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The greatest threat facing mankind is...
Faith, Reason and Health Blog ^ | 01/22/12 | Various

Posted on 01/22/2012 4:54:42 PM PST by Brian Kopp DPM

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The greatest threat facing mankind is...

The greatest threat facing mankind is NOT anthropogenic "climate change."

Nor is it anthropogenic environmental damage.

It most certainly is not "overpopulation." Neither is it "peak oil." Nor is it food shortages.

The greatest threat facing mankind is, however, "anthropogenic."

Because the greatest threat facing mankind is the general failure of mankind to reproduce:

Fewer tells a monumental human story, largely ignored, but which promises to starkly change the human condition in the years to come. Never before have birth and fertility rates fallen so far, so fast, so low, for so long, in so many places, so surprisingly. In Fewer, Ben Wattenberg shows how and why this has occurred, and explains what it means for the future. The demographic plunge, he notes, is starkly apparent in the developed nations of Europe and Japan, which will lose about 150 million people in the next half century. Starting from higher levels, but moving with geometric speed, the demographic decline is also apparent in the less developed nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Only the United States (so far) has been exempt from the birth dearth, leaving America as more than "the sole super-power." Perhaps it should be called the global "omni-power." These stark demographic changes will affect commerce, the environment, public financing, and geo-politics. Here Wattenberg lists likely winners and losers. In Wattenberg's world of "The New Demography" readers get a look at a topic often chattered about, but rarely understood.

You’ve heard about the Death of the West. But the Muslim world is on the brink of an even greater collapse. WILL WE GO DOWN IN THE IMPLOSION? Thanks to collapsing birthrates, much of Europe is on a path of willed self-extinction. The untold story is that birthrates in Muslim nations are declining faster than anywhere else—at a rate never before documented. Europe, even in its decline, may have the resources to support an aging population, if at a terrible economic and cultural cost. But in the impoverished Islamic world, an aging population means a civilization on the brink of total collapse— something Islamic terrorists know and fear. Muslim decline poses new threats to America, challenges we cannot even understand, much less face effectively, without a wholly new kind of political analysis that explains how desperate peoples and nations behave. In How Civilizations Die, David P. Goldman—author of the celebrated “Spengler” column read by intelligence organizations worldwide—reveals how, almost unnoticed, massive shifts in global power are remaking our future.

Remarkably, most conventional wisdom about the shifting balance of world power virtually ignores one of the most fundamental components of power: population. The studies that do consider international security and demographic trends almost unanimously focus on population growth as a liability. In contrast, the distinguished contributors to this volume—security experts from the Naval War College, the American Enterprise Institute, and other think tanks—contend that demographic decline in key world powers now poses a profound challenge to global stability. The countries at greatest risk are in the developed world, where birthrates are falling and populations are aging. Many have already lost significant human capital, capital that would have helped them innovate and fuel their economy, man their armed forces, and secure a place at the table of world power. By examining the effects of diverging population trends between the United States and Europe and the effects of rapid population aging in Japan, India, and China, this book uncovers increasing tensions within the transatlantic alliance and destabilizing trends in Asian security. Thus, it argues, relative demographic decline may well make the world less, and not more, secure.

Overpopulation has long been a global concern. But between modern medicine and reduced fertility, world population may in fact be shrinking--and is almost certain to do so by the time today's children retire. The troubling implications for our economy and culture include:* The possibility of a fundamentalist revival due to the decline of secular fertility* The threat to the free market as the supply of workers and consumers declines* The eventual collapse of the American health care system as inordinate expenses are incurred by an aging populationPhillip Longman's uncompromisingly sensible solutions fly in the face of traditional ideas. State intervention is necessary, he argues, to combat the effects of an aging population. We must provide incentives for young families, and we cannot close our eyes and hope for the best as an entire generation approaches retirement age.The Empty Cradle changes the terms of one of the most important environmental, economic, and social debates of our day.

The world's population is still growing, thanks to rising longevity. But fertility rates - the average number of children born per woman - are falling nearly everywhere. More and more adults are deciding to have fewer and fewer children. Worldwide, reports the UN, there are 6 million fewer babies and young children today than there were in 1990. By 2015, according to one calculation, there will be 83 million fewer. By 2025, 127 million fewer. By 2050, the world's supply of the youngest children may have plunged by a quarter of a billion, and will amount to less than 5 percent of the human family. The reasons for this birth dearth are many. Among them: As the number of women in the workforce has soared, many have delayed marriage and childbearing, or decided against them altogether. The Sexual Revolution, by making sex readily available without marriage, removed what for many men had been a powerful motive to marry. Skyrocketing rates of divorce have made women less likely to have as many children as in generations past. Years of indoctrination about the perils of "overpopulation" have led many couples to embrace childlessness as a virtue. Result: a dramatic and inexorable aging of society. In the years ahead, the ranks of the elderly are going to swell to unprecedented levels, while the number of young people continues to dwindle. The working-age population will shrink, first in relation to the population of retirees, then in absolute terms. A world without children will be a poorer world - grayer, lonelier, less creative, less confident. Children are a great blessing, but it may take their disappearance for the world to remember why.

Demographic Winter: Decline of the Human Family (DVD/ Documentary) by Rick Stout

Product Overview One of the most ominous events of modern history is quietly unfolding. Social scientists and economists agree - we are headed toward a demographic winter which threatens to have catastrophic social and economic consequences. The effects will be severe and long lasting and are already becoming manifest in much of Europe.

A groundbreaking film, Demographic Winter: Decline of the Human Family, reveals in chilling soberness how societies with diminished family influence are now grimly seen as being in social and economic jeopardy.

Demographic Winter draws upon experts from all around the world - demographers, economists, sociologists, psychologists, civic and religious leaders, parliamentarians and diplomats. Together, they reveal the dangers facing society and the world’s economies, dangers far more imminent than global warming and at least as severe. These experts will discuss how:

The “population bomb” not only did not have the predicted consequences, but almost all of the developed countries of the world are now experiencing fertility rates far below replacement levels. Birthrates have fallen so low that even immigration cannot replace declining populations, and this migration is sapping strength from developing countries, the fertility rates for many of which are now falling at a faster pace than did those of the developed countries.

The economies of the world will continue to contract as the “human capital” spoken of by Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker, diminishes. The engines of commerce will be strained as the workers of today fail to replace themselves and are burdened by the responsibility to support an aging population.

Government programs will slow-bleed by the decrease in tax dollars received from an ever shrinking work force. The skyrocketing ratio of the old retirees to the young workers will render current-day social security systems completely unable to support the aging population.

Our attempts to modernize through social engineering policies and programs have left children growing up in broken homes, with absentee parents and little exposure to extended family, disconnected from the generations, and these children are experiencing severe psychological, sociological and economic consequences. The intact family’s immeasurable role in the development and prosperity of human societies is crumbling.

The influence of social and economic problems on ever shrinking, increasingly disconnected generations will compound and accelerate the deterioration. Our children and our children’s children will bear the economic and social burden of regenerating the “human capital” that accounts for 80% of wealth in the economy, and they will be ill-equipped to do so.

Is there a “tipping point”, after which the accelerating consequences will make recovery impossible without complete social and economic collapse? Even the experts can’t tell us how far we can go down this road, oblivious to the outcomes, until we reach a point where sliding into the void becomes unpreventable.

Only if the political incorrectness of talking about the natural family within policy circles is overcome will solutions begin to be found. These solutions will necessarily result in policy changes, changes that will support and promote the natural, intact family.

Just as it took the cumulative involvement of activist organizations, policy makers, the business world and the media to create the unintended consequences we are beginning to experience, so it will take the holistic contribution of all of these entities, together with civic and religious organizations, to change the hearts and minds of all of society to bring about a reversal.

It may be too late to avoid some very severe consequences, but with effort we may be able to preclude calamity. Demographic Winter lays out a forthright province of discussion. The warning voices in this film need to be heard before a silent, portentous fall turns into a long, hard winter.

