Population on a Finite World: No Vacancy.

Every niche on Earth where live is possible is fully populated to maximum capacity, and has been that way since within less than 100,000 years after life was first possible. Since then, ‘moving in’ has meant displacing the current inhabitants, in process Darwin declared “survival of the fittest”.

Is it easy to overlook that environments not fully occupied by “us” are always already fully occupied by “others”.

This is an exploration of how all environments becomes fully populated, how humanity has our current population and what we have needed to displace to get this far, and need to display to continue to displace to continue population growth.

  • Rules of Population Constraints on our finite planet.
    1. 100 doublings of population is beyond the maximum possible on Earth.
    2. If even 60 doublings were possible, even pandas or humans, could from 2 individuals within 3,000 years produce a population that would completely cover the surface of the Earth.
    3. Every living organism has had more than ample time for 100 doublings, and is normally population constrained by the limitations of a finite environment.
    4. Every niche for life, is full to capacity, except following catastrophes or major disruptions.
    5. Population growth of any species, requires environmental changes, or evolution enabling the ‘invasion’ of environment previously populated by of other species .
    6. Continued Population growth is only possible through continued reduction in populations of other species.
    7. Every species must find population stability at some point while limited to one finite planet.
  • What about humans? Are We exempt from the rules?
    • Human Population Growth, how does it continue?
    • Alternating Times of Stability and Times of Population Growth Through Technical Evolution.
    • Ignorant Displacement: Those displaced go unseen.
    • History of human population: growth steps through colonisation.

Rules of Population Constraints on our finite planet

Rule 1: 100 doublings of population is beyond the maximum possible on Earth.

Since 1 million is 1,000 times 1,000 such an organism could double its population 1,000 times in a million year timeframe, but doubling population even 100 times is more than enough for any fully populate the Earth with that organism. A doubling of population 1,000 times is , and double 63 times in 63,000 years.

The ‘wheat and chessboard problem‘ illustrates how large numbers grow by repeated doubling, also known as exponential growth.

The wheat and chessboard considers doubling 63 times, in 63 steps from step 1 to step 64, doubling each step. One grain of wheat on the first square (20=1)as the starting value, leads to 2 grains on the 2nd square (21=2), 4 on the 3rd (22=4), 8 on the 4th (23=8), all the way to 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 on the 64th and last square (263). So a single living organism would result in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 organisms after 63 doublings.

Given the total land and ocean surface area of the Earth 510,064,472 km2, and each square kilometre is 1 million square meters, the 63 steps results in 18,082 organisms per square metre of the entire surface of the Earth, which for those who do not speak metric, is over 180,000 organisms per square foot. Not very comfortable for humans, but possible for something very small or perhaps microscopic. Allowing the 100 doubling steps would generate 2,485,275,234,437,872 organisms per square metre ( over 25 quadrillion per square foot) or 2,485,275,234 organisms per square millimetre of the entire surface of the Earth.

So 100 doublings would overrun the earth even with microscopic animals:

  • 2.5 billion organisms for every square millimetre of the entire surface of the Earth, as a result of doubling 100 times.
  • …or
  • So 25 quadrillion organisms for every square foot of the entire surface of the Earth, as a result of doubling 100 times.

For larger animals such as humans, even filling the ‘chessboard’ is not required, as just 60 doublings would mean over 1,000 individuals per square metre of the entire land and ocean surface.

Rule 2: 100 doublings need not take very long, even for humans.

Relative to length of time life has existed on Earth, 100 doublings of even slow population grown animals does not add up to very long time, relative to planet over 4 billion years old.

Every organism must have a mechanism to multiply, or they could never have reached their current population level, or recover population level in the event of catastrophe or disruption. Past population growth can be used to calculate a population doubling time. For example, pandas have been shown to be able to increase population 17% in a decade. A 17% increase means 117 pandas for every 100 after 10 years. Since 1.17 to the power 4.5 is greater than 2, then pandas at that rate would double in population in 4.5 decades, which is a similar to the population growth rate to humans between 1923 and 1972.

The population growth rate for humans makes sense. If every couple has 5 children, which is below the historic average prior to the 20th century, and if 4 of those 5 children live to have their own children, then humans would double in population every generation.

