home.htm.
  8. U.S. median sales price of existing single-family homes for metropolitan areas for 2008 and 2011 Q3. http://www.realtor.org/research/research/metroprice.
  9. Residential mortgage delinquencies (real estate loans) for 2008 Q4 and 2011 Q3. http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/chargeoff/default.htm.
  10. Values for January 21, 2009 and January 23, 2012. http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np.
doclink

Karen Gaia says: I was shocked to see how this House Committee is being used to discredit the President. No thought that many of the contributors to the economic crisis occurred before President Obama took office: credit default swaps, shabby mortgage practices, control and misuse of the money supply by the Federal Reserve, slipping away from a balanced budget, shipping jobs out of the country, and ignoring resource depletion, with no effort to conserve, war mongering at huge expense, and so on.

Too bad no one looks at resource depletion. Going into debt so we can grow, grow, grow, is the last thing we want to do.

This Economic Collapse is a 'Crisis of Bigness'

September 25, 2011, Guardian (London)

The results of half a century of debt-fuelled "growth" are becoming impossible to convincingly deny, but even as economies and certainties crumble, our appointed leaders bravely hold the line. No one wants to be the first to say the dam is cracked beyond repair.

Banks grew so big that their collapse would have brought down the entire global economy. To prevent this, they were bailed out with huge tranches of public money, which in turn is precipitating social crises on the streets of western nations. The European Union has grown so big, and so unaccountable, that it threatens to collapse in on itself. Corporations have grown so big that they are overwhelming democracies and building a global plutocracy to serve their own interests. The human economy as a whole has grown so big that it has been able to change the atmospheric composition of the planet and precipitate a mass extinction event.

Leopold Kohr's message is "Wherever something is wrong," ... "something is too big."

Kohr, born in 1909, wrote The Breakdown of Nations, published In 1957. He said that small states, small nations and small economies are more peaceful, more prosperous and more creative than great powers or superstates. He claimed that society's problems were not caused by particular forms of social or economic organisation, but by their size. Socialism, anarchism, capitalism, democracy, monarchy - all could work well on what he called "the human scale": a scale at which people could play a part in the systems that governed their lives. But once scaled up to the level of modern states, all systems became oppressors. Changing the system, or the ideology that it claimed inspiration from, would not prevent that oppression - as any number of revolutions have shown - because "the problem is not the thing that is big, but bigness itself".

When people have too much power, under any system or none, they abuse it. The world should be broken up into small states, roughly equivalent in size and power, which would be able to limit the growth and thus domination of any one unit. Small states and small economies were more flexible, more able to weather economic storms, less capable of waging serious wars, and more accountable to their people. Not only that, but they were more creative.

Bigness, predicted Kohr, could only lead to more bigness, for "whatever outgrows certain limits begins to suffer from the irrepressible problem of unmanageable proportions". Beyond those limits it was forced to accumulate more power in order to manage the power it already had. Growth would become cancerous and unstoppable, until there was only one possible endpoint: collapse.

We have now reached the point that Kohr warned about over half a century ago: the point where "instead of growth serving life, life must now serve growth, perverting the very purpose of existence". doclink

Population Biology

As Economy in Silicon Valley Slides, Birth Control Booms

June 26, 2009, San Jose Mercury News

With the ranks of the uninsured increasing along with unemployment rates, many women are taking steps to avoid having a child.

Among gynecologists and family-planning clinics throughout the South Bay, there have been more birth-control consultations since the fall, and women are asking for more reliable, more permanent methods of contraception.

"They want to focus their finances on the one or two kids that they have," said an OB-GYN. "Instead of going with condoms or birth-control pills, they want longer-term solutions like the intrauterine device." IUDs have a lower failure rate than birth-control pills and condoms, according to the CDC.

A national Gallup poll revealed that 20% of women surveyed were more concerned about an unintended pregnancy during the bad economy, and 19% were more conscientious about using birth control.

