Comments on: Trying to fix broken economics http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2013/04/04/trying-to-fix-broken-economics/ Sat, 03 Jan 2015 16:42:55 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 By: reality-again http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2013/04/04/trying-to-fix-broken-economics/#comment-898 Sat, 06 Apr 2013 13:51:31 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/?p=318#comment-898 Hmmm… it appears the author no longer believes optimism is the ultimate cure for the world’s economic problems.
So we’re left with a bunch of unsubstantiated theories and plenty of loudmouth economists who pretend they know everything.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is run by extremists whose QE policy is the modern monetary equivalent of Soviet experimentation with “Socialist Agriculture”, and Mario Draghi is playing the role of Superman in a historic sociopolitical all-European drama where the ECB doesn’t belong in the first place.

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By: OneOfTheSheep http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2013/04/04/trying-to-fix-broken-economics/#comment-895 Sat, 06 Apr 2013 02:00:42 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/?p=318#comment-895 PseudoTurtle,

On the “Social Security” thread I tried (again) to explain why you are ignored. No response. So I’ll try again here.

You put too many words “out there” that require verification to comprehend or believe. Then you mix in your ever-present rant against a “greedy wealthy class” that does not exist, attributing to these phantoms all sorts of carefully orchestrated malfeasance. That nonsense doesn’t sell in an America in which many play the lottery and hope to be “rich”; and many educate and apply themselves confident that is they do everything “right” they, too, can become rich.

Money can’t buy “class” or “taste” here, and these things are almost impossible to fake. The thing you fail to take into consideration is that, unlike everywhere else, the “top tire” of Americans is in constant flux. Membership isn’t inherited or permanent. There are as many falling out as climbing in and the “by income” sort of “membership” is truly open to one and all, including drug dealers and pimps (if they live long enough). You can’t swing and hit a “target” that keeps shifting in shape, size and position.

On the other hand, influence can be bought and therefore “the wealthy” may have more access to politicians’ ears but to what end? If they were wiser, that might be good; but generally they are not. So their words are ignored too. About al they have in common is tax brackets.

“The wealthy” have comparatively few votes, and votes are the “name of the game”. That’s is why politicians are falling all over themselves pandering to illegal aliens and trying to give them full fledged American citizenship. All want the millions of votes of people born pregnant with their hands always out for freebies.

I don’t see the financially successful as taking a dime out of my pocket except by investment fraud, vulture capitalism, and bidding up the price of goods in times of scarcity (which are rare in America). On the other hand, the financial impact of the hispanic invasion of America that has been going on some forty years has endangered and may destroy Social Security and Medicare as we know it.

I suggest you try to make your words and passion count on issues you can credibly argue. You cut yourself off at the pockets again and again throwing out sour grapes towards those who have achieved the “American Dream”. It should be obvious to you by now that envy and jealousy are a really hard sell in America.

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By: PseudoTurtle http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2013/04/04/trying-to-fix-broken-economics/#comment-894 Fri, 05 Apr 2013 21:15:35 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/?p=318#comment-894 I can’t help but notice that this article in general, as well as my comments in particular, seem to be ignored by the masses as having no particular importance.

I contrast this lack of reaction with that of one simple remark I made earlier in the week regarding gay marriage to the effect I thought that gays were perhaps asking too much of society in general to demand acceptance of their lifestyle in terms of pushing for marriage instead of legal recognition of their union without an actual marriage ceremony.

To say I had my head handed to me by a number of rabid attacks would be a massive understatement.

I have said before the wealthy are not concerned with the same things as those who are not wealthy.

Why this should be I am not sure, but in any case the wealthy class views the non-wealthy as stupid and disinterested when it comes to monetary issues, whereas financial issues are all the wealthy class really care about.

Why?

One main reason is they know that there is a disproportionate effect in terms of power to that of wealth. It is not linear at all, but the power increases exponentially with the amount of wealth one has.

This simple fact seems beyond the capabilities of the masses to understand. Whether this is cause or effect I am not sure, but I am positive it exists and likely a fundamental reason for the difference between two classes.

So what is my point?

Unless and until the non-wealthy can understand that the “hot button” issues they respond to are really not important, but serve meredly as a distraction from what the wealthy class are doing to them, nothing will change.

Ignoring what the wealthy class is doing to you as you are doing now is guaranteed to bring great hardship on many of you quite soon.

At this point, I would say you richly deserve what you will get from these people.

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By: PseudoTurtle http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2013/04/04/trying-to-fix-broken-economics/#comment-893 Fri, 05 Apr 2013 20:04:17 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/?p=318#comment-893 To prove my point, here is an excerpt from our neocon president, attempting to destroy Social Security for reasons I cannot comprehend.