Demography is destiny. But not always in the way we imagine, begins Pearce (When the Rivers Run Dry) in his fascinating analysis of how global population trends have shaped, and been shaped by, political and cultural shifts. He starts with Robert Malthus, whose concept of overpopulation—explicitly of the uneducated and poor classes—and depleted resources influenced two centuries of population and environmental theory, from early eugenicists (including Margaret Sanger) to the British colonial administrators presiding over India and Ireland. Pearce examines the roots of the incipient crash in global population in decades of mass sterilizations and such government interventions as Mao's one child program. Many nations are breeding at less then replacement numbers (including not only the well-publicized crises in Western Europe and Japan, but also Iran, Australia, South Africa, and possibly soon China and India). Highly readable and marked by first-class reportage, Pearce's book also highlights those at the helm of these vastly influential decisions—the families themselves, from working-class English families of the industrial revolution to the young women currently working in the factories of Bangladesh.

What is the impact of demographics on the prospective production of military power and the causes of war? This monograph analyzes this issue by projecting working-age populations through 2050; assessing the influence of demographics on manpower, national income and expenditures, and human capital; and examining how changes in these factors may affect the ability of states to carry out military missions. It also looks at some implications of these changes for other aspects of international security. The authors find that the United States, alone of all the large affluent nations, will continue to see (modest) increases in its working-age population thanks to replacement-level fertility rates and a likely return to vigorous levels of immigration. Meanwhile, the working-age populations of Europe and Japan are slated to fall by as much as 10 to 15 percent by 2030 and as much as 30 to 40 percent by 2050. The United States will thus account for a larger percentage of the population of its Atlantic and Pacific alliances; in other words, the capacity of traditional alliances to multiply U.S. demographic power is likely to decline, perhaps sharply, through 2050. India's working-age population is likely to overtake China's by 2030. The United States, which has 4.7 percent of the world's working-age population, will still have 4.3 percent by 2050, and the current share of global gross domestic product accounted for by the U.S. economy is likely to stay quite high.

And the primary means by which mankind has stopped reproducing are abortifacient hormonal contraceptives and abortion itself.

Martin Luther called the "Sin of Onan" marital sodomy. In the Judeo-Christian and Natural Law tradition, any sex act made deliberately infecund is no better than sodomy.

So in considering the greatest threats facing mankind, one must also consider this:

In Depth Analysis

Crying to Heaven for Vengeance

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by Dr. Jeff Mirus, September 7, 2004

From Our Store: Misinterpreting Catholicism (eBook)

The Bible mentions only four sins which cry out to God for vengeance. Considering the source and the emphasis, we have little choice but to examine our consciences on these points. A cursory examination will not do; we must cast off our cultural preconceptions to see beyond the obvious.

And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” (Gn 4:10) It is hardly suprising that Cain’s murder of Abel provides the first instance of one of these sins that cries out for Divine vengeance. While all sins disrupt the natural order in some way, those enumerated as crying out to God appear to be chosen because they strike at nature’s root.

It is easy to see how murder fits into this category. The unjust termination of the life of another is a profound violation of “how things should be” precisely because our very nature compels us to regard our own lives as precious. To take a person's life is to terminate in another what we instinctively regard as our own highest good.

Sadly, the ease with which we understand the foulness of murder may be conditioned more by our culture than by Divine Revelation. We must take care that we do not find it abhorrent only insofar as we are creatures of society, rather than creatures of God.

Abortion is a case in point.

Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me.” (Gn 18:20-21) The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of homosexual activity. So far gone were they in this vice that the men of the town would not even accept heterosexual license with Lot’s daughters, both virgins, as a means of sating their lust (see 19:8-9).

Here we have another case in point for cultural conditioning. It is far more difficult for our contraceptive culture to see how contrary to nature homosexuality is. Those of us who instinctively feel its deep unnaturalness rightly react to homosexual activity with disgust, but logical arguments are unlikely to produce the same reaction in those whose instincts are damaged, blunted or rationalized away.

It is precisely in such situations that Divine Revelation is so very useful, for we cannot trust our feelings when they run counter to reality. We require a better guide. Sodomy strikes at the root of human nature because of its perversion of the procreative impulse, without which the race must die. But in case we don’t see it, God does.

Oppression of Widows and Orphans

“You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you do afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry.” (Ex 21-23) There is a deep truth in this passage about the relationships of husbands to wives, and of parents to children, and about how vulnerable wives and children become when their natural protection is removed.

Very probably all of us can see that it would be gravely sinful to take advantage of the weakness and vulnerability of either a widow or an orphan, and we can readily imagine the financial burdens and solicitation of “favors” with which either can be afflicted. It is much easier in every way to abuse a boy or girl who has no father and to intimidate a woman who has no husband.

Once again, however, we must remove our social blinders to see the great evil in our culture which turns so many into widows and orphans in the first place. The grave sin of divorce, by which natural protection is ripped away from women and children, surely tops the list of horrors under this heading.

Cheating Laborers of Their Due

“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brethren or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns; you shall give him his hire on the day he earns it, before the sun goes down (for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it); lest he cry against you to the Lord, and it be a sin in you.” (Dt 24:14-15) Here we come to a principle of sound social order: those in positions of authority and wealth have serious obligations to those who depend on their decisions for their well-being. Fortunately, we live in a very wealthy society.

But does our very wealth cause this sin to appear irrelevant? Free enterprise is an excellent system, but too often it carries the completely unnecessary baggage of a callous attitude toward employees, regarding them as commodities. The social teachings of the Church have attempted to address this concern (without pointing at all toward socialism) for over a century.

Yet the latest trend, at least in the United States, is constant mergers and buyouts which throw hundreds of thousands out of work while enriching an elite few. Even temporary unemployment is both a bank-breaker and a heart-breaker. Working under an abusive or negligent boss can be a living nightmare. And most of us are well-shielded from adults who must work for a minimal wage. The Israelites were urged to remember their days in Egypt, and treat others accordingly.

Together and In Order

All of these sins cry out to God, but the four are not equal. The sequence in the text suggests a hierarchy of value, and it is a tightly linked hierarchy. One sin leads to another, from the gravest to the least, as we make objects out of persons and treat them accordingly, subverting all our natural relationships. For this reason, we cannot assuage our consciences by attending to the fourth sin while ignoring the first, or by claiming virtue on the third and closing our eyes to the second. If these sins cry out to God for vengeance and we still commit them or do nothing to restrict them in others, we mock God to His face. Of course, when we’re wearing our usual cultural blinders, it often appears to us that we can mock God with impunity. But isn’t this something else we know from Revelation—in case we cannot see it for ourselves?

The Obama administration would do well to recall these foundational principles before trying to force the only Church in the world still fighting for the future of humanity, and against this greatest threat to it, to cave in and pay for contraception and abortifacients:

Obama administration is taking a wrong-headed line with the church

Forcing contraception insurance coverage goes too far


Sunday, January 22 2012, 4:10 AM

Archbishop Timothy Dolan has lambasted the Obama administration for putting health care policy ahead of deeply held moral teachings.

Louis Lanzano/AP

Archbishop Timothy Dolan has lambasted the Obama administration for putting health policy ahead of moral teachings.


President Obama’s health chief decreed Friday that the Catholic Church must provide its employees with health insurance coverage for contraception, its moral stance against birth control be damned.

Wrong, wrong, high-handedly, obtusely wrong.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took Obamacare’s philosophy of equal insurance for all to a level of zealotry that reduced a deeply held matter of conscience to a bothersome trifle.

Presumably, the President was fully briefed on a decision of this magnitude. If so, he made a fundamental error that will only add to a sense among many faith-based communities that the White House has a thing against religion.

It was less than two weeks ago that the Supreme Court unanimously and thunderingly scolded the administration for trying to tell churches and church-based organization that the government knew best as to who they could hire and fire.

Because of the church’s size and reach, Sebelius’ ruling will apply most broadly to Catholic organizations, but they apply to affiliates of other religions that bar contraception and sterilization.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Education; Religion; Society
KEYWORDS: carryingcapacity; genocide; moralabsolutes; overpopulation; populationbomb; prolife
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To: MtBaldy
I’m not volunteering mind you but I think we’d all be better off if about 2 billion people vanished.

Cool, I suggest we start with YOU.

I've just appointed myself caretaker of your wisdom, got a problem with that?

41 posted on 01/22/2012 6:09:26 PM PST by Las Vegas Ron (Rush Limbaugh = the Beethoven of talk radio)
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To: narses

I’d ditto that, but I might blow up the server...