In the years straddling the market crash of the Great Depression, birthrates plummeted almost 30%. Rates peaked after World War II, then took another nose-dive following the recession of the early 1970s.

Even lower-income women are filling the rooms of in a Planned Parenthood clinic East San Jose.

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, which runs 33 clinics in Northern California, including the South Bay region, sees between 40,000 and 50,000 patients every month. Last December clinics had 25% visits than the previous year, and in March, it was 16% more, with the bulk of patients coming in for birth-control consultations, refills and infection screenings and treatment. Local abortion rates went down during the same time period.

One woman who opted for an IUD said she wanted a more reliable method since her boyfriend started having trouble finding painting and construction jobs. They can hardly pay the rent on their one-bedroom apartment, and as their public benefits run out, they're struggling with the four kids they have. "I tried the injection and I got pregnant, I tried the pill and I got pregnant. I needed something safer."

Some women use permanent sterilization, such as the outpatient procedure of placing titanium coils in the fallopian tubes.

Sometimes it is more than the money. For Indian immigrant women on H-1B visas that require them to be actively employed, losing a job can mean leaving the country.

Paying for the birth control itself is usually a challenge for low income women. California's Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment program, which provides free contraception and reproductive-health services to low-income Californians of childbearing age, received 5,000 more claims in 2008 for services than in 2007. Latinos make up the majority of enrollees in the program at 65% statewide.

With the proposed up to $36 million in cuts to family-planning programs in the state budget, there is much to fear. The federal government matches every $1 the state spends on family planning with $9, so even more is at stake.

Men are also undergoing more vasectomies to cushion their families against hard times. doclink

The Geopolitics of Babies

September 1, 2005, MediaCorp News

Many Americans and Europeans believe that if all countries were governed on democratic principles, wars and conflicts would disappear. However one factor more critical is demography, not democracy. Burgeoning populations are a drag on developing countries, while low fertility rates are slowing growth in developed societies. The poor are making themselves poorer by over-producing themselves, and the rich will have a less dynamic society because they are not replacing themselves. Populations are outstripping the capacity of governments to deliver basic services in the Middle East and Africa which will become breeding grounds for extremist movements. Migrations from developing societies will increasingly be seen as a threat to developed societies. European governments have made efforts to reverse declining fertility rates but results have been disappointing and have meant a re-evaluation of the roles of marriage and the family. They will need immigrants to keep their economies vibrant. Countries that most welcome migrants have an economic advantage. However, the new waves of migrants will be ethnically different, less educated and lower skilled. Many are illegal. Greater ethnic diversity generates social tensions and can have profound effects on the cultural identity and cohesion of nations. Those more conservative in religious faith are more likely to have many children. Japan has a reproduction rate of 1.29, but is uncomfortable with immigrants, especially those of different races and religions. China is facing a demographic crunch as a result of its one-child policy. India's population is expanding too swiftly for its rate of economic growth. The US has traditionally welcomed immigrants and 80% of a projected growth of 120 million in the next 50 years will be immigrants. The dilemma is starker for Europe where most migrants are Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East who are not likely to be assimilated into a Christian secular society. Turkish entry into the EU could change the character of Europe's society; but Turkey's rejection will increase the alienation of Muslim peoples in Christian Europe. Educated women across the world are postponing marriage and having fewer children. Educating women will help the Middle East and Africa to achieve self-sustaining growth. Those governments most able to deal with these problems can save their societies and neighbours pain and suffering. Finally, there is the danger of a huge demographic upheaval, unconnected with fertility rates. Millions will be displaced from sea level coastal cities, the estuarial areas of big rivers, like Bangladesh, and low-lying islands like the Maldives as the ice caps melt. As the glaciers on the Himalayas, Karakoram and Kunlun mountains melt, the rivers they feed will first flood and then fall when there is no more ice. The human race is at risk because it has mastered technology but without mastering man's natural desire to push for more of the benefits of technology without going beyond the limits. doclink

