A couple of more macro trends

Two recent posts highlighted four major concerns for our planet. To summarize, I mentioned our aging population and growing prevalence of obesity as two overarching concerns that don’t get talked about enough. Two more are highlighted when I mentioned the diminishing fresh water supply and encroaching seas as key concerns. Today, I want to highlight two additional concerns – corruption and growing population.

Corruption in government officials is epidemic throughout the world, irrespective of the type of government. It gets the most press in places where there is an autocratic leader, but it is pervasive in democratically elected leaders as well. Even here in the United States, it requires so much money to get elected, an oligarchy has a heavy hand in who runs for office and who gets elected. Plus, elected officials invariably leave office with far more wealth than when they came in, sometimes going to nice lobbying or peripheral jobs to government where income levels are significant.

What this means varies but it is a version of the same plot line. When money is involved, the disenfranchised people have very little voice. In third world and even in second world countries, monies that are earmarked for those in need do not make it to the intended audience. Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was worth $81 Billion when he was overthrown during Arab spring by those who squeaking by on less than $2 per day. In Russia, if you make too much money, your business and assets could be seized, as the oligarchy there needs to be fed. In both Venezuela and Argentina corruption accusations abound. Even here in the US, leaders cannot consider tangible issues, as their funders do not want them to.

Yemen is a very poor country with no resources and provides labor to rich oil countries like Saudi Arabia. Yemeni people could be described as a waiting room for hired labor. It is poor and will be kept poor. So, it becomes a fertile ground for the disenfranchised to hear the compelling stories of terrorists, who will use them for their purpose. In some people’s minds, they have little to lose, yet they don’t know they are being sold a bill of goods. They just know what they have is not working out. So, until we address corruption and can start using money to build industry, trade and infrastructure, terrorism will always find them.

The second concern is our growing population. With around 8 billion people our earth is having a hard time supporting us. It will get worse as we continue to grow. A British study showed that the earth can tolerate about 16 million, provided we consume resources like the average Rwandan. If we consume like the average North American, the earth can only support less than 3 billion people.

This is showing up around the world. In China, when you get away from the coastal cities, rampant poverty can be discovered. India has a severe caste system and for all of its beauty and industry, there is a huge poverty problem which is larger than the population of North America. The poorer countries will be hit the hardest by the resource drain and impact of climate change.

In the US, we have two Americas, the “have” and the “have-nots” who are growing in number. The “haves” do not understand the advantages they have and the opportunities the “have-nots” do not get. So, our “have-nots” will be exposed to resource concerns as we grow in population. Every where around the globe, there is a high correlation between family size and poverty. We must have realistic discussion about sex education and birth control, or we will fulfill our own prophesy. Plus, birth control can help in these impoverished parts of the globe by controlling the transmittal of disease from STD to AIDS to fistula due to young mothers giving birth to soon.

These areas must be addressed or we will see more of all of the other problems we are dealing with. Terrorism, pandemics, women and children being trafficked and resource issues will only continue and become worse problems. Let’s help focus on the real problems and do something about them.


19 thoughts on “A couple of more macro trends

  1. There is no question but that you have put your finger on several of the major problems facing humankind. But at the root of it all is the fact that people will continue to ignore those problems until it is in their own backyard. As long as they can be entertained and diverted they will not mount the necessary protest. And, in this country at any rate, this is being done very effectively. It’s like a magic trick: we’re watching the magician’s left hand while his right hand has the penny in it.

  2. Hugh is exactly correct. We are not paying attention, for a lot of reasons. Mostly for cheap entertainment, but I also believe that people are generally too stressed with trying to make a living and putting food on the table to pay much attention to whats going on in government. The masses are not that influential any longer, just look at the groups that influenced the recent Indiana controversy. It wasn’t a massive uprising of voters, but dedicated influence groups and corporations.

    The individual, and as a member of a group, may well be a group whose time has passed.

    Great subjecty

    • Thanks Barney. It is interesting what a $800 Billion revenue base in LGBT buyers can influence. But, the Civil Rights movement also used economic buying power to gain some concessions. Yet, you are correct, this may be the only way we individuals can influence. By the way, are you paying attention to the Clash of Titans in Oklahoma where the insurance industry is suing the fracking industry as suppressing information that fracking waste water disposal is causing earthquakes and are liable for property damage that resulted. BTG

    • From where I sit, I would say the experiment has failed. The very thing George Washington, among others, thought would happen has happened. Individuals are too wrapped up in themselves and the making of money to care about what happens to the commonwealth. The notion of the “general good” has died.

      • Let’s don’t close the door on us yet. But, we do need more people to stand up and make sure everyone gets a swing at bat. Fortunately, many things happen without politician involvement. What is ironic about the Indiana and Arkansas Religious Freedom issue is that Free Market told the legislators no, who happened to be led by the GOP who touts Free Markets.

      • I believe there is a great deal to the supposition that people are too wrapped up in their reality shows and social networks to see/care about whats going on in the country. But I also see by looking around my area that people are really struggling to survive, often working two jobs or long hours, and then with the family and everything, they really don’t have time for the news or whats going on. I do believe we need to take that into consideration, also.

    • Lee, you are so right. The cost and impact of solutions now will be much more palatable than the cost later after it unfolds. On the corruption, the new Nigerian president touts fighting corruption as have other leaders in other countries, but corruption is a powerful aphrodisiac to far too many. Let’s hope he is good on his word.

  3. Note to Readers: I keep beating the drum about the impact increased sex education and contraceptive tools will have on a number of issues. This is one of the most cost effective and highly impactful changes, yet strident religious followers naysay and suggest abstinence instead. It is absolutely fine to teach abstinence before marriage, but the temptations are too great and teens will have sex. Period, end of story. This is one reason Catholic followers ignore the teachings of the Vatican on birth control to the tune of well over 80%. Family size is planned. Unwanted pregnancies and abortions decline. STDs decline. AIDs cases decline. And, poverty declines.

    But, one other aspect of sex education has to include teaching young women to respect themselves more than they do. It is OK to say no. It is OK to insist on the use of a prophylactic. And, teenage boys need to be taught that no means no. There is no keeping score of the number of children you have sired to measure manhood. And, it is OK to use a prophylactic.

    • Interesting that you should say that! The U.S. had a very successful program of education about contraception, including the supplying of contraceptives, in third world countries that was having a real impact — until the program was cut by Reagan on the grounds that “family planning” necessarily involves abortion! Needless to say, the program was never resumed.

      • Hugh, isn’t ironic when people do the exact opposite of the better course? When previous popes have railed against contraception STDs and AIDs cases increase in Third World countries. Thanks for your many comments. BTG

  4. I appreciate your reflections here on important issues in our world. Yes, the world population is growing and yet people are so into their personal lives that they don’t stop to think how they are consuming the limited resources around them (or to realize that those resources are limited). So much to consider. I only hope that the destruction that humans have already done to the environment has not gone too far already… I do worry about the future generations!

    • Christy, I hope we have not exhausted them. What is happening with the droughts in California should be a wake up call. As for the corruption that will take more political will than many are prepared to give. Have a great weekend. BTG

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