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.

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”

Israel Folau: Religious Persecution in 2019?

An Australian rugby player, Israel Folau, faces being disqualified from his high profile professional career over his social media posts expressing his religious beliefs.  The posts in question clearly qualify as hate speech, but it is unfair to judge Folau, as many have done, without a deeper understanding. Despite the posts, closer scrutiny reveals Israel Folau as an individual who clearly harbours no such such hatred. A well intentioned, pious and religious individual who represents, as least in his intentions, the exact type of role model any sporting code could dream of as one the most talented players.  This time, rather than someone with drugs or substance abuse, or violence against women or something of that nature, we have the pious christian facing the ban from the sport.

Let me be clear, I do not support or endorse in any way what he has said, but I do think it is not Folau who is to blame.  How did we get to here?

  • The Offence.
  • In Defence.
  • The Contradiction.
  • Interpreting Religion
  • Limits to Religious Freedom?
  • Cherry Picking
  • Who Is To Blame?
  • Conclusion.

The Offence.

Social media comments made by Israel Folau repeatedly suggest homosexuals will go to hell.  In a society where the mental health an well being of people whos sexuality is not ‘mainstream’ is seen as of vital importance and the only ethical approach, such statements are abhorent at best and being made by a person others look up to could be a cause of significant harm.  True, these social media posts do not uniquely target homosexuals as those who are destined for hell, but homosexuals are the only targets of his comments who are regarded as both innocent and vulnerable.

Israel Folaus has be unrepentant and has refused not withdraw or disown the comments, or even simply remove them from his social media.  The sport of rugby cannot be seen as aligned with such homophobic views that could cause great harm.

In Defence.

Assume for a moment that the statement that hell awaited ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers’ and others is a reflection of the religious instruction Israel Folau has received.

Is the threat “denouce your religious beliefs or face retribution” amount to religious persecution?  In his belief, these ‘sinners’ require forgiveness or they will be punished in hell.  If he does harbour no ill feelings against any of these groups, then, in the spirit of a christian missionary, he must make them aware of this message from god in order to save their souls.  If this is the truely the teachings of god, then to made a statement contrary to those teachings would be no only lieing, but far more harmful to those individual affected than the truth.  To lie, would if this were true, be to actually condem those individuals to hell.  So if Israel Folau genuinely beleives this is the word of god, then the only moral path from that perspective is to stand by what he has said.

From the perspective of Israel Folau, there is a monetary evil temptation to distance himself what he has said, and standing by what he has said is the moral path.  He can offer support to the gay community, but not do what he sees as lying and betraying them.

The Contradiction.

Israel Folau holds views of his religion, and freedom of religion dictates the religion is entitled to hold those views. So therefore, Israel Folau is entitled to hold those views, but he is wrong to express the views he is entitled to hold? In fact, he needs to hold his views to himself, even though, his perspective may mean it would be immoral not to express those views. Equivalent to instructing a missionary you cannot spread your message.

There are such strong cases for:

  • Israel Folau should be supported: religious freedom dictates he is entitled to his views and it would be immoral for him to be deceptive about what he believes
  • Isreal Folau should be banned for life: the beliefs expressed by him are hateful, damaging, unacceptable in todays society, and he should withdraw these views or face consequences.

Both cannot be correct, and something has to be wrong!  I suggest it is the religion that is wrong.

The problem is the contradiction of religious freedom, when religion supports views society now considers abhorent. Note that gay sex was illegal in the relevant legal juristriction (NSW) until 1984, so the position of the church matches what was previously the position of the law and of society.   The law has now changed, and not all religions have followed the change.  How do we handle this transition?  Is this contradiction acceptable?

Interpreting Religion

Each religion has ‘sacred texts’ or ‘sacred stories’. As examples (not a complete list) Buddhism has the Sutras, Christianity has The Bible, Judaism the Tora, Tanakh etc, and Islam the Quaran and Hadith, and Hinduism the Vedas.

Each of these families of religion has different groups who interpret these texts in slighly different ways. Sometime very different ways. An actual religion requires interpreting the relevant texts and stories as all are open to different interpretations, and it is the interpretation of the sacred material that defines the religion.

Limits to Religious Freedom?

We live in a society that declares there must be religious freedom…. but without a precise definition of what constitutes a ‘religion’.  It is recongnised that there are interpretations of most religions regarded as ‘extremist’, and thus no longer qualifying as religion.  Islamic extremists who perform acts of terror are quickly judged as not representing an acutal religion, nor do we feel the Christian extremist who committed acts of terror in Christchurch, New Zealand as representing an actual religion. There is a line, and once that line is crossed, the people crossing the line are no longer considered by society to be following a religion, even if those who have crossed the line still see themselves as following a religion.

Declaring extremists who seek to kill people, as not following a valid religion may still be giving too much religious freedom.  Suffering can be inflicted on others without actually killing.  Should a religion that promotes views which cause suffering to individuals or minorities society deems as marginalised, still be considered a religion?

The issue for Israel Folau is that while he is practising what is considered a religion, he is potentially discriminating against a marginilised group and could cause real pain and suffering.  Soldiers are required to recognise when an order should not be followed, but with a religion, followers believe their ‘orders’ actually come from god and are beyond question, making the decision to defy what the religion declares more difficult.  When society defends the rights of the religion to give those orders, that raises the bar significantly further.  We as a society have rules that allow for religions to discriminate against homosexuals in order to protect religious freedom.  But by allowing religions to behave this way, society should also carry part of the blame for the opinions expressed by the religion, and echoed by Israel Filou.

Fitting Interpretations?

You can find text in the bible to support stoning of women who were not a virgin when married, but you can also find religious scholars explaining why this does not mean the practice should be followed.  The bible also appears in many places to support the practice of slavery, and while at one time some religious people of the day did seem to try to the bible as vindification of slavery, I have not seen any recognised religion adopt such a stance recently.

Interpretations of the sacred texts and stories is normally done in a manner that reflects the views, and laws, of society. Keeping interpretations within these bounds requires strong messages from religious leaders, and occasionaly interpretations stray outside the views of society and even the law.

Homosexuality is a particuarly challenging case.  Up until 1984, homosexual acts were illegal in NSW (the state where Israel Folau lives), so any religion declaring homosexuality immoral up until that time was reinforcing the legal position.  However, attitudes, and eventually laws change over time, as happened with slavery at an earlier time.  The change was in the opposite direct than with slavery, which went from acceptable to not acceptable, while homosexuality changed from not acceptable to accepable.  The religious texts did not need to refect that slavery was no longer acceptable, instead people get that law elsewhere and the bible does not explictly state slavery should be practiced.  But with homosexuality, more like sex before marraige, the Bible does contain texts that need very specific interpretation if followers are not to believe that there should be extreme punishment.

