AuthorTopic: Malthus to China Potpourri  (Read 39637 times)

Offline EndIsNigh

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Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« Reply #210 on: April 06, 2017, 12:09:59 PM »
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Below that are all the problems of underdevelopment, including malnutrition, disease, non-sanitation, high infant mortality, high fertility (and thus, eventually, population), and so on. ... But the problems of under-development are no less real, and are suffered still by many more people than those of us with the opposite problem. Sub-saharan Africa, for example!

It certainly might appear that way on the surface.  But you don't have to dig very deep to find the correlation between our development and the problems you cite in your sub-saharan Africa example.  What follows is a more realistic assessment of the third world:

Quote
The Third World As Schumacher says, problems grow faster than their solutions – in the rich countries as much as the poor. Following him, we should say that there is nothing in the experience of the last 50 years to suggest that modern technology can really help us alleviate such problems as that of world poverty, not to mention the problem of unemployment. As Hawken has pointed out, literally thousands of native cultures around the world have been destroyed by economic development. Lost with those cultures have been languages, art and crafts, family structures, land claims, traditional rites and oral histories, and traditional methods of healing, obtaining food, and population control. And, as pointed out above, the improvement of the situation of the poor in the Third World is not even the intention of those that stand behind decisions to implement large capital-intensive projects there. The intention, rather, is to make as much money as possible. This applies both to the wealthy capitalists in industrialised states who invest in Third World projects, and to those who have power in the Third World.

As suggested by Baran (in 1957), the ‘backward’ world has always represented the indispensable hinterland of the highly developed capitalist West, supplying it with many important raw materials, thereby providing their corporations with vast profits and investment outlets. Thus the ruling class in the United States (and elsewhere) is bitterly opposed to the industrialisation of the so-called ‘source countries,’ and to the emergence of integrated processing economies in colonial and semi-colonial areas. This opposition appears regardless of the nature of the regime in the underdeveloped country that seeks to reduce the foreign grip on its economy and provide for a measure of independent development.

As regards the phenomenon of increasing social inequality, it is important to appreciate that it should continue so long as the vicious circle is able to continue turning without hindrance. However, such events as an inordinate increase in a society’s surplus, as in ancient Athens and modern industrialised nations, or a social revolution, as in France and Russia, can lead to an increase in social equality. But such increases are invariably directly followed by constant decreases, unless and until such an event should occur again.

That the non-vital needs of the powerful living in Third World countries also strongly influence those countries’ domestic economics is emphasised by Georgescu-Roegen. He noted, already in 1971, that Third World countries’ economic plans, claimed to bring economic progress through industrialisation, are, more often than not, rationalisations of the ulterior motives of the elite in the country in question. The inflation in Latin America at that time, for example, did not answer ‘the aspiration of the masses to improve their standard of consumption,’ as one economic expert claimed, but the aspirations of the upper classes for a still more luxurious lifestyle. Similarly, the leaders of underdeveloped countries are not anxious to limit the populations of their own lower-class majorities, because cheap and abundant labour is a benefit to the ruling class. According to Georgescu-Roegen, and in keeping with the VCP, the same lip service to the welfare of the masses concealed the aspirations of the powerful classes in many a planned economy at the beginning of the 1970s, and, we might add, the phenomenon has continued to the present day.

The majority of today’s underdeveloped nations are destined never to become developed, and the Third World would have been better off without international investment and aid. As Goldsmith says: “The fact is that trade with the Third World is negative aid – it involves selling the indispensable in exchange for the totally superfluous. If I were running a Third World country, the first thing I would do would be to cut myself off from the industrial world and foster self-sufficiency at every level down to that of the village. In fact, one should not be developing the Third World but de-developing it.” And as noted by Carr-Saunders, “there is a considerable amount of evidence to the effect that upon the whole before the advent of the white man the African races were healthy and long-lived.”

There has been no appreciable improvement in the economies of Third World countries after World War II. As Schumacher noted already in 1965: “In many places in the world today the poor are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer, and the established processes of foreign aid and development planning appear to be unable to overcome this tendency;” and again in 1973: “For two-thirds of mankind, the aim of a ‘full and happy life’ with steady improvements of their lot, if not actually receding, seems to be as far away as ever.” As aptly put by Boulding in 1972: “The interesting thing about developing countries is that they are not developing.” And, more than 35 years later, they are still not developing.

