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Population Increase And Its Implications In The 21St Century


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To the extent I put that iPhone in my daughter's hands, I'm actually proud to say I helped make that happen in a very direct way. The reason I say that I'm proud of it is that it's very directly affected not so much her leisure time but her ability to do her job.

 

At 22, she's in charge of marketing programs for a mid-size non-profit. She works for just slightly over minimum wage (as I said, it's a non-profit) and she's responsible for huge fund-raising events that bring in millions of dollars. She works her butt off, most of the time having to figure out on her own what needs to be done because like many organizations today, they've not spent the money on keeping talent and have generally cut the middle-management layer that's responsible for institutional memory (both of those are among the *worst* inventions of my generation).

 

 

Buffy

Ah, well, you have a daughter the same age as one of my stepdaughters, and that explains a lot, actually.  I was speaking with a neighbor today, and we both noticed that the young women in the working world today seem much more competent, and have a much better work ethic, than the young men we are encountering.  I don't know if that is just a local thing.

 

And there is still a huge problem with filling jobs that require any physical labor.  All of the workers in our local public works, water and sewer departments are a bunch of middle aged and older workers.  There has been a position open with the water department that has gone unfilled for almost 2 years!  These current workers are getting closer and closer to retirement.  What will happen when they do retire?

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I think everyone's experience is limited to what they see, and the main advice I'd give is that every generation is extremely disappointed with the one that succeeds them going back to time immemorial

Well, the technology and the rapid pace of new products certainly gives rise to the thoughtlessness of which Doctordick wrote.  Nobody expects anything to last.    Something I have noticed about the y

Ah, well, you have a daughter the same age as one of my stepdaughters, and that explains a lot, actually.  I was speaking with a neighbor today, and we both noticed that the young women in the working

Ah, well, you have a daughter the same age as one of my stepdaughters, and that explains a lot, actually.  I was speaking with a neighbor today, and we both noticed that the young women in the working world today seem much more competent, and have a much better work ethic, than the young men we are encountering.  I don't know if that is just a local thing.

I don't know, she's always had lots of guy friends and boyfriends that I've had to observe. Obviously, there's a wide distribution as there always is, so you're going to see all kinds out there.

 

I just get a little unsettled about the "Millennials are worthless," because it's a crass generalization that I don't think is true.

 

As those of you who've known me for a while know though, in these cases I always site Marnie's Law: "Crass generalizations may be justified by admitting at least ten exceptions."

 

And there is still a huge problem with filling jobs that require any physical labor.  All of the workers in our local public works, water and sewer departments are a bunch of middle aged and older workers.  There has been a position open with the water department that has gone unfilled for almost 2 years!  These current workers are getting closer and closer to retirement.  What will happen when they do retire?

This, I always maintain is really a function of the fact that wages have not kept pace either with inflation or productivity:

 

 

And a different version tied to minimum wage:

 

buffie-baker-2015-07-21.png

 

The first graph shows that not even college grads have kept up.

 

And as someone who has hired literally hundreds of people in my career and have been involved in setting compensation in companies both large and small, those entry level jobs have not kept up with inflation. That earlier post where people are "demanding $25/hr," it should be noted that first, these are not unskilled labor jobs, they require a lot of mental ability even if they don't have experience, and secondly while 20 years ago the starting wage may have been $12/hour, $25 is the same amount, inflation adjusted.

 

I know HR VPs who are happy to die on the hill of "we pay the industry average" and then turn around and complain that they can find no "qualified people." I know from experience that you can find people if you pay enough, but you have to talk the shareholders into letting them have it to make their investment grow in value. There is a complete disconnect on this subject in corporations today and I know major companies that are going down the tubes because they think they must transfer all the money to the shareholders. That's really what's behind those graphs.

 

The same is true though of small companies even independent contractor types, who haven't done the inflation math and unwisely are "aghast" at the demands of the young'uns, who are demanding that money simply because they have to pay their rent, which is going through the roof (mostly because we NIMBY oldsters have demanded limited growth!).

 

I'm not so sure that the issue is "physical labor" and people's unwillingness to do it, I think a lot of it is that those wages are the most depressed, and that a lot of that has to do with rampant hiring of illegal aliens who are happy to take under-the-table low wages, and employers have paid no penalty for doing this. Now that government is cracking down on it though, they've started to whine that "no one wants to do this work," when what they're not recognizing is that they only pay enough for illegals who are scared to complain about low wages for fear of being deported and are willing to live in abject poverty because it's better than back in Oaxaca.

 

We really need an adjustment of income distribution in America, and it's not from the Middle Class to the Poor, it's from the filthy rich--and you have no idea how rich these people are until you've lived among them--to the lower, middle and even upper middle classes.

