Buck almighty.  The birth rate and the economy;
One might not expect the question of the economy to emerge under the heading of religion, but for many people religion gave way to philosophy, gave way to science, gave way to economics, gave way to greed.  In a manner of speaking, thus, we worship the dollar.  If you have a dollar in you pocket, pull it out and look at it.  The bible specifically forbids making graven images.  That dollar is an engraving.  Somebody took a metal plate, scratched it a lot and sent it off to be used to print money.  And there is an image of a face on the front.  Flip it over and to the left is a pyramid with a eye at the apex.  I really don’t know what that is supposed to mean, but it sure looks like a mystical symbol to me.  At least in the United States, we have chosen a very appropriate object to represent our unit of value if money has become our substitute for religion. 

Supernatural power of course generally means power not governed by the underlying principles that science seeks.  But there is something one might call more-than-natural power.  An old fashioned steam locomotive might be an example.  As a tractor it can outperform a horse or any number of horses.  One might solve the problem a horse has with speeds in excess of forty miles an hour by some sort of machine on which horses ran on treadmills and the traction was geared up.  The problem would still remain of getting all those horses to cooperate.  But face it, the locomotive replaced the horse for certain tasks because at the end of the day the locomotive was better.  It had more than natural power.

Traditional gods, the polytheistic kind represented by idols, might be expected by their worshipers to grant blessings.  But one could not count on it.  Certain gods are more like locomotives, very powerful but one cannot be sure they have your interest at heart.  A horse may be slow, expensive to maintain, easily tired and dangerous, but there is a real chance it may actually have your interest at heart.  If you fall from a horse, chances are it will not willingly step on you.  A zebra would have a different attitude.  A locomotive would not care. 

There is a far bigger and more complex machine we use.  It is the world market.  Suppose you have decided to give a child a gift.  You reflect that one of the joys of childhood is exercising the imagination.  Most toys you have seen indicate to the child just what is to be imagined.  You decide you can do better.  You take a board, cut it into blocks, sand them, varnish them, dry them and chuck them into a sack.  You have created something of value.  The child has free rein with the imagination, and if one day the child starts drawing things on the blocks, so much the better.  Maybe that hadn’t occurred to you.  You have also interacted with the global economy.

Had you driven to the toy store and bought a toy, the toy either would have come from another country or would be competing with imported toys.  Besides, you had to by gasoline.  Your little project may seem quite isolated, but the fact of what you did not do is reflected in the aggregate of similar transactions.  The unblinking eye of the market notices (remember the back of that dollar), and a tiny adjustment is made.

Like the pulling power of the locomotive, the computing power of the market is beyond mortal skill.  It is beyond mortal understanding.  Some of the things that affect market prices seem clear, but no one could ever know exactly what is going on.  And like a locomotive or an ancient deity, the market does not have your interest at heart.  It just does what its structure makes it do.  

Now remember this graph. 

The vertical axis is birth per woman.  The horizontal axis is years.  The world’s population has been divided into three parts with a segment of each cut out and pasted into the composite.  The total length of time shown is about 130 years.  This is not a prediction.  All of these numbers are actual counts or professional estimates by the UN. 

As it stands, the implication is very clear.  We are running out of children.  A few decades after the last child is born the last person will die.  I cannot calculate for you exactly when that might happen.  But rest assured the market can.  And rest assured that the all seeing eye notices it, even if no human does. 

Nobody thinks we are going to run out of children.  Nobody at all thinks that.  I don’t even think it myself.  I think I am going to succeed in drawing attention to the facts.  Basically all that is needed is for people in the developed world to start marrying appropriate cousins.  The details can be worked out and advice offered.  I think it will work.  I think it will happen in time.

The market does not have the luxury of self delusion.  It only responds to the facts on the ground.  Those facts make a very clear prediction.  There will be no people.  On the day the last human dies, the market value of the entire world, fabulous continents, teeming seas, dazzling cities, mills, farms, orchards, mines, wells, homes, machines, libraries, infrastructure and blocks, will be zero.  The market can pin down the day when that will happen.  It makes the appropriate price adjustment.

If you want to invest some money, there is a chance you can make some money.  You lend the money so someone or some organization you deem capable of keeping its promises.  You hand over the money with the expectation that one day you will get more back.  That is called interest.  The value of a dollar you will have two years from now is less than the value of a dollar for you right now.  This is fundamental economics.  It is built into the market’s calculations.

I trust you have seen a problem.  The future value of all investments combined is zero.  Therefore the current value of all investments is zero.  Sooner or later the market will make that valuation.  It may already have started.  The global economy has gone a substantial distance in the direction of collapse. 

There are three rational responses.  One response is a command economy.  The government seizes the means of production and orders people to work.  That is called communism.  It has not worked well.  Moscow is said to be a mass grave.  Untold millions died during the enforcement of communism. 

The second rational approach is to conclude that if everything is going to be worthless, spend what you can while you can.  That can be done a couple of ways.  Money can be given to people in the hopes they will spend it.  Or money can be spent by the government, leaving the people responsible for the debt.  That is more or less what is going on now.  The market may not be impressed.  In fact, there is a serious question of just how long such behavior can be sustained.  If we spend money on things that are not absolutely necessary, we may run out of money in one way or another.  The you-know-what will perceive that long before there is a human understanding of it.  And the you-know-what does not have our interest at stake.  It does not have the kind of concern for our well being that a parent may have for a child’s imagination. 

The third rational approach is to fix the birth rate.  That cannot be done by market means.  You can’t just buy babies.  If you could, it would already have been fixed.  We don’t need a growing world population.  There are really far too many of us already.  But we need a stable population, at least in the more developed regions. 

As I said the solution is biological.  It is a matter of mating strategy.  Details need to be worked out.  People need to be told the truth.  If that happens, the birth rate should respond.  We can put it exactly where we want it, which for now means exactly at replacement.

If we do that, the all seeing eye will notice.  The market will be tamed.  If the numbers say that we are going to survive indefinitely, then the present market value of the world will be positive. 

There have been 1006 visitors so far.  This is research not advice.  Linton Herbert

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