Monday, October 31, 2011
The Mayan Calendar ends with the winter solstice of 2012, heralding a new calendar cycle and a new era in world history. The new beginning is not defined in the prophesy but can be likened to the invention of domestic corn and this latest migration to the Americas, which produced the world in which we now live.
Monumental change will be the result of choices made today. The issue of what choices to make is the most important of the day.
Possible choices divide into three categories: Inevitable and Preventable and Attainable
o Nuclear War
o Biological War
o Huge Income Disparities
o Population Growth
o Growing Poverty
o Economic Collapse
Mineral hoarding as supplies decrease
Higher prices for nonrenewable resources
Competition for resources
Curbs on population growth
Due to finite nature of Earth's mineral resources, extraterrestrial resources must be exploited.
Research into energy sources and energy savings, due to ongoing petroleum depletion
Protection and regeneration of fisheries
Development of new agricultural products
Plan for global climate change to prevent catastrophic food production losses**
Localize food production as much as possible
If population growth not curbed: constraints will appear in freedom, food, water, living space, recreational space, wealth, and goods. Those kinds of social conditions will result in higher prices, war and depopulation. In the animal world, overpopulation results in a die-off of that population back to a sustainable level. One would hope that civilized minds could avoid such an outcome in the new era.
Social engineering as an action plan might take a back seat to survival economics in a new era. The various social structures found around the world hark back to pure environmental survival, like what did help us survive was perpetuated like immunity in the DNA. The modern world is changing so fast, this kind of adaptability must be supercharged as compared to the past.
Consider myself: Born mid twentieth century, as a child, I have known people who lived in Civil War times long before the telegraph and the automobile. I did not live in those times, but I heard stories of how it was and what you had to do to survive out there on your own in the wild world or in the world of man. I heard it! And just me can remember before TV and when a typewriter was a prized possession. TV came into Tucson around 1950. Ray Bradbury and A.E. Van Vogt were my ticket off the planet. And now just look at us with computers and space stations and wireless and cell phones! As a teacher, I rode the wave of change so I could teach the students the newest and latest in technology. I am so thankful for that opportunity.
What could a new era bring, considering the changes in the last hundred years? Could anyone have imagined satellites and cell phones in 1900? Jules Verne and H.G. Wells were sensations.
What could we invent?
A mining network including moon, asteroids and Mars.
Payload delivery from Earth orbit to the surface
Solar smelting in a vacuum
Solar Sail technology
Nuclear energy research
New uses for light
*Medical research has led to an increased lifespan, which in a sustainable world would result in a slowdown of replacement population. Longer lifespan = lower birthrate. Medical ethics and the prolongment of life are all issues here but cannot be ignored. I think requiring the lawyers and medics to bankrupt the families must be curbed. Balancing the birthrate with the deathrate leading the way is the only way to morally approach the problem. Discouraging excessive population production should be part of public policy and expressed in the tax code.
Worldwide, the problem of immigration caused by overpopulation in Mexico and the availability of jobs in the USA was mimicked in Europe, where Africans immigrate to where the food supplies are, in biological terms. Population stability needs to be achieved without mass migrations. In plain language, most of Mexico has a religion that discourages birth control, so the excess population migrates north to fill up spaces in the USA. Is this fair or responsible? For the political boundaries to mean anything, this problem must be addressed by the Mexican government and their religious leaders. The USA is not a population outlet for nations with high reproductive rates.
The national jurisdictions should be required to publish a research report on population dynamics and an action plan to achieve population sustainability to the United Nations. A recognition of the connection between population densities and wars must be made and the subsequent importance of population growth cannot be underestimated. High unemployment leads to civil unrest.
Capitalism as an economic success is dependent on renewable resources, discovery of new resources and the opening of new markets. The growth mantra has been uttered so often nobody thinks of the philosophy of an ever expanding population within a finite space. Since new resources are now few and far between, any growth must be at the expense of other economic interests. This kind of cutthroat competition and subsequent monopoly causes unemployment. We are now a nation of buyers of goods, rather than a primary producer of goods. The relentless erosion of regional self-sufficiency leaves too many at the mercy of importation of necessities and also leaves many unemployed. Unfair trade policies are not capitalism, but are rather exploitation. The USA has been exploited and now is broke and unemployed and in debt. Foreign interests now exploit our mineral resources while politicians assist and applaud.
Job creation should have a goal of perpetuating the system as well as employment of workers. Makework projects without a clear economic objective are too expensive for the economy to support, so job creation should occur in sustainable occupations like greenhouses, health care, energy production, research and development, where something of value is created ongoing. For example, instead of wasting money on a solar company proposing to use old technology to compete with the Chinese using their subsidized industry, why not consider a solar company that uses solar catchment units that have easily removable elements that can be retrofitted as the industry R&D continues? An adaptive solar unit! Or instead of building huge culverts where it rarely rains, build solar electricity producing units and export electricity, an ongoing profit making enterprise or provision of plenty electricity for that locale.