——————————-

Obama tries to woo Republicans with cuts in budget

By Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON | Fri Apr 5, 2013 1:24pm EDT

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama will offer cuts to Social Security and other benefits programs in a budget proposal next week aimed at winning over enough congressional Republicans to pass a broad deal to reduce the deficit.

While Obama’s previous budgets have largely been ignored in Congress, the White House wants to use this year’s proposal, to be released on Wednesday, to move beyond the fiscal fights that have consumed Washington since 2010.

But several attempts to reach an agreement balancing spending cuts with tax increases have failed, and prospects for a “grand bargain” remain dim. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, who let taxes rise for the wealthiest Americans earlier this year, has ruled out any further revenue increases and was lukewarm about Obama’s latest proposal.

Obama will also face resistance from his fellow Democrats as a senior administration official on Friday said the president will offer to apply a less generous measure of inflation to calculate cost-of-living increases that would affect Social Security and other government programs when he reveals his budget.

That change would result in lower payments to some beneficiaries of the Social Security pension program and is staunchly opposed by many Democrats as well as labor and retiree groups.

But, Obama will only accept the cuts to so-called entitlements like Social Security and Medicare if congressional Republicans agree to higher taxes, the official added.

“This isn’t about political horse trading,” the official said. “It’s about reducing the deficit in a balanced way that economists say is best for the economy and job creation.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/0 5/us-fiscal-obama-idUSBRE93405G20130405

———————————–

Are you kidding me?

“It’s about reducing the deficit in a balanced way that economists say is best for the economy and job creation.”

EXACTLY HOW is Obama cutting Social Security in the best (interests) for the economy and job creation”????????

It gets tedious to keep repeating myself, so here is an excerpt from a Reuters article which ran yesterday, but Reuter’s in its infinite wisdom chose to kill the article immediately.

This is a copy of my reply to another economic genius who saw no harm in cutting Social Security or other social programs.

Apr 4, 2013
1:54 pm UTC

It is normal with an inevitable general modest decline in the standard of living ( which often goes under euphemistic labels like “sustainability”) that people would be inclined to have government step in to fill the gap – unfortunately, history shows that only accelerates the decline. As for the “general welfare” phrase in the Constitution’s hortatory preamble – that is introductory language which then goes on to list the specific means as how that will be achieved – it is not a general grant of power to do anything.
Posted by SayHey | Report as abusive

Apr 4, 2013
6:32 pm UTC

@ SayHey –

The last time this nation suffered from an ” inevitable general modest decline in the standard of living” was during the Great Depression, which, incidentally, the real reason why Social Security exists.

Let me spell it out for you. It exists SOLELY as a result of past and probable future wealthy greed and excess.

It is structured as social insurance — stress on the word insurance — which makes it different than most other social welfare programs because it pays a benefit under certain predefined conditions to those who have paid into it.

The reason Social Security is failing today is that the government has been totally unable to keep its greedy hands off of such a large sum of money.

Thus, it has become a slush fund for excessive military (i..e the Military-Industrial Complex) and for social programs like Johnson’s Great Society in which he commingled (i.e. mixed together) the Social Security trust fund and the general fund so the government would look better financially and he wouldn’t have to raise taxes in the midst of his “guns and butter” program, which meant expansion of the Vietnam War without increasing taxes.

Having “government step in to fill the gap” in this case means the government was doing things any professional fund manager would go to jail for (think Madoff on steroids).

It is, in fact, the wealthy-controlled government that is TOTALLY responsible for destroying Social Security.

By the way, Social Security has been held by the US Supreme Court as property and thus protected against unlawful seizure.

Maybe we should start seizing the property of the wealthy class instead. After all, that is what is likely to happen after the government spends their way through Social Security and still is trillions short to feed the Military-Industrial Complex.

Just as Eisenhower said, “it’s the Military-Industrial Complex, stupid!” Except, we weren’t paying attention either then or now.

Posted by PseudoTurtle

————————————–

Let me summarize:

Social Security is NOT the problem.

The wealthy-driven government is the problem because every single time Social Security began to run a surplus, they couldn’t keep their hands off of it.

The solution for Social Security is truly a NO-BRAINER.

SIMPLY REMOVE THE CAP ON SOCIAL SECURITY.

(A remove it from the general ledger into the separate insurance fund it was meant to be, or this won’t work.)

That would IMMEDIATELY result in a massive surplus of real revenue coming into the fund, at which point the tax could be adjusted — as it should be automatically each year to keep it current — to adjust the cashflows to meet current and future predictions.