Some 50 years ago these countries were politely and optimistically named the ‘developing countries,’ and the 1960s were to be known as the ‘Development Decade.’ But ‘development’ here meant growth in GNP, which was to be accomplished through increasing resource exportation – as taken up in the previous chapter. This growth was to be supported by growth in the GNP of the industrialised countries – the more the industrialised countries grew, the more resources they would import from the Third World, thus benefiting Third World economies. Thus, for example, the Report of the 1970 Commission on International Development (the ‘Pearson Report’) submitted to the World Bank considered the expansion of exports – mainly non-renewable minerals, including oil – the main criterion of success for ‘developing’ countries. African and other Third World countries were to develop economically through the wealthy people in each country making increasing profits by exporting ever greater quantities of their respective country’s resources, and creating jobs for labourers in the process. But as Malthus said already in 1798:

Quote
Foreign commerce adds to the wealth of a state, according to Dr Adam Smith’s definition, though not according to the definition of the [French] economists. Its principal use, and the reason, probably, that it has in general been held in such high estimation is that it adds greatly to the external power of a nation or to its power of commanding the labour of other countries; but it will be found, upon a near examination, to contribute but little to the increase of the internal funds for the maintenance of labour, and consequently but little to the happiness of the greatest part of society.

Malthus’ reasoning here is that it is only a growth in the quantity of vital resources available to the poor that can improve their lot (and then, of course, only in the short term). What we have is the making of each Third World country into a banana republic, which may here be understood to be a poor country economically dependent on exporting unprocessed goods/resources to industrialised countries. As Daly says:

Quote
[T]he vision of globalization requires the rich to grow rapidly in order to provide markets in which the poor can sell their exports. It is thought that the only option poor countries have is to export to the rich, and to do that they have to accept foreign investment from corporations who know how to produce the high-quality stuff that the rich want.

And as Trainer says, if most money can be made producing carnations to airfreight to European supermarkets, or fattening cattle to airfreight to American hamburger chains, then in a market system that is what will be done. And Kuenen: “At present the technologically underequipped nations are selling their natural wealth for short-term gains.”

It is ironic however that governments call for economic growth to reduce poverty while, as noted earlier, there has been massive poverty in the richest nation in the world throughout a 65-year period of tremendous and unrepeatable economic growth. (It may be noted that the wealthiest man in America owns more than the poorest 100 million Americans combined.) How then is economic growth, in particular such growth as is based on exports, to reduce poverty? For the people living in these countries, what they produce for themselves and for each other is of infinitely greater importance to them than what they produce for foreigners. The promotion of export-oriented development has been one of the most disastrous Third World policies in the past two decades, in fact increasing poverty.

The whole thing is a scam – part of the larger scam of the world’s need for economic growth – that allows powerful capitalists to make profits stripping the Third World of what it has to offer. Thus the status quo from colonial times is maintained, with the economically most powerful making the largest possible profits. Only now it is transnational corporations that are sucking as much as they can out of these (and all other) countries, rather than such nationally-bound companies as the East India and Hudson’s Bay Companies.

The fundamental ‘mistake’ which neoclassical economic theory makes with regard to the Third World is the assumption that simply encouraging as much economic growth as possible will result in satisfactory development. In fact the indiscriminate, sheer-growth conception of development causes immense havoc among the poor. In the form of increasing exports, it has stripped them from the land and moved them to urban slums, it has made large numbers poorer and hungrier, and it has destroyed their forests through the building of dams. According to a report of the international Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, below-cost imports drive Third World farmers out of their local markets, and if they do not have access to a safety net, they have to abandon their land in search of other employment.

When it comes to the provision of aid, the West has given with one hand, and taken more with the other. In effect, more aid is going to the rich than to the poor. It is the normal functioning of the global market-economy which delivers the available resources to a few and deprives the majority. The drive to maximise output, sales and returns on investment inevitably leads to the focusing of productive capacity on the already rich.