Opinion: Population Growth Reduction Vs the Profit Motive

July 2002, Ralph Woodgate

While the empowerment of women and the provision of reproductive health services undoubtably reduces the birthrate in the poorer countries, there is a much more serious problem facing the developed countries of our world. We have based our entire society on "competition" and the "profit motive", which has worked well during times of increasing demand for goods and services. However the crucial factor for its success lies in those two words, "increasing demand", which is completely contradictory to a reduction in our population. Certainly there will be a demand for improved products, such as more efficient methods of transport and communication, but this will not replace the demand for houses, factories, cars and other items that inevitably occurs with the ever increasing population. If there is not a major change in our society and the forces that drive it, as we reduce our population we will face a dramatic increase in unemployment, and a breakdown of our financial system. As an example consider the effect on the housing market when the demand for new homes can be satisified from the transfer of empty houses rather then building rows of new dwellings, when the value of property drops dramatically as development implies improving current buildings and returning land back to the farmer. A similar picture can be seen in the reduction of automobiles, with manufacturing plants and repair and gas stations closing.

We are already seeing signs of the problem. Some countries with a lowering population growth are looking to immigration to bolster their numbers, and in a few cases are encouraging their people to have larger families rather than seeking ways to function with fewer people. The demands on air, water, food, trees, fish, and other environmental concerns are fast becoming apparent to us all. What is not at all clear is how we can organize ourselves to provide a good life for all our people when we cannot use "competitonand profit" ? It has functioned well and appeals to the basic instinct of greed in all of us. As a nation we view more government control with suspicion, but it is difficult to see how we can avoid this. How can we replace the desire to compete and posses more than our neighbor with the desire to work for the good of society as a whole? doclink

Optimists and Pessimists

doclink

January 01, 1000

... doclink

Alternative Philosophies

Invest More in Bangladesh's Youth to Reduce Poverty

December 12, 2006, One World South Asia

Bangladesh needs to invest in better education, and job training for its young people to produce stronger economic growth and reduce poverty.

Investing heavily in Bangladeshi's between 12 and 24 could banish poverty and galvanize its economy.

The need is to develop primary education and access to secondary and higher education.

In rural Bangladesh, working while attending primary school had a negative effect on the transition to secondary school, and starting to work while attending secondary school had even larger effects on secondary school completion.

Channeling subsidies directly to girls 11-14 has increased girls' enrollment-despite strong biases against their schooling. In Bangladesh, over 30% of 15-19 year old girls are mothers or pregnant. In Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, use of birth control is low among young women. In rural Pakistan, adolescent girls' mobility is limited and may affect their ability to seek timely health services. .. • Nearly 50% of teenage mothers in Bangladesh reported seeking no help for maternal complications. Men's exposure to social development activities as part of Grameen Bank's micro-credit schemes could explain lower fertility rates. ..

• In an international survey of 15 to 24 year-olds, very few young Bangladeshi women thought they had the most influence on schooling or marriage choices. doclink

Did Worldwide Inequality Drop Between 1960 and 2000?