Yes, it would tax the wealthy all the way to include the 1%, but the tax would probably be very minimal. More importantly, by assuring it has an adequate tax base, it would make Social Security permanantly stable to allow for any expansion in the future.

A BENEFIT TO BUSINESS, ESPECIALLY SMALL BUSINESS, IS TO MAKE IT 100% PAID FOR BY THE EMPLOYEE.

THUS DECREASING PAYROLL TAXES ON BUSINESS.

In any case, since it is an insurance fund, this is not the welfare programs of the OECD that everyone says are unaffordable and unstable.

Insurance 101 says that the larger the base, the lower the risk and thus the lower the premium each policy holder must make.

Why can’t you economic geniuses from the best schools in the country understand basics of simple life insurance?

Medicaid and medicare MUST have their separate funding, preferably under the same guidelines, which would also solve this problem.

These programs MUST be separated from the federal general ledger, and from each other in order to solve them.

It was the Johnson administration that moved Social Security to the general ledger to allow the federal government to “borrow” from it to pay for the expansion of the Vietnamese War and to promote his Great Society programs.

The problem with Social Security is that it is being used to fund, not only excessive military expenditures, but Medicare and Medicaid as well.

The solution is incredibly simple.

Just reverse what Johnson did and force the other programs to fund themselves through their own taxes.

DUH!

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By: PseudoTurtle http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2013/04/04/trying-to-fix-broken-economics/#comment-892 Fri, 05 Apr 2013 15:54:55 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/?p=318#comment-892 Anatole, you never cease to amaze me.

It isn’t that modern economists CAN”T answer the questions you posed above, they feign ignorance — actually, I think some are really as ignorant as they appear to be — because for the most part they are acting as shills for their masters.

And ignorance is the most plausible excuse in this case. If they “agree to disagree”, their “argument” sounds a whole lot better than their absolute intransigent refusal to admit what they are doing to societies around the world is wrong.

To do that would engender anger (maybe) from others who can finally see them for what they are, greedy destroyers of the global economy for the benefit of the few, with little or no regard for the consequences of what they are doing.

For example, the global economy is NOT too complex to understand mathematically, which is your Hayekian argument that serves to protect the wealthy from global regulation of so-called free trade, which by the way is NOT self-correcting.

It is not “magic” (as in the “invisible hand”) that drives the global economy, but highly sophisticated computer systems and programs that the wealthy rely on to stay ahead of the herd.

It is SOLELY the advent of the internet that has allowed the lowering of risk of capital investment by permitting real time knowledge of investments anywhere in the world, thus permitting immense profits that were never available before. However, pleading ignorance by the wealthy is a great excuse to baffle the masses with bullshit.

In truth, Hayek was highly critical of what he termed scientism: a false understanding of the methods of science that has been mistakenly forced upon the social sciences, but that is contrary to the practices of genuine science.

Yet the proof of the duplicity of our leaders lies in statements like this (from Wikipedia, solely for ease of access). “Harvard economist and former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers explains Hayek’s place in modern economics: “What’s the single most important thing to learn from an economics course today? What I tried to leave my students with is the view that the invisible hand is more powerful than the [un]hidden hand. Things will happen in well-organized efforts without direction, controls, plans. That’s the consensus among economists. That’s the Hayek legacy.”[96]”

I would argue that Mr. Summers is either truly stupid beyond belief, or he is lying.

———————————————–

Mr. Kaletsky, in terms of your professed general lack of understanding of economics, as well as your statement about other “economists” lack of knowledge of basic economic theory, let me quote from Adam Smith (arguably the Father of Modern Economics) in his Wealth of Nations (1776), which is frequently quoted (incorrectly) by the wealthy class to justify what they are doing.

This is part of Adam Smith’s analysis of free trade which appeared in the Wealth of Nations, but is NEVER mentioned by the neocon wealthy class running this country because it would totally undermine their specious arguments for a laissez faire economy that is destroying this nation for their benefit at our expense.

This is the dictionary definition of “neocon”, which you will need to understand to read my comment below.

“By 1987, abbreviation for neo-conservative movement in the U.S. political sense.” (Think Reaganomics when you see the word neocon).

—————————————-

The Wealth of Nations

In The Wealth of Nations[77] (1776). The statement about “an invisible hand” has been interpreted as “the invisible hand” in numerous ways.

It is therefore important to read the original:

As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can.

He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it.

By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security;

and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other eases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it.

By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.

I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.

Those who regard that statement as Smith’s central message also quote frequently Smith’s dictum:[78]

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.

Smith’s statement about the benefits of “an invisible hand” shows Smith’s belief that when an individual pursues his self-interest, he indirectly promotes the good of society.