But a but a doubling in population every 50 years would result in 60 doublings in just 3,000 years producing more than 1,000 individuals for every square metre of the earth, which with animals the size of either pandas or homo sapiens, would more than completely cover the surface.

For perspective, humans doubling at this rate would have seen this would have resulted in 100 doublings during the time of Ancient Egypt (over 5,000 years with almost 30 centuries as the leading civilization).

The takeaway is that every living organism, even us recently evolved homo sapiens, have had far more than enough time to double in population 100 times, and overrun the earth as a result.

Rule 3: Every living organism has had more than ample time for 100 doublings, and is normally population constrained by the limitations of a finite environment.

Every organism on Earth has had far more than sufficient time for 100 doublings of it population, but no organism has reached the incredible population number that would result if they kept doubling unconstrained.

Since, in a small time relative to how long species survive, exponential population growth can exceed the limits of the size of our finite environment on Earth, for almost the entire existence of any species, the population of the species will be at the limit possible given environmental constraints.

This means every organism has normally reached constraints that limit further population growth.

Rule 4: Excepting for shortly after catastrophes or major disruptions, every environmental niche is fully populated.

The times an organism would experience unconstrained or less constrained population growth are:

  • When a species first evolves, first reaches a new suitable environment, or evolves new traits overcoming prior constraints.
  • Following a major catastrophe or disruption that reduced the population below previous levels.
  • In the event of changes to the environment that alter constraints such as weather or climate events, or disruption of predators or competitors for resources.

As all similar environments are not necessarily connected, an organism can be new to an environment despite having existed for some time in similar environments.

When population changes are observed other a for a new species or species new to the environment, or following catastrophes or other major disruptions, the population change is as a result of changes to the constraints.

Changes to population constraints can be short term, such as weather events, long term such as ice ages and long term climate events, or the result of evolution as observed by Darwin, or evolution of technology such as stone tools, or farming.

Rule 5: Population growth of any species, requires environmental change or evolution enabling the ‘invasion’ of environment previously populated by of other species.

If every environment is fully populated, then the only way to increase population is to outcompete other species, or for the environment to expand.

Outcompeting other species requires some form of evolution, either of genetics or behaviours.

The first land plants and animals appeared about 400 million years ago, when land first became inhabitable due to the atmosphere finally having enough oxygen to block harmful radiation and provide for respiration.

Since that time, the land joined the oceans in seeing a succession of life has replaced previous forms of life, with each species that dominated a niche reaching, and then remaining at the capacity of that niche, before eventually being replaced by an improved species.

Rule 6: Continued Population growth is only possible through continued reduction in populations of other species.

The logical consequent of these rules is that growth beyond original constraints can only continue while a species can continue to partially or fully substitute for other species within their environmental niches.

Rule 7: Every species must find population stability at some point while limited to one finite planet.

Continuing to replace other species has a limit. Eventually there is only one species.

What about humans? Are We exempt from these rules?

Human Population Growth, is it still in unconstrained growth?

It could appear that human population is still growing long after we should have reached our constraints.

With the pat t of humans can appear to have broken these rules. The theory says we humans should have reached a stable population close to 300,000 years ago, at which point population growth would stop unless humans continued to evolved to become ‘fitter’ for existing or new environments.

Yet human population growth still continues as was doubling every generation as recently as between in 1965-1972, and doubling every 50 years for half of the 20th century.

This would seem to suggest humans have never reached their limit, and our population is still growing unconstrained.

But further exploration reveals this recent growth follows pervious periods of population constraints. Homo Sapiens have existed for at least 300,000 years, which is sufficient for 6,000 doublings of population, yet if there were only 2 people 300,000 years ago, the population growth to 8 people billion now represents just 32 doublings in over 300,000 years. That would be a doubling at an average rate of less than once every 9,000 years.

To take 9,000 years to double the population requires an annual growth rate of around 0.008%. A rate so close to zero growth, that is far more likely the growth has mostly effectively zero, with occasional periods of real growth.

This means, most of the time, even the human population has had zero growth as been at a constrained level. But then, sometimes even populations that have reached a previous plateaux, experience additional growth.

In fact, looking at the history of human population growth, as far back as back as we have any data, we have never before seen population growth anywhere near the level that was seen in the 20th century.

