Thursday, 2 April 2015

How the Enriched World is defeating itself

Recent points by a variety of authors such as Rod Dreher (now, remarkably, writing for Time) about the one-generation transformation of Enriched World culture to absolute individualism, along with current findings in the Sydney Morning Herald about Australian emissions rising despite lower electricity demand (last summer was the first in Melbourne with no day over 40˚C since 2003/2004) make one thing clear: the Enriched World is defeating itself economically and will soon hand supremacy over to Australia.

The mass of unnecessary, even useless, regulations in every field of economic activity and total lack of economic opportunities in a land devoid of natural resources or opportunities for economic agriculture (which uses the one natural resource the Enriched World does possess) forces the Enriched World’s relatively small active population to focus on higher and higher technology. This, as I see it, creates an inherently unstable and unsustainable society because:
  1. change in culture is so rapid that families cannot generally be developed on a consistent income
  2. workers’ skills require so much education that it’s not possible for incomes to develop before a woman’s primary reproductive years
  3. women are favoured for much of this high-technology office work because they are cheaper to hire, which further intensifies (2)
Lowest-low fertility is an inevitable consequence of such a situation, especially for the ultra-high-density and extremely mountainous East Asian nations, whose large populations were built up as independent, small-scale, high-yielding rice farmers in hot climates on soils formed from Himalayan glacial alluvia. This combination permitted three rice crops a year at yields of up to 150 bushels per acre for low inputs – resulting in an ample supply of food for six times as many people per square kilometre as possible on the rich soils of Europe and North America, and ten thousand times more than provided by largely vegetarian foraging in the Unenriched World. This was aided by super-rich oceans that had animal plankton densities of up to 1000 grams per cubic metre water in the Yellow Sea – compare with just 40 grams on the Australian coast. Today, this farming system is economically defunct as the industrial skills of East Asians has made their crops unaffordable and precious flat land is converted to cities – leaving the region with no natural resource to base its economy upon. The same is true of Europe and North America, if in a slightly less dramatic manner.

The Enriched World’s extreme secularism is often related to an atmosphere of pessimism and fear – fear of radical climate change, of species extinctions, of job and economic security and of war – that certainly grips the region today. Its people fear they could lose everything they possess – job, property, money, possessions – if government does not protect them completely from economic and potential ecological shocks.

The paradox is that the Enriched World actually and realistically possesses not the slightest worry about these issues:
  1. climate change would in many cases allow expansion of economic activity onto flat land difficult to use in the permafrost zone
  2. the Enriched World has negligibly few endangered species to worry about since its flora and fauna is no more than 10,000 years old from post-glacial advance (even in never-glaciated regions)
    • in contrast, most rare and restricted taxa from Australia, Southern Africa and the humid tropics are over 20,000,000 years old
  3. the absence of natural resources makes war an implausible threat since there is little to fight for, unlike the valuable fuels of the Middle East
(I will state that, as I have argued with English complaints about the weather, that the people of the Enriched World could behave as they do precisely because they know they live in an extremely favourable environment, but I have doubts because the tendencies seem too recent compared to English complaints about their climate).

Enriched World nations, lacking immutable comparative advantage in any good or service – unlike Australia’s flat land and inexhaustible rutile, iron and bauxite reserves – would compete under a free market by each allowing its wages and prices to fall until they could stay consistently competitive. This is unacceptable to working classes “militarised” at an early stage in their formation and prone even before television to heed those calling for radical social change from the limited pre-industrial monarchies, in part because it would make foreign goods very expensive. Yet, in theory, a gold standard might cause Enriched World prices – in conformity with ecological reality of the region’s uniquely rich soils and reliable runoff – to be much cheaper than in the tropics, Australia and Afro-Arabia. In practice, I have severe doubts, since the Tropical and Unenriched World still decisively affected the competitiveness of the Enriched World’s natural resource before World War I.

Still, it is clear that the Enriched World would be much more hospitable to genuine human communities, rather than just excessively self-centred and attention-seeking individuals, if it dealt with the problems its tax system creates. With no potential base nor ecological need, the relatively small proportion of the Enriched World’s population that actually works must work in most nations for half the year to be tax-free! Were there much fewer taxes and regulation, at least in theory Enriched Worlders could work on less-skilled jobs and retain as much income. It would also help if environmental issues – species and climate – were exclusively focused on the tropics and the high-emission, resource-rich, socially conservative Indian Rim nations, who should be paying most of the costs of global climate change out of their own pockets.