I think there is a valid “should we require religious leaders to provide interpretation of religious text that fits within the law?

Hate speech itself can be seen as outside the law.

Cherry Picking

‘Cherry picking’ with religion is where an individual chooses which elements of a religion to follow, and which not to follow. An online search will reveal both people who feel cherry picking is essential and those who use the term as if ‘cheery picking’ is universal understood to be wrong.  In summary, this is not universally accepted as sometthing individuals following a religion should practice. It can be argued that Israel Folau should have cherry picked his religion and on his own initiative left “homosexuals should also go to hell” on the tree, but cherry picking is not usually practiced by regular church goers…as a group, those who go to church regularly tend the follow the cherry picking of their religious leaders.

So Who Is To Blame?

In this case, I would suggest the religious leaders of the pentacostal faith Israel Folua attends should bear more blame than Israel Folau. The church gives him the word of god and if those leaders where to suggest their was some ambiguity in the interpretation of the scriptures with regard to homosexuals, then I do not believe Israel Folau would be supporting those statement.

I also suggest that, as a society, we need to apply to form clear guidlines about what is valid for a religion to cherry pick and what is not.  In Australia, the potlitical sphere has been quite insistent that religion is still free to discriminate against homosexuals, and if that is to change more pressure needs to be brought to bear.

Conclusion.

If we do wish to allow religions the freedom to hold such views as they homosexuals are inherently sinners, then such an expression of outrage when the follower of a religion repeats what we declare his religion free to teach sounds hypocritical.

I feel we should express more outrage at the need for specific limitations on what a religion can teach, and less outrage at the individual.

What Israel Folau said, is in my opinion, very wrong, but we are not holding those responsible for him saying it to account.  Blaming Isarael Folau is simply taking the easy path. Have we not yet learnt that allowing religions to self regulate is dangerous?

 

Peak Population 2055: Really? That soon?

child

There are highly credible predictions (such as by Deutsche Bank) that we could reach peak human population as early as 2055. In fact we have already reached ‘peak child‘.  If we are on track to decrease by 2055, then we must be close to “peak under 35s”.  Digging deeper reveals it is definite we have stomped on the population growth brake pedal, and the stopping power is continually underestimated. What remains to be seen is will we stop, or just slow down growth to a crawl, and what will the implication be in either case?

Population growth took of in the early 1700s, so everyone alive on Earth today has only ever experienced a world where even history seems dominated by rapidly expanding human population, making claims of end to rapid growth sound unbelievable.  There are also frequently repeated warnings against ‘stagnant’ population growth, with dire economic consequences predicted and warnings of an unsustainable ageing population with insufficient young workers to support the elderly.  This post reviews these topics:

  • Can We Reliably Predict Population Decline So Far In Advance(2055)?
  • Prediction Threats: What Could go wrong?
    • Three Possibilities
      • UN: Peak Children and Fill the Pipeline (10Bn Peak)
      • Deutsche Bank: More Birth Rate Decline to Come (8Bn Peak)
      • The Ultra Rich and Powerful Disruption: More & More People Please!
  • Is A Population Peak a Positive, or is Never Ending Growth Preferred?
  • ‘Ageing Population’ and Economic Growth: Real Problems?
  • Conclusion

Can We Reliably Predict Population Decline So Far In Advance?

A decline starting in 2055?  How serious is a prediction be made 36 years prior to the event being predicted?  Who can predict in 2019, what will happen in 2055, with any accuracy?  Is this a case of make a future prediction that cannot soon be tested?

It turns out, a good analogy is a prediction that a car travelling which has been travelling at 110 kilometres per hour will stop in 36 metres.  Calculations on this linked page state that a car travelling at 110 km/hr will require 71 metres to stop. This means unless the car already has the breaks applied and has slowed to 78 km/h, the car will not stop in 36 metres!  So this is not equivalent to picking a random car travelling along the freeway and predicting it will stop, this requires picking a car that is already has the brakes applied and is behaving already as a car that will stop.

Population growth is slowing just like that car.  It takes almost an entire lifetime for population growth to grind to a halt in just one country, and globally, it takes even longer. A delayed impact of the ‘brakes being applied’ in some areas of the globe, means global population will take almost 100 years to grind to a halt from the time the brakes were applied, just like the car takes almost 100 metres to stop from 100km/h.

The brakes for population growth being a mix of contraception, improved education for women, better health care and lower infant mortality, women joining the workforce, and perhaps, even some influence from technology.  Research for the contraceptive pill began in the 1950s with first products by the 1960s, but there were limitations to supply to the general public, even within the USA until 1972. As you can see from the graph I have included, the brakes were applied around 1972, but it is safe to assume global adoption of oral contracption took longer, further supporting that there are also other factors at play.  This graph was simply from the first result I found from a search for “global population growth” as I wanted a result representative of what could be found from a search. Any data should be able to be accurate up to the date of publication, but the future, the “light blue shaded area”, is only a prediction.

What is clear from available data, is that the annual population growth has already dropped from 2.1% to 1.2%, which represents having halved. More significant in reality is the global “births per woman”, which has dropped from 5 to 2.5 in the same time.

This is a drop from around 2.7 births above the replacement rate (2.3) to around 0.2 births above replacement rate. A drop by a factor of 13 times!  A further drop in births per woman to somewhere between  2.3 and 2.1, is all that is required to trigger the end of population growth. The Deutsche Bank Report predicts a level of 2.3 by 2025, leading 30 years later to peak population in 2055.  This 30 year delay is caused by the population pipeline, which is the effect where there is a significant lag between birthrate and population growth.

The evidence is clear, we have already hit the brakes in terms of the rate of population growth.  Every thing necessary to stop population growth did commence back before 1970, so the forecast has some real evidence behind it. The question is: what will happen next?

Prediction Threats: What Will Happen Next?

Three Possibilities

If you have ever watched a car race, you may have noticed that sometimes, after applying the brakes and slowing down considerably, a car can then turn a corner and accelerate again.  As per the analagy, birth rates from this time forward could again accelerate.  Or the birth rates could continue to decline such that population growth stops, or this new ‘slower speed’ could become the new normal, giving three possibilies.