But even excluding the recent population explosion, human population growth has extended far longer than the rules suggest, unless their has been an expansion of the environment, or evolution in some form.

Alternating Times of Stability and Times of Population Growth Through Technical Evolution.

Instead of a recent series of steps of biological evolution, humans have experienced technical evolution.

A list of some notable steps includes:

Note that even during periods of population stability, from 10,000BCE to 5,000BCE and from 200 BCE to 1600AD, there was still some population growth as humans managed to colonise more locations.

Ignorant Displacement: As Population Grows, The Displaced Go Unnoticed.

Our current society has evolved the technology to be ‘the fittest’ in almost any niches, that we can maintain a higher human population than ever before. We can also, per unit land, maintain a higher population of crops and livestock to feed us than ever before.

The downside is a history of not even seeing organisms displaced population increases are introduced.

In fact, historically even other humans displaced by humans have been repeatedly overlooked and/or underestimated. Despite that experts now believe between 10 and 16 million people lived above the Rio Grande in North America prior to Europeans arriving:

Few contemporaries agreed with Catlin’s lofty estimate [16 million] of the Indian population before contact with the white man. “Twaddle about imaginary millions,” scoffed one Smithsonian expert, reflecting the prevailing view that Indians were too incompetent to have ever reached large numbers. Alexis de Tocqueville’s cheery assertion that America before Columbus was an “empty continent… awaiting its inhabitants” was endorsed by no less than the U.S. Census Bureau, which in 1894 warned against accepting Indian “legends” as facts. “Investigation shows,” the bureau said, “that the aboriginal population within the present United States at the beginning of the Columbian period could not have exceeded much over 500,000.”

How Many People Were Here Before Columbus?

Even if there were only 500,000 people before Columbus, the nature of exponential population growth tell us, that as people had been in North America for around 30,000 years, the continent would have been populated up to the level of environmental constraints. Any land mass with even 3,000 years occupation will reach the maximum population possible for that society. Yet to people from Europe, America was ‘an empty continent’. Not only did the new arrivals not understand or see that the continent would be fully populated with the current population, they even failed to recognise the size of that population.

The new arrivals failed to recognise that this ‘new world’ continent was fully populated, and that their arrival must displace those living there already. In the 30,000 years since people first arrived in America, culture in free trading European/Middle Eastern/Asian society had managed to evolve 1,000 or perhaps even 2,000 years further in terms of dominating more of the environment, increasing population density and as a result displacing other organisms. The population of many species would need to decline in order to accommodate the influence of European/Middle Eastern/Asian evolution of society.

The spread to new territory and the impact on life before that spread highlights the changes humans had over time to the environment of Europe/Middle East/Asia, displacing other species as advances made humans the most ‘fit’ for ever more niches within the environment.

Delusions Shattered And Questions Raised.

Overview.

Calculating these numbers, has shattered some illusions I had previously been misled by, but has also raised some interesting questions still to be answered.

  • Shattered Delusions:
    • Both North America and Australia were fully populated prior to the arrival of Europeans.
    • I had thought population levels have been growing because the Earth had never been populated to capacity.
      • The reality is, Earth has been populated to capacity for the hundreds of thousands of years. Population increases result from changes to society that allow humans and their food to displace other species of life on Earth.
      • The question that arises is, has the recent unprecedented population explosion stayed within the bounds of the population now supported by our changed society, or has the change to infant mortality created an ‘overshoot’ resulting in overpopulation and the environmental damage that follows.
  • Questions:
    • As already covered, has the population explosion resulted in overshoot?
    • What does natural population constraint look like?

What is the process constraining natural population?

Consider our close relatives in the wild, chimpanzees, bonobos and even gorillas. To our knowledge, none of these animals was experiencing significant population growth prior to recent population decline due to habit loss. What stopped their population expanding, given that, like all species, their birth rates can achieve population growth where the population is lower than the constraint limit? There seems no evidence that starvation is the mechanism of population control, as we do not see a percentage of chimpanzees, bonobos or gorillas starving. If starvation was the mechanism of population control it would be everywhere throughout nature.

This topic to be further explored.

Conclusion: If it isn’t already, one day the ‘farm’ will be overcrowded.