One example that comes to mind is the federal subsidy of the installation of a streetcar line made under the stimulus program that will leave the city of Tucson in deeper debt, has devastated the water company with borrowing, and has actually created very few temporary jobs in Tucson, but did export jobs to Oregon where seven streetcars are to be built with borrowed money, which raises the costs by at least one third. After the streetcar line is in operation, the maintenance costs will be paid by the city and are estimated to cost several million a year, all out of the general fund. The city of Tucson has borrowed money the last few years in order to avoid cutting programs and this streetcar will only add to the deficit, since no attempt will be made to make it into a paying operation. Thus, the stimulus just caused more debt, a few temporary jobs, and a lasting maintenance charge to add to the city deficit. Proponents of the scheme say that sales tax revenues along the route will be a money maker and more housing will be built, all this in an economy with a huge surplus of housing.
There are skeptics concerning the stimulus spending, long term debt obligations and the effect on jobs. More debt service = less money in circulation. How stimulated is Tucson right now? The streetcar operation and maintenance requires jobs, but these jobs must be subsidized by the city in a deficit situation. In tight economic times, this means cuts elsewhere in order to keep the streetcar running and the unions are demanding top money and benefits. Should the politicians borrow money to meet the added deficit? Already, the 'modern' streetcar has destroyed the efforts of a private outfit running an old streetcar here in town. So much for the stimulus, which also paid for 'Fast and Furious'.
Proposed spending for job creation must be analyzed carefully. Suppose a foreign mining company says they are creating jobs in Arizona by using local workers to extract copper using local water. This slurry will then be shipped overseas for refining and of course they will possess the metals, which raise in value every year. There's a big rush on this so they can quick get their hands on the new monetary standard, the metals. Why not build a state of the art smelter that can do slurry and recycle? There is plenty of room over in Mojave County along the railroad line: it is time for a smelter. Then the state metal resources will be exploited by local workers, the supply stays within the USA and more jobs are created here. And the huge wealth of the metals will remain here.
The old mining law dating from the nineteenth century must be revised. Perhaps the Feds should spend some time considering the critical long term resources of this country, get legislation passed that protects our national interest and revise that antiquated mining law. Jobs based on finite resources will be gone while somebody else makes off with the loot and leaves a big hole and poisonous waste in the groundwater. Being in a hurry to get jobs might hurt the economy in the long run, like selling Manhattan Island for a handful of bright beads didn't help the Indians long term. Selling all you have of valuables without economic replacement is not a way to get ahead.
The issue of excessive regulation must be addressed. The smallholders are tied up by local zoning laws that prohibit home based businesses, which is a violation of land rights. It appears that zoning laws have required someone to live in one place and have a business in another, which benefits those owning 'commercial' property. This expense defines what businesses can exist and the commercial land holders will charge as much as they can possibly get for any use of their properties, because of the liberal tax code that allows for heavy tax deductions for empty units, thus driving up the rents. Nobody cares if businesses cannot exist because of the high rents and the impossibility of using your own property to have a business, anything from a law office, hair salon, candy shop and so on. Of course, not allowing businesses in homes causes one to have to drive or ride the bus somewhere else to shop for everything every time. Excessive regulation and fees and licenses and super dooper inspections of larger businesses discourage investment, when the governments cuts itself in off the top even before any profits are made. Health and safety inspections are one thing that came out of excesses of the sweatshop age, but harassment and favoritism by petty local officials is expensive and nonproductive.
So the legacy of 2012 will be a new direction, either the choice of more and better technology and an outreach to the stars, or face the problems of population sustainability on Earth, with no more population outlets but death and takeover of resources. War and competition must give way to stability and regional sustainability.
Define sustainable regions, producer regions, needy regions.
Sustainable: self producing in energy, food and water @ 33.3% each for initial rating, then refine to exporters of energy, food, water and then consumers of energy, food, water.
For example, a predictable outcome would be heavily urbanized areas require energy and food to be brought in but are sometimes self-sufficient in water, depending on where they are located. Another predictable outcome would be that some cities in the southwest USA are self sufficient in nothing, due to the population buildup after World War II. Recent Central Arizona Project public policy changes undermine agriculture while increasing water allotments for more housing developments, which shows the foolishness of policymakers, who choose a quick buck over long term local benefit. Five days worth of food in the stores is not much of a cushion against a domestic emergency. Mexico is within these spheres of influence because of important food imports.
The old time methods of population control include mass executions, rolling heads down pyramid stairs, gas chambers and other cruelties all aimed at seizure of the properties, ethnic warfare and other extermination campaigns. The world cannot continue these methods in order to cope with overcrowding. In the absence of a migratory population outlet, populations within existing political or religious or ethnic jurisdictions must stabilize without encroaching. World population stability is a job to do and of course there are those who would try to obtain or maintain supremacy, but the vision of supremacy changes with time.