42 posted on 01/22/2012 6:11:51 PM PST by St_Thomas_Aquinas
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas

:) I do get exuberant sometimes!

43 posted on 01/22/2012 6:25:15 PM PST by narses
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To: Chainmail

My parents had seven and I have five. Will have my fifth grandchild in March. Of my six brothers and sisters they have nine.

44 posted on 01/22/2012 6:26:34 PM PST by rfreedom4u (Forced diversity causes dissent!)
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To: rfreedom4u

Thank you!

45 posted on 01/22/2012 6:27:33 PM PST by narses
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Demographics & Depression
David P. Goldman

Three generations of economists immersed themselves in study of the Great Depression, determined to prevent a recurrence of the awful events of the 1930s. And as our current financial crisis began to unfold in 2008, policymakers did everything that those economists prescribed. Following John Maynard Keynes, President Bush and President Obama each offered a fiscal stimulus. The Federal Reserve maintained confidence in the financial system, increased the money supply, and lowered interest rates. The major industrial nations worked together, rather than at cross purposes as they had in the early 1930s.

Listen to the interview with the authorIn other words, the government tried to do everything right, but everything continues to go wrong. We labored hard and traveled long to avoid a new depression, but one seems to have found us, nonetheless.

So is this something outside the lesson book of the Great Depression? Most officials and economists argue that, until home prices stabilize, necrosis will continue to spread through the assets of the financial system, and consumers will continue to restrict spending. The sources of the present crisis reach into the capillary system of the economy: the most basic decisions and requirements of American households. All the apparatus of financial engineering is helpless beside the simple issue of household decisions about shelter. We are in the most democratic of economic crises, and it stems directly from the character of our people.

Part of the problem in seeing this may be that we are transfixed by the dense technicalities of credit flow, the new varieties of toxic assets, and the endless A­iterations of financial restructuring. Sometimes it helps to look at the world with a kind of simplicity. Think of it this way: Credit markets derive from the cycle of human life. Young people need to borrow capital to start families and businesses; old people need to earn income on the capital they have saved. We invest our retirement savings in the formation of new households. All the armamentarium of modern capital markets boils down to investing in a new generation so that they will provide for us when we are old.

To understand the bleeding in the housing market, then, we need to examine the population of prospective homebuyers whose millions of individual decisions determine whether the economy will recover. Families with children are the fulcrum of the housing market. Because single-parent families tend to be poor, the buying power is concentrated in two-parent families with children.

Now, consider this fact: America's population has risen from 200 million to 300 million since 1970, while the total number of two-parent families with children is the same today as it was when Richard Nixon took office, at 25 million. In 1973, the United States had 36 million housing units with three or more bedrooms, not many more than the number of two-parent families with children–which means that the supply of family homes was roughly in line with the number of families. By 2005, the number of housing units with three or more bedrooms had doubled to 72 million, though America had the same number of two-parent families with children.

The number of two-parent families with children, the kind of household that requires and can afford a large home, has remained essentially stagnant since 1963, according to the Census Bureau. Between 1963 and 2005, to be sure, the total number of what the Census Bureau categorizes as families grew from 47 million to 77 million. But most of the increase is due to families without children, including what are sometimes rather strangely called "one-person families."

In place of traditional two-parent families with children, America has seen enormous growth in one-parent families and childless families. The number of one-parent families with children has tripled. Dependent children formed half the U.S. population in 1960, and they add up to only 30 percent today. The dependent elderly doubled as a proportion of the population, from 15 percent in 1960 to 30 percent today.

If capital markets derive from the cycle of human life, what happens if the cycle goes wrong? Investors may be unreasonably panicked about the future, and governments can allay this panic by guaranteeing bank deposits, increasing incentives to invest, and so forth. But something different is in play when investors are reasonably panicked. What if there really is something wrong with our future–if the next generation fails to appear in sufficient numbers? The answer is that we get poorer.

The declining demographics of the traditional American family raise a dismal possibility: Perhaps the world is poorer now because the present generation did not bother to rear a new generation. All else is bookkeeping and ultimately trivial. This unwelcome and unprecedented change underlies the present global economic crisis. We are grayer, and less fecund, and as a result we are poorer, and will get poorer still–no matter what economic policies we put in place.

We could put this another way: America's housing market collapsed because conservatives lost the culture wars even back while they were prevailing in electoral politics. During the past half century America has changed from a nation in which most households had two parents with young children. We are now a malange of alternative arrangements in which the nuclear family is merely a niche phenomenon. By 2025, single-person households may outnumber families with children.

The collapse of home prices and the knock-on effects on the banking system stem from the shrinking count of families that require houses. It is no accident that the housing market–the economic sector most sensitive to demographics–was the epicenter of the economic crisis. In fact, demographers have been predicting a housing crash for years due to the demographics of diminishing demand. Wall Street and Washington merely succeeded in prolonging the housing bubble for a few additional years. The adverse demographics arising from cultural decay, though, portend far graver consequences for the funding of health and retirement systems.

Conservatives have indulged in self-congratulation over the quarter-century run of growth that began in 1984 with the Reagan administration's tax reforms. A prosperity that fails to rear a new generation in sufficient number is hollow, as we have learned to our detriment during the past year. Compared to Japan and most European countries, which face demographic catastrophe, America's position seems relatively strong, but that strength is only postponing the reckoning by keeping the world's capital flowing into the U.S. mortgage market right up until the crash at the end of 2007.

As long as conservative leaders delivered economic growth, family issues were relegated to Sunday rhetoric. Of course, conservative thinkers never actually proposed to measure the movement's success solely in units of gross domestic product, or square feet per home, or cubic displacement of the average automobile engine. But delivering consumer goods was what conservatives seemed to do well, and they rode the momentum of the Reagan boom.

Until now. Our children are our wealth. Too few of them are seated around America's common table, and it is their absence that makes us poor. Not only the absolute count of children, to be sure, but also the shrinking proportion of children raised with the moral material advantages of two-parent families diminishes our prospects. The capital markets have reduced the value of homeowners' equity by $8 trillion and of stocks by $7 trillion. Households with a provider aged 45 to 54 have lost half their net worth between 2004 and 2009, according to Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. There are ways to ameliorate the financial crisis, but none of them will replace the lives that should have been part of America and now are missed.

This suggests that nothing economic policy can do will entirely reverse the great wave of wealth destruction. President Obama made hope the watchword of his campaign, but there is less for which to hope, largely because of the economic impact of the lifestyle choices favored by the same young people who were so enthusiastic for Obama. The Reagan reforms created new markets and financing techniques and put enormous amounts of leverage at the disposal of businesses and households. The 1980s saw the creation of a mortgage-backed securities market that turned the American home into a ready source of capital, the emergence of a high-yield bond market that allowed new companies to issue debt, and the expansion of private equity. These financing techniques contributed mightily to the great expansion of 1984–2008, and they were the same instruments that would wreak ruin on the financial system. During the 1980s the baby boomers were in their twenties and thirties, when families are supposed to take on debt; twenty years later, the baby boomers were in their fifties and sixties, when families are supposed to save for retirement. The elixir of youth turned toxic for the aging.

Unless we restore the traditional family to a central position in American life, we cannot expect to return to the kind of wealth accumulation that characterized the 1980s and 1990s. Theoretically, we might recruit immigrants to replace the children we did not rear, or we might invest capital overseas with the children of other countries. From the standpoint of economic policy, neither of those possibilities can be dismissed. But the contributions of immigration or capital export will be marginal at best compared to the central issue of whether the demographics of America reverts to health.

Life is sacred for its own sake. It is not an instrument to provide us with fatter IRAs or better real-estate values. But it is fair to point out that wealth depends ultimately on the natural order of human life. Failing to rear a new generation in sufficient numbers to replace the present one violates that order, and it has consequences for wealth, among many other things. Americans who rejected the mild yoke of family responsibility in pursuit of atavistic enjoyment will find at last that this is not to be theirs, either.

It will be painful for conservatives to admit that things were not well with America under the Republican watch, at least not at the family level. From 1954 to 1970, for example, half or more of households contained two parents and one or more children under the age of eighteen. In fact as well as in popular culture, the two-parent nuclear family formed the normative American household. By 1981, when Ronald Reagan took office, two-parent households had fallen to just over two-fifths of the total. Today, less than a third of American households constitute a two-parent nuclear family with children.