The conventional growth and trickle-down view accelerates the operation of the very mechanism that is responsible for the problem of poverty. As expressed by John Browett, in keeping with Boulding, while transnational corporations may be developing, the people living in the newly industrialising countries are not. While trickle down occurred in the industrialised countries from 1850, it has never extended to the Third World. And as suggested by Trainer in 1989, the lack of trickle down in the Third World may well be the most clearly established proposition to have emerged from three decades of development research. In fact, as intimated above, conventional growth strategies often result in the very opposite of trickle down, an effect most tragically evident when the ‘modernisation’ of agriculture enriches planters, who then increase export crops by terminating the leases of peasant farmers.

The conception of development as growth through increasing exports does not best serve the interests of classes other than the elite. What is required here is not that the rich world charitably redistribute some of its wealth to the poor; it is that it should stop taking such a disproportionate share of what the world has to offer.

Conventional development theory and practice is capitalist (bourgeois) development theory and practice. To conceive of development as indiscriminate economic growth is to opt for the view which most suits the capitalist class, since it is in their interest to maximise the amount of capital being exchanged, and not have to bother about whether capital really ought to go into things that are appropriate but not very profitable, and not into things that are inappropriate but profitable. Foreign investors never go into the Third World to invest in clean drinking water, mobile health clinics, or cheap staple foods for impoverished people – because there is little profit to be made from these sorts of ventures.

It should also be pointed out here that the projects funded in the name of aiding the Third World, apart from economically supporting those engaged in carrying them out, are large-scale, unsustainable and in fact ecologically destructive. These projects, such as the building of large dams, are drafted in an atmosphere in which economic growth is to be striven for as the ultimate goal, and ecological consequences are either ignored or dismissed.

C. G. Darwin provides an example: the Sukkur dam (completed by the British in 1932) spread the water of the Indus over a great area and transformed a large part of the desert into a garden. According to generally accepted values, this was a great blessing for humankind, since people who earlier were on the verge of starvation could now be fed. But this was not what happened; after a few years the only effect was, as in the case of the Green Revolution, that there was a large rather than a small number of people on the verge of starvation.

Similarly, the Aswan High Dam, designed by Soviet engineers in the late 1950s, stops 98 per cent of the silt that had formerly coated the inhabited part of Egypt. Without this top dressing of fertile silt, Egyptian agriculture had to turn to mineral fertilisers, of which Egypt became one of the world’s top users, with much of the Aswan’s electric power going to fertiliser factories.  The Nile Delta began to shrink. The lack of silt nutrients destroyed sardine and shrimp fisheries in the Mediterranean that had employed 30,000 Egyptians. Without the flushing of the flood, the irrigation canals of Egypt became an ideal habitat for the water hyacinth, a beautiful but pernicious weed. The snails that carry schistosomiasis – a debilitating disease that attacks the liver, urinary tract, or intestines – love water hyacinth, need stagnant water, and consequently flourished in the new Egypt. Schistosomiasis infection rates increased five- to tenfold among rural Egyptians with the transition to perennial irrigation, and after 1975 approached 100 per cent in many communities. The dam also swamped and corroded the cultural heritage of the Nile Valley. However it at the same time eliminated the costly consequences of irregular Nile floods, and supported a doubling of the Egyptian population. Thus was destroyed the only large, ecologically sustainable irrigation system that ever existed – one which had maintained millions for five millennia and made Egypt the richest land in the Mediterranean from the Pharaohs to the industrial revolution.

The modernisation of Third World agriculture also means the increasing commercialisation of food production, and can consist in little more than converting land from production by the poor for use by the poor, to production by rich farmers for use by the rich in the Third World and by consumers in the rich world.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (pp. 445-451). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.


Quote
Why? Do you really mean to say that no incremental steps toward the goal ofsteady state can do any good? In my view, ALL progress toward anything (at
least any material thing) involves incremental steps.

I accept the principle but not the conclusion.  I haven't seen any evidence that China is targeting a steady-state economy.  You've shown they are (were) targeting lower growth, which is the least they should be doing given their feverish growth rates.

Quote
Jeavon's paradox is an amusing idea, but it is not taken seriously. It has
no credibility as a general phenomenon.

It is still debated but has not been conclusively disproven.

