Updates about hot issues discussed on the FM website

Some articles about themes discussed on the FM website.

  1. Demographics, shaping our world
  2. India
  3.  Japan
  4. American’s greatest enemy
  5. America’s rotten boroughs — States with 2 Senators, but few people

(1)  About Demographics

Excerpt from “Falling fertility“, The Economist, 29 October 2009 — “Astonishing falls in the fertility rate are bringing with them big benefits”

SOMETIME in the next few years (if it hasn’t happened already) the world will reach a milestone: half of humanity will be having only enough children to replace itself. That is, the fertility rate of half the world will be 2.1 or below. This is the “replacement level of fertility”, the magic number that causes a country’s population to slow down and eventually to stabilise. … The move to replacement-level fertility is one of the most dramatic social changes in history.

… The bad news is that the girls who will give birth to the coming, larger generations have already been born. The good news is that they will want far fewer children than their mothers or grandmothers did.

The Economist considers only the effects of slowing fertility on the world’s growing population as it moves towards its forecast peak of 9.2 billion in 2050.  But surveys consistently show that around the world women’s desired fertility is below replacement level, aprox 1.9 (vs. replacement of aprox 2.2).  Will future generations struggle to boost ferility, and worry about shrinking numbers?

To see all the articles about demograph on the FM site:  Demography – studies & reports

(2)  About India

Real Coin“, Chet Richards (Colonel, USAF, retired), Defense and the National Interest, 31 October 2009 — About the Nalalite” insurgency in India, important and undercovered by US media.  And COIN in general.

On the FM website:

(3)  About Japan

Excerpt from “It is Japan we should be worrying about, not America“, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, op-ed in the Daily Telegraph, 1 November 2009:

Japan is drifting helplessly towards a dramatic fiscal crisis. For 20 years the world’s second-largest economy has been able to borrow cheaply from a captive bond market, feeding its addiction to Keynesian deficit spending – and allowing it to push public debt beyond the point of no return.

On the FM website:  As Japan sails into the shadows, let’s wish them well and wave good-by., 14 July 2009

(4)  America’s greatest enemy

Beyond the Hawk Consensus: Toward a Balanced Foreign Policy“, Michael Mazarr (Prof at the National War College), American Security Project, 1 December 2007 — Excerpt:

Leading contenders for the presidential nomination in both parties have become deeply enmeshed in that most useless and misleading foreign policy spectacle: the one-upmanship game about “toughness” in foreign policy. Common sense solutions are dismissed in the heat of debate as naïve or soft, while belligerence and fear are hailed as signs of toughness and clarity.

… A consequence of this worldview is to see threats around every corner, to view every moment as another spring of 1940, with Western Civilization on trial. The late Jeane Kirkpatrick was quoted on Oprah, of all places, on the “war on terror.” She said, “You can’t deal with a group like this by turning the other cheek. We have to retaliate now. I think that our civilization would collapse, as a matter of fact, not just our society, if no resistance were offered.” Newt Gingrich has said, “We’re in the early stages of what I would describe as the Third World War.” Robert Kagan and William Kristol were writing in 2003 of “the present world crisis,”2 as if Russia and China constituted aggressors on par with Germany and Japan, circa 1941. But then, these two writers had been talking about a gathering storm throughout the 1990s, when most commentators saw a world largely denuded of major threats.

There may be a lively debate about such claims in the rarified world of international relations theory. Politically, however, the broad consensus on some form of the hawk argument – the world is full of imminent threats; only military power can reliably deter them; toughness and self-interested aggressiveness is the smart course of action for responsible national leaders – has been an unstoppable force since the 1950s. Virtually every major political leader with national aspirations wants to be seen as someone capable of standing tall and crushing enemies. No one can survive politically being portrayed as weak on defense.

… Although the degree of popular support for the hawk consensus has perhaps never been as unqualified as many foreign policy leaders have perhaps assumed,3 the perceived cost for demonstrating weakness remains high. Politically and publicly at the level of grand strategy – if not always in the halls of academe or in the minds of each and every national security official – this straw man has reigned supreme over public discussions of U.S. foreign policy for a half-century or more.

The problem is that this approach to foreign policy is flawed. …

On the FM website about this core weakness of America’s grand strategy:

(5)  America’s rotten boroughs — States with 2 Senators, but few people

Celebrating 120 Years of North Dakota“, Matthew Yglesias, ThinkProgress, 2 November 2009:

States of America. Given that more people live in Memphis, TN than North Dakota it might seem unfair that this large and essentially empty patch of land gets two senators. When you consider that even mighty South Dakota has fewer people than Jacksonville, Florida and that the two states combined contain considerably fewer people than live in Queens or the Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Newport News metro area then it starts to seem even stranger that there are actually two Dakotas. Why would you do it that way?

The answer, it turns out, is cynical partisan politics. The Dakota Territory was extremely favorable to the Republican Party, so the GOP made it into two states.

On the FM website:  What comes after the Consitution? Can we see the outline of a “Mark 3″ version of the United States?


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3 thoughts on “Updates about hot issues discussed on the FM website”

  1. Re:Demographics
    Fewer people is good for labor. It makes for a sellers market in labor. Fewer people means that jobs will chase after people. I have heard some say that the Renaissance was the result of the black plaque. Free markets and globalization mean that capital can go anywhere at the click of a mouse. Labor has to pack up, move and deal with immigration authorities. Perhaps demographics will tip things in labor’s favor.

    Re:America’s greatest enemy
    I call such militaristic thinking the “Pearl Harbor Kneejerk Syndrome”. If there weren’t bad guys out there, I am sure neocon hawks would find us some. The military/industrial people need that to continue feeding at the public trough

  2. Robot butlers. My solution to a shrinking population. We can see the future in Japan, they take robotics very seriously.

  3. I don’t think that a shrinking population will be an entirely bad thing. We are overpopulated as it is right now. However, the causes and issues are what need to be looked at. There are a ton of chemicals and other problems in our world that are creating fertility problems for people.
    FM reply: These things are a matter of timescales. While the eventual effect of a shrinking population probably will be beneficial, the transition will be destablizing due to our high debt levels and the the ponzi-like construction of our social retirement systems.

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