Long before the first human walked the Earth, there was already ‘no vacancy’. For humanity to even exist, we had to outcompete and displace other living things. But is it our mission to replace every living thing possible until it is just us and the food we farm?

If our mission is to perpetually deliver economic growth as opposed to wealth per person, then yes, continual population growth is the simplest path to that mission.

However it may be that at some point, it feels like humanity is being ‘farmed’ to generate wealth for a small subset of people, at some point our farm will start to feel crowded to the point of existing like battery hens, rather than having our free range.

Coffee: How much is a good thing?

There is conventional wisdom: too many cups of coffee can be bad for you. There are also a surprising number of of extremely rigorous reports confirming a certain number of cups of coffee per day may be a good thing. What is most often missing is the definition of ‘a cup’, given that long ago I learnt that the amount of caffeine in a ‘cup of coffee’ can vary by a factor of 10x.

Background.

Years ago I was looking to move from a capsules style coffee machine to an expresso machine which would make changing between regular and decaffeinated coffee more difficult. This triggered a research project: is decaffeinated coffee worth bothering with anyway? Apart from the pros and cons of decaf, the big thing I learnt is that the caffeine in a ‘cup of coffee’ can range from 40mg to over 400mg, which is from the same amount as a cup of tea, to the same amount as 10 cups of tea. Note that a ‘grande’ is 470ml (16 fl oz) and a shot of expresso is around 30 ml, so technically per ml there is more caffeine in the expresso, at least until frothed milk of a latte or cappuccino, or additional hot water of a long coffee is added. Surprisingly, ‘per cup’, expresso has the lowest level of caffeine of the common ways of having coffee.

On this page I will collect information on what is in a ‘cup of coffee’, as well as the research into positive and negative claims in the the impact on health. Plus, I encountered some questions as to how long coffee drinking will remain affordable. Early days, but information will grow.

The case for ‘drink coffee and live longer’.

The Data.

This large prospective cohort study of a half million people found inverse associations for coffee drinking with mortality [that is coffee drinkers had less deaths], including among participants drinking 1 up to 8 or more cups per day. No differences were observed in analyses that were stratified by genetic polymorphisms affecting caffeine metabolism.

JAMA- Journal of the American Medical Association report.

They followed a group of 1,567 people, aged 20 years and older, over an 18-year period.

The initial data came from the Valencia Nutritional Study, which was conducted in 1994. It assessed a range of food groups, including drinks, such as coffee.

Their findings suggest that drinking between one and six-and-a-half cups of coffee per day can lower your risk of cancer and what scientists call “all-cause” mortality (meaning, any kind of death).

DW (Deustche Welle) – Spanish study shows coffee still good for your health

There is a body of evidence that some of the side effects of coffee may actually be good for you, and they appear to have nothing to do with caffeine. But Dr Karl Kruszelnicki’s grind is the observational studies that make up the ‘statistics’ behind the health benefits.

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki: July 2016 (other comments quoted here)

Is this scientific?

The Spanish study reported in the above quote, is one I specifically was looking for a reference on, as it is have been widely peer reviewed, has a large sample size, and studied over an 18 year period. However, even that study does not match best scientific principles, because there is a limit to the ability to experiment on humans. To follow ‘best practice’, it is necessary to take the sample group at random, without regard to their existing coffee habits, and randomly divide into two subgroups. One subgroup would consume a placebo that is indistinguishable from coffee for the period of the trial, and the other group would consume coffee, and no one would know which group they are in. There are many reasons this type of trial would be neither practical, nor ethical.

Without the ‘double blind’ type rigour, there are limits to what can be inferred from the data. Since the participants are people who choose to drink coffee, they may already be different in other ways than non-coffee drinkers. Are they at the same wealth level? Are they more social? Still, all things considered, the weight of data is very compelling, and especially compelling with to reduction in diabetes levels. However, the adage still applies: correlations is not causation.

More Links.

Just what is in ‘a cup’ of coffee?

A Cup of Coffee.

Well, not literally. There is a recipe for what we call a ‘cup of coffee’.

Start with beans from a coffee plant. The beans go through steps of being pulped, fermented, dried, and milled, before finally being roasted. It is a lot of steps. Some time after roasting, grind the coffee. As soon as possible after grinding, run hot water through the ground coffee to extract the ‘essence’ of the coffee, which includes caffeine, and at least 20 other chemicals, many of which may be as significant as caffeine in terms of flavour, health and even staying awake.