Quote
Even hunter gatherers were unsustainable (eg. megafauna extinctions).
Humans, by our very nature, do not appear to be capable of sustainability.

Geez! That's a tad stringent, don't you think?



Quote
You first. Set an example for the rest to follow.

This is no way addresses the points made and is irrelevant to their validity.  Besides, how can you assume I'm not? 

Offline EndIsNigh

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Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« Reply #211 on: April 06, 2017, 12:10:04 PM »
Quote
Below that are all the problems of underdevelopment, including malnutrition, disease, non-sanitation, high infant mortality, high fertility (and thus, eventually, population), and so on. ... But the problems of under-development are no less real, and are suffered still by many more people than those of us with the opposite problem. Sub-saharan Africa, for example!

It certainly might appear that way on the surface.  But you don't have to dig very deep to find the correlation between our development and the problems you cite in your sub-saharan Africa example.  What follows is a more realistic assessment of the third world:

Quote
The Third World As Schumacher says, problems grow faster than their solutions – in the rich countries as much as the poor. Following him, we should say that there is nothing in the experience of the last 50 years to suggest that modern technology can really help us alleviate such problems as that of world poverty, not to mention the problem of unemployment. As Hawken has pointed out, literally thousands of native cultures around the world have been destroyed by economic development. Lost with those cultures have been languages, art and crafts, family structures, land claims, traditional rites and oral histories, and traditional methods of healing, obtaining food, and population control. And, as pointed out above, the improvement of the situation of the poor in the Third World is not even the intention of those that stand behind decisions to implement large capital-intensive projects there. The intention, rather, is to make as much money as possible. This applies both to the wealthy capitalists in industrialised states who invest in Third World projects, and to those who have power in the Third World.

As suggested by Baran (in 1957), the ‘backward’ world has always represented the indispensable hinterland of the highly developed capitalist West, supplying it with many important raw materials, thereby providing their corporations with vast profits and investment outlets. Thus the ruling class in the United States (and elsewhere) is bitterly opposed to the industrialisation of the so-called ‘source countries,’ and to the emergence of integrated processing economies in colonial and semi-colonial areas. This opposition appears regardless of the nature of the regime in the underdeveloped country that seeks to reduce the foreign grip on its economy and provide for a measure of independent development.

As regards the phenomenon of increasing social inequality, it is important to appreciate that it should continue so long as the vicious circle is able to continue turning without hindrance. However, such events as an inordinate increase in a society’s surplus, as in ancient Athens and modern industrialised nations, or a social revolution, as in France and Russia, can lead to an increase in social equality. But such increases are invariably directly followed by constant decreases, unless and until such an event should occur again.

That the non-vital needs of the powerful living in Third World countries also strongly influence those countries’ domestic economics is emphasised by Georgescu-Roegen. He noted, already in 1971, that Third World countries’ economic plans, claimed to bring economic progress through industrialisation, are, more often than not, rationalisations of the ulterior motives of the elite in the country in question. The inflation in Latin America at that time, for example, did not answer ‘the aspiration of the masses to improve their standard of consumption,’ as one economic expert claimed, but the aspirations of the upper classes for a still more luxurious lifestyle. Similarly, the leaders of underdeveloped countries are not anxious to limit the populations of their own lower-class majorities, because cheap and abundant labour is a benefit to the ruling class. According to Georgescu-Roegen, and in keeping with the VCP, the same lip service to the welfare of the masses concealed the aspirations of the powerful classes in many a planned economy at the beginning of the 1970s, and, we might add, the phenomenon has continued to the present day.

The majority of today’s underdeveloped nations are destined never to become developed, and the Third World would have been better off without international investment and aid. As Goldsmith says: “The fact is that trade with the Third World is negative aid – it involves selling the indispensable in exchange for the totally superfluous. If I were running a Third World country, the first thing I would do would be to cut myself off from the industrial world and foster self-sufficiency at every level down to that of the village. In fact, one should not be developing the Third World but de-developing it.” And as noted by Carr-Saunders, “there is a considerable amount of evidence to the effect that upon the whole before the advent of the white man the African races were healthy and long-lived.”

