Saturday, September 27, 2014

Trending


As anyone who knows me will attest, I love statistics, especially the study of trends. Trends, if you will, are a glimpse at a possible future. I love playing with the numbers and squeezing every iota of information out of them. Of course, the future is always fluid. Every once in a while I like to do an intellectual exercise I call "What if?". It's something akin to Einstein's famous "thought experiments". The exercise takes a specific trend or trends and extrapolates to obtain possible scenarios of the future. Let's take birth rates for instance and current trends given the present political climate.

To sustain a general population, one needs as birth rate of 1:1. That is, 2 parents equals two children; essentially replacement. To grow a population, you need to increase that by at least one, or 2 parents producing two replacement offspring plus a minimum of one extra. Simple enough right? Well, here's where we get to have some fun. While the world average is around 1.17%. In the US, it's about .77%. In the UK, it's .54%. Italy's population growth rate is only .30% while Canada's is .76%. France has a growth rate of about .45%, yet Germany's is -0.18%. Russia is -0.03% and the once crowded Japan is -0.13%. In short, many of the advanced--industrial or technological---countries are in severe decline; beyond even replacement growth, and a few have reached unsustainable rates beyond the point of no return.

Now, couple this with the fact that the majority of third world nations are growing drastically. The South Sudan has a population rate of 4.12%. Zimbabwe is 4.32% while Niger is 3.38%. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia both have growth rates of 1.49%. Ethiopia's is 2.89. In addition, the nations with the highest growth rates are not only dirt poor and even more poorly educated, they also tend to be Moslem and because of the European Union's "Open Door" policy, they are settling in Europe in droves and making themselves quite at home with the rather liberal social system, which in turn, is breaking the economic back of Europe. In short, Europe cannot continue to absorb the increase in immigration, and at the current overall growth rate of -0.2% among non-Moslems compared to 1.2% among Moslems living in Europe; it will in all likelihood cease to exist as the West has known it for the five or so millennia. By year 2050, the majority of European countries are projected to either have a majority or plurality Moslem, especially Sweden and Germany along with much of southeastern Europe. So then, what about the United States? What could our future look at?

Well, one thing is for certain, the days of the WASP (that is, White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) are over; kaput. At 36%, white males are already a statistical minority in America (white females are still about 50.9% of the population. Still, whites make up the largest population demographic at about 69%. However, the Hispanic population, already the second largest ethnic group, will triple over the next few years and will make up about 30% of the population by 2030. Whites, on the other hand, will be a minority with 47% by then. Blacks will remain at 13% while the percentage of Asians will increase from 5% to 9% and may be a plurality in some areas along the West Coast. Overall, the US population will increase by 48% to 432 million and foreign born individuals could out number native born, and while the America will be much grayer, those of working age are more likely than not to be either foreign born or first generation children of the foreign born immigrants, particularly Hispanic.

In terms of religion, America will make a dramatic shift away from mainstream Protestantism which has dominated the US since the English first landed and established Jamestown. The majority of Hispanics---55%---regardless of country of origin, are Roman Catholic. Given the number of Americans of European origin who are already Catholic, America could find itself for the first time a Catholic nation while Protestant denominations will follow the graying of the rest of America. However, some Hispanics have converted to various Protestants denominations while others have moved away from any religious identification altogether. At the same time, as the population of Moslems increases, along with their high birth rates, we could see a substantial increase in the number of Mosques. One projection indicated that 11% of the population will be Moslem within the next 10 years. while another projected the Moslem population in the US to rise from 2.6 million currently to 6.2 million by 2030, and could potentially dominate in some urban areas.

Economically, we all know the story by now. The gap between rich and everyone else is wider than at any time before. The average salaries among CEOs and the employees is about 350% higher. Unions, which have the potential to close some of that gap, are basically on life support. Their only growth being among the public sector; approximately 11% of US workers are unionized. America too is now an oligarchy; that's is, it's government is controlled by the a ruling elite, which in this case is the top 1% and it's corporations. The democratic republic, Benjamin Franklin said, was ours to keep if we could, is gone. We now live in the light of its fading embers. In fact, we are quickly headed for classic fascism, which means government serving as a junior partner to big business with government serving more as a overseer or manager. Nations will be nothing more than resource zones.

In terms of politics, again, nothing too different here. Independents are the largest political "party" at 47% followed by Democrats
with 26% and Republicans at 25%. The GOP, in fact, lags behind pretty much across the board among the youth (Millennials---ages 18 to 33), Hispanics, Asians, blacks, and women. However, white voters in general have turned increasingly to the GOP, perhaps out of support for the overall conservative tone because of their declining numbers rather agreement on specific issues. But those who lean conservative, especially among the Millennials, still aren't as socially conservative as the GOP is currently. With the declining number of Babyboomers who've supported the Republican Party in the past, and factor in the "back-to-basics" Tea Party which has been erroneously projected by the corporate media as a bunch of "wackos", the future doesn't look too bright among the Elephant set. However, things aren't all rosy on the Democrat side either. The groups which make up its core---unions, women, low income, and minorities---see the Democratic Party as simply another just other wing of the corporate elites, which would be largely true, especially along issues of illegal immigration, defense spending, reduction in social services, and the economy. Perhaps that's why most Americans, especially the Millennials, are Independents; they're looking for balance, albeit a slightly more left leaning balance. Interesting, several key states, including New Jersey and Massachusetts, are now predominately Independent.