 

Anyone making less than about $250,000 has been screwed over the last 30 years, and they all feel cheated, although it gets worse the lower you go. But they're right.

 

 

Pull a thread here and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world, :phones:

Buffy 

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I'm not so sure that the issue is "physical labor" and people's unwillingness to do it, I think a lot of it is that those wages are the most depressed, and that a lot of that has to do with rampant hiring of illegal aliens who are happy to take under-the-table low wages, and employers have paid no penalty for doing this. Now that government is cracking down on it though, they've started to whine that "no one wants to do this work," when what they're not recognizing is that they only pay enough for illegals who are scared to complain about low wages for fear of being deported and are willing to live in abject poverty because it's better than back in Oaxaca.

 

We really need an adjustment of income distribution in America, and it's not from the Middle Class to the Poor, it's from the filthy rich--and you have no idea how rich these people are until you've lived among them--to the lower, middle and even upper middle classes.

 

Anyone making less than about $250,000 has been screwed over the last 30 years, and they all feel cheated, although it gets worse the lower you go. But they're right.

 

 

Pull a thread here and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world, :phones:

Buffy 

I know a few area farmers who have resorted to hiring migrant workers and legal Mexican workers, and they are not cheap, at least not here, and they are incredible workers.

 

As for the $250,000 income being the "screwed" threshold, do you realize that for me to make that kind of money, the milk price would have to more than double, just to pay my wages?  Then again, all the workers in the processing plants and the truck drivers would also need to be paid a lot more, so the milk prices would have to rise accordingly to pay them.  Additionally, everyone we do business with would also need to be paid more, and our supplies would cost more, so being lazy and not wanting to do all that math right now, I would guess you would need to see the price of milk go up by at least a factor of 5, and I think I'm probably being conservative!

 

How about we just have the Federal Reserve stop printing money so that it will actually become worth something?  Doesn't the law of supply and demand also apply to currency?

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I know a few area farmers who have resorted to hiring migrant workers and legal Mexican workers, and they are not cheap, at least not here, and they are incredible workers.

This is all very true. There are a few things at work here:

  • Mexican migrants have learned how to work the system and are getting legal status. They know when they do, they can charge more, because the laws on employers are slowly starting to be enforced.
  • Because of those costs and continued lax enforcement on employers in most places, we've still got lots of illegal workers. While ICE is nice, the IRS is surer in solving this problem. We need to go after the employers.
  • In places like California where the laws have at least forced use of illegals to cover their costs to society, but more often have gotten them to move to legal status (thank you Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers), a lot of this shift has already happened. Where it's happened suddenly, like recently in Georgia, it's caused huge disruptions in supply.
  • Corporate farms and distribution channels are squeezing the life out of the traditional farm family, and it takes capital to get through this transition. The banks/stock market would rather loan to a corporation, so this trend away from family farming seems inexorable.

Like a lot of things, this is a case of, you can pay me now, or you can pay me later. We need immigration reform and national laws that recognize that we *do* benefit from migrant labor and we shouldn't enrich the corporate farms/distributors at the expense of everyone else.

 

 

As for the $250,000 income being the "screwed" threshold, do you realize that for me to make that kind of money, the milk price would have to more than double, just to pay my wages?  Then again, all the workers in the processing plants and the truck drivers would also need to be paid a lot more, so the milk prices would have to rise accordingly to pay them.  Additionally, everyone we do business with would also need to be paid more, and our supplies would cost more, so being lazy and not wanting to do all that math right now, I would guess you would need to see the price of milk go up by at least a factor of 5, and I think I'm probably being conservative!

 

<tongue_not_so_firmly_in_cheek>

     Do you have any idea how much it costs to keep 2 kids in private school, keep up the lease on the Mercedes, and pay for the country club membership these days?!?

</tongue_not_so_firmly_in_cheek>

 

I kid you not, I am surrounded by people who are just as indignant about the state of affairs as any laid off/under employed coal miner or manufacturing worker. Mostly they complain about their taxes, rather than the wholesale price of milk, but the common thread is that they're convinced that its someone other than the top 0.1% that's taking all their money.

 

No, the issue is not that prices of everything needs to adjust, and it's definitely true that we can't instantly create an economy where everyone makes an inflation-adjusted equivalent of $250k in the short term.

 

As I've said many times before here, most people have no idea how much richer the people at the top have gotten in just the last 30 years. It is absolutely mind-numbing. And *that's* where the money has gone. That's why I keep reproducing those graphs: they're not only an explanation of the problem, they're a pointer to what we have to do.