There has been no appreciable improvement in the economies of Third World countries after World War II. As Schumacher noted already in 1965: “In many places in the world today the poor are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer, and the established processes of foreign aid and development planning appear to be unable to overcome this tendency;” and again in 1973: “For two-thirds of mankind, the aim of a ‘full and happy life’ with steady improvements of their lot, if not actually receding, seems to be as far away as ever.” As aptly put by Boulding in 1972: “The interesting thing about developing countries is that they are not developing.” And, more than 35 years later, they are still not developing.

Some 50 years ago these countries were politely and optimistically named the ‘developing countries,’ and the 1960s were to be known as the ‘Development Decade.’ But ‘development’ here meant growth in GNP, which was to be accomplished through increasing resource exportation – as taken up in the previous chapter. This growth was to be supported by growth in the GNP of the industrialised countries – the more the industrialised countries grew, the more resources they would import from the Third World, thus benefiting Third World economies. Thus, for example, the Report of the 1970 Commission on International Development (the ‘Pearson Report’) submitted to the World Bank considered the expansion of exports – mainly non-renewable minerals, including oil – the main criterion of success for ‘developing’ countries. African and other Third World countries were to develop economically through the wealthy people in each country making increasing profits by exporting ever greater quantities of their respective country’s resources, and creating jobs for labourers in the process. But as Malthus said already in 1798:

Quote
Foreign commerce adds to the wealth of a state, according to Dr Adam Smith’s definition, though not according to the definition of the [French] economists. Its principal use, and the reason, probably, that it has in general been held in such high estimation is that it adds greatly to the external power of a nation or to its power of commanding the labour of other countries; but it will be found, upon a near examination, to contribute but little to the increase of the internal funds for the maintenance of labour, and consequently but little to the happiness of the greatest part of society.

Malthus’ reasoning here is that it is only a growth in the quantity of vital resources available to the poor that can improve their lot (and then, of course, only in the short term). What we have is the making of each Third World country into a banana republic, which may here be understood to be a poor country economically dependent on exporting unprocessed goods/resources to industrialised countries. As Daly says:

Quote
[T]he vision of globalization requires the rich to grow rapidly in order to provide markets in which the poor can sell their exports. It is thought that the only option poor countries have is to export to the rich, and to do that they have to accept foreign investment from corporations who know how to produce the high-quality stuff that the rich want.

And as Trainer says, if most money can be made producing carnations to airfreight to European supermarkets, or fattening cattle to airfreight to American hamburger chains, then in a market system that is what will be done. And Kuenen: “At present the technologically underequipped nations are selling their natural wealth for short-term gains.”

It is ironic however that governments call for economic growth to reduce poverty while, as noted earlier, there has been massive poverty in the richest nation in the world throughout a 65-year period of tremendous and unrepeatable economic growth. (It may be noted that the wealthiest man in America owns more than the poorest 100 million Americans combined.) How then is economic growth, in particular such growth as is based on exports, to reduce poverty? For the people living in these countries, what they produce for themselves and for each other is of infinitely greater importance to them than what they produce for foreigners. The promotion of export-oriented development has been one of the most disastrous Third World policies in the past two decades, in fact increasing poverty.

The whole thing is a scam – part of the larger scam of the world’s need for economic growth – that allows powerful capitalists to make profits stripping the Third World of what it has to offer. Thus the status quo from colonial times is maintained, with the economically most powerful making the largest possible profits. Only now it is transnational corporations that are sucking as much as they can out of these (and all other) countries, rather than such nationally-bound companies as the East India and Hudson’s Bay Companies.

The fundamental ‘mistake’ which neoclassical economic theory makes with regard to the Third World is the assumption that simply encouraging as much economic growth as possible will result in satisfactory development. In fact the indiscriminate, sheer-growth conception of development causes immense havoc among the poor. In the form of increasing exports, it has stripped them from the land and moved them to urban slums, it has made large numbers poorer and hungrier, and it has destroyed their forests through the building of dams. According to a report of the international Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, below-cost imports drive Third World farmers out of their local markets, and if they do not have access to a safety net, they have to abandon their land in search of other employment.

