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Posts Tagged ‘social atomization’

Posts about Financialism, Totalitarianism and Media Echo Chambers

January 23, 2021 4 comments

Here are links to three posts by three different authors about Financialism, Totalitarianism and Media Echo Chambers. I posted them for two reasons. For starters, I am feeling a bit lazy today. But the other reason is that these articles largely mirror what I think on those issues.

The first post goes into some detail about one of the most important reasons why China has displaced USA as the country that manufactures the most stuff. The authors of this piece point out that USA and most western economies are now centered around reant and rent-seeking, which is quite different from how things used to be even forty years ago.

The Consequences of Moving from Industrial to Financial Capitalism

Housing in the United States now absorbs about 40 percent of the average worker’s paycheck. There’s 15 percent taken off the top of paychecks for pensions, Social Security and for Medicare. Further medical insurance adds more to the paycheck, income taxes and sales taxes add about another 10 percent. Then you have student loans and bank debt. So basically, the American worker can only spend about one third of his or her income on buying the goods and services they produce. All the rest goes into the FIRE sector — the finance, insurance and real estate sector — and other monopolies. And essentially, we became what’s called a rent-seeking economy, not a productive economy. So, when people in Washington talk about American capitalism versus Chinese socialism this is confusing the issue. What kind of capitalism are we talking about?

The second linked post is about widespread social atomization and loneliness are a necessary precondition for the emergence of totalitarianism. As many of you know, I have also written extensively about the negative effects of widespread social atomization in the past.

Where Loneliness can Lead

Arendt’s answer was: because loneliness radically cuts people off from human connection. She defined loneliness as a kind of wilderness where a person feels deserted by all worldliness and human companionship, even when surrounded by others. The word she used in her mother tongue for loneliness was Verlassenheit – a state of being abandoned, or abandon-ness. Loneliness, she argued, is ‘among the most radical and desperate experiences of man’, because in loneliness we are unable to realise our full capacity for action as human beings. When we experience loneliness, we lose the ability to experience anything else; and, in loneliness, we are unable to make new beginnings.

The third linked article is about the media in this country (and more broadly the west) has given up all pretensions of not being an extension of the current system and status quo. To make matters worse, almost everyone in the MSM ecosystem now either comes from a sheltered and incestuous ‘elite’ class or desperately aspires to join them.

The Echo Chamber Era

A day after Joe Biden’s inauguration, the headline in Axios read: “Trust in media hits a new low.” Felix Salmon wrote that “for the first time ever, fewer than half of all Americans have trust in traditional media.” The Edelman survey showed overall faith in the press dropping to 46%. The traditional explanation for this phenomenon is that Republicans hate the press a lot, but Democrats just a little. The Axios story bore this out somewhat, as only 18% of Republicans reported trusting media, versus 57% of Democrats. Still, 57% of half your potential audience is nothing to brag about, when you’re in the trust business. Other numbers, like 56% of respondents believing journalists are “purposely trying to mislead people,” or 58% thinking that “most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology… than with informing the public” are more ominous.

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting Recent Articles on the Ongoing Global Demographic Decline

November 18, 2019 18 comments

Recently, I came across a number of articles about the ongoing demographic decline in developed countries all over the world. FYI- I plan to write a short series about this topic soon.

Link # 1: The End of Babies

If any country should be stocked with babies, it is Denmark. The country is one of the wealthiest in Europe. New parents enjoy 12 months’ paid family leave and highly subsidized day care. Women under 40 can get state-funded in vitro fertilization. But Denmark’s fertility rate, at 1.7 births per woman, is roughly on par with that of the United States. A reproductive malaise has settled over this otherwise happy land. It’s not just Danes. Fertility rates have been dropping precipitously around the world for decades — in middle-income countries, in some low-income countries, but perhaps most markedly, in rich ones. Declining fertility typically accompanies the spread of economic development, and it is not necessarily a bad thing. At its best, it reflects better educational and career opportunities for women, increasing acceptance of the choice to be child-free, and rising standards of living.

Link # 2: The Global Fertility Crash

While the global average fertility rate was still above the rate of replacement—technically 2.1 children per woman—in 2017, about half of all countries had already fallen below it, up from 1 in 20 just half a century ago. For places such as the U.S. and parts of Western Europe, which historically are attractive to migrants, loosening immigration policies could make up for low birthrates. In other places, more drastic policy interventions may be called for. Most of the available options place a high burden on women, who’ll be relied upon not only to bear children but also to help fill widening gaps in the workforce. Each of the following indicators tells a part of the global fertility story: not just how many babies women have on average, but also how well women are integrated into the workforce, what slice of the income pie they receive, and level of educational attainment.

Link # 3: Armenia’s Looming Demographic Crisis

The sharp drop in births seen in 2001 has continued for another decade. In addition, the births are heavily weighted toward male children (15% more males than females). One can easily understand the additional strain this will cause by 2030 in family formations. Diasporan communities being formed today, who are prospering in their host nations, offers no guarantees of repatriation to Armenia, or even of having close ties with a country their parents chose to leave. The first 30 years of independence set in motion a demographic crisis so deep and lasting that it is unclear whether anything can be done today to rectify it. The resulting national security issues for Armenia are so serious as to jeopardize the viability of the country for the next 30 years.

Link # 4: How to Overcome Losing 600,000 People a Year

A banner at a traffic roundabout urges onlookers to marry North Koreans. Another, with a photo of a pregnant woman, reminds passersby that freelancers and self-employed female workers can benefit from government stipends for expecting mothers. A church hall contains a busy office, staffed by government social workers, that supports brides from Southeast Asia who wed lonely farmers unable to find a local mate. Uiseong’s efforts are laudable, but government programs like these have done little to address the commonly cited barriers to having children. The cost of living, particularly in urban areas, is astronomical; meanwhile the brutal competitiveness of the education system and a work culture that has traditionally placed a premium on long hours leaves little time for family-rearing. Last year, President Moon Jae-in reduced the maximum work week to 52 hours from 68, though not all firms are covered by these restrictions.

What do you think? Comments?