September 2005, Population Reference Bureau

While the rich get richer, the poor are falling behind. But a recent study argues the opposite, because of increases in life expectancy in less developed countries that more than offset the disparity between the incomes of less and more developed countries. In the new research, Becker and co-authors combine life expectancy from birth rates with national per capita income figures to create a "full-income" index that reminds us income per capita is not the only measure of well-being. If we think about welfare as some combination of life and consumption, this index shows us that poor countries have caught up. But others say the study masks a slide in well-being among the world's poor. The WHO reports that life expectancy rose an average of 23 years in the poorest 50% of countries, but only nine years in the richest 50%. While East Asia and the Pacific had an increase of 29 years (from 42 to 71), in North America it grew from 70 to 77. But factoring this trend into a comparative index of well-being has been a long-standing problem for economists. To counter this problem, Becker and his co-authors calculated the dollar value of changes in life expectancy at birth for 96 countries between 1960 and 2000. The study argues that health improved dramatically in the less developed world after 1960. While "full income" for the poorest one-half of countries grew an average of 4.1% percent annually, it grew for the richest one-half by only 2.6%, although that amounted to about $600 more per year for the rich than the poor. There has been more success on the health side than on the income side, because it's easier to transfer health knowledge than transfer the tools for raising income. Reductions in mortality for infectious, respiratory, digestive, congenital, and perinatal diseases, most before age 20 or between the ages of 20 and 50, were responsible for most of the reduction in life expectancy inequality. Drops in respiratory and digestive diseases deaths alone accounted for 81% of the reduction. Reductions in mortality from diseases of the nervous system, sense organs, and cardiovascular diseases were larger for elderly people in rich countries than in poor ones. Becker and his co-authors conclude that "health education programs and simple interventions" were responsible for the bulk of closing the full-income gap. Not all analysts are impressed with the new index some say using country averages misses the hundreds of millions of people in the developing world who still lack adequate access to health services. Nugent is worried that policymakers will use the study's results as a pretext for curtailing investments in health or development assistance. But Becker says the study argues for more health spending, not less. Investment in health will improved rates of income growth as well as improve health. Nugent, however, argues that health technologies aimed at diseases of the poor world are often left undeveloped because adequate profit incentive is lacking. "Factors such as the spread of the AIDS epidemic new infectious disease strains and developing country spending on expensive medical technologies could mean that the 40-year trend of shrinking full-income inequality might have already ended. doclink

It is time that the world's people find well-being in something other than economic wealth. It is not possible to bring monetary wealth to all 6+ billion people.

Vatican Decries 'Religion of Health'

February 17, 2005, Associated Press

Vatican officials decried what they called a "religion of health" in affluent societies and held out Pope John Paul II's suffering as an antidote to the idea that modern medicine must cure all. In rich countries they claim, the concept of health as well-being creates unrealistic expectations about medicine to respond to all needs and desires. The medicine of desires, egged on by the health care market, increases the request for pharmaceutical and medical-surgical services, and soaks up public resources beyond all reasonableness. A Vatican academic, hailed John Paul as the living alternative to the health-fiend madness. Officials took pains to put a positive spin on limitations that such health problems bring. John Paul no longer walks in public, and Parkinson's leaves his speech unintelligible. The Vatican's chief bioethicist, "Does a right to health at all costs exist? Medicine has become impossible to manage because it can't fulfill the desires of consumers for perfect health. Vatican officials stressed that all people should have access to basic health care but "it is difficult to establish what a decent minimum is," said Faggioni, when asked about criticism over unaffordable health care for many in the U.S. doclink

Bhutan's Gross National Happiness

June 24, 2004, Gallon newsletter

Bhutan, one of the world's least developed countries, is seeking to protect its cultural assets by using Gross National Happiness (GNH). Bhutan, population 800,000, has opened up to television and Internet and is considering an application to the World Trade Organization. GNH is a reflection of its culture to find the Buddhist Middle Path. Some have suggested that the GNH may be a Bhutanese approach but has application elsewhere. GNH measures human well-being beyond material wealth and emphasizes that development should be for the benefit of the people and allow for cultural differences. It also discusses management as related to human happiness. doclink

An important concept - the only way to go for the sustainability of the world! A better way to measure the quality of life