When it comes to the provision of aid, the West has given with one hand, and taken more with the other. In effect, more aid is going to the rich than to the poor. It is the normal functioning of the global market-economy which delivers the available resources to a few and deprives the majority. The drive to maximise output, sales and returns on investment inevitably leads to the focusing of productive capacity on the already rich.

The conventional growth and trickle-down view accelerates the operation of the very mechanism that is responsible for the problem of poverty. As expressed by John Browett, in keeping with Boulding, while transnational corporations may be developing, the people living in the newly industrialising countries are not. While trickle down occurred in the industrialised countries from 1850, it has never extended to the Third World. And as suggested by Trainer in 1989, the lack of trickle down in the Third World may well be the most clearly established proposition to have emerged from three decades of development research. In fact, as intimated above, conventional growth strategies often result in the very opposite of trickle down, an effect most tragically evident when the ‘modernisation’ of agriculture enriches planters, who then increase export crops by terminating the leases of peasant farmers.

The conception of development as growth through increasing exports does not best serve the interests of classes other than the elite. What is required here is not that the rich world charitably redistribute some of its wealth to the poor; it is that it should stop taking such a disproportionate share of what the world has to offer.

Conventional development theory and practice is capitalist (bourgeois) development theory and practice. To conceive of development as indiscriminate economic growth is to opt for the view which most suits the capitalist class, since it is in their interest to maximise the amount of capital being exchanged, and not have to bother about whether capital really ought to go into things that are appropriate but not very profitable, and not into things that are inappropriate but profitable. Foreign investors never go into the Third World to invest in clean drinking water, mobile health clinics, or cheap staple foods for impoverished people – because there is little profit to be made from these sorts of ventures.

It should also be pointed out here that the projects funded in the name of aiding the Third World, apart from economically supporting those engaged in carrying them out, are large-scale, unsustainable and in fact ecologically destructive. These projects, such as the building of large dams, are drafted in an atmosphere in which economic growth is to be striven for as the ultimate goal, and ecological consequences are either ignored or dismissed.

C. G. Darwin provides an example: the Sukkur dam (completed by the British in 1932) spread the water of the Indus over a great area and transformed a large part of the desert into a garden. According to generally accepted values, this was a great blessing for humankind, since people who earlier were on the verge of starvation could now be fed. But this was not what happened; after a few years the only effect was, as in the case of the Green Revolution, that there was a large rather than a small number of people on the verge of starvation.

Similarly, the Aswan High Dam, designed by Soviet engineers in the late 1950s, stops 98 per cent of the silt that had formerly coated the inhabited part of Egypt. Without this top dressing of fertile silt, Egyptian agriculture had to turn to mineral fertilisers, of which Egypt became one of the world’s top users, with much of the Aswan’s electric power going to fertiliser factories.  The Nile Delta began to shrink. The lack of silt nutrients destroyed sardine and shrimp fisheries in the Mediterranean that had employed 30,000 Egyptians. Without the flushing of the flood, the irrigation canals of Egypt became an ideal habitat for the water hyacinth, a beautiful but pernicious weed. The snails that carry schistosomiasis – a debilitating disease that attacks the liver, urinary tract, or intestines – love water hyacinth, need stagnant water, and consequently flourished in the new Egypt. Schistosomiasis infection rates increased five- to tenfold among rural Egyptians with the transition to perennial irrigation, and after 1975 approached 100 per cent in many communities. The dam also swamped and corroded the cultural heritage of the Nile Valley. However it at the same time eliminated the costly consequences of irregular Nile floods, and supported a doubling of the Egyptian population. Thus was destroyed the only large, ecologically sustainable irrigation system that ever existed – one which had maintained millions for five millennia and made Egypt the richest land in the Mediterranean from the Pharaohs to the industrial revolution.

The modernisation of Third World agriculture also means the increasing commercialisation of food production, and can consist in little more than converting land from production by the poor for use by the poor, to production by rich farmers for use by the rich in the Third World and by consumers in the rich world.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (pp. 445-451). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.


Quote
Why? Do you really mean to say that no incremental steps toward the goal ofsteady state can do any good? In my view, ALL progress toward anything (at
least any material thing) involves incremental steps.


Quote
Jeavon's paradox is an amusing idea, but it is not taken seriously. It has
no credibility as a general phenomenon.