So a ‘coffee drink’ is mostly water, infused by extracts from coffee. Then there is most often added cream or milk, plus possibly sweetener.

Why Expresso is different.

Coffee made as expresso has a different mix of what is extracted from the beans. Almost all other methods of making coffee ‘pour’ boiling, or even slightly above boiling temperature, water over the ground coffee. Generally, the water must be as hot as possible to ensure sufficient extraction. With the goal of changing the balance of extracts from t coffee, the expresso process uses lower temperature water, and compensates by first compressing the coffee and forcing the less than boiling water through the packed ground coffee grinds under pressure. Using lower temperature water means that just adding cold milk or water would result in a tepid drink, so milk is heated by ‘frothing’ before being added to expresso. However by using heated frothed milk, far milk can be added without resulting a tepid drink. The result is that expresso coffees such as a latte or cappuccino may have a greater percentage of milk that is common with other coffee drinks.

How Much Caffeine per cup?

I will add some comparison data between filter, French press etc, but the main focus will be on determining caffeine per cup of expresso, as there are many variables.

Expresso is lower in caffeine and the oils that contain the caffeine, due to the reduced extraction temperature and the use of pressure, which changed the mix of what is extracted from the beans. Expresso can be extracted at a range of temperatures, usually 90C to 95C, and collect and add data a I find it. But I will start with what I recall from previous research.

The following all affect the amount of caffeine:

  • Beans.
  • Roast.
  • Grind.
  • Tamping pressure.
  • Extraction Temperature.

Arabica beans are lower in caffeine than Robusta beans, although these days almost all beans are Arabica.

I will dig around and add links and sources of information. I will start with what I recall from my original research, and add references as I find them. One of my first sources was study that found that at a Starbucks coffee outlet, a ‘Grande’ of regular filter coffee had 400mg of caffeine, while an expresso from the same location had only 41mg of caffeine. (this section still to be completed)

Decaf Anyone?

To be added. Is there any benefit to opting for decaf?

Objections? Any health case against coffee?

I am still to research this fully.

Sidebar: Experiences with coffee at home.

This section also to be added, but only of interest to anyone considering making expresso at home, and finding yet another persons experience interesting.

Is there enough? Coffee drinking is spreading, will it remain affordable?

The US is around 25th in a table of coffee drinking nations, and on average people in the US drink between 1/2 to 1/3 as much coffee per year as those in Scandinavia. The Finns, who drink 3x as much coffee as Americans, do also have a longer life expectancy, but not as long as Japanese, who have almost caught the US coffee consumption per capita, but are not there yet. The longer life cannot not be attributed just to coffee, but the coffee is certainly not killing the Finns either. So what if the world all consumed coffee at the same rate, not as the Finns, but as the more moderate Americans, who themselves, might live a little longer if they drank more?

The US consumption is listed on that table as 9.26 lbs (4.200kgs) per capita per year, and I have this data on total worldwide coffee production as 172.46 million 60 kg bags in 2019. Using the 9.26lbs per capita:

4.200 * 328 million / 60 = 23 million 60 kg bags.

Yet direct data from statistica shows actual US consumption at 26.5 bags. Close, but suggesting either not all coffee bags purchased are consumed, with 13% of the coffee not being consumed. In reality this, may also be discrepancy between sources of data.

Now consider if the entire globe of people in 2019 had equal access to those 172.46 million 60kg coffee bags produced globally, then multiplying the number of bags by the ratio of people in the US(0.323 billion) compared to the rest of the world (7.5 billion): would allocate only 7.7 million 60 kg bags to the US.

177.46 * (328,231,337 / 7,543,334,085) = 7.72

As 7.72 million bags is less than 1/3 of the coffee the US currently consumes, the poorer nations gaining wealth to the point where the level of coffee consumed in the US, which is 1/3 of that in Finland and possibly below the ideal consumption, became the global ‘typical’ level, then coffee production must increase threefold, or people in richer countries reduce their coffee consumption. The average US coffee drinker would drop from 2.9 cups per day, to less than 1 cup per day, or more realistically, the price of coffee rises until only 1/3 of current coffee drinkers can still aford coffee.