Before examining the possible next steps, it may be useful to put what has happened so far in perspective and examine just how effectively the brakes have already been applied. Considering that a ‘births per woman’ of 2.3 represents replacement level, the drop in birth rates from 5 per woman, to 2.5 per woman represents a drop from around 2.7 above replacement level to 0.2 above replacement level.  A level so low above replacement level it has been stated that we are effectively at ‘peak children’ level now.  Almost all population growth in the future will result from filling the population pipleline until all age groups are a result of the current almost static level of new births.

Option 1. UN: Peak Children and Fill the Pipeline at current rate (10Bn)

The most recent UN forecast is that having dropped from 5 to 2.5 globally in the past 50 years, birth rates may fall just a fraction further, to perhaps 2.3 or 2.2 in the next 50 years.   This means we are basically at peak children – or around the maximum level of children being born ever- now, or in the future. However total population of all ages added together will still rise as  population pipeline fills with generations born at this peak level replacing previous generations born in smaller numbers. As the pipeline gets closer and closer to being filled, the total population growth will decrease until it eventually stabilises. The UN predicts mortality rates in African and other high infant mortality rate countries will continue to improve, ensuring the birth rate stays every so slightly about the level of deaths from now until the end of this century.  The result being almost exactly equivalent to simply filling the population pipeline at the current level. The toal from this calculation is a peak total population of just over 10 billion in 2100.

Option 2. Deutsche Bank: Birth Rates Fall Further Given The Current Trajectory

The graph of world population growth shows a far less stable number over time, than the number from the graph of birth rates.  A key reason for the fluctuations of the level of world population growth,  is that the formulae for growth subtracts deaths of the elderly from births of babies, uses two numbers that are not closely coupled.   Population growth =  birth rate – death rate.  Death rate (at least of the elderly) does not directly drive birth rate.  People do not normally think, “oh, my great uncle Fred died, so maybe we should have another child”.   When looking at behaviour, look at is basically related to the rate people the number of people being born one lifetime earlier, but there is little evidence people are specifically motivated to ensure each dying person is directly replaced by a child, so the birth rate does not track the birth rate, meaning population growth is a less meaningful number than children per woman.

The better number to use to predict the future is the far more stable ‘children per woman’ rate.  The factors that have driven this rate downwards continue to apply and there seem no reason this number will magicall stop somewhere between the current level and the number between 2.1 and 2.3 which magically matches the death rate.  In fact in many countries, the rate has already fallen to as low as 1.4.

The Deutsche Bank projection is that the rate will fall to 2.3 by 2025, and then continue to fall to around 2.1 by 2055, after which time they stop projecting.   These numbers result in a peak population of around 8 billion that is decreasing from 2055.

Option 3. The Ultra Rich and Powerful: More People Please!

Throughout history, countries have sought to create empires.  The maximum population possible under one rule.  The path to power and extreme wealth is a big population.

The average citizen may be better off in smaller counry such as Switzerland, or one of the Scandinavian countries, but none of those smaller countries can deliver the power or wealth available within much larger countries such as the USA, China or India.

The same drive that pushed the wealthy and powerful to create empires, is behind a push today for population increase.  The ever present messages in English speaking countries as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand is that population stagnation is a recipe for economic catastrophe. This is despite the fact that countries thse countries have population pyramids already reflecting full poulation pipelines.  Almost every economically developed country in the world now has a full pipeline, with immigration currently the resource for increasing population.  While the socially liberal members of society welcome immigration, the goal of population growth to futher the goals of the extreme rich and powerful is frightening, as immigration may give way to attempts to artifically drive up birth rates.

A second factor that can drive up birth rates is religious extremism, which can also seek to drive up birth rates to increase the relative population of specific groups.

The third factor that could increase population is a medical breakthrough that reverses aging.  If lifespans start to increase significantlly beyond current levels, the number of people alive at any given time also increases.

A Population Peak? Positive, or Never Ending Growth Preferred?

The Growth Proponents

Search ‘Overpopulation’ and you should find many stories that suggest people in the 1960s and 1970s were forecasting global catastrophes due to overpopulation and these people all got it wrong.  We have continued to grow the global population and everything is fine. The rules of the ‘petri dish’ where expansion eventally leads to starvation do not apply to humans.  Famines are lower with our huge population today than they have ever been in the past.

Counterpoint.

The fact is, examine the graphs above, and humanity basically turned off the poplation growth engine around 1968. Had the population growth continued at 1960s levels of 2.1% per year from the 4.3 Billion at the time we would now be at 1.021^50*4.4 = 12.1 billion.  In other words, we would have added more than twice as many humans since that time.  Perhaps there was a reason to be frightened, and we did avoid a potential catastrophie?

Or did we? Other species on Earth are dieing at a perhaps unprecedented extinction rate level as the Earth struggles to support the over 7 billion people now on the Earth.   People set targets such as reducing emissions by 55% by 2030 which would be rather simple if we had 55% less people on the planet.

It is hard to picture the entire Earth.  So simply picture your house.  Sure, you could add far more people. But as you, past a certain point living standards of those in the house decline.  There is too much garbage to be collected in allocated rubbish. You can avoid everyone starving in the face of a huge increase, but well before the starvation point the enviroment suffers and living standards of those in the house are impacted.  This is a model for the Earth.  Sure, the very rich and powerful who desire growth can ensure they have plenty of space and resources, but not so the rest of humanity.

The counterpoint is that we are already past the point of ideal population. Yes, we are not all starving, but we can afford to eat many of our favourite foods anymore without depleting natural resources.  The Earth is straining under the load, and our lives are already negatively impacted, as it the planet.

‘Ageing Population’ and Economic Growth: Real Problems?

One protest is : “If we halt population growth, then ‘ageing population‘ will be a disaster”. But, if ageing population was such a problem, the Niger would be a rich utopia and Germany an economic disaster. Strangely, this may not be the case!  A key reason why Germany is coping fine and Niger is not an automatic success, is that having lots of elderly people is no more a drain on society than having lots of pre-working age children. In a parallel, we seem to be at risk of creating a society where there is simply not enough work to keep the working age people we do have employed.

Per capita economic growth benefits all in society, but gets more challenging as resources levels per capita decline with population growth.  Gross economic growth lifts the top 200 companies (or however many in the relevant index) and benefits those who own shares in those companies.  Basically, population growth helps gross economic growth which benefits the very wealthy within society, provided the number of very wealthy does not also grow in number.  Population growth actually works against per captia wealth.

Conclusion.

We have, perhaps, already made all steps possible to avert a population driven disaster.   This does not mean the disaster will be avoided, just birth rates have fallen to level that will help minimise the disaster.