Quote
As indeed they MUST, still, at this stage of their development. Remember: they still have several hundred million people who are dirt-poor. They CANNOT leave those people in that miserable state. It would be immoral. Their per-capita income is still in the $6-8K range -- too low. They need to continue operating within the technology and progress worldview, for perhaps another generation. WE, on the other hand...


Quote
Even hunter gatherers were unsustainable (eg. megafauna extinctions).
Humans, by our very nature, do not appear to be capable of sustainability.

Geez! That's a tad stringent, don't you think?

Quote
You first. Set an example for the rest to follow.


Offline EndIsNigh

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Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« Reply #212 on: April 06, 2017, 12:10:09 PM »
Alan, I think the point you're missing is that development, of any kind, creates
more problems than it solves.
Not true.  Economic development solves many more problems than it creates, up to
a certain level of income -- approximately 10K/year.  Below that are all the
problems of underdevelopment, including malnutrition, disease, non-sanitation,
high infant mortality, high fertility (and thus, eventually, population), and so on.
It is a mess.  It is vital to bring everyone up to that level, approximately. Beyond
that level is a different matter.  Benefits fall off, rapidly, and begin to reverse.
We live in the quintessentially OVER-developed society -- the U.S.A. -- so it is much
easier for us to attune  to the problems of over-development. But the problems of
under-development are no less real, and are suffered still by many more people
than those of us with the opposite problem.  Sub-saharan Africa, for example!



Quote
  I have read much of what you posted and while I agree that planning is vital,
and it's a good thing they've targeted a reduction in growth, anything short of
steady-state or actively reversing development is a losing proposition.
Why?  Do you really mean to say that no incremental steps toward the goal of
steady state can do any good?  In my view, ALL progress toward anything (at
least any material thing)  involves incremental steps.

Quote
  Even conservation and efficiency is misleading because, as per Jevon's paradox,
it leads to greater use of resources by expanding the application of the resources
to other activity or to a wider population. 
Jeavon's paradox is an amusing idea, but it is not taken seriously. It has
no credibility as a general phenomenon.

Quote
China is still operating within the technology and progress worldview,
As indeed they MUST, still, at this stage of their development. Remember: they
still have several hundred million people who are dirt-poor. They CANNOT leave those
people in that miserable state.  It would be immoral.  Their per-capita income is still
in the $6-8K range -- too low. They need to continue operating within the technology
and progress worldview, for perhaps another generation.  WE, on the other hand...   ;)

Quote
so it just amounts to changing the window dressing rather than a structural change.
Over time, window dressing changes become structural changes.  We begin with
baby steps. Then, big-baby steps.  Trajectory is everything.

Quote
  Even hunter gatherers were unsustainable (eg. megafauna extinctions). 
Humans, by our very nature, do not appear to be capable of sustainability.
Geez! That's a tad stringent, don't you think?

Quote
I've concluded, rightly or wrongly, that small self-sufficient regulated (not
through infanticide or abortions but through preventative measures)
populations that have greatly reduced their use of technology, practically
to zero, is the only viable solution for long-term human survivability. 
You first. Set an example for the rest to follow.

Quote
In short, we should seek to work within the boundaries of ecological niches.  But I
don't see that happening without an evolutionary change or bifurcation of the
species.  Homo sapiens will use all the available resources until they no longer can. 
Then we'll just be stuck with our useless ingenuity.  That's if we don't further disrupt
the ecological equilibrium (unlikely based on our history) we depend on before arriving
at that point.
I see two options: Evolve or Perish.  Evolution sometimes gets it wrong, I think we're
a case in point.  What China is doing is clearly better than what the West is doing,
but it still falls way short.  Nature doesn't reward for effort, only for success.
You may be right. Time will tell!

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Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« Reply #213 on: April 06, 2017, 12:10:19 PM »
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Below that are all the problems of underdevelopment, including malnutrition, disease, non-sanitation, high infant mortality, high fertility (and thus, eventually, population), and so on.



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But the problems of under-development are no less real, and are suffered still by many more people than those of us with the opposite problem. Sub-saharan Africa, for example!


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Why? Do you really mean to say that no incremental steps toward the goal ofsteady state can do any good? In my view, ALL progress toward anything (at
least any material thing) involves incremental steps.


