Sunday, April 6, 2008



I'm no expert on the subject of Chinese history but I recently read that China experienced something referred to as a 'soft' dark age for half a millenium that only ended about 40 years ago. A variety of reasons are given but the one that sticks out is (drum roll) bad decisions.

The very idea of societal collapse is about as hard for us to imagine as the idea of a religious war. Yet world history reveals that both have occurred and recurred. Plague, war, environmental destruction can all be factors beyond a single society's control but bad decisions--that all too human failing--may be the ubiquitous one.

It sounded like a good idea at the time...

The Social Security Act of 1935 and its subsequent offspring Medicare et al (1965) will be our bad decision within one more generation. It is unsustainable, and what's worse... everybody knows it.

from wiki
Societal collapse occurs in one of two ways:

1. Its adaptive capacity is reduced by a sharp increase in population or social complexity, leading to a destabilization of social institutions and eventual massive shifts in population and social dynamics.
Never mind the second way for now--it doesn't apply.

A sharp increase in population. Indeed, we're fairly concentrated on the increase by immigration but we, along with Europe and Japan, are facing something that is new to the world--a population in which the mean age continues to rise.

There is a concept in physics called Energy Returned on Energy Invested or ERoEI. Build a nuclear power plant or open a new oil field and the energy invested pales compared to the energy returned. But when the ratio approaches 1:1 then the game is not worth the candle, so to speak.

I think this is a useful concept in thinking about workers in society. There will come a point at which the workforce will fall to 50% with the remaining 50% as retirees, children, and the unemployable. The solution so far has been to seek masses of immigrants which simply poses other sets of problems.

This begs the question--what will the American worker do? The worker who with a decent wage was able to stride forward in life who now finds that his or her good-paying job cannot meet his or her expenses because of government confiscation for redistribution?

Perhaps it's now time to revisit some American history. Let us not forget that for all the talk of liberty and justice, of natural rights endowed by our Creator, our beloved revolution was sparked by one issue that united us all--keeping the majority of what we earn.

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