Self-interested competition in the free market, he argued, would tend to benefit society as a whole by keeping prices low, while still building in an incentive for a wide variety of goods and services.

*********************************

Nevertheless, he was wary of businessmen and warned of their “conspiracy against the public or in some other contrivance to raise prices”.[80]

Again and again, Smith warned of the collusive nature of business interests, which may form cabals or monopolies, fixing the highest price “which can be squeezed out of the buyers”.[81]

Smith also warned that a business-dominated political system would allow a conspiracy of businesses and industry against consumers, with the former scheming to influence politics and legislation.

Smith states that the interest of manufacturers and merchants “…in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public…

The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention.”[82]

****************************************

Notice Adam Smith’s comments in the starred section above especially, since THIS is the part the wealthy class and their sycophant “economists” NEVER mention.

Basically, Adam Smith argued that free trade — free of those forces who would corrupt it for their own good — would benefit society.

Does this twisted neocon version of free trade benefit society?

NO!

There are those who would argue that it benefits the world economy, but that is not what Adam Smith said about global free trade.

Instead, Smith argued that “By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security”.

The truth is that there is NO global economy. ALL economics, like all real estate for, example, is LOCAL.

Do you really care what the economic conditions are in China in terms of living conditions, inflation or GDP?

NO!

What you care about is if you have a decent-paying job and reasonable benefits to support your family.

The ugly reality is that since neocon free trade began in the early 1980s, this country’s economy has been dying. And that “disease” is neocon free trade, which sees the global market as one whole market. They think they are “citizens of the world” owing no allegiance to any particular country.

So what you say? They aren’t really hurting anyone — free enterprise and all that bullshit. Right? WRONG!

THAT is why the US jobs have been outsourced to their lowest possible location. Does the US economy — the American people — benefit from this neocon free trade?

NO!

It is all a wealthy-driven scam to cheat the American people out of what is rightfully theirs, just as Adam Smith warned us about in 1776.

The neocons have effectively overthrown our government — at this point it is BOTH the Democrats and Republicans who have been bought and paid for by the wealthy class — for their benefit alone, and THIS what you see around you is the result of that.

THIS is the real reason Congress in deadlocked beyond hope of reconciliation. They are both being driven by neocon ideologies that care NOTHING for the future of this nation, nor the American people.

It’s ALL lies by the wealthy neocons who are literally destroying this nation to satisfy their greed, but which can never be satisfied.

As a result, this nation WILL collapse economically (again) quite soon at it has 47 times in the past.

This time, however, the nation is hopelessly in debt and has no chance of survival. The collapse will mean Great Depression II. But because of the massive changes in demographics, we are likely to balkanize due to the extreme economic pressures. (Think Wiemar Germany.)

———————————————-

There was a time, decades ago, when I had respect for those in power, but I realize now I was simply young and stupid. Since then, I have come to realize MOST of those who are educated by the present system are simply parroting what they have been told, with no real understanding of the implications of what they are saying and doing.

Frankly, I have to admit I do not understand the mindset of the wealthy class which seems more appropriate to the Middle Ages than a so-called modern society. Their pronouncements — especially the sycophant politicians and their ilk (lawyers, lobbyists) — evince an ignorance of the logical consequences of their actions that boggles my mind.

This is NOT a sustainable economy. In fact, the US economy has crashed at least 47 times since 1790, ALL of it due to wealthy greed and speculation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Us_recessio ns

History proves capitalism is NOT self-correcting.

This economy MUST have rules and regulations that make sense. However, not the insane tax laws that benefit only the wealthy class and seriously skew wealth distribution to the top, nor the absence of proper banking regulations (especially the separation of commercial and investment banking activities), and it must have a total restructuring of free trade that benefits this country, instead of bleeding it to death as the neocon free trade has been doing for the past 40 years.

What I don’t understand — and would like to have a reasonable explanation for — is why the wealthy class insists on destroying themselves, because THAT will be the inevitable result from what you are doing.

Granted you don’t like social programs for a whole lot of “personal” reasons. But are you so stupid you cannot see that to undermine this economy is to invite disaster for yourselves and your children?

All I am arguing for is rational self-interest.

Can someone explain to me why this cannot be achieved?

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By: OneOfTheSheep http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2013/04/04/trying-to-fix-broken-economics/#comment-891 Fri, 05 Apr 2013 07:12:41 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/?p=318#comment-891 “Economists have become a secular priesthood, turning the political orthodoxies of their times into comprehensible narratives, thereby promoting social stability and democratic consensus.” Obviously true. Their challenge is to “call the turn” when one “time” is over and another begins.