Factor in the expected population growth in the next few decades and their seems a very real risk that coffee will become a more scarce commodity as some countries more people will be able to afford and want to drink coffee in line with current trends, but finding land to grow three or even four times as much coffee is not really practical, given all the competing demands for more land..

This figures is less than means, even to reach Just to be conservative, using the using the lower figure of 23.18 show This matches closely with the statistic direct data

Conclusion.

Those advocating population is not a problem will typically promote how there is no danger of the world starving, as we can easily produce sufficient wheat to feed an even bigger population. But what is our ability to provide ‘optional’ products for the world such as chocolate, or coffee? The reality is, we can provide more than enough wheat, which means those who are is less developed countries, and all addition people added through population growth, remain on a very basic diet and do not consume commodities such as coffee or chocolate, standards of living in the west can remain at current levels. However, people in China, India and elsewhere in Asia and Africa and developing nations continue, well developing, commodities and such as coffee and chocolate are going to move in the direction of housing, and become only accessible by the rich. The more people the world adds, the greater the challenge.

So if you are over 40, then consider multiple cups of coffee per day may even lengthen your life. But if younger, then maybe best not to start a habit that may become too expensive.

Off Topic Surprise: Aslan Karatsev and how self- image can mask ability.

Tennis. Not something I normally bother to commit thoughts on, but there is a surprise in tennis sufficiently intriguing that I am creating a page to track. This a story of how someone of amazing ability, can exist in obscurity, most likely in this case due to hurdles created by their own mind.

Right now there is a story rocking the tennis world, being called ‘man of the hour‘ and even ‘Rocky Balboa of tennis‘.

Aslan Karatsev, a professional tennis player with the raw ability to be mixing it with Federer Nadal Djokovic etc, was in close to total obscurity for the first 10 years of his pro career (he has had a ranking since 2011), before a meteoric rise from nothing to being one of the most talked about players in 2021.

Continue reading “Off Topic Surprise: Aslan Karatsev and how self- image can mask ability.”

Dilemma: Should Facebook own the Internet (or world)?

From common dreams article. Facebook’s Internet.org Isn’t the Internet, It’s Facebooknet

Since Facebook launched and entered the influence industry, they have been running what sounds like a deal almost ‘too good to be true’. Using Facebook, you can have your own place on the web, completely for free. While there are many, many, organisations that will host your web site for a price, Facebook will host a website for you, completely for free. An internet presence for all, with no charge!

Or is it?

I have always felt uneasy about how all this works, but have previously not given the question sufficient attention to pin down the exact problem. Is there such a thing as a free lunch aftercall?

This exploration is a work in progress on a journey to answer: Facebook, a problem, or not? Currently becoming relatively cohesive at update no 3 as of March 2, with a possible further update March 8.

Continue reading “Dilemma: Should Facebook own the Internet (or world)?”

Left Vs Right: Ideologies And Outrage

What are these competing ideologies, and why do they clash?

This page is the exploration of the what and the why of the left and the right. I expect to keep revisiting and updating this topic, as it seems too deep to fully analysis in one attempt.

In particular interest to me is the question: why are the things people champion grouped, when they can be so diverse? Why do people tend to choose almost all of the left policies, or all of the right policies, rather than varying mixes of each?

  • The Ideologies, and the Clash
    • Left Ideology: Everyone is equal
    • Right Ideology: Achievement must be rewarded
    • The conflict.
    • Juggling Ideologies
    • Balance
  • The Labels
  • Why Are People ‘left’ or ‘right’?
    • Indoctrination
    • Tribalism
    • The Echo Chamber
    • Social and Economic position
    • Adulation
  • Implementations and Extremes
    • Fascism
    • Communism
    • Democratic Socialism
    • Western Capitalism
  • Conclusion: Outrage
Continue reading “Left Vs Right: Ideologies And Outrage”

Biden vs Trump: A World Changing US Election?

The US has an election this November, with the possibility of the winner being decided by the US congress, and not by the election itself. I am even going to suggest this is the most likely of all outcomes. How this is even possible, as well as how each outcome would change the world is discussed below.

Continue reading “Biden vs Trump: A World Changing US Election?”