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Jeavon's paradox is an amusing idea, but it is not taken seriously. It has
no credibility as a general phenomenon.

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As indeed they MUST, still, at this stage of their development. Remember: they still have several hundred million people who are dirt-poor. They CANNOT leave those people in that miserable state. It would be immoral. Their per-capita income is still in the $6-8K range -- too low. They need to continue operating within the technology and progress worldview, for perhaps another generation. WE, on the other hand...


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Even hunter gatherers were unsustainable (eg. megafauna extinctions).
Humans, by our very nature, do not appear to be capable of sustainability.

Geez! That's a tad stringent, don't you think?

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You first. Set an example for the rest to follow.


Offline Palloy2

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Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« Reply #214 on: June 15, 2017, 02:44:12 PM »
This is the "Ghosts in the forum" bug. Hopefully it will be fixed soon.
"The State is a body of armed men."

Offline JoeP

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Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« Reply #215 on: August 04, 2017, 12:09:01 AM »
I'm adding a link to an article by CHS (below) that I think is a pretty good summary of the present and future state of things in China.  My question is related to point #10 in the article.  Why are wealthy elites fleeing China if they have such a great plan for the future?

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogjune11/wheels-fall-off-China6-11.html

just my straight shooting honest opinion

Offline reanteben

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Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« Reply #216 on: August 04, 2017, 07:58:15 PM »
great stuff, alan. funny, too. excellent to have you here. keep on spammin' on!  ;D
Glad you're enjoying the show.  Huzzahs!

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i did, however, find the folowing statement surprisingly mundane.
Why?

because it strikes me as a conventional view in favor quantity over quality. of course most are going to say they rather society had a lower infant mortality rate - which is mostly what we're talking about here with the lifespan argument. but even accepting the argument at face value - at what cost? what about the non-human side of the ledger? how do you balance that?

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why bother, as an anarchist, arguing for contextless benefits of an industrially-
Regulated Group Mind over a preindustrial one?
Yeah, you might say that. But it IS awfully easy for us to say, is it not? I mean,
we've GOT the extra 40-50 years -- during which to make clever points about
the meaninglessness of context-free benefits.  Would those points mean
anything to someone dying at age 12 of some horrible infection?

would those points mean anything to a black man unjustly incarcerated, and medicated, for the last 50 years, who has not been allowed to kill himself for 45 of them? tit for tat, man.  :P

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besides, what is so phenomenal about your lifespan statistic? it is the norm
for rapidly industrializing countries is it not?
Yes, the norm for pre-industrial vs. industrial. AND phenomenal. An extension of
life on that order is, to me, stunning. Very impressive.  And we take it for granted!
Just like your comment: "What's the big deal, Alan?"  Or like Ash's comment,
oblivious to the huge upside.  But it IS a big deal, for the people newly affected.
A very big deal.

fine, it's impressive on a statistical level. but so what? it just strikes me as a rather abstract argument. but then again i'm enthralled the fifth dimension!


Offline reanteben

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Re: Malthus to China Potpourri
« Reply #217 on: August 04, 2017, 07:58:20 PM »
great stuff, alan. funny, too. excellent to have you here. keep on spammin' on!  ;D
Glad you're enjoying the show.  Huzzahs!

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i did, however, find the folowing statement surprisingly mundane.
Why?

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why bother, as an anarchist, arguing for contextless benefits of an industrially-
Regulated Group Mind over a preindustrial one?
Yeah, you might say that. But it IS awfully easy for us to say, is it not? I mean,
we've GOT the extra 40-50 years -- during which to make clever points about
the meaninglessness of context-free benefits.  Would those points mean
anything to someone dying at age 12 of some horrible infection?

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besides, what is so phenomenal about your lifespan statistic? it is the norm
for rapidly industrializing countries is it not?
Yes, the norm for pre-industrial vs. industrial. AND phenomenal. An extension of
life on that order is, to me, stunning. Very impressive.  And we take it for granted!
Just like your comment: "What's the big deal, Alan?"  Or like Ash's comment,
oblivious to the huge upside.  But it IS a big deal, for the people newly affected.
A very big deal.