“The next phase will be for politicians to explain to voters that, in a rapidly evolving global economy still struggling to emerge from financial crisis, there is nothing wrong with imperfect solutions ‑ for example, budgetary policies that “kick the can down the road” and “muddle through”.” Sounds to me too much like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic to me.

“…the world is too complex and uncertain to be analyzed with models that assume a natural equilibrium of a future that is predictable, at least in a probabilistic sense. Eureka! So why do virtually all economists today still cling to the hope that “growth” is still the solution to every economic woe?

An unprecedented “shake-out” of those nations of exploding overpopulation is already unavoidable. The competition for arable land, water and food will put these at each others’ throats because already there is simply not “enough” to support people already born. They don’t even understand their need to restrain reproduction. I choose to look away from this train wreck in slow motion.

For more sustainable and advanced civilizations, the “population bomb” also ticks. But their “holy grail” must be how to somehow increase production and consumption in an economy that needs fewer and fewer to “make society work”.

A few of the best teachers can instruct billions on the web. Automation of production increases as the cost of salary and fringe benefits makes robots that can work 24 hrs. a day with no overtime, no vacations, no “people issues”, no health benefits and no pensions look cheaper and cheaper. The down side is that robots also don’t “consume” what is made.

Are we REALLY looking at a future where governments just print whatever funds necessary to provide everyone with their basic needs and those who want more will choose to work in fields they select and prepare for like in Star Trek? Our government seems already perilously close to such a reality but we “advance” using a snow globe for a crystal ball!

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By: theoligarch.com http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2013/04/04/trying-to-fix-broken-economics/#comment-890 Fri, 05 Apr 2013 07:04:37 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/?p=318#comment-890 Dear Mr Kaletsky,

You say “Economics is ultimately a study of politics, psychology and social behavior. It is therefore as close to philosophy or even theology, as to physics, biology or engineering.”

Let’s really think about that line. What you are saying is that economics and statesmanship are philosophical arts. But what is philosophy? Plato said it is the study of human nature. For example, back in the 1930s the Austrian economists used to argue with Keynes saying economics is really the art of shaping human motivation. Margaret Thatcher said the same sort of thing, the reason she wanted decentralise was to get people back on thier bike, to re-motivate them.

Think about this idea, the idea that economics is about human nature. You talk about a chaotic system, but is that because you are looking at the wrong target? You are thinking in terms of materialistic effect rather than human nature. You are not answering any of the big questions you began the article with by talking about psychology, you are just working at the illusionary transistory surface.

I have read a few INET papers, but they havn’t grasped the big picture yet. In order to make any progress you have to have the sort of conversations virtue ethics philosophers such as Plato had. You have to talk at deep psychological level about what is wrong with human nature and how you can adjust it.

I have always admired you work, but it seems to me you are stuck because you have never really grasped this vital point. It’s not that economics is dismal, it’s that it’s looking for the holy grail in totally the wrong place.

Thanks for reading my comment, William

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By: KelThuz http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2013/04/04/trying-to-fix-broken-economics/#comment-889 Fri, 05 Apr 2013 02:46:46 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/?p=318#comment-889 Austrian School of economics has been saying what the author writes for the last 100 years. So there’s nothing new about “new economic thinking”. We simply need to re-read Mises and Hayek, not come up with some convoluted utopian thinking just so it’s novel.

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By: Pete_Murphy http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2013/04/04/trying-to-fix-broken-economics/#comment-888 Fri, 05 Apr 2013 00:10:15 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/?p=318#comment-888 The real problem with economists and the field of economics is that, still smarting from their Malthusian black eye, they adamantly refuse to give any consideration whatsoever to the most dominant parameter at work in economics today – population growth.

For that reason, they completely miss the inverse relationship between population density and per capita consumption and its role in worsening unemployment and in driving global trade imbalances. They ignore the fact that badly overpopulated nations are becoming increasingly dependent on manufacturing for export to sustain their bloated labor forces and they pretend that the resulting trade imbalances will somehow magically cure themselves if we have enough patience with free trade policies.

As the world’s population continues to double every fifty years, world leaders and central banks lean ever more heavily on deficit spending and money-printing to maintain an illusion of prosperity as unemployment around the globe steadily worsens, and yet they continue to lean on population growth as a crutch for macro-economic growth, not understanding the difference between healthy economic growth and cancerous growth that does more harm than good.

Economics could, in fact, evolve into a real science if economists would look beyond the obvious strains on resources and stress on the environment and consider that there may also be real economic consequences that arise from never-ending population growth.

Pete Murphy
Author, “Five Short Blasts”

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