But is it possible population will peak by 2055 at a level below 9 billion?  I really hope it is, but perhaps because population is still rising, it just seems hard to believe.  I know the current growth it is perfectly explained by filling the pipeline, and that hard data does support that we have turned the corner, but it just seems to good to be true.  Perhaps that is why the UN makes the more conservative projection that growth will continue longer.  If the UN projection is high, there are no negative repercussions, but if the UN prediction is too low, they have a lot to anwer to.  Plus, there is a risk of waking those pushing for infinite growth from their slumber.

The biggest risks now are:

  • the population level is still to high and birth rates still too high for an ideal outcome
  • no matter what we do, the damage is already done
  • the very rich and very powerful empire seekers find a way to drive birth rates higher again

Immigration: A Political Confidence Trick

Clearly, immigration policy is one of the cornerstones of ‘populism’. A key reason for the intensity of debate on this topic is the misdirection by one group of the ‘elites’, creating confusion between the terms ‘immigrants’ and ‘refugees’, in order to engineer a confidence trick of substituting greed driven economic migration for humanitarian refugee intakes. The result leaves those desiring more humanitarian refugee intakes actually feeling forced to supporting greed driven economic migration, and those fearing greed driven economic migration mistakenly fearing refugees.

This post examines the problems of greed driven economic migration and how humanitarian migration gets the blame.

  • The Confidence Trick: Confusing Immigration Objectives
  • What is greed driven economic migration?
  • Altruistic Immigration: The differences
  • The Contradictions of Immigration
  • Numbers vs Objectives: A solution?

The Confidence Trick: Confusing Immigration Objectives

The heart of the confidence trick is to label two almost polar opposite government policies as simply ‘immigration’. The truth is that economic greed driven immigration does steel jobs, and makes life harder for the general population. at the same time as being morally problematic. Whilst altruistic immigration does not steel jobs and is more likely to bring benefits to the general population. The confidence trick is that of substitution. Whenever the problems of economic driven immigration are raised, then blame refugees and claim there is a need for “stronger borders”. When there is a call from the population for altruistic immigration use this as support for keeping high levels economic driven immigration while still keeping altruistic immigration low. Repeat messages treating the two as inseparable.

What is greed driven economic migration?

The general concept is to focus immigration policy on achieving economic objectives. I mean, if there can be high levels of immigration (which has humanitarian benefits) and this drives economic prosperity, surely this is a good thing? The problem is that an economically driven agenda can run contrary to humanitarian benefits and economically disadvantage mainstream society while bringing economic benefits only to the very wealthy.

The two goals of ecomonic migration are :

  • misdirected skills based economic migration
  • market size increase for nationwide organisation and enterprises

Problem 1: Misdirected Skills Based Economic Immigration

Not all skills based immigration is for the sole benefit of keeping wages costs low, but it is certainly open to this exact goal.

It needs to be asked, why are there no candidates for that industry sector from the current population. Is the problem that those students going through the education system would be more qualified or available in sufficient numbers if the pay was higher? In fact, positions such as health care workers that as an industry complain of low wages are typically those who have an industry shortage that results in an intake of ‘skilled migration’, usually from countries who have invested in the education of these very workers. That education investment has often been by economically poorer countries, and can be robbing those countries of their investment and key human capital. In other words, taking the wrong people and for the wrong reason.

No all skills based migration is immoral, but the larger the scale, the more questionable the practice, and the more it can be used as a tool to keep wages lower, since the higher the intake from economically less advances countries, the more consistently wages can be kept low.

Problem 2: market size increase for nationwide organisation and enterprises

Mature industries such as banks or insurance tend to have captured the entire national market. While one company can grow at the expense of another, this does not raise stock market indices because, as a sector, this is not growth. The only two ways to grow the sector are to take more money from each customer for basically the same service, or to grow the market through population increase. In the population increases by 3% per year, then the industry can have 3% growth. Problem solved. Politicians have the same outlook. Tax revenues grow, as does the number of people they represent, increasing their importance. Yes, although taxes grow so do the costs and infrastructure requirements, but increased budgets can be more visible than the stresses placed on those budgets. In a post ‘finite world‘ society growing the population puts pressure on per capita wealth and can increase wealth inequality, but partly because the rich do get richer even if the population overall does not.

Altruistic Immigration: The differences

The world population will continue to grow according to most projections for at least another 35 years. At least during those 35 years, there is a moral obligation to absorb additional citizens, plus freedom of movement requires a buffer of new citizens in excess of those who choose to leave. However if there is any bias in mix of new citizens, surely that bias should be in favour of those with the greatest need, not a bias to satisfy the economic goals of the most wealthy in society at the expense of all others..

Consider the difference between a citizen made stateless by persecution or civil unrest, given a new home and a new opportunity, and a citizen who was best educated and privileged in their home country, how has moved only to find his employment in his new country was available because the role provides insufficient pay to attract local applicants. Which of the two citizens has the best ingredients for happiness in their new life? That happiness translates into positive outcomes for all. Those positive outcomes actually generate the wealth for the society, while the lower cost labour approach only generates wealth for the wealthy, but lowers wealth for all in the roles in question and society overall.

Many new world countries were built on immigration, in a pre ‘finite world’ scenario. In that scenario, all immigration best matched the humanitarian model. Yes there was an opening for gold miners and farmers and others, but these openings were not available because existing citizens were not choosing these careers for the pay currently on offer, the roles were available because of new frontiers opening. A huge part of the immigration that built these nations were refugees from war torn Europe. Yes, America had the slave trade, but the immigration that built nations were not based on economic greed, but on people prepared to adapt to their new land rather than trained in another country and then lured away.

The Contradictions of Immigration

I was reading an article on how voters views on immigration do not fit with the position of their party. For example,

Greens voters are the most likely to support higher immigration, whereas the party says the current rate is appropriate

I suggest this difference of opinion stems from the lack of distinction between immigration numbers and goals. In other words, very much in the wording of the question. For green voters in Australia, immigration levels are linked to refugee acceptance, even though refugees make up a small percentage of actual immigrants. If asked “should we lower skilled immigration levels and ensure more students are trained to fill these roles, and then raise refugee numbers”, a statement more in line with the party goals, then a true match with party position might be seen.

The point is that while we keep immigration debate all about numbers, and not about what makes up those numbers, there will be confusing messages from the population that do not actually match the desired outcomes.

Numbers vs Objectives: A solution?