 

During this time, one of the top conservative talking points has become "liberals just want to redistribute money so (undeserving) people get it" while we've been experiencing a redistribution of income and wealth to the top that puts the Gilded Age to shame.

 

My main point here is really that: You are a long way from that $250k income, but that level really is a class that's getting--relatively, relatively--ripped off by their superiors as much as those down the scale, and as soon as all of these "lessers" (as Mitt Romney put it) get together and fight it, things will improve.

 

Not quickly, you and I are basically screwed and have to hope our kids will help us out in our old age, but eventually....

 

How about we just have the Federal Reserve stop printing money so that it will actually become worth something?  Doesn't the law of supply and demand also apply to currency?

 

You're right that we could give everyone $250k by printing gobs of money, but that's just creating inflation. And the *biggest* impact of inflation is that it deflates the value of *assets* and as virtually all the assets are owned by the moneyed class at the top, they have no incentive to push inflation. And let me tell you, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve represent the moneyed class more than they represent the rest of us, so the idea that the Fed is just printing money willy nilly is, well, just silly. The money supply *does* obey the laws of supply and demand, and if the Fed doesn't keep a lid on it it can go nuts, and calls to eliminate the Fed are frankly just nuts too. While they do protect the rich in this way, it is an example of the "trickle-down" effects of a stable and strong dollar improving everyone's lives.

 

And because supply-and-demand does indeed affect currencies--and so fast that computerized arbitrage of currency prices is the only way to make money at it--our stable dollar is pretty much conclusive proof that there is no unrestrained printing of money going on.

 

Be careful: there's an awful lot of garbage about "fiat money" running around. This is a complex topic, and there's not enough space in a single post to swat down the lies. The growth in the money supply, and a low stable rate of inflation is a natural outgrowth of the growth in the economy. This should make obvious sense: as we produce more through gains in efficiency, new technology and reasonable population growth, there should be more money circulating. In the prior age of currency, backing by gold and silver served this purpose over the long run because new discoveries of gold and silver deposits kept up with the growth of the economy. Economists will tell you though that this tyranny of the precious metal supply stifles economic growth and causes huge economic disturbances when "rushes" occurred. William Jennings Bryan was wrong about a lot of things, but his Cross Of Gold speech was dead-on right.

 

Demands to go back onto the gold standard, or worse, eliminate "fake" government/private debt, which you'll hear from many libertarians, is just outright insane. *That* would be worse than the zombie apocalypse.

 

But it would solve a lot of our problems with income inequality in one swell foop (sic)!

 

Anyone who wants to discuss the Fed and/or Fiat Money further, open another thread in the Economics forum. 

 

 

A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one, :phones:

Buffy

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It may not be our population that does us in, but our throw - away attitude.

 

The one thing no one seems to regard as worth thinking about is, "what size of a population should we see as reasonable?" I am of the opinion that the current population of the earth is so far above "what is reasonable" that intelligent people should see this as a serious issue.

 

Buffy, you brought up the falling population in Japan and China as examples. When I was a graduate student (back in the sixties) I had some dealings with japanese immigrants and it was my distinct impression that the reproduction problem experienced by Japan was a direct consequence of the treatment they gave to females. Marriage in Japan was not a desired destination for japanese females. In fact it was a strong force pushing them to immigrate to the US (which many achieved by marring american soldiers And the chinese problem was their desire for male offspring. In essence, both were a consequence of female disrespect. An issue of strong consequences in the United States also though not one influencing population. There are a lot of decent ways of influencing population growth and, in my mind there are many very reasonable paths. Paths worth following. But if no one has any interest in population levels, none of them will ever occur. 

 

At any rate, I still think the subject is worthy of thought. And I have no intention of setting a number but rather of looking at the issue as central to ultimate survival. 

 

Thanks -- Dick

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Discussing population control is a tree with many roots due to all the sub-issues involved. So much so I think the problem intimidates people into thinking we are helpless to change anything concerning it. The problem looks so enormous to some they just block it out of their head, just as many do with climate change.

 

As I've said in other posts, I work with a lot of new employees which are 20-30yr olds (mostly men) at my place of employment. I have a good relationship with many of them. They come into my office for advice often. Some want to talk about their problems and some want to tell me what their plans and dreams are for the future.

 

I would say 90% of them are not married and emphatically suggest they have no plans to do so in the near future if at all. some of them have girlfriends they live with, some have girlfriends that have their own separate apartments, and some live alone and are looking to find someone at a bar weekly to have fun and possibly sex with and never see them again.