So, what does America of the future look like? There are countless possible scenarios, and any one of them could be just as accurate. However, I could foresee an America which looks much like Yugoslavia or the Austro-Hungarian Empire did; perhaps even of the old Czarist Russia or early USSR or especially the Roman Empire; a hodgepodge of cultural, racial, lingual, and ethno-religious enclaves interspersed with "native" European derived populations--albeit older. We'll have areas of extreme affluence mixed with other areas comparable with any third world country. The wealthy elite will hide behind the gated and high tech security communities while outside will remain dangerous for the ordinary individual. Neighborhoods will have roving volunteer security patrols of their own while other areas, especially intercities, will come under the control of gangs and criminal cartels with most everyone paying some form of "tax" or protection money. Pollution and decay will be everywhere the rich aren't.

Our nation's infrastructure will continue to decay; there will be little money for repairs, let alone new developments. However, look for some aspiring politician or special interest group to "adopt" this or that project---good publicity at bargain basement prices. What money is available will go to the military, the para-military police departments to fight the nebulous-like terrorists and maintain order; capitalism abhors instability, and what's left to social services, though that too will be greatly curtailed as there will be fewer working age individuals to support the older population segment. The police will serve more as a government militia with the same military mentality, especially along "border" areas where various ethnic or racial or even religious groups occasionally become violent (think West Bank). Speaking of borders, don't expect to see any. National borders will vanish. In their place we'll see Regional States supplanting Nation States.

Academically, America will continue to fall further behind as we continue to dumb our academic criteria; we're already 36th in the world, behind Asian and several second tier countries. Technology will continue to blossom, for those who can afford it. Meanwhile, we become ever more economic serfs owned by debt and credit ratings. Politically, we'll still be given the illusion of choice that we have now, but it may be more openly a mere formality. The Republican Party in its present form is likely to disappear, but some new version will assume it's mantle. Either way, the agenda it's now pursuing will increasingly fail to persuade voters, perhaps to the level of national or even regional irrelevance. Meanwhile, whatever political parties exist will be blatantly "company" men and women. We will see the full force of "friendly fascism" as Dr. Bertram Gross so aptly called it in his book by the same name. This won't be the America of mom, apple pie, and Norman Rockwell paintings. However, there's another possible future based on these trends.

The existing trends do not support the political system as it now exists. Both political parties are seen as corrupt and inept.
Washington is beyond out of touch, and most certainly beyond any hope of reform. Corporations openly own government in this country. They are not seen as "individuals" with any of the rights of a flesh and blood person. We do not see ourselves as an entirely free people anymore. Government is perceived as the "enemy", and increasingly so are corporations, the rich, the police and so forth. One could almost sense that society itself is being interpreted as the problem. People want more control over their personal lives. Yes, there must be certain guidelines, but if those guidelines are based on someone else's personal or religious beliefs, then how can they be imposed on someone else? They don't want someone---anyone---telling them what they can do with their lives. They also point to corporations and certain individuals having way too much power; too much wealth. They would, therefore, like to see that balanced out, but the "how" remains in question. Perhaps by capping income levels, or higher tax rates, or changing the current tax code to either a flat tax or a consumption tax. Perhaps something altogether different.

People seem to want a more decentralized government whereby power and decision making is more localized. They want more emphasis on societal benefits, be it social services or cleaning up the environment. Most are issues driven. Most have no problem with the gay issue. It's a personal matter. Most seem to believe one is rewarded by their own individual efforts, meaning there's a personal drive to risk and reward, while at the same time strongly oppose corporate handouts as much as they do corporate influence in government. The same goes for religion. Secularism is the strongest among the younger segment, while Catholicism is strongest among recent immigrants from Latin America, followed by mainstream Protestantism. However, after a time, that appears to wane. In looking at Europe, religious participation among Christians has steadily declined, even in Catholic countries like France, Spain, Italy, and Poland or in strongly Lutheran Germany. It has, however remained strong among Moslem immigrants, but there's the strong likelihood that over time, that too will begin to decline. Science and technology seems to be filling the void, and it is perhaps because of science, and particularly technology, that birth rates for the more advanced populations have declined since the more opportunities to explore the mind---even if it's in the form of playing games.

There are, of course, many other threads we could examine; variations on a theme. But, the basic point is that not only is America changing, but so is the world. Nations, as functioning sovereign States, are disappearing. In their place are regionalized nations, created and controlled by transnational corporations. Some nations are resisting with varying degree of success. Certain religions and/or ethnic groups are feeling the same threat. Some are creatures of the very same powers which created them in the first place. One wonders whether they continue to fight for the same masters in order to bring about a state of "siege" in order to impose a police state---the best friend of fascism---at the public's insistence. It wouldn't be the first time. Naturally, none of this is in stone. It's merely an extrapolation based on current trends. However, the past is gone, and to a large degree, the present isn't as we imagined it. The question then, is what will our future be? The answer to that question rests with you my dear readers.



Europe's Moslem Future
http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/features/europes-muslim-future

Pew Research: Religion and Public Life Project
http://www.pewforum.org/2011/01/27/future-of-the-global-muslim-population-regional-europe/

List of Countries by population growth rate
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_growth_rate

The Shifting Identity of Latinos in the United States
http://www.pewforum.org/2014/05/07/the-shifting-religious-identity-of-latinos-in-the-united-states/

Disclosed: The Pay Gap between CEOs and Employees
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-02/disclosed-the-pay-gap-between-ceos-and-employees

American union membership declines as public support fluctuates
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/20/for-american-unions-membership-trails-far-behind-public-support/

US high school students slide in Math, Reading, and Science
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/12/03/248329823/u-s-high-school-students-slide-in-math-reading-science

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice article! It doesn't look good for America in the future. This story must be retold and retold before our country goes bankrupt.