Trump: Conceding? Or Plotting?

The republicans in the senate have a clear motive for wanting a new supreme court judge appointed before the election, but with Donald Trump the motivation is not quite as clear. This page contemplates the possible motives of Donald Trump for his rush to appoint a new judge to the high court prior to the election.

Potential Motives:

  • Conceding defeat
    • To set the balance of the supreme court for the longer term
  • Preparation for an election that will ultimately be decided by the supreme court
  • Stacking the supreme court for future Trump/presidency cases

Conceding defeat?

Polls indicate the majority of voters, even republicans and even more strongly unaligned voters, favour the appointment of a judge to replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg taking place after the 2020 election.

From all the data, it seems quite clear that their are no votes to be gained by making the judicial appointment prior to the election. It is hard to imaging anyone being motivated to vote for Trump on the basis he has already appointed a new judge. Even those who want the judge Trump will appoint, no longer have to vote for him to ensure the appointment.

In other words, Trump risks disaffecting potentially critical votes by pushing for the appointment prior to the election.

Why?

Clearly, since Trump could just as easily make such a appointment after the election if he is re-elected, the urgency of appointing a judge prior to the election reflects Trump conceding he may lose the election.

In fact, Trump is even risking damaging he chances at winning the election, to get another conservative judge on the supreme court.

For the senators who must support the appointment for the appointment to succeed, only 9 of 53 are facing any chance of failure to be re-elected. Almost the entire republican senate simply see it as putting them in a better position going forward. The 9 who are, like Trump, in an uncertain position, unlike Trump have to worry about doing what the party asks in order to retain the support of the party.

Trump alone is risking his position in a delicate election to ensure an ideology that he himself has wavered in supporting, is supported even more favourable by the high court.

“Mr. Trump doesn’t have a proven conservative record,” Bush said at a town hall in Merrimack, N.H., on Aug. 19, 2015. “He was a Democrat longer in the last decade than he was a Republican.”

Jeb Bush Jeb Bush on how Trump’s political party affiliation has changed numerous times.

It is possible that Trump simply values this as his legacy, and concedes the he is likely to lose the election. But them even Trump himself has given another motivation, as discussed below.

Preparation for an election that will ultimately be decided by the supreme court?

Trump himself has stated he feels the election may be decided by the supreme court. However, when I search for a reference for Trump suggesting the election could be decided by the supreme court, I did not expect to find that he even declared that as a motivation for having more of his own appointments on the supreme court. Surprise: he actually said it!

‘I think this will end up in the supreme court, and I think it’s very important that we have nine justices,’ Trump told reporters at a White House event.

Video of statement by Trump here.

Note: There the majority of Justices on the supreme court are already republican nominations. There are now 8 justices, with 5 of those having being nominated by republicans and are considered ‘conservative, being nominated by Donald Trump (Neil Gorsuch 54-45, Brett Kavanaugh 50-48), George W Bush (John Roberts 78-22, Samuel Alto 52-48) and George H Bush(Clarence Thomas 52-48). There are three ‘liberal’ justices, two appointed by Obama (Sonia Sotomayor 68-31, Elena Kagan 63-37) and one by Clinton(Stephen Breyer 87-9). The numbers following each name reflect the vote in the senate to confirm each judge, with some confirmed almost entirely along party lines, but others gaining bipartisan support.

This means Trump sees a simply majority of justices appointed by the republicans as insufficient for ‘justice’, at least as Trump sees justice in this case, to be done.

Granted, those nominated by the Bush presidencies had to be approved under a democrat controlled senate, as those appointed by Obama had to be approved by a republican senate. Perhaps this means those who required some support from both parties (three republican nominated justices and two democrat appointed justices), may be considered less strongly aligned to any specific party. Note that in some cases, any support from outside the nominating party was very minimal. However, like Bader Ginsburg, who was confirmed by a 96-3 vote, some of these appointees were strongly confirmed by senators from both sides of politics. The replacement for Bader Ginsburg is very unlikely to be supported by both parties, or even by all of the republican senators. The new nominee will mean, for perhaps the first time ever, their will be majority of supreme court judges not only nominated by the same party, but who were confirmed for that part by a divided senate voting almost entirely on party lines.