I suggest the only solution is move from a debate simply on the immigration total number, to a debate on the objective of the immigration policy. This allow for separate debate on each of the two components of immigration, rather than combining two diametrically opposed goals into a single combined number. Then the two discrete numbers can be debated independently:

  • the economic goal of keeping labour costs controlled and expanding markets for large corporations ensuring dividends
  • the humanitarian goal of accepting refugees and having doors as open as possible

Only then will be able to genuinely form policy that matches what the people actually want. Some are afraid that people will be heartless and need the belief the targets of profits for the rich, which it can be argued may trickle down, are required for the acceptance of any immigration. The arguments is that people will not support humanitarian immigration. I believe the problem with this approach is that the very problems that the voices against immigration raise, are objections to the economic immigration, even if these complains are then misdirected against refugees.

The same group does not complain about resources being allocated for the disabled or other humanitarian objectives. Perhaps a reduction in the economic migration that can actually be job stealing and wage minimising can clear the door for a more humanitarian approach to be accepable to a far bigger percentage of the population.

Australia: Per Capita Recession?

It was recently claimed by the opposition party in Australia, that Australia is now in ‘Per Capita Recession‘. A response from the Prime Minister stated that there was no such recognised economic term, implying that the figures underpinning a ‘Per Capita Recession’ are of no real consequence. A recession is two quarters of negative GDP growth, but implication is that the current two quarters of negative per capita GDP growth are inconsequential. So what does it all really mean, and does any of it really matter?

  • Per Capita Recession: A real thing?
  • Per Capita Recession Significant?
    • The stock market ‘big end of town’ perspective
    • The average citizen perspective
  • What has changed?
    • USA
    • Other Developed Countries
    • Australia
    • The impact: Separate Recessions.
  • Political Gift:
    • If the big end of town is doing well, then who cares about the average citizen!
    • An ignored target: Why?
      • influential interests
      • the fear of an immigration backlash
  • Conclusion: Per Capita Recession=A Real and Serious Problem

Per Capita Recession: A real Thing?

A search on google by me for ‘recession’ returned an entry from Investopedia as the first result. Just a few lines in, the following text is provided:

The technical definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s gross domestic product (GDP)

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/recession.asp

Per capita GDP is not mentioned on that page. However if you search for GDP, the Wikipedia page reveals


GDP per capita is often used as an indicator of living standard

https://study.com/academy/lesson/how-real-gdp-per-capita-affects-the-standard-of-living.html

While there are imperfections with the use of GDP per capita to measure living standards, clearly, GDP per capita is a measure of living standard, while GDP is not at all a measure of living standard. This is why a country such as Sweden has a lower GDP than Mexico, but a far higher GDP per capita than Mexico. Why is the definition of recession based on GDP, when it is GDP per capita that measures living standards? Answer: Because Recession is more a measure for stock market performance, while the trend of GDP per capita would more directly measure the standard of living of the people. This is is why the term ‘recession’ is described on Investopedia. Further, historically per capita recessions have been a consequence of a drop in overall GDP. Recession per capita while GDP rises is a new thing, I would suggest as a consequence of an economy reaching ‘finite world‘.

So No: It is not a term historically as well recognised as ‘recession’ … but if it is new, of course it is not as recognised. The important question becomes: is it significant?

Per Capita Recession Significant?: The stock market perspective.

Consider the four major Australian banks, which each control around roughly 1/4 of the banking market in Australia. As, between these banks they control the entire national market, then with no innovation require by the bans, revenue from transactions for all the banks would grow by 10% if on average Australians increased spending by 10%. However, if spending by the average Australian remains static, but broadly across all layers of society the population increases by 10%, then banks would all record the same revenue rise. It makes no difference to the banks if the increased transaction values arise from more spending power per individual, or arise from an increase in the individuals. In either case the share value should rise. Either increase population or increase individual wealth… in either case their is economic growth which, to the share market dominated by organisations with a market share across the entire nation, will deliver growth in either case. To the financial community, to large national companies and their upper management, and to governments with a national taxation revenue and the politicians who are paid from taxation revenues, per capita GDP can be seen as irrelevant.


Per Capita Recession Significant?: The citizen perspective

Obviously, if per capita GDP is in decline, on average people are seeing their living standard decline. That is clearly negative. Any suggestion that the problem is not serious, is based on the assumption that either

  • a) the decline must be small or it would also reflect as a ‘real’ recession also hitting ‘the big end of town’,
  • or b) since the ‘big end of town’ is not in recession, ‘trickle down economics’ will ensure encomic benefits for all will soon return.

Assumption a) can be demonstrated to invalid. If the ‘big end of town’, corporations and upper management are still seeing economic growth, then individuals who derive income from these shares or being part of in this group must see their per capita wealth increasing. But the average over all groups is a decline in per capita wealth, despite the lift provided by ‘the big end of town’. This means the drop in living standard by those not included in ‘the big end of town’ must, collectively, be larger than the rise in living standard for those included in ‘the big end of town’. In fact, the further from recession ‘the big end of town’ is placed, the more wealth flowing to that group, the worse it must be for everyone else if, on average, GDP per capita is in decline while overall GDP is not in decline. It follows that the more diverse these two figures, the worse the situation for the average citizen relative to overall GDP. A per capita recession outside a regular recession, in an indicator of an increase between rich and poor with most people getting poorer. A serious social problem.

Assumption b) is also clearly invalid. For average wealth to drop, while one group is seeing a rise in wealth, there is a group seeing a rise, and a group seeing a fall in wealth. The group seeing a rise is the group quoted as the source of wealth in ‘trickle down economics’, but clearly some wealth is being transfer from the rest of society to this very group. In other words, what is being seen is ‘trickle up economics’ or trickle down economics running in reverse. So it is absurd to suggest trickle down economics will address the problem when in fact demonstrably the process is running in reverse.

A per capita GDP recession is now a red flag for a serious decline in household income, or effectively, a recession for most people in society. Many countries now have serious concerns about average household income even when GDP per capita is growing. If GDP per capita is falling, the problem is significant.

What has Changed?

Change of GDP has stopped being a valid predictor of household wealth. The result is a change to the concept of a recession.

USA

Graphs like this from the USA are frequently shown to highlight the problem:

https://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2008/09/gdp-per-capita.html

There are various graphs to be found on the net, all of which show that in the USA, growth in even GDP per capita stopped being reflected in household income from around 1980. Sources blame ‘Reganomics‘, the disconnect between labour and wealth generation flowing from technology, and finite world. All probably contribute.

Other Countries

Here are two graphs from this article about the situation in the UK.