Gaian Economics

Social Change Cooperative

An economic system is proposed that would bring population into the equation of wealth and human values, and the outcome would be optimum population on a regional level. Global Monetocracy is the continuation of money growth to maintain the current debt-based system. Some form of exchange of goods and services has been essential to the progression of a civilized infrastructure. Many systems have been tried, but the perfect system has not been found. In 1990 the idea of Jubilee was introduced, a forgiveness of debts every few years to temporarily level the playing field. This is symptomatic of a monetary system without feedback from the rest of the worldly considerations. Today, in every Western country, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. It is time for a change to an economic system in balance with the rest of the world. Social, economic and political reformers, point to problems with the system, and ask whether banks or the state should continue to create money? Transactions surrounding human activity are conducted in terms of Global Monetocracy (GM) with money that can be created with the stroke of a keyboard, is globally integrated and can destroy competition. One other related activity is the use of fossil fuels to generate an infrastructure consisting of roads, electric grids, heavy industry, mechanized farming and communications industries, medical technologies, etc. This requires population growth, which has zoomed to over 6 billion. Human Activity (HA) represents the number of humans and the things we do that impact on earths web of life. The monetary system is one of the subsystems of human civilization but system stability requires interaction with many elements and a stable and sustainable civilization is the hope of many humans. Some of the issues that relate to each other: Energy use and sources, ... Human population and fertility levels, ...Industrial material throughput, ... Resource consumption and stability ... and Human waste management. Hard Systems are designed systems such as engines, radios, etc. Natural Systems are bacteria, weather, humans, hearts, trees, eyes, etc. Soft Systems are governments, corporations, sports leagues, religions, monetary systems etc., which do not exist in physical form. Within any systems positive feedback leads to system runaway, or to crash, or die-off, or to revolution, depending on the system involved. Negative feedback puts a damper on things and for a system to be at rest, negative and positive feedback are in balance. Humanity has become a victim of soft systems of our own creation. In the past years, (HA) has exceeded a critical level. We are now deficit-spending the stability or our ecosphere, in terms of decline in biological diversity, topsoil loss, potable water per capita, or the energy peak. These changes suggest we are now above human capacity the Earth. Some say that if there was the political will to reduce activity and redistribute goods, the earth could sustain our 6 billion + population. We envision a system that will generate appropriate feedback such that in the future HA will be at or below some critical threshold, and we will have a sustainable civilization. Our new system must remain robust whether HA growth is positive, neutral or negative, and be able to transition from the old monetary system without social collapse. In past we have had barter, the gold standard, or the IOU, which are all a promise to repay via produce or labor. But Nixon abandoned gold and shifted the GM to run on fiat money, which has no physical basis. Hegemony from banks and corporations caused governments to give them more power. Positive feedback begins its work, and now we have $8 trillion dollars in global goods and services, and another $288 trillion dollars as a value of currencies on global trade. It is a systen that favors the rich, is fostered by The Chicago School of Economics, and lays out the principles of capitalistic globalization which supporters have said, has no alternative. But we need to design, define and institute an antidote for this. A non-inflationary monetary system could be implemented if the political will-to-change were there. One such continues a fiat monetary system, but does not expand with interest payments. Other changes are suggested such as government loans that need not pay interest, and a way to establish a common ownership of revenue generating assets. One characteristic suggests a set of global standards to develop commodity-based currencies that are developed locally, yet can be traded nationally and internationally. Another is that monetary currency is designed as a variable supply that will link human wealth and well being to the stability of the natural systems that sustain us. To establish a desired goal, there is maximum autonomy at the lowest level of governance. Representatives of higher levels are selected from representatives of the next lower levels. Global government deals with global issues, and setting global standards. The new form of money could take root before governmental shifts occur and have primary characteristics of a commodity-based system, but will require some elastic characteristics through loans, for periods when commodity balance cannot be met. Some components will be measurable and some are abstract and would be determined by standards based on human wants and needs. Each region would have its own currency. A branch of Global Government would establish standards to be used by each Region to determine its Wealth Factor. To prevent bias, assessments will be audited annually by a third party. A credit balance means that the Human Activity is beyond sustainable limits. A zero balance means it is at human capacity. Debit means more wealth per capita and/or your Region could lend money to a neighboring Region. A zero balance means that the average person could have enough money for a comfortable life. Some will have much more, some much less in a modified capitalist system. Some will be at the minimum wage while others have reached a maximum. The goal of governance is at least a balances but debit is even better, i.e. more wealth per capita for the people and the Region does not need to borrow from another Region. Each Region has control over immigration. If you want to emigrate to another Region, you will need permission and documents from that Region. The wealth of each Region is determined by the amount of renewable energy produced by the Region, and the potential to produce renewable energy, as well as for the amount of renewable resources, the amount of water which can be used by humans, the amount of food which can be produced sustainably, the amount of green space for biodiversity and human leisure, facilities for high tech research and development, industrial capability for production of recyclable goods, the quality and quantity of human services, dependence on goods or services from other Regions, the amount of non-renewable energy used, regional human population, and current Regional fertility rate. Most categories are controllable within limits some are imposed by nature. With lower population there will be more natural, renewable resources per person. Fewer humans = greater wealth per capita. But with a larger number of humans there will be a greater likelihood of technological advancement. It requires large numbers of humans to sustain a modern society with medical services, educational facilities, computer industries, research facilities, the arts and entertainment. More human contribute to greater wealth potential. Optimum population and fertility rate will be determined by the other factors and updated at least annually but perhaps continuously, like automatic inventory control. No Region could sustain an industrial society without trade. The accounting would be complex. Human procreation in Western societies is a private affair. This taboo needs to be broken. Growth of either people or activity cannot continue indefinitely and must become societal controllable variables. doclink

