Podcast

Mark Skousen: Surveillance Technology Is Advancing Faster Than We Can Responsibly Use It

Who's watching the Watchmen?
Sunday, June 16, 2013, 10:45 AM

In the wake of the recent news revealing the extent of the NSA's level of citizen surveillance through supernetworks like PRISM, Chris speaks this week with Mark Skousen, former-CIA-agent turned founder-of-FreedomFest, one of the countries largest "gatherings of free minds."

Mark argues that in this case, technology has advanced at a far faster pace than our culture's ability to understand how to use it effectively, responsibly, and how to regulate it:

I think its like the Pentagon papers back in the early 1970s, where we definitely need to tell government You’ve overstepped your bounds. I mean, look, I worked for the CIA, I understand the need for secrecy, I understand the need for intelligence, especially against foreign threats. But there are plenty of ways to do this without this wholesale invasion of everybody’s emails and telephone records. You don’t have to use those methods, and in many cases we haven’t used those methods, and yet we’ve kept so many terrorists plots from being carried out. I’ve talked to a number of my CIA people, and they have all kinds of means and methods of finding these things out that are pinpointed without violating the 4th Amendment, the right to privacy, for the ordinary U.S. citizen. 

And while the PRISM leak is raising an important debate about where to draw to draw the line between security and civil liberty, Mark doesn't feel the world has changed enough to depart from where the divide has been over past generations. And without hard constraints agitated for by the populace, our security apparatus will continue to expand and invade:

I don’t think it’s so much that the world is more dangerous; it’s just that the technology has advanced so rapidly that we’re now facing a situation where with these unmanned drones that can be the size of a mosquito and are taking pictures. We have GPS; they’re considering a rule to mandate that it be in every car, every cell phone, so we know where you are at all times. The capability of the NSA to collect all of this data, this is all new technology  -- it’s kind of like new military weapons; you always want to try them out.

The invasion of privacy is growing faster in technology than the privacy protectors. So I think that’s really what’s going on: They’re just using this as a ruse and excuse to use this new technology. 

As mentioned, Mark is also the founder of FreedomFest. Within the podcast, Chris commits to posting a link to a brief video about the event - here it is:

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Mark Skousen (33m:18s):

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson:  Today we welcome Mark Skousen as our guest. Mark is a nationally known investment expert economist, university professor, the author of more than 20 books, and the editor-in-chief of Forecast and Strategies, a popular investment newsletter. But he is perhaps just as well-known today as the founder of Freedom Fest, an annual non-partisan festival billed as the world’s largest gathering of free minds.

Now, over the years, many Peak Prosperity readers have advised me that Freedom Fest would be a great audience to introduce to the Crash Course, as it’s comprised of many independent minded thinkers, like the ones we write for and regularly talk to. In the wake of the NSA spying, IRS and journalist wire tapping scandals, this podcast and this year’s Freedom Fest have added dimensions to them. So I’ve asked Mark to come to the program and tell us more about Freedom Fest, how it’s participants might view recent events, and what we need to be doing about the direction in which our country is headed.

Mark, thank you so much for joining us.

Mark Skousen:  It’s a real pleasure.

Chris Martenson:  In order to acquaint our listeners with yourself, what else should they know about your background that I didn’t cover?

Mark Skousen:  I’ve actually been what you might call a “world traveler.” I grew up in Portland, Oregon. My father was an FBI agent. My uncle many people know Cleon Skousen is was also an FBI agent and kind of the father of the constitutional movement, the Tea Party movement, and the anti-communist movement, and so forth. So I was grounded in conservative political thinking. I’ve become more of a libertarian over time, but I basically got into I got a PhD in economics back in the 1970s. I worked for the CIA, so I have a little bit of background in this whole issue of the NSA and so forth. But I basically built my career around the financial world starting in the 1970s, kind of an upside-down world that I got involved in with the financial revolution that went on during that inflationary 1970s. And have been writing my own newsletter called Forecast and Strategies since 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected. And so I’ve been writing my newsletter for 34 years.

Chris Martenson:  Wow.

Mark Skousen:  Lived in Washington, DC, then moved our family we have a family of five children, my wife and I; still married to my first wife after 40 years of marital bliss and we moved to the Bahamas in the 1980s for a couple of years; I call that life in living color. And then we saved enough in taxes to buy a flat in London, so we lived there for a while and then moved to Orlando to raise our kids.

And since 2001, I’ve been living in New York; so I’ve traveled to maybe 70 some countries and during this time written about 25 books. I’ve been doing investment conferences for many years. And then about 10 years ago, I decided to start Freedom Fest as a national convention for all freedom lovers to come together once a year to learn and network and celebrate liberty, or what’s left of liberty. It’s been a really great experience, and we’re just growing every year. We’re going to have over 2,000 people there this year, so we’re really excited about it.

Chris Martenson:  Congratulations on all of that, and that certainly helps paint the picture, so thank you for that background. Let’s start at the outside before we work in the particulars of Freedom Fest, which I want to get to. When you look at the macro trends that work in the United States, which ones most concern you?

Mark Skousen:  I think there’s a lot of things that concern me, and one is the policy level of government – government is in many ways responsible for the errors. But it’s not just government, its economic policy based on what is being taught to our students in today