What an interesting week it has been.

Liberal Party Q&A on the Economy

First, Justin Trudeau, Scott Brison and Chrystia Freeland invited me to an Economy Q&A --- you know the political power panel (PPP) sits around discussing, the audience gets to ask a few questions and then the PPP provides the answers. I was too busy at the time, but later I took in a quick eyeful of the video they made.

Chrystia Freeland, for me the new face in this lineup, has written a book called The Age of Global Plutocracy and that was pretty much in keeping with the theme of the video conference. Of course, we have known about rising wealth inequity since 1980 and now some politician's seem to have also noticed. Apparently, Chrystia attributes wealth inequality to:

  1. lower taxes, deregulation, privatization, weaker protection for unions
  2. political changes that benefit crony capitalists
  3. globalization and technological change
Lower taxes, really? How much did they just pump up the HST here in Nova Scotia? Perhaps this is just a bit a black political humour? As for globalization, I recall a time when politicians fell over themselves (they still do) explaining how globalization was going to improve productivity and make everyone better off! In the meantime, governments are not slow to set their goons on anyone who even looks like being a discontented bystander to a G20 Conference. As for technological change, the period of greatest practical technological change was the two decades following WW2, and that was a time of aspiration and egalitarianism.

Chrystia, no! You mistake symptoms and propaganda for causes!

Before we get on to causes, let us note a few more symptoms that the PPP brought up: 200,000 fewer jobs for young people than before the recession; flat wages for the ordinary folk; record levels of personal debt; young adults forced to move back to their parents home; young, educated couples being unable to find employment adequate to pay off their student debt, let alone start a family (I might add).

Justin observed that the people despair in the face of huge pressures and challenges in a globalized world. Wow, what a realization! I remember well when politicians (prompted by the plutocracy) bulldozed us down the globalization path, enthusiastically assuring us of wondrous benefits. The ugly side of globalization turned out to be that while the ordinary people are still chained to their country, their country no longer belongs to them --- it has been sold to the highest bidder! Globalization has spawned slavery. Let me tell you a little story...

I was down the gym, trying to rehabilitate my busted body when I somehow got sidetracked into a conversation with another 50-something old fart. He was briefly back in NS and preparing to return to work at the oil fields of Alberta. One thing he said stuck in my mind, it was that most of his fellow workers out West were old farts. Some months later, I was listening to the story of a young man. He had figured out that the market for university educated people was saturated, so he opted to become a qualified welder. He flew through trade school, top of his class. Then he looked to become an apprentice and complete his training in Nova Scotia. He was lied to and exploited and couldn't complete his qualification. (It's a cut-throat world...) So he and his welder friends headed West, to the oil patch. He was lucky, he got a job, completed his qualification, and is now doing very well. His welder friends? They were not so lucky. As he explained to me, the companies do have some apprenticeships but not nearly enough to employ our willing youth. Companies prefer to hire "qualified" people from overseas.

So why do we have this rising wealth inequality? In a word, overpopulation. Planet Earth has more than 7 billion people and that number is increasing as fast as it ever did. I know, the under educated will say "but the rate of population growth is decreasing." Yes, but that is because rate of population growth is expressed as a percentage of present population.

We would require about 1.5 planet Earths to sustain our present population with the lifestyle presently enjoyed. Correction, with the lifestyle presently NOT enjoyed. Most people on the planet need a better lifestyle that could only be afforded if we had an additional 3 or 4 planet Earths at our disposal. Humanity is greatly resource limited.

We only have one Earth. Peak oil happened 30 years ago --- if you calculate per capita global oil production --- and it is no coincidence that the 1980's were a turning point for the wealth of the common person. That is when we maxed-out our most important resource and began our long slide into debt.

Some would say that science, technology and innovation will be the solution. But real scientists have always known otherwise. And the Canadian Liberal Party goes with the science, right?

The leaders of our nations have mandated that we live in a world where capital, resources, and goods should move freely between nations. It matters not one jot that a typical Canadian lives in a nation with substantial natural resources. Those resources will be sold (by a plutocrat) wherever they fetch the highest price. Further, the plutocrats that control these resources will obtain their labour from wherever they wish. Canadian jobs are on the world market and that is how the plutocrats (and their pet politicians) like it --- keeps labour costs down and makes them even more rich.

The fundamental problem is that we live on a planet that is overpopulated with bipedal primates. The questions you should be asking are: How did we get to be so overpopulated? What are the forces that continue to drive population growth? What can be done to bring population into line with available resources and technologies --- so that every person can live a dignified and fulfilling life?

The answers to these questions become clear once one shrugs off the prevailing propaganda and looks honestly at the world. I will not go through the policies proposed by the PPP, except to observe that they are self contradictory and would be about as effective as pissing against the Fundy tides.

Justin, Chrystia and Scott, if you want to understand the fundamental problem and have an honest interest in addressing it, please feel free to visit me next time you are in Wolfville, for a serious analysis and discussion.

Erle C. Ellis: a case study of flatlining academic standards

Erle C. Ellis is an associate professor at Maryland University who opines that "Over Population is Not the Problem" and, in a final flurry, fantastically affirms that: "The only limits to creating a planet that future generations will be proud of are our imaginations and our social systems". Of course, most of what people "imagine" is total fluff. Others have already exposed specific errors in the article by Ass-Prof Ellis, see: here, and here. I will examine flaws in the foundation of his very thought process.

Ellis explains his thought process as follows:

"I discovered the agricultural economist Ester Boserup, the antidote to the demographer and economist Thomas Malthus and his theory that population growth tends to outrun the food supply. Her theories of population growth as a driver of land productivity explained the data I was gathering in ways that Malthus could never do."
Malthus put down only one plank for what have subsequently become highly refined theories of Ecology and Evolution. In his manuscript, Malthus recognizes that propulation growth and resulting resource-limitation will provide a necessity for invention. In order for Ellis to claim that Ester Boserup supports his position it would be necessary to claim that invention has an unlimited capacity to increase resources. This is an extraordinary claim for which there is not the slightest shred of evidence. This is the first intellectual transgression by Ellis.

Second, any serious scholar would not stop at the primitive thinking of Boserup. At the very least they would acknowledge the work of Paul Colinvaux --- "Why Big Fierce Animals are Rare" 1978 and "Fates of Nations: a biological theory for history" 1980 --- because Colinvaux draws on real science in order to provide a sophisticated treatment of the very problem that Ellis claims that he wished to solve! Ellis is a Prof and has all the resources of a university at his disposal so it seems that Ellis prefers to be wilfully ignorant.

Third, contrary to ramblings by Ellis (and many others) the exploding European population with which Malthus was concerned did not simply solve its problems by better agricultural practices --- rather their problems were solved in large measure by stealing the land and resources from the peoples of the American continents, African Continent, Australian continent --- and wiping out most of those indigenous peoples in the process. I must, therefore add Ellis to the list of thugs who falsify history.

Enough for one day --- Ellis has created a new low for junk journalism.

The Pope is Getting Out of Other Peoples Bedrooms!

Religion has long imposed itself upon other people business. Remarkably, the Pope seems to be leading Catholics more towards a live and let live world. Generally Religion is not so accommodating:
  1. Beheadings for apostacy
  2. Muslims kill shoppers
  3. Christian right seeks to impose itself on everyone else
  4. Orthodox Christians and the Kremlin unite to persecute gays
This is no time for complacency...