Housing prices are collapsing in part because single-person households are replacing families with children. The Virginia Tech economist Arthur C. Nelson has noted that households with children would fall from half to a quarter of all households by 2025. The demand of Americans will then be urban apartments for empty nesters. Demand for large-lot single family homes, Nelson calculated, will slump from 56 million today to 34 million in 2025–a reduction of 40 percent. There never will be a housing price recovery in many parts of the country. Huge tracts will become uninhabited except by vandals and rodents.

All of these trends were evident for years, and duly noted by housing economists. Why did it take until 2007 for home prices to collapse? If America were a closed economy, the housing market would have crashed years ago. The paradox is that the rest of the industrial world, and much of the developing world, are aging faster than the United States.

In the industrial world, there are more than 400 million people in their peak savings years, 40 to 64 years of age, and the number is growing. There are fewer than 350 million young earners in the 19-to-40-year bracket, and their number is shrinking. If savers in Japan can't find enough young people to lend to, they will lend to the young people of other countries. Japan's median age will rise above 60 by mid-century, and Europe's will rise to the mid-50s.

America is slightly better off. Countries with aging and shrinking populations must export and invest the proceeds. Japan's households have hoarded $14 trillion in savings, which they will spend on geriatric care provided by Indonesian and Filipino nurses, as the country's population falls to just 90 million in 2050 from 127 million today.

The graying of the industrial world creates an inexhaustible supply of savings and demand for assets in which to invest them–which is to say, for young people able to borrow and pay loans with interest. The tragedy is that most of the world's young people live in countries without capital markets, enforcement of property rights, or reliable governments. Japanese investors will not buy mortgages from Africa or Latin America, or even China. A rich Chinese won't lend money to a poor Chinese unless, of course, the poor Chinese first moves to the United States.

Until recently, that left the United States the main destination for the aging savers of the industrial world. America became the magnet for savings accumulated by aging Europeans and Japanese. To this must be added the rainy-day savings of the Chinese government, whose desire to accumulate large amounts of foreign-exchange reserves is more than justified in retrospect by the present crisis.

America has roughly 120 million adults in the 19-to-44 age bracket, the prime borrowing years. That is not a large number against the 420 million prospective savers in the aging developed world as a whole. There simply aren't enough young Americans to absorb the savings of the rest of the world. In demographic terms, America is only the leper with the most fingers.

The rest of the world lent the United States vast sums, rising to almost $1 trillion in 2007. As the rest of the world thrust its savings on the United States, interest rates fell and home prices rose. To feed the inexhaustible demand for American assets, Wall Street connived with the ratings agencies to turn the sow's ear of subprime mortgages into silk purses, in the form of supposedly default-proof securities with high credit ratings. Americans thought themselves charmed and came to expect indefinitely continuing rates of 10 percent annual appreciation of home prices (and correspondingly higher returns to homeowners with a great deal of leverage).

The baby boomers evidently concluded that one day they all would sell their houses to each other at exorbitant prices and retire on the proceeds. The national household savings rate fell to zero by 2007, as Americans came to believe that capital gains on residential real estate would substitute for savings.

After a $15 trillion reduction in asset values, Americans are now saving as much as they can. Of course, if everyone saves and no one spends, the economy shuts down, which is precisely what is happening. The trouble is not that aging baby boomers need to save. The problem is that the families with children who need to spend never were formed in sufficient numbers to sustain growth.

In emphasizing the demographics, I do not mean to give Wall Street a free pass for prolonging the bubble. Without financial engineering, the crisis would have come sooner and in a milder form. But we would have been just as poor in consequence. The origin of the crisis is demographic, and its solution can only be demographic.

America needs to find productive young people to whom to lend. The world abounds in young people, of course, but not young people who can productively use capital and are thus good credit risks. The trouble is to locate young people who are reared to the skill sets, work ethic, and social values required for a modern economy.

In theory, it is possible to match American capital to the requirements of young people in venues capable of great productivity growth. East Asia, for example, has almost 500 million people in the 19-to-40-year-old bracket, 50 percent more than that of the entire industrial world. The prospect of raising the productivity of Chinese, Indians, and other Asians opens up an ­entirely different horizon for the American economy. In theory, the opportunities for investment in Asia are limitless, but political trust, capital markets, regulatory institutions, and other preconditions for such investment have been inadequate. For aging Americans to trust their savings to young Asians, a generation's worth of institutional reforms would be required.

It is also possible to improve America's demographic profile through immigration, as Reuven Brenner of McGill University has proposed. Some years ago Cardinal Baffi of Bologna suggested that Europe seek Catholic immigrants from Latin America. In a small way, something like this is happening. Europe's alternative is to accept more immigrants from the Middle East and Africa, with the attendant risks of cultural hollowing out and eventual Islamicization. America's problem is more difficult, for what America requires are highly skilled immigrants.

Even so, efforts to export capital and import workers will at best mitigate America's economic problems in a small way. We are going to be poorer for a generation and perhaps longer. We will drive smaller cars and live in smaller homes, vacation in cabins by the lake rather than at Disney World, and send our children to public universities rather than private liberal-arts colleges. The baby boomers on average will work five or ten years longer before retiring on less income than they had planned, and young people will work for less money at duller jobs than they had hoped.

In traditional societies, each extended family relied on its own children to care for its own elderly. The resources the community devoted to the destitute–gleaning the fields after harvest, for example–were quite limited. Modern society does not require every family to fund its retirement by rearing children; we may contribute to a pension fund and draw on the labor of the children of others. But if everyone were to retire on the same day, the pension fund would go bankrupt instantly, and we all would starve.

The distribution of rewards and penalties is manifestly unfair. The current crisis is particularly unfair to those who brought up children and contributed monthly to their pension fund, only to watch the value of their savings evaporate in the crisis. Tax and social-insurance policy should reflect the effort and cost of rearing children and require those who avoid such effort and cost to pay their fair share.

Numerous proposals for family-friendly tax policy are in circulation, including recent suggestions by Ramesh Ponnuru, Ross Douthat, and Reihan Salam. The core of a family-oriented economic program might include the following measures:

*Cut taxes on families. The personal exemption introduced with the Second World War's Victory Tax was $624, reflecting the cost of "food and a little more." In today's dollars that would be about $7,600, while the current personal exemption stands at only $3,650. The personal exemption should be raised to $8,000 simply to restore the real value of the deduction, and the full personal exemption should apply to children.

*Shift part of the burden of social insurance to the childless. For most taxpayers, social-insurance deductions are almost as great a burden as income tax. Families that bring up children contribute to the future tax base; families that do not get a free ride. The base rate for social security and Medicare deductions should rise, with a significant exemption for families with children, so that a disproportionate share of the burden falls on the childless.

*Make child-related expenses tax deductible. Tuition and health care are the key expenses here with which parents need help.

*Change the immigration laws. The United States needs highly skilled, productive individuals in their prime years for earning and family formation.

We delude ourselves when we imagine that a few hundred dollars of tax incentives will persuade individuals to form families or keep them together. A generation of Americans has grown up with the belief that the traditional family is merely one lifestyle choice among many.

But it is among the young that such a conservative message could reverberate the loudest. The young know that the promise of sexual freedom has brought them nothing but emptiness and anomie. They suffer more than anyone from the breakup of families. They know that abortion has wrought psychic damage that never can be repaired. And they see that their own future was compromised by the poor choices of their parents.

It was always morally wrong for conservatives to attempt to segregate the emotionally charged issues of public morals from the conservative growth agenda. We know now that it was also incompetent from a purely economic point of view. Without life, there is no wealth; without families, there is no economic future. The value of future income streams traded in capital markets will fall in accordance with our impoverished demography. We cannot pursue the acquisition of wealth and the provision of upward mobility except through the reconquest of the American polity on behalf of the American family.

The conservative movement today seems weaker than at any time since Lyndon Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater. There are no free-marketeers in the foxholes, and it is hard to find an economist of any stripe who does not believe that the government must provide some kind of economic stimulus and rescue the financial system.