Economics and Sustainability News

This is Crazy! Where Are the Promised Regulations?

May 21, 2012, Financial Sense

As in the 1929 stock market crash - which led to the worst financial catastrophe the country has ever experienced, the Great Depression - there have been widespread conflicts of interest and outright fraud in the activities of financial firms. Financial firms had become too big, too powerful, and too greedy.

In 1933 Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act. It split up conflicting areas of financial activities, forcing financial firms to choose which one they would operate within, while divesting themselves of the others.

Savings banks could take in deposits from the public and make personal and home loans. Commercial banks could take in deposits from businesses and make business loans. Investment banks could raise capital for businesses by taking them public, arranging mergers and acquisitions and the like. Brokerage firms could provide a market for stocks after they had become public, brokering the trades of investors and trading for their own accounts. Mutual funds, then known as investment trusts, could invest in portfolios of stocks and sell their shares to investors.

But in the boom times of the late 1990s, savings banks, commercial banks and insurance companies wanted in on the profits being made by investment banks, brokerage firms, and mortgage brokers, lobbied Congress and got the the entire Glass Steagall Act repealed in 1999, opening the flood gates for hedge funds, mortgages diced into derivatives and sold as investments, and proprietary trading for their own accounts in a big and reckless way.

The greed got out of hand and then imploded, first in the bursting of the stock market bubble of 2000, and in the real estate and sub-prime mortgage bubble and resulting financial meltdown of 2008-2009.

The Glass Steagall Act was debated but this time it was beaten down. New regulations were voted in, but under pressure from Wall Street, regulators delayed implementing most of even the watered-down new regulations.

This week came a wake-up call. JP Morgan Chase lost somewhere between $2 and $4 billion dollars last week on a derivatives trade that went bad, threatening plans to scuttle the Dodd-Frank financial regulations after the elections. Even the harshest of the proposals would be far short of the regulations that were in effect, and working very well, right up to the 1999 repeal of Glass Steagall.

Financial meltdowns are inevitable if the financial industry is left to its own devices. doclink

U.S.: Velocity of M2 Money Stock

February 29, 2012

Money velocity is the speed at which money turns over from one person or business to another. M2 money represents money and "close substitutes" for money. It is used to determine the amount of money in circulation.