These two graphs also show the same type of divergence between economic growth and wages happend in the UK as in US, with only the timing delayed. While this is a limited sample, it does demonstrate the problem is not a US specific problem. In fact, a longer search and more graphs would show the same problem in developed economies globally.

Australia

Australia has been running the highest rate of immigration per capita of developed economies, leading to the highest population growth of developed economies.- the biggest change in the denominator or per capita figures. This provides the greatest gap between the GDP trend, and a GDP per capita trend. Australia has the same problems as the rest of the developed economies, however, has the greatest ability with the relative population growth, to have a rise in GDP even when GDP per capita is week.

The Impact: Separate Recessions

Previous large scale recessions generally occurred before the separation of the graph lines of GDP growth and per household growth. This means during previous recessions, the ‘big end of town’ and the ‘average citizen’ experienced the same recession. The big end of town being in recession means high unemployment, so previous recessions had high unemployment. The decoupling of GDP and household income means the average citizen can now experience a recession even without high unemployment.


Political Gift?

Translation: “If the big end of town is doing well, then who cares about the average citizen!”

The dismissal of the significance of a GDP recession by the Prime Minister of Australia (Scott Morrison) is in effect a statement that all that matters is ‘the big end of town’, and a statement that a decline in living standard for the average citizen is inconsequential. In fact, the Prime Minister has also stated the elections with be a contest between “enterprise and envy“. Combining that position with the stance on a per capita recession could be seen to be positioning the ‘national enterprises, upper management and large scale shareholders’ as ‘enterprise’, and everyone else as ‘envy’. While the argument could be put, that the elite minority who escape a capita recession by growing their wealth in reverse of the national trend are those government should govern for because they are the source of trickle down economics, on the other side it could be argued this is governing only for those with great influence and ability to donate to political parties. The fact that the Prime Minister, being in upper management in national organisation (the national government) is part of the elite group he identified as ‘enterprise’ when corelating the position on a per capita recession and a contest between enterprise and envy, should create a large target for the opposition.

A Target Ignored: Why?

While it was the opposition party in Australia drew attentaion to the per capita recession, there has been no follow through. It would seem that the response from the Prime Minister was tantamount to drawing a target on himself, but nothing has been fired at that target.

It would seem the government left an opening to be seen as prioritising ‘government for the economic elite’. With the “enterprise and envy” in place, then suggesting a per capita recession is of no consequence would could easily be seen as stating the majority of the country is in the ‘envy’ group, only the very wealthy in the enterprise group. So why no follow up by the opposition?

Vested Interests?

Could it be that targeting the government for governing for the benefit of the wealthy and influential is risking upsetting that group… and the opposition also is part of that same group?

Immigration Backlash?

To suggest that using immigration to ensure positive GDP results in the face of recession for the average citizen, is to question the current ‘immigration to drive economic outcomes’. The whole debate shows that immigration for economic outcomes actually only delivers a positive outcome for the very wealthy, while at the same time eroding the ethical value of immigration. Clearly the opposition is not ready to suggest “immigration for humanitarian outcomes”, which would again distance those very wealthy sections of society.

Conclusion: Per Capita Recession=A Real and Serious Problem

The main problem is that while it seems the opposition get the seriousness of the decline of wealth for the average person and the growing gap between rich and poor… the truth is that either they do not get the issues or are also more concerned about placating those very wealthy large national organisations and their managers and shareholders than they are about the interests of the average citizen.

Alert: A seismic shift to right for Australia, signal of a worldwide problem

  • peter-duttonPopulist Coup has begun.
  • Will the Coup really have impact beyond Australia?
  • How? The Judgment of Solomon

Populist Coup has Begun

Today Australia took a key step in an inevitable seismic shift to the extreme populist right.  With Trump in power in America, ‘Brexit’ in the UK, why does this matter on the world stage? I will get to that, but first some background. The party in government in Australia is called the ‘Liberal Party’. However the party has spanned from the centre-right, though to the extreme-right, and the despite the label ‘liberal party’, there are many that see the party as the true home of the most conservative.

That group of most those extreme populist/right within the party, reveal the inevitability of their takeover and the strength of support today.  Despite being forced into the leadership challenge before they could be ready, they still came sufficiently close at this first contest, that the result ensures a period instability within the party that has foreseeable outcome other than a change to a new leader.

Will This Coup really have Impact beyond Australia?

While it is now basically certain the coup will result in a seismic shift to appeal to the populist right,  there is the some hope that the shift will be moderated by the fact that although a shirt in this direction is now inevitable, there is also some suggesting that a shift this far would see sufficient number of resignations from the party that they would lose government immediately.  But despite the strength of feelings, even in the event of such an outcome, as explained for the reasons outlined in the ‘Judgement of Solomon’ below, this is a group prepared for desperate steps.

So how big is this? Australia has had prominent, extreme populist right politicians in power for some time.  With immigration rates arguable higher than any comparable country, if not quite as relatively high as argued in parliament,  and higher than the US or the UK, the pressure of finite world is even higher than that which produced Brexit, and propelled Trump to power, and the racist and anti-immigration stance as a result is so high that calls for a ‘final solution‘ to immigrant groups was even recently presented in parliament.  Although that speech being widely condemned, and failure by that parliamentarian to distance himself from the Nazi connotations of ‘final solution’,  that had some endorsement, and others in the highly conservative group are not happy with the level of condemnation of that very speech.

The leader proposed by this coup plot has already signalled a significant reduction in immigration as a priority, and ‘finite world’ issues are not part of the discussion. The requirement for increased infrastructure with increased population is raised, but this is accompanied by loud voices against the religion and country of origin of many immigrant, and calls to discriminate on who should be accepted as immigrants.

This is very likely to a far greater step to the populist right by a country seen historically as ‘laid back’.  Not a home of the extreme right or xenophobes.  This could be such as shift to the right that it changes what the world view sees the normal.  Shift a significant part of the world this far, and the world average changes.   The reality is, this shift would not result from a election by the people, but a change in the position of the party that was elected. So the people voted for a party with a far more central position, and the party changes to the far right after the election.  So this shift may not represent the position of the Australian people at all, but a small group of powerbrokers within the government.  So the whole world could see a very noticeable shift to the right, and would logically see that as a shift by the Australian people.

The shift signalled by the new leadership, and policies they promote is far beyond any real shift by the Australian people.  The end result is to promote a highly isolationist country, taking extreme measures to keep foreigner out, with strong signals of racist motivation, and such isolationism from what is  seen as very empty country.

A huge push to appeal to those disillusioned by ‘finite world’, and respond with fear, not a real plan.