But the present crisis also might present the conservative movement with the greatest opportunity it has had since Ronald Reagan took office. The Obama administration will certainly face backlash when its promise to fix the economy through the antiquated tools of Keynesian stimulus comes to nothing. And as a result, American voters may be more disposed to consider fundamental problems than they have been for several generations. The message that our children are our wealth, and that families are its custodian, might resonate all the more strongly for the manifest failure of the alternatives.

David P. Goldman is a senior editor of First Things

46 posted on 01/22/2012 6:32:05 PM PST by Brian Kopp DPM
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Harry Dent's Outlook on Demographics, Debt and Deflation

Friday morning, I had the fortunate opportunity to speak with demographic trend expert and economic researcher Harry S. Dent. It was a great conversation and we covered a lot of topics, including the demographic outlook in America, the inflation/deflation argument, potential inflection points for the stock market based on spending wave turning points, and more.

I had intended to record and post the conversation, which was very lively (Harry gives a great interview) - but unfortunately I botched the recording! When I went to play it back afterwards - nothing at all. Agh!

But, we can't let that keep us down. It'd have been easier for me to post an mp3, but hey, my loss is your gain! I took copious notes, and I've been following Dent's research for a bit now, so here's a very detailed summary of our interview, and some topical background info in case you're new to his brand of demographic analysis.

Harry Dent's Previous Successful Bull Market and Depression Predictions

Beginning in the late 1980's, Dent began touting a bull market in US stocks that would go higher and farther than most believed. He reiterated that call in 1992 - a time when many analysts were very bearish (hard to believe in hindsight, but true - many bestselling investing book titles from the early 90's were doom and gloom).

Impressively, he stayed bullish during the early to mid 00's - again a time when many (including me) thought the stock market bubble had burst once and for all. Dent's analysis told him that there was one big last gasp for the party, thanks to boomer spending hitting its peak. (Note: He did have some very high price targets on the DOW that were not hit - some folks are a bit down on him for this, but I think that's missing the point of his research. Longer term index price predictions are very difficult. I'm more concerned with accurately predicting the direction of the trend - and he's been quite spot-on in this regard).

Dent's longer term warning alongside these bullish predictions, though, has always been that another Great Depression would follow the boom of the 90's and 00's, sometime from 2007-09. Now, right on schedule, we're on the other side of the boom/bust peak - and into our current Depression.

Personal Consumption Expenditures Harry Dent

Source: HS Dent Foundation

As you can see from the chart above, consumer spending peaked in 2008, and is heading downward. According to Dent's research, this trend should be in play for some time. Why? Glad you asked...

How Demographics Drive Spending Trends (and Hence Stock Prices)

Dent's research shows that human spending habits follow very predictable patterns throughout the human lifecycle. Individuals typically hit their peak spending between the ages of 46 to 50, as depicted in the graph here:

Harry Dent Demographic Spending Life Cycle

Source: HS Dent Foundation

These spending waves drive the economy, as well as stock prices. In the US, as you can see, there's been a very tight correlation between family spending, and stock prices:

Harry Dent Spending Wave Chart

Source: HS Dent Foundation

Peak spending rolled over for the first time in 2007 - and the stock market rolled with it. If the economy continues to follow the spending wave, we're in for another lean 12 years, as the next peak spending pickup is not scheduled until 2022! This is due to the fact that baby boomers are now past peak spending - and we've got over a decade until the next "baby boomlet" hits peak spending stride.

US birth index harry dent

While everyone was busy getting high in the 60's and 70's...we actually could have used a few more babies!

Source: HS Dent Foundation

Why Government Stimulus Spending Isn't Working This Time

For the first time in American history, government stimulus is falling flat on its face. It's starting to become apparent that the record stimulus being thrown at our economy is not going to pull us out of this recession/depression. Why?

Because according to Dent's research, for the first time ever, we don't have favorable demographic winds at our back. During previous recessions, the government could float easy money out into the economy, and eager consumers would grab it and spend it - because they were in the upswings in their spending patterns. But this time, Bernanke & Co are merely pushing on a proverbial string. The Fed can extend credit - but they can't force the consumer to take it!

They can't get the baby boomers to take on more debt because of where they are in the spending cycle. It's a time to save, not spend, in their lives. Want a mortgage at record low rates? No thanks - we're already choking on debt! And we hope to retire someday.

Hence, the Keynsian solution that "worked" (quotes for you Austrian econ fans) so well during the 20th century is shooting blanks here in our 2008-2010 and counting Depression. Hmmmm, this is starting to sounds like another advanced economy that's been stuck in the mud for a couple of decades now...

Japan's Spending Wave Peaked in Tandem With Its Bubble

Dent's team accurately forecasted the current soft depression in Japan in the late 1980s, at a time when the world was wildly bullish on Japan's future. The secret was, again, the spending wave - Japan's baby boom reached peak spending in 1990, at it's been downhill ever since for Japanese stocks and real estate.

NIKKEI 25 Year Price Chart 1

Since 1990, the Japanese economy has been fueled by government stimulus, and only government stimulus. Like a drug addict, as soon as the high of government spending wears off, the economy again slumps into recession. The same appears to be happening here in the US, as our initial stimulus begins to wear off, and we don't have much to show for it - except for a lot more sovereign debt, of course.

So Will It Be Inflation or Deflation?

Dent cites the massive amount of private debt (estimated to be $50-100 trillion or higher) as a large pool of credit that is going to have a significant chunk written down (his debt deflation scenario is similar to Robert Prechter's in this regard, though less extreme).

As this massive amount of bad debt floats away to "money heaven", the forces of deflation will overwhelm any amount of potential government stimulus, Dent believes. Also, with the US citizenry already quite pissed that the last stimulus didn't do much of anything, the Federal government's hands may be increasingly tied by voters calling for austerity measures (or at least, more responsible government spending).

Return of the Bond Vigilantes?

I used to think that if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the president or the pope or as a .400 baseball hitter. But now I would like to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.- James Carville, political advisor to President Clinton

Even if Joe Sixpack doesn't rise up, Dent anticipates a far more powerful force will ultimately check the government's ebullient spending - the bond market. During the last wave down, the bond market benefited as a "flight to safety play". Dent doesn't see that repeating next time - instead, he sees concerns over government debt as being a cue for the "bond vigilantes" to ride back onto American soil and enforce some level of fiscal sanity - likely when the next stimulus package is floated out there.

He cites the speed at which the vigilantes can mobilize and drive up the rates on government debt - like the quick spike in Greek interest rates this spring - as an example of how fast spreads can skyrocket.

Overall, his team projecting a potential 2% rise in 10-year yields - which would push the 10-year yield up from 2.5% to 4.5%. Think the housing market is in trouble now? Imagine a 2% bump in mortgage rates!

Deflation Investing Strategies

"Cash is king" is Dent's mantra today - specifically US dollars.

Why dollars? Because the supply of dollars is going to continue to contract as debt continues to contract - and it will contract at a much faster rate than the Fed can potentially create it.

The US Dollar is not going to crash - it's already crashed, says Dent. A 60% drop since 1985 is a huge move in the currency markets. Now, the deflationary period ahead will serve its purpose of restoring the value of the dollar, which is still the unchallenged world reserve currency.

He also likes bonds, but not yet. He thinks the time to buy will be if and when the bond vigilantes ride into town and bring yields up to 4.5% or so. That would be a compelling buy, that could yield 5-6% per year overall, when factoring in price appreciation. Dent forecasts that yields would then slump slowly for a long period of time - a la Japan.

Making Sense of Today's Schizophrenic Markets

While Dent's demographic forecasting models have been extremely accurate in forecasting long term economic trends, he readily admits that the immediate short term is often much more difficult to predict. And that's never been more true than it is now, as many experts are scrambling for a clue. This economic and investing environment is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event.

How to Manage Your Life During Deflation

In your personal life, Dent similarly believes that cash flow is king during this deflationary depression. If you run a business, he recommends you cut all unnecessary expenses, and work to maximize your cash flow and efficiency.

Thinking of buying a home? You may want to wait until at least 2012 or 2013, as mortgage rate resets are set to continue through 2011. Given a one-year lag on price declines, and we won't see a housing market bottom until 2012 in the earliest.

In the meantime, your cash will increase in value, possibly quite significantly (see Nikkei chart above!) and you'll be able to get much more house for your buck if you sit tight and wait (also see our Renter's Manifesto for an admittedly biased rent vs. buy rant).