US money velocity is the slowest it's been since 1959. That means in light of the massive amount of money pouring out of Washington as evident by our historic deficit, people are not still spending but instead sitting on their money. Maybe they are worried that things are going to get worse, and since money velocity is a self fulfilling prophesy, they are about to. doclink

China: Wealthy Chinese Not Stopping at One Child

March 05, 2006, United Press International

A population expert says tougher measures should be adopted to prevent China's wealthy from having more children. Business tycoons and celebrities are challenging China's family policy by paying the "social maintenance fee" to have two or more offspring. Imposing fines or administrative punishments is not enough but the personal credit of private business people or celebrities should be tainted if they choose to have more children. At least 84 cases were registered between 2002 and 2005 among affluent citizens in Shanghai. In Shenyang, 76 wealthy people were punished for having more than one child in 2000. doclink

India: ADB Plans Urban Project to Help Realize Potential of Uttaranchal

August 5, 2005, Harold Doan & Associates

Asian Development Bank (ADB) is helping an urban development project in the Indian state of Uttaranchal, through a grant of US$600,000. The project is to blend infrastructure and service improvements with urban policy for sustainable urban service in the state. Located on the borders with Nepal and China, Uttaranchal was created in 2000. One quarter of its 8.4 million population lives in the rapidly growing urban areas. Many of these areas are major tourist destinations in a state blessed with pristine and picturesque environment. More than 90% of the terrain is classified as hilly and two thirds is forest, limiting the availability of land for agriculture. Urban areas where tourism and can flourish present opportunities for development. But these areas are held back by deficiencies in infrastructure and services. The overall shortfall in water supply exceeds 50% due partly to inadequate sources and distribution and partly to leakage from old pipes. Less than one fifth of the urban population is served by sewerage networks. Untreated sewage is disposed in water bodies, causing public health problems. Meanwhile, the urban roads and parking spaces are insufficient. Inadequate urban institutional and financial capacities are the major cause of the poor environmental conditions. The bodies responsible for providing infrastructure and services lack the skills, and an adequate revenue base. Sustainability of water supply and sanitation is in question due to high operating ratios and production costs, and poor management in the two bodies responsible for their construction and upkeep. Uttaranchal is one of ADB's priority areas for assistance. The total cost is about $750,000, of which the state will contribute $150,000 equivalent in counterpart facilities. The state government's Department of Urban Development is the executing agency. doclink

India: Urbanisation Or Economic Growth?

July 28, 2005, Financial Express

Rapid urbanisation had been taking place in many parts of the developing world. At a United Nations University's World Institute for Development Economics Research's Jubilee Conference there was a need to study this much-neglected aspect of development. Overall (GDP) growth cannot be separated from the delivery of public services or strategies to improve them. Urbanisation grows faster after the proportion of urban population has reached 25%. In India, urbanisation has now reached 29%. Economic reforms and globalisation have made cities primary engines of economic growth. Urban areas contribute close to half of India's GDP. The more urbanised states in India (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat) recorded higher growth rates. Cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai have grown rapidly. However, the incidence of urban unemployment is much higher than that of rural unemployment, as reported in the 59th round of the National Sample Survey Organisation(NSSO). There were 14 urban persons unemployed (by principal and subsidiary activity) per 1,000 in 2003, compared with only five for rural India. Other reports compiled from NSSO data show that most urban employment (33.5%) is in production-related work, which means the service sector boom continues to elude urban areas. With the increasing incidence of frauds, the reliability of outsourcing and call centre jobs is uncertain, suggesting that the sustainability of the service sector is questionable. The answer may lie with the manufacturing sector. Cities, by offering good quality public services, attract residents with skills, which in turn attract jobs. Currently, states with high urban unemployment (e.g Jharkhand) are those that are unable to attract residents with skills (e.g, those with engineering degrees) because of their poor quality public services, and limited opportunities for jobs and growth. The experience with the private sector world-wide has shown that wherever governance is weak, privatisation of essential public services results in serious problems, including raising costs and reduced access and quality for the less well-off. doclink