Note that:

With only a few exceptions, states run elections. By virtue of Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution, state law governs almost every facet of the electoral process, including most aspects of voter eligibility, the location and hours of polling places, candidate access to the ballot and the members of the state’s Electoral College.

The guardian

Not only does Trump feel the result of the election will require intervention by the Supreme court, but that intervention will require a sufficient majority of ‘conservative’ appointments, as not even all conservative justices would support his desired outcome.

Trump has telegraphed he may appeal to prevent the counting of mailed in ballots, feeling that as precautions for Covid-19 are less likely to be taken by his supporters, removing these votes will give him a majority in key states.

‘Preparing’ the court for future Trump/presidency cases

Ok, so surprisingly Trump even announced the supreme court balance being a potential key factor in his rush. However, that may not be his only motive. US presidents do not have full immunity from prosecution.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the President is entitled to absolute immunity from liability for civil damages based on his official acts. The court emphasized that the President is not immune from criminal charges stemming from his official (or unofficial) acts while in office.

Nixon_v._Fitzgerald

Note the 5-4 decision, and the decision being by the Supreme Court. Trump is currently under tax investigation, and given the number of Trump associates who have been investigated, Trump being investigated in future is certainly possible. Other questions may arise following his time in office, for example:

The majority of Trump campaign funds spent in August are not accountable

More than three-fourths – $46m out of $61m – of the funds spent by the Trump campaign in the month of August is not accounted for, according to nonprofit democracy advocacy group the Campaign Legal Center.

The money has been funneled through American Made, the LLC created and managed by senior Trump officials, making it essentially untraceable. The group also found Trump’s campaign had received $10m in donations from Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, which owns the Dakota Access Pipeline and is reportedly hoping for a multi-billion-dollar deal in Ukraine if Trump is reelected.

The revelations are just the latest in transparency concerns surrounding Donald Trump, who is the only president in US history to refuse to release his tax returns.

The Guardian

Illegal? Not necessarily, but certainly suspicious and open to investigation.

How many skeletons are there in the closet?

The issue of prosecution of a former president is complex, and would move into unprecedented areas. Certainly a sympathetic Supreme Court sounds like it could be helpful if you are Trump.

Wealth Tax: Good Idea? Bad Idea?

Yes, another post on finances…but the Democrat candidates debate gets one thinking….now to the point.

I do not like the idea of wealth tax. There is an enormous wealth inequality problem and while a wealth tax sounds like a direct solution, I feel there are problems with any implementation, such that there just must be a better solution. Let me explain:

  • The problem that needs a solution
  • Challenge & Distortion: Measuring Wealth
  • Is Existing Wealth Always The Problem?
  • Problems With A Wealth Tax As A Solution.
  • Beware of ‘Envy’
  • Conclusion: Is there another way?
Continue reading “Wealth Tax: Good Idea? Bad Idea?”

Boris Johnson: Folly, Or Defence against EU Imperial Overlords?

When the referendum in Britain came down as supporting ‘Brexit’ I was deeply saddened. disappointed. While there were perhaps valid reasons to support either leave or remain, it is clear that even if the number of racists and bigots is a very small percentage, that percentage was on the side of ‘leave’ in a vote decided by a very small percentage. Lets face it, for a variety of reasons, I felt in a better world Britain would vote to remain, and Britain would remain.

Yet now, surprisingly and even though I still prefer ‘remain’, I feel I see that Boris Johnson actually has a very important point, even if his lack of openness or clarity makes a mess of that point. Here are the points as I see them:

Continue reading “Boris Johnson: Folly, Or Defence against EU Imperial Overlords?”

Wealth Inequality: Who wants More Inequality?

The Wikipedia article on Wealth inequality in the United States describes wealth inequality as a problem almost every would like to see reduced. Yet wealth inequality is increasing, not decreasing. What gives? Is humanity unable to address this problem? Or is will to address the problem not as universal at it might appear? Either consensus for action to decrease wealth inequality in not sufficient to stop the increase, or alternatively, there are forces actively working against this ‘consensus’, which means it is not actually a complete consensus. Are there dissenters working (and succeeding) to increase wealth inequality? This post is looks at the question: Who wants wealth inequality to increase?

Continue reading “Wealth Inequality: Who wants More Inequality?”

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