Countries With the Most Favorable Demographics

Out of the world's major countries, Dent likes India's demographics the best. China does not compare as favorably - due to their baby nightmare "one child per family" policy. He thinks China will get old before it gets rich, and that per capita, their wealth will never reach that of the current US.

Looking at emerging markets, Dent loves the promise of Southeast Asia, and Vietnam in particular. He's also intrigued by the Middle East, and sees opportunity there, provided they are able to keep it together somewhat politically (a big IF, for sure!)

Investing abroad will be very important for Americans after the current crash is worked out, he believes, because the cherry days of investing in America are over. While sectors such as healthcare may perform well as the US wheels itself into the nursing home, history has shown that the most compelling investment opportunities are often found in countries that are roaring to up Dent's spending wave curve.

Summing It Up - Big Picture Forecast

Dent expects a major bottom in the stock market sometime around 2012. He thinks that the previous lows will likely be taken out, with the market falling significantly once again (DOW anywhere from 3800-6440). If that happens, you obviously don't want to be in stocks.

Between now and then, he's allowing for another potential rally that could set new highs in the market, and carry all the way into next year. That's not required, though, as he thinks it's possible the stock market rolls over sooner as people come to the realization that the economy is not actually improving.

Bottom line is that he sees very little upside to stocks at this juncture, and a lot of potential downside.

Following the epic 2012 bottom, Dent says we could see a bear market rally as long as 5 years, eventually giving way to another gentle slump that would take us up to the next spending wave uptick in 2022.

Dent, like David Rosenberg, believes that ultimately austerity measures will win-out in America. It will be a painful 10+ years, but this is what the "winter" season is for, as Dent refers to it - to clean out the excesses of bubbles past, and prepare for "spring", a new season of growth.

It's not the end of the world - you can come out of this financially fine, and even ahead of the curve, if you are smart about navigating these deflationary waters.

More From Harry Dent

I'd highly encourage you to visit for some great free resources from Harry Dent and his team. He also has a free newsletter available that breaks down the debt crisis. Please click through to to check out his latest stuff (and to thank him for giving us the interview!)

You can also pick up a copy of his latest book, The Great Depression Ahead, online or at your local bookstore.

Disclosure: Long UUP, Short the Euro (via futures markets), Short the S&P (via SDS and futures)

47 posted on 01/22/2012 6:34:14 PM PST by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas; wintertime

Having been involved in both environments I have known good teachers in the public schools and foolish to bad teachers in a private, Christian school environment. My real concern is that we not turn th Gospel into an ideology by which we judge some people good and some evil. We are called to be in the world. Sometimes that does require that we have sinners, fools, liberals and Democrats as friends.

48 posted on 01/22/2012 6:34:16 PM PST by newheart (When does policy become treason?)
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Mark Steyn’s demographics thesis is being proven right by current events

What is Mark’s thesis? It is that the West is undergoing a demographics collapse brought on by its welfare state politics that it has pursued now for over a hundred years. The problem is that the welfare state that everybody in the West lives in, particularly in Western Europe, is dependent on demographic growth to fund all the state’s dependents. This is a vicious cycle. The final stage of the welfare state is when the dearth of new citizens makes the benefits the state has promised its aging citizens unsupportable. And so the welfare state collapses.

This stage is firmly under way in Europe. Check out the current crisis in Greece, which according to this article, is spreading to other weak members of the Eurozone, like Portugal, Spain and Italy. Like dominos, they are all beginning to fall. And the reason why countries like Greece are going first is because they have the lowest birth rate coupled with the most generous benefits. Look for more stories like this in the near future about other European countries.

An easy way around this problem is to import cheap labour from another country, one with a higher birth rate. Unfortunately, when you rely on this solution too much (especially from one source region), you create all kinds of other societal problems, for instance, like the illegal immigrant situation in the US. This issue is currently bubbling to the surface in Arizona where a new law against illegal aliens was just signed into law by the (now popular) governor. This crisis is not going anywhere as Texas ponders a similar measure.

We are currently in the early stages of the unravelling of the postwar consensus. Except for the collapse of the Soviet Union, the society that developed in the 1950’s after the carnage of World War II is being unravelled by its internal contradictions. Look for more of the same as the welfare state after welfare state goes bust. If things go well, the West will be stronger than ever as it mends its family tradition and relearns self-reliance. If the West is too enfeebled to survive, thanks in no small measure to the challengeg posed by the unassimilatable and overtly anti-west Muslim minority in Western Europe, the result will be a victory for barbarism and a giant step backwards for civilization.

49 posted on 01/22/2012 6:38:14 PM PST by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: newheart
Having been involved in both environments I have known good teachers in the public schools and foolish to bad teachers in a private, Christian school environment. My real concern is that we not turn th Gospel into an ideology by which we judge some people good and some evil. We are called to be in the world. Sometimes that does require that we have sinners, fools, liberals and Democrats as friends.

Those are all valid points. But wintertime also makes a strong case. The government schools are necessarily destructive, because they are godless. Teaching at a government school makes one a proximate cause of godless schooling. In order to awaken teachers to this fact, one may make a legitimate, prudential decision to un-friend them.

50 posted on 01/22/2012 6:45:03 PM PST by St_Thomas_Aquinas
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The next challenge: not too many people, but too few?


By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent

LONDON | Mon Oct 24, 2011 7:21am EDT

LONDON (Reuters) -- If the world follows the demographic habits of Europe -- and that's a big if -- by the year 2200 it could be home to a population of less than half its current level, living in housing built for almost three times that number.

With the global population estimated to pass 7 billion on October 31, many of policymakers' short-term worries revolve around providing resources for the additional 2-3 billion people expected to be born in the next half-century.

Numbers of this magnitude inevitably conjure up terrifying visions of shortage and chaos. But in fact improvements in food production and technology have allowed population growth to continue unimpeded and relatively smoothly, and the real potential nightmare is of a rapidly aging population, combined with collapsing birthrates in both rich and poor states.

Many demographers and long-term planners say the challenge for the next century will be less dealing with growing numbers of people and more managing the much larger population of aged and perhaps dependent people while finding new strategies to deliver prosperity, jobs and essential services.

The trend has already contributed to the current global financial crisis by driving up health and social care bills and perhaps also undermining productivity. But while politicians tie themselves in knots over short-term worries, experts say there is not enough discussion of longer-term demographic challenges.

"It's not a world that's going to look anything like any world or population that has existed before," says Jack Goldstone, professor of public policy and a leading demographics expert at Washington's George Mason University.

"We thought that overpopulation was going to force humanity to expand outward to the stars. That doesn't look like the problem at all. And the policy framework isn't set up at all to handle these longer-term issues."

With many of the world's poorer countries still seeing strong growth, the global fertility rate -- the number of children born per couple -- remains around 2.5, more than enough to replace every person currently alive.

But in richer countries, the rate has already nosedived. Russia, Singapore and several other developed countries have introduced policies to boost fertility but with mixed success.

Exact predictions vary, but most projections suggest the global population will peak at around 9 billion around 2070 and then start to fall, perhaps very fast.

51 posted on 01/22/2012 6:45:50 PM PST by Brian Kopp DPM
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Why Islam is in as much trouble as the West

Denyse O’Leary

Monday, 24 October 2011

David P. Goldman, who blogs at the Asia Times as “Spengler,” has written an insightful book challenging the truisms of the commentariat on both the rise of Islam and the decline of the West: How Civilizations Die: (and why Islam is dying too)

History buffs will recognize that the pen name Spengler honours Oswald Spengler (1880-1936), author of Decline of the West. Goldman’s initial observations about the decline are most helpful but not unprecedented. From a much less religion-friendly perspective, American demographer Phillip Longman has been saying the same thing, and so has Canadian demographer David Foot.

It is what Goldman says about Islam that will surprise many readers: Islam is dying too because the Muslim birth rate - according to reliable statistics - has crashed. How badly?

Across the entire Muslim world, university-educated Muslim women bear children at the same rate as their infecund European counterparts.

Whatever they believe about Islam, they have one or two children, but rarely three or four. Not enough to deliver their societies from demographic collapse, given the size of the families they came from. For example,

The average young Tunisian woman - like her Iranian or Turkish counterpart - grew up in a family of seven children, but will bear only one or two herself.