 

When I question them about marriage and having children they jokingly say it will never happen. They say there is no need and neither want the burden, or responsibility of having a baby. I'm not sure if technology has brought this prevalence about, but I see it more and more with the younger guys. As I said the majority of employees I have are male so I can't speak to what a lot of young women feel about this.

 

When I was young it was normal for a male 16-20yrs old to have no interest in marriage or kids, but it seems this thought process to avoid marriage has moved from the 20yr old threshold to at least the 30yr olds, at least in the US.

 

With the existential growth of on online dating services I believe many younger people feel there is time and plenty of opportunities to find a mate when they are good and ready. This frees them up to finish their education, get into a stable yet higher position with their career, and lets face it, some kids don't want to grow up. They would rather continue partying with their buddies and if possible live with mom and dad rent free as long as they can.

 

I highly doubt you would find many people in the age group of 20yr-30yr olds who would like to discuss population control let alone be concerned by it. That may not be the case with this age group in places where resources are strained like parts of China and India, but I don't see it in the US too often.

 

IMHO people seem to care for very large issues, but feel they can't do anything about it. They tend to block it out of their mind especially if the negative outcome from those problems will not affect them and their children alive today. I offer the following problems as evidence.

 

US Social Security Funding Issues.

Climate Control -Global Warming

US National Debt.

and of course

Population Control and Planning.

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The one thing no one seems to regard as worth thinking about is, "what size of a population should we see as reasonable?" I am of the opinion that the current population of the earth is so far above "what is reasonable" that intelligent people should see this as a serious issue.

 

 

Ever heard of the Georgia Guidestones?  http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/georgia-guidestones  The stones say  population would be balanced at 500 million.

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As a matter of fact, I remember when those stones were erected and I was curious about them. He gives no arguments as to why the number should be so high and most of what he said struck me as a religious presentation and not a thought out issue. That was probably one of the issues that started me thinking about what an "optimum" number might be. However I have yet to find anyone who has any interest in the actual issue and the world today seems to me to be heading straight forward to the end of rational control. I am beginning to feel glad that I am old.

 

Have fun -- Dick

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As a matter of fact, I remember when those stones were erected and I was curious about them. He gives no arguments as to why the number should be so high and most of what he said struck me as a religious presentation and not a thought out issue. That was probably one of the issues that started me thinking about what an "optimum" number might be. However I have yet to find anyone who has any interest in the actual issue and the world today seems to me to be heading straight forward to the end of rational control. I am beginning to feel glad that I am old.

 

Have fun -- Dick

Ha!  Almost everyone I talk to who is over the age of 50 years seems to be glad of not being young and starting out!  I'm less than 2 months short of 50 and am feeling the same.

 

I have to say, I have an interest in the "optimum" number, but have no ideas about how to go about determining what that number is.

 

I fear we may be beyond "rational control" no matter how few people we have.  Thoughtless consumption seems to be our way.

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Ha! Well if you follow Genesis, the optimum number is 2, assuming you can get along with the other person, and they don't go eating apples off the forbidden tree of knowledge....but what fun would that be?

 

 

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel, :phones:

Buffy

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Ha! Well if you follow Genesis, the optimum number is 2, assuming you can get along with the other person, and they don't go eating apples off the forbidden tree of knowledge....but what fun would that be?

 

 

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel, :phones:

Buffy

Therein lies the root of Doctordick's  problem of people not wanting to discuss the topic.  It often boils down to religion, and that people are not good at emotional detachment.

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It may not be our population that does us in, but our throw - away attitude.

 

I would agree with you here; however, I would disagree with seeing that as a fixable problem. It should be clear to you if you read history at all that mankind has made many errors with regard to the consequences of their beliefs. It is my belief that they will make many more errors in the future because they are not "all knowing". The only thing they could possibly do about the issue would be to reduce their population so as to reduce the consequences of that throw away.

 

Buffy's remark about reducing the population to two simply ignores another serious fault in her analysis. With only two people, survival itself becomes a serious problem. So, my position is that the "optimum number" must lie somewhere between 700 million and two. There are good reasons to raise the number from two and to lower the other boundary from 700 million. The optimum number lies somewhere between those two.

 

In the July/August 2017 issue of Discovery magazine, there is an interesting article on page 11: What Carbon Really Costs which anyone interested in thinking about population levels should read.

 

What I am trying to uncover is the actual range of that "optimum number".  I am not concerned with how that number is actually achieved as mankind has consistently come up with means of controlling that number (wars, murder, starvation etc.). I am sure that less cruel means could be achieved and that is another issue worthy of discussion and there are people researching that issue. But I am seriously bothered by the general refusal to even think about what number should be taken as a goal.