How? The Judgement of Solomon.

So how the government of a country make such a move that does not reflect the mood of the people?

In fact the current leader has lost support because he has taken to many steps to appease the extreme right within his own party who threaten his leadership… and while steps to right against the will of the electorate lose votes… the solution is have the extreme right take control?  Previous changes of leader have been because the new leader will boost popularity ….while this is a move to an unpopular leader!

As an example of the gap between the right group in the party and voters, this is the extreme conservative group that 100% spoke against the legalisation of gay marriage,  which, when finally voted on by the people, was supported by over 60%, and as much as 74% in one state.  But this same group is inspired and  encouraged by Trump being in power in America.

The coup frontman holds his seat in parliament by a margin of only 1.8%, in area known to be one of the most supportive of populist ideas in the country.  This is a government looking to be heading for electoral loss, being taken over by a group who may save their own seats by a shift to the right, but with almost certainty of losing government as soon as their is an election.

Basically this is group who will do all they can to ensure the party loses government if they do not get their way.  They just don’t care about the future of the party overall, they want the party to move in this direction even if it results in being a minor party.  A minor party they own is better than a major party that does not share their ideals.

“Give us the party, or we will wreck it”.  In fact they may wreck it to some extent anyway, and have already taken so many steps to derail their own government, just so they can say “look, we are going nowhere the way we are going, things need to change!”  When their own disruption is key to the people losing faith in the government.

Outcome:

Expect a new head of government in Australia by tomorrow: Aug 23 2018.  And a very wild ride with extreme populist right views.  These ideas are contagious, and dangerous.  The UK shifted with Brexit, the US with Trump, and Australia may now make both of those look like caring socialists.  Who is next as the dominos fall?  The worst and misinformed response to finite world.

Populist right vs Economic Conservatives

Donald Trump personifies the a populist right leader. This post looks at what this means and how this movement can be so at odds with other ‘conservatives’.

The Origin of The Conservative Right.

The basic origin of ‘left and right‘ in politics can from the wealthy and powerful being to seated to the right and the commoners being seated to the left in the assembly presenting to the king.  Those with power and wealth support those in power, that seems axiomatic. Then there are those that support those with wealth and power, not because themselves hold, wealth and power, but because they believe those people must have earnt that wealth and power.  The belief is that those who are deserving will achieve wealth and power, and must be encouraged to achieve that wealth and power.  Society benefits from the wealth and power generated by the wealthy and powerful.  The central idea of trickle down economics.   The left represented the commoners, who logically would benefit from the distribution of wealth and power to those the right may consider unworthy.  There is some merit in both arguments, as society does need to encourage and provide incentive to those who can excel, but there is also a case for sharing those rewards with those less fortunate.  Debating the ideologies is for another time.

The Rise of the Populist Right.

The populist right is basically ‘commoners’, who see themselves as currently more wealthy and powerful than other commoners, so they are embracing the position of the wealthy and powerful, relative to groups they feel threaten their wealth and power.  The groups the populist right fee threatened by are typically foreigners, immigrants and racial groups other than their own.  I would argue that the reality is that it is the ‘finite world‘ effect that is seeing this group feel the share of wealth and power they previously held eroded, and with no reason for their slide of their wealth and power presented, they rebel against change, immigration, free trade and are also receptive to messages against other changes such as any move to renewable fuels.

The Clash with The Conservative Right

While the populists are seeing their wealth and power eroded, the smaller group of those who have a much higher level of wealth and power are actually seeing their wealth and power rise as population grows and global free trade increases. This puts them in a very contrasting position with the populist group, although they do also tend to also fear change of the status quo.

Finite World: Finite vs Unlimited.

Contents:

Finite: What does ‘Finite‘ actually mean?

The Key: Not Just Two Possibilities, but three.

Even in a mathematical context, there are three possibilities:

  1. Finite.
  2. Infinite.
  3. Undetermined.

Depending on context, infinite and undetermined can be equivalent, and in both cases, you not aware of any limit. Something only becomes ‘finite’ when you become aware there is a limit.

Dictionary Definition Of Finite: It depends on context.

While ‘finite’ and ‘infinite’ have mathematical definitions, dictionaries reveal that common usage extends beyond the mathematical definition. The dictionary definition of infinite includes “immeasurably or inconceivably great or extensive : INEXHAUSTIBLE” as well as “subject to no limitation”, and for finite we have “completely determinable in theory or in fact by counting, measurement, or thought” .

By example, as a human we can consider the number of times a person in the open can breathe as being infinite, even though the amount of oxygen in the air is finite so there is a theoretical limit, a person can breath ‘an inconceivably large number’ and still have no noticeable impact the level of oxygen.

The Working Definition of Finite for this context.

The meanings of finite and infinite depend on context, as outlined below, so to avoid ambiguity, in the context of these pages, ‘finite’ means:

Finite: ‘known to have a limit that could, in practice, conceivably be reached’.

Me

So yes, words have different meanings depending on context, but it this context, unless explicitly prefixed such as ‘theoretically finite’, ‘finite’ will mean with a known and potentially constraining limit.

Given the principle there are three possibilities, they become:

  1. Finite: known to have a limit that could, in practice be reached.
  2. Infinite: it is known the that limit cannot in practice be reached.
  3. Undetermined: there may be a limit, but if so, the limit has never been reached.

I would suggest that human nature is to assume that when the limit cannot be determined, then it will not in practice be reached, which means infinite and undetermined are seen as equivalent. In this context, the opposite of finite because ‘unlimited’.

Unlimited: Unconstrained by any known limit.

Again, me.

Again, words have different meanings depending on context, but it this context ‘unlimited’ will without any known constraining limit.

Finite World: When the world of humanity progressed from ‘undetermined’ to ‘finite’.

To the first people on Earth, it must have seemed that no resource was finite, virtually nothing had any known limit. It is not that people believing things infinite, it is that numbers seemed unknowable, and undetermined seemed equivalent to without limits.

There were always new lands to be discovered, hunting animals did not noticeably impact their population, nor did gathering fruit and vegetables make an impact. Fishing did not noticeably impact fish populations.

Most things remained finite until around 1650 CE. At that time no individual even knew of all the continents on Earth making even the amount of land seem unlimited. Sustainable was not a concept people needed to contemplate, as it seemed every thing humans did was inherently sustainable.

Fast forward to the 21st century and there has been a population explosion dramatically increasing the number of humans, and an industrial revolution increasing the impact individuals have on the planet. Now, most people see ‘sustainable’ as essential, but in surprisingly many ways, there are still people who do not, deep down accept the Earth is finite, and sustainability is essential.