Education for women doesn’t in itself cause birth dearth, but abandonment of the land does. Muslims are not immune from the urbanization that turns children who were once a source of wealth into a major cost centre. Increasing numbers of people, there as here, hope that others will undertake the trouble.

But surely some Muslims have large families? Those who do live in areas that are considered backward, and they cannot indefinitely prop up an unsustainably low urban birth rate. But because demographic decline happened so quickly in Muslim societies, the Western problem of too few young people supporting too many seniors will be much more severe, especially in countries with few natural resources, like Turkey.

One might ask, why can’t Islamism reverse the decline by demanding that urban women do their duty? A look at Iran, Goldman says, reveals a related crisis of effective faith. For example, according to a suppressed report, more than 90 percent of Tehran prostitutes are said to have passed the university entrance exam, and 30 percent of them are studying. Their career choice is, they say, voluntary. Drug abuse among students is rampant, fuelled by cheap opium from neighbouring Afghanistan. The Islamist could exemplarily punish a few prostitutes or drug addicts - but thousands?

More generally, when modernization comes quickly, without warning, and from elsewhere, a declining birth rate can be accompanied by worse, not better, conditions for modern women. In Turkey, for example, only 22 percent of women sought employment outside the home in 2009, down from 34 percent in 1988 - despite their intervening fertility crash. About this, Goldman observes, “If we are surprised by Muslim demographics, it is because we have not listened carefully enough to what Muslims themselves have been trying to tell us.” Islamism is more of a last stand for many than a resurgent force, hence the glamour of suicide. If all this is correct, demographic collapse will increase rather than decrease the risk of terrorism, because “there is no such thing as rational self-interest for people who believe they have nothing to lose.”

Those inclined to dismiss Goldman’s contrarian analysis might point out that if there are few young people for the Islamist to recruit, there will be few suicide terrorists. Not necessarily; a culture’s suicidal resistance often increases at precisely the point where a huge conflict is irretrievably lost. This was true of the South in the closing days of the Civil War, and of Germany and Japan in World War II, for example. Many won’t be trying to win, only to inflict damage on the victor.

Compounding the problem is that Islam is - at present - much less well-adapted to political systems that produce stability in a modern environment. The rule of life among Islamists is authoritarianism in every facet of life. Authoritarianism results in either accepted oppression or revolt, but not the consensual stability that a modern society needs. And imams provide little guidance as to how to get there, because many see the very behaviours that hamper progress as ordained by Allah. For these reasons, Goldman thinks, the threat to the West from Islamism is generally overrated; internal demographic collapse is a much more serious threat. No civilization has ever survived a situation in which a small number of young adults must support a large number of retirees as well as raise children to support them.

Interestingly, he think that the United States has a much better chance of surviving the collapse than Europe or the Muslim world, for reasons we will explore in Part II next week.

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

52 posted on 01/22/2012 6:48:01 PM PST by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: Bellflower

I defintely agree. We have so lost track of that. The flock has strayed so far that it became a pack of wolves.

53 posted on 01/22/2012 6:49:07 PM PST by chris37 (Heartless.)
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Baby Bust: The Demographics of Global Depression
by Spengler on December 08, 2008

small baby bust

Why will this recession be different, and likely much worse, than all the other recessions of the past?

Imagine a Paleolithic village which has no children. When all the adults grow too old to work, everyone dies. Now imagine a country with a well-funded national pension system, also without children. Everyone retires on the same day, and the pension fund instantly goes bankrupt.

These hypotheticals overstate the predicament of the industrial nations, who have too few children and too few old people, but it does not overstate it by much. The present economic crisis will not respond to the usual treatment because it arises from a deeper cause, namely the hollowing out of the population of the West. This is not a business cycle, but the grim harvest of a demographic winter.

Financial markets are only a veil for the cycle of human life. Young families borrow, older people lend to them, and retirees spend their savings. Whether the young people of the tribe share their food with the old folks, or retirees earn interest from mortgage-backed bonds issued to finance homes for young families, the result is the same. What makes this crisis intractable is not the financial system, but the social relationships that underlie it.

Taken as a whole, the developed world resembles a village without children. It’s slightly more complicated, of course. The industrial world is aging too fast. There are too many people – over 400 million – in their peak savings years, that is 40 to 64, and the number is growing. And there are too few young earners in the 19-to-40 bracket, and their number is shrinking. There aren’t enough young people in the village to support the old ones.

Figure 1: Population of Developed Countries by Age Bracket

Source: United Nations Population Prospects, Median Variant

That’s the whole developed world. Contrast this picture to a healthier profile, that of the United States of America (Figure 2). Note that there are more young workers (borrowers of savings) than older workers (savers), in contrast to the developed world as a whole. The situation is better than that of the overall developed world, skewed toward the aged by Japan and Europe, but still is headed in the wrong direction, with the number of savers (older workers) growing much faster than the number of prospective borrowers (younger workers).

Figure 2: Population of the United States of America by Age Bracket

Source: United Nations

There are only two countries in the industrial world with a positive rate of population increase, the United States and Israel. That is probably because they are the two developed countries with the highest proportion of people of faith, as I argued before.

Countries aren’t Paleolithic villages, to be sure. If savers in Japan can’t find enough young people to lend to, they can lend to the young people of other countries. The rest of the world lent the US up to $1 trillion a year in 2007. The rest of the world thrust its savings upon the United States, leading to cheaper lending rates and a bubble in home prices. Americans in turn came to expect that appreciation of capital assets made savings unnecessary. America’s savings rate collapsed as the current account deficit (or capital account surplus) expanded.

Demographics isn’t quite destiny. By calling attention to underlying causes, I do not mean to excuse the cupidity and fraud that attended the sale of $2 trillion of bonds backed by sub-prime mortgages with fanciful credit ratings, and similar incompetence. The fact that there wasn’t enough wheat to go around does not excuse the baker for surreptitiously putting sawdust in the bread. But in this case there weren’t enough returns to satisfy all prospective investors, because there weren’t enough young people to earn those returns. The shrinking contingent of young people of our metaphorical Paleolithic village came back from the harvest without enough grain to feed the old people, so they added sawdust. The effects of the sawdust show up some time later in the form of malnutrition, at which point the tribe engages a shaman (a financial expert, that is), to shake rattles and cast bones. That makes everyone feel a bit better, for a short while.

America has roughly 120 million adults in the 19-to-44 age bracket, that is, people in their prime borrowing years. That is not a large number against the 420 million prospective savers in the aging developed world as a whole. There simply aren’t enough young Americans to absorb the savings of the rest of the world. In fact, there aren’t enough young Americans to absorb the savings that America should generate internally. American demographics are healthier than those of the other developed countries, but not by a reassuring margin.

Here is the demographic dilemma underlying America’s financial problems:

1) Americans counted on capital gains in homes and to a lesser extent in equities to fund the largest wave of retirements in American history, and these gains have vanished. Many Americans will thus not be able to retire.

2) Americans need to rebuild their finances, that is, to save, just when their incomes are falling and unemployment is rising.

3) Home prices are not likely to recover in the foreseeable future because demographics are against them. Empty nesters are increasing as a proportion of the population, which is why one academic study forecasts a 40% oversupply of large-lot single family homes by 2025.

If Americans save rather than spend, consumption and output will fall further, according to the conventional economic wisdom. That is why both the Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration offer “fiscal stimulus,” that is, throwing money out of helicopters to encourage consumer spending. It isn’t going to work.

On Dec. 5, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the sharpest fall in employment since 1974. In fact, the three-month average of employment change is the worst on record. What Americans have discovered is that an economy based on opening boxes from China and selling the contents at Wal-Mart, and selling homes back and forth, is highly vulnerable. America does not need as many people to sell homes or to open Chinese boxes, and businesses are laying such people off. Service jobs are vanishing just at the point that tens of millions of prospective retirees will be looking for just the sort of jobs that older people seek when they cannot fund their retirement – selling houses, or manning a department-store counter. Wages will fall as older workers seek employment of any kind rather than retire. This effect will be far greater than the impact of immigration on American wages.