 

My position is that the number should be as small as possible without constraining logical research on what humans can discover. The time that research takes is not really important if the number is small enough to minimize the physical consequences of that research. The number should be large enough to place at least five people in the smallest research effort: an educated authority, at least two people working to extend that authority with knowledge of other sciences and their own research and at least two educated students studying the details of the subject. There are clearly reasons to increase that number and I am willing to listen to any rational thoughts.

 

The other serious issue regarding that optimum number is the number of people required to physically support the entire research effort. Now this number would seriously not be fixed. It could rise when new research realms are discovered and it could fall when production efforts to support the population decline (sometimes discoveries will provide support with a smaller population).

 

In essence, I would love to discuss the relevant issues with some intelligent people.

 

Have fun --- Dick 

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I apologize for my facetious answer of 2, which of course only applied in the (phantasmagorical) pre-apple/serpent days when Adam and Eve were immortal and childless.

 

It's always we women who screw things up.

 

But getting back on topic, I find myself in need of a clarification: correct me if I'm wrong but it has seemed that you are talking about two distinct groups that would have an "optimum number":

  1. A group as small as possible that would be tasked with finding an optimal number for
  2. The group that is the total population to be optimized given Earth's resources.

 

I've found myself having problems in interpreting your posts here because it does seem like you're distinguishing between these two, but it's unclear when you're referring to each one. 

 

Can you clarify that?

 

 

Once you hear the details of victory, it is hard to distinguish it from a defeat, :phones:
Buffy
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What I am trying to uncover is the actual range of that "optimum number". 

I would think that a logical place to start would be to determine what would be the minimum population required from a biological standpoint.  How large does a population have to be to be sustainable and reduce the risk of inbreeding to a negligible level?

 

Another necessary consideration is whether  the goal is to merely preserve humanity, or to maintain our cultural diversity as well.  Then we would need to determine a minimum population for maintaining each culture. Who dares tackle this issue?

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Buffy asked the following question :


 


I find myself in need of a clarification: correct me if I'm wrong but it has seemed that you are talking about two distinct groups that would have an "optimum number":


  1. A group as small as possible that would be tasked with finding an optimal number for
  2. The group that is the total population to be optimized given Earth's resources. 

My interest would be in group #2. Human beings are not very good at comprehending the consequences of their activities and, as such, could very easily be the source of their own destruction. This is an important factor as humans have the ability to analyze the results of their activities far in excess of any other known living entities. Thus it is that I think that they should limit their numbers to as low as is reasonably possible without constraining that ability to analyze the results of their activities. Without the ability to analyze the consequences of their activities, they serve no purpose beyond any other living entity and thus are essentially just as unimportant.


 


To Farming guy I comment that "inbreeding" is an issue to which every species is subject. One of the consequences of human inbreeding is that they have intellectual abilities far beyond any other species. And, as I commented to Buffy, merely preserving humanity and/or our cultural diversity is a rather useless thing to conserve. All I ask to conserve is intellectual investigation of the consequences of our acts.


 


 


As I said earlier, that number could rise when new research realms are discovered and it could fall when production efforts necessary to support the population might decline (sometimes discoveries can provide support with a smaller population).


 


A little thought leads to the fact that our current population far exceeds that necessary and in essence provides the possibility of absolute destruction as the most probable consequence of our existence.


 


So what factors would you like to include in estimating the minimum number required?


 


Have fun -- Dick


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One issue is the level of societal sophistication. Obviously a hunter-gatherer society becomes sustainable--and I assume that sustainability is a key factor for judging success--at a very low population, whereas moving beyond that introduces the need for increasing levels of specialization among the population which can provide a higher standard of living, but requires more people. There are obviously lots of other factors amongst these trade-offs.

 

.

Sustainable development requires human ingenuity. People are the most important resource, :phones:
Buffy
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 as I commented to Buffy, merely preserving humanity and/or our cultural diversity is a rather useless thing to conserve. All I ask to conserve is intellectual investigation of the consequences of our acts.

 

 

 

If I am reading you right, you would give priority to having an optimum number of scientists and engineers to identify and solve problems, and to the minimum number of people needed to support those people by producing food and maintaining/ building the minimum amount of infrastructure.

 

You would first have to determine which fields of study are most important.

 

 

 

To Farming guy I comment that "inbreeding" is an issue to which every species is subject. One of the consequences of human inbreeding is that they have intellectual abilities far beyond any other species. 

Well, maybe, but we still need to keep an eye on the risks of inbreeding.  I have heard it said that "inbreeding " is only used when the outcome is bad.  If the results are good they call it "line breeding"

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