Development is Most Important for Developing Nations: Chinese President

July 08, 2005, Xinhua General News Service

The Chinese President said that development is the most important task for the developing countries, in eliminating poverty, promoting development and delivering higher living standards. Developing countries should both rely on themselves and open up to the outside world for competition and cooperation. Hu urged developing countries to stay united, saying conducting policy and taking concerted actions on major international issues will help these countries safeguard their legitimate rights and interests. The key to resolving problems is to seek common ground on major issues while shelving minor differences. The Chinese president said that developing countries should become mutually complementary partners in win-win cooperation. Hu also said that trade protectionism has raised its head amd such mechanisms as G20 should be used so as to intensify cooperation and give a boost to the World Trade Organization negotiations. Hu called for earnest observation of the targets and principles enshrined in the Kyoto Protocol. doclink

Protecting Our Environment

February 4, 2005, Delta Farm Press

The report from the World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. 45th of 146 countries in its index of environmental sustainability. With all the strides this country has made over the past three decades in correcting the grossest of our environmental failings, one would think we'd have fared better. Less understandable are the above-the-U.S. rankings of several European and Latin American nations, which were years behind us in adopting unleaded gasoline and anti-pollution technology for automobiles. Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, and other northern-clime countries were at the top of the list with lower density populations. Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal, and Mexico. Much the U.S. EPA have been cussed over the past 30 years, America is now the better. The EPA cut air pollution through emission controls, and the cost has been enormous, but how much is breathable air worth? Though it was a long time coming, the smoke-belching diesel trucks are now having to clean up their act. The U.S. electric power industry are light years ahead of where they were. Rivers and streams are now much improved. Agriculture has cleaned up its act, reduced chemical exposure to humans and wildlife, and is providing additional protection for fields, forests, and habitat. We may not be at the top, but given the vast scope of this country and the monetary resources available, we've come a long way. doclink

Understanding the Demographic Dividend

February 26, 2005

The demographic dividend occurs when a falling birth rate changes the age distribution, so that fewer investments are needed to meet the needs of the youngest age groups and resources are released for investment in development and family. It improves the ratio of productive workers to child dependents that makes for faster economic growth and fewer burdens on families. The demographic dividend does not last forever; there is a limited window of opportunity. In time, the age distribution changes again, as the adult population moves into the older, less-productive age brackets. The dependency ratio then rises again, with the need to care for the elderly. While demographic pressures are eased where fertility falls, some countries will act to capitalize upon the released resources and use them effectively, but others will not. Take the Republic of Korea for example: as its birth rate fell in the mid-1960s, elementary school enrolments declined and funds previously allocated for elementary education were used to improve the quality of education at higher levels. In Korea the bulk of the population is at the working ages whereas in Nigeria the young dependent ages stand out, with all the burdens that they represent in that poor country.
The demographic dividend is delivered when the generations of children born during high fertility become workers. Women have fewer children and take jobs outside of the home and tend to be better educated. Working-age adults tend to earn more and save more than the young favoring savings. The ability to save money is greater when individuals born during periods of high fertility move into their 40s. Personal savings serve as a partial resource for investments that fuel economic growth. Having fewer children enhances the health of women. Their participation in the labor force enhances their social status and personal independence. They have more energy to contribute to society. Family income can be focused on better food for infants. Incomes can go toward prolonged education. There are increased benefits from the demographic dividend, assuming that policies are constructed to build upon the dividend. Evidence suggests that better health facilitates improved economic production, as will focusing especially on low-income populations, with strong public sector programs. Poor health is an important cause of losses in household income. About one fourth of all births in the developing world outside China are unwanted or ill-timed. About 20 million unsafe abortions occur annually. Half of the world's 175 million pregnancies annually are unwanted or mistimed. There is room for improvement in contraceptive provision and education. Governments and the public sector must target resources to the poor while releasing the private sector to meet the needs of those who can afford to pay for family planning and health services. Reducing unwanted pregnancies benefits maternal health and family welfare and hastens the changes in age structure that advance development. Policies to generate capital are needed to fuel growth. In East Asia, personal savings helped greatly; other sources are government and business savings as well as foreign investments and assistance. All these are responsive to favorable government actions. Investments in education, health, and job creation are vital, as are policies that favor the fertility declines that have created and sustained the window. This article is well worth reading in full - just follow the link. doclink