American households will cut their consumption further, voluntarily, or because financial institutions cut their credit-card limits. Falling mortgage rates may slow the decline somewhat, but not stop it. Service employment will fall further, particularly as state and local governments find that the collapsing real-estate tax rolls do not justify the generous staffing of past year, and that will lead to further consumption cuts. Businesses will not borrow when investment-grade companies pay 9% for long-term money and speculative-grade companies pay 20%—and that is a real interest rate, for no-one can raise prices in this environment.

Meanwhile the U.S. Treasury will borrow at a $1 trillion annual rate during the fourth quarter of 2008, and at a considerably higher rate next year, depending on how much the new Administration chooses to spend. With $8.5 trillion of federal support already in place through loans, investments, securities purchases and guarantees, the contingent liabilities of the Federal government are enormous, and no doubt will grow further. Treasury borrowing will vacuum up the world’s diminishing fund of available capital keep economic activity depressed.

America’s economy may remain depressed for years. There aren’t enough young people in the developed world—the consequence of the collapse of religious faith, in my view. In the example of the aging village, things don’t get better, ever, at all, unless more young people can be found. John Maynard Keynes thought that the “animal spirits” of entrepreneurs were the source of economic growth. Even animals, though, require the presence of prospective prey, and the necessary (if not sufficient) condition for the revival of animal spirits is the presence of sufficient young people.

The only major source of young people is the Third World. Some years ago Cardinal Baffi of Bologna suggested that Europe seek Catholic immigrants from Latin America. In a small way, something like this is happening. Half the working population of Ecuador has left the country, mostly for Spain. From the American vantage point, it may seem odd for the Europeans to wish themselves inundated by Latin American immigrants, but the alternative for Europe is to get immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. All told, Latin American Catholics are a better fit. Most of Europe has reached a demographic point of no return where nothing but immigration will avail it.

The origin of the crisis is demographic, and its solution is demographic. To break the vicious circle, America needs to find productive young people to whom to lend. There are two ways this might be accomplished: immigration or exports. East Asia has almost 500 million people in the 19-to-40-year-old bracket, half again as many as the entire industrial world. The prospect of raising the productivity of Chinese, Indians, and other Asians opens up an entirely different horizon for the American economy. Since the Asian financial crisis of 1997, Asians have invested their savings in the United States. In theory, the opportunities for investment in Asia are limitless, but political trust, capital markets, regulatory institutions, and other preconditions for such investment have been inadequate.

The arithmetic shows that the demographic imbalances cannot be addressed within the confines of one country’s economic policy. How and whether the capital of aging Americans (and citizens of other industrial countries) will engage the labor of young Asians is difficult to envisage. If America fails to do so, its economic misery will persist for a very long time. America will have to engage China, India, and other Asian countries in a very different way than in the past and understand its economic policy in a far more global fashion than ever before.

Spengler is the pen name of an essayist for the Asia Times Online. His archive can be found here.

54 posted on 01/22/2012 6:49:07 PM PST by Brian Kopp DPM
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The Case for Economic Depression: Demographic trends portend decade-long depression Economics / Great Depression II

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 12:57:00 AM

By: Moses_Kim

If I were a forecaster of economic trends and had access to only one piece of data, it would probably be demographics. The forecasting power of demographic trends is underappreciated even though cycles of booms and busts have historically mirrored the age characteristics of the population.

It's no secret that different age groups have different spending patterns. Younger people are a drag on economic growth since they consume a great deal but don't produce. In other words, they exacerbate inflation since they increase demand and reduce supply for goods. On the other hand, middle aged people are high earners, producers, and spenders. They tend to moderate inflation and prop up asset prices. Peak spending occurs on average at age 48. Spending patterns resemble a bell curve, so beyond this age, spending tapers as people save for retirement.

Now, let's extrapolate these spending characteristics on to the most important generation in America: the Baby Boomers (1946-1960). The stagflationary period of the 1970's, characterized by low productivity and high inflation, coincided with the youth of baby boomers, which makes sense considering the producing and spending characteristics of the young. The Baby Boomers entered their mid 40's of peak spending in the early 90's up until 2007. It's no surprise then that a boom in America occurred in this time frame.

The following chart courtesy of Harry Dent demonstrates the powerful relationship between population and the stock market. As noted earlier, the 48-year-old demographic earns and consumes the most, and therefore drives economic growth. Notice how for this reason the early 90's spike in the Dow (in black) closely tracks births from 48 years prior - when the baby boomers were first born.

Demographic trends in the U.S. moving forward portend a decade-long depression. In a country highly dependent on consumption, there just aren't enough high-earning consumers to drive growth. This is because the 15 years following the baby boom generation saw births decrease by about 25%. These are the people who are now entering their peak earnings and spending years who must replace the productivity of boomers now entering retirement.

All is not lost as there are a couple of potential factors that could mitigate these trends. One is increased immigration to our country. However, early indications suggest that there will be growing protectionism in this area, much like the Great Depression when immigration came to a halt. For example, banks that received TARP funds are contrained by law in terms of the foreigners they can hire. These are often highly educated and productive foreign workers who pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits.

The other potential mitigating factor is technological progress. Unfortunately, technological advances are cyclical and largley driven by demographics as well. Generally young people drive technological innovation. The same baby boomers who discovered nascent technologies in the 70's and 80's are now more focused on retirement. Most of the cutting-edge technologies they created, such as the internet, have already achieved maturity- meaning they have reached over 90% of households. Therefore, technology will likely not provide the productivity boost it did in the 80's and 90's.

The government extended promises when demographics were favorable, such as Medicare and Social Security, that they will not be able to keep. Higher taxes, whether explicit or implicit (through inflation), that result from the demographic storm will further dampen economic growth. According to former Treasury Department economist Bruce Bartlett, tax rates will have to increase 81% right now to compensate for our shortfall in promised benefits. Because of quickly collapsing tax receipts and massive unfunded liabilities, taxes are about to increase significantly.

We have been able to delay the day of reckoning because demographic trends were strong for so long. However, the tide has already started to reverse, and our country is bound to experience significant economic strife in the future. The very nature of spending and productivity patterns with age suggests a significant retrenchment in output is coming, which is the very definition of a Depression. While demographics are significant in catching long-term trends, an economy can operate only with a functioning currency. Part 4 of my series will explore the destruction of the dollar and its potential effects on economic growth.

55 posted on 01/22/2012 6:53:23 PM PST by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: wagglebee

Spooky stuff - thanks for the ping.

56 posted on 01/22/2012 6:54:42 PM PST by GOPJ (GAS WAS $1.85 per gallon on the day Obama was Inaugurated! - - freeper Gaffer)
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To: John Valentine

Other side of the same coin. Muslims have a very high replacement rate, while the rest of the world is suffering population collapse. They’ll win on straight population count.

57 posted on 01/22/2012 6:57:33 PM PST by ctdonath2 ($1 meals:
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To: newheart
Having been involved in both environments I have known good teachers in the public schools and foolish to bad teachers in a private, Christian school environment. My real concern is that we not turn th Gospel into an ideology by which we judge some people good and some evil. We are called to be in the world. Sometimes that does require that we have sinners, fools, liberals and Democrats as friends.

So?.....Do you think Christians should work in abortion centers, collect the money, order supplies, sterilize the instruments, and hand assist the abortionist? Just wondering.

I bet some very sweet, but misguided people work in abortion centers who are in desperate need of hearing the Gospel.

Abortion centers kill little bodies. Children in godless government schools risk losing their eternal souls. The Barna Foundation stats for the faith of children surviving intact is grim.

58 posted on 01/22/2012 7:54:30 PM PST by wintertime (I am a Constitutional Restorationist!!! Yes!)
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To: Dr. Brian Kopp

Interesting article.

The world is getting grayer. Or at least the developed world. Looking at history, this is where the barbarians invade. When Rome fell in the West, it did so because Romans stopped making more Romans. They had to import workers and soldiers from beyond her borders to do the jobs that Romans wouldn’t do. You ended up with a large portion of the military being non Roman, with non Roman ideas of power and loyalty.

The US will become more and more Hispanic. But Europe is becoming islamic. Our children will face a time where St Peter’s and Augsburg are totally filled with muslims.

59 posted on 01/22/2012 7:54:59 PM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Dr. Brian Kopp

God choice.

60 posted on 01/22/2012 7:57:05 PM PST by wintertime (I am a Constitutional Restorationist!!! Yes!)
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