Finite World and Sustainability: It is all relative.

Nothing is sustainable without constraints. Every ‘sustainable’ practice is only sustainable within limits as to the number of people who can engage in the practice and the length of time it can continue. In practice, ‘sustainable’ means ‘more sustainable’ rather than absolutely sustainable. Even ‘sustainable’ farming has a limit to the scale and thus the number people it can feed, and on a planet with a finite life, cannot exist forever.

A question becomes, to be ‘sustainable’ how many people can be supported and for how long? As an extreme example, even breathing air has a limit to the population size before it become unsustainable. There is always a window.

Some people see perpetual population growth as sustainable, and within a sufficiently small window of time it is sustainable. Others see burning fossil fuels as sustainable for as long as 50 years, and in their eyes that is sustainable, while younger people, of people who care about younger people, may require a longer time to be sustainable.

Then there are others who an in denial. Prior to around 1650 CE, everything seems sustainable, and it worked for so long then the same attitude can work today.

Free Education? Why not user pays?

The truth is there is no such thing as ‘free education’. There is always a cost so someone must pay, and the question is “who pays?”.  The choice is between ‘society pays’ (free?) and ‘user pays’. At first, the economic rationalist argument  “why should society pay for the university education of the elite?” appears compelling, but does it really work that way?

  • National Impact: Helicopter view
  • The impact on the individual
  • OK, who really pays?
  • Controlling studies: free market, vs university places
  • In depth, the fabric of the society we live in
  • Conclusion: The beneficiary pays

National Impact: Helicopter view.

“The individual should pay” because otherwise all society will be subsidising those will then have the highest incomes.  In other words, the individual paying will overall be more egalitarian.  But look at the countries where education is “free”.   This more in depth look at the debate in some of the main free education countries, free education is all about equality, and the countries offering free education include those that both value, and achieve, equality of citizens more than other countries.

So either these countries that both value and achieve equality so highly have it all wrong and only manage equality despite their free education systems, or the arguments for paid education representing equality are wrong.  So who has it wrong, those who best achieve equality, or those who have the worse record on equality?  If free education does deliver equality, why, and why would paid education fail?

The impact on the individual

The whole concept of paid education is that education is effectively an asset for the student.  The higher income earned from any asset, the better performing that asset, so the student should seek the asset which gives them personally the best return on their investment.  Each student should choose their degree based on which investment will provide them personally with best return.

The effect is to promote such studies as law and medical practice as opposed to subjects such as medical research or teaching.  Generally, careers which provide the greatest personal satisfaction, which can correlate to the public benefit that career provides, than areas where pay is the only motivator.  This means careers with a public benefit may have a higher study to income ratio, and therefore a lower economic yield as an asset.

Think of the idealised inspirational dreams of young children as in this video putting the case for ‘free’ education ( see 2:00) . End poverty, cure cancer, fix climate change.  All great aspirations, but none delivering the personal wealth required for a strong performing ‘university degree as a personal investment’.

But some noble aspirations do fit with the return on investment model.  Perhaps not merchant banking or even corporate law, but what about doctors?  Perhaps not creating the cures, but certainly administering the cures as a medical practitioner does provide for both: a real need within society and a strong return on investment?

Logically the laws of economics should ensure that the needs of society will be because the pay for needed careers will rise until there is supply.  So if a degree is expensive, then the market will ensure those with that degree earn sufficient to offset the cost. We need doctors, so doctors pay will be sufficient.  We don’t need a to eliminate poverty, fix climate change(at least not this week), or cure cancer.  In fact from an economic perspective, curing cancer could harm that section of the economy.  The problems thus should be restricted to the optional parts of the economy, or those things we need in the longer term.

So it is true not all aspirations are undermined by the user pays education system, as not all aspirations are long term, and surely in these shorter term aspirations and the things we need today, the system becomes more egalitarian?

Well… perhaps not…

OK, who really pays?

The case of a medical practitioner does sound like a strong argument for ‘paid education’ works for todays needs.  Society needs doctors, and paid degrees provides doctors because the pay for doctors increases until there is sufficient supply.  But this is also the problem, the cost of doctors rises to cover the cost of the degree.  If this is real, then doctors will receive highest pay in countries where degrees are most expensive, so doctors can in turn pay of the debt of their education. I did a search for the pay of doctors in the USA vs Scandinavia (where education is ‘free’). This comparison is actually the pay of doctors in a variety of countries, but the clear trend is the higher the cost of education, the greater cost of doctors.  Correlation is not necessarily causation, but the data does seem to confirm the prediction.

All this suggests that with paid education, the cost of doctors university degrees is in the end paid by those who visit doctors.  So ‘free’ education taxpayers pay, which puts the greatest burden on those who earn the most income, in place of the greatest burden of the cost falling to those who suffer ill health. The same rule will apply in each case, prices will flow through intermediaries until they ultimately reach the consumer.

Funding for medical degrees:

  • paid education: funding from those who suffer ill health
  • ‘free; education: funding from taxation revenue across all society according to tax rate

Generally the rules of economics ensuring the cost will ultimately be met by those with the need means the only reduction in society paying will apply only for services that are needed, but also have a strong export focus thus ensuring the cost is partially met from outside the tax base.

Controlling student expense: free market, vs university places

To my knowledge, there is no government in the world that completely eliminates spending on education.  At least some education is considered part of the function of government.  But at the other extreme, no government can be responsible for everything every citizen may have a whim to learn.  Paid education may suggest every citizen must full pay for all education, and ‘free’ education may sound like every student is indulged for whatever they desire, but neither extreme is correct.

‘Free’ education still will limit what courses are provided by state universities, for which citizens and non-citizens and for which courses, and countries with ‘free’ education will still also have fully paid education ranging from industry specific courses through to paid public education providers.

Paid education countries still subsidise courses and have state based universities, it is just that students still must pay.

Overall it is not automatic whether paid education countries spend more or less than free education countries.  Consider per capita spend on education between counties and there is little difference between free and paid education countries.

 

In depth, the fabric of the society we live in

Paid education ultimately forces a purely financial focus to education, and ultimately the choice of what people do in life.  Certainly a nail in the coffin of the sentiment “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”.

Conclusion: The beneficiary pays

The answer to the difference is “the beneficiary of the education pays” in each case.  So do we want society to be the beneficiary of education, or each individual for themselves?  Do we want a society where people consider the overall society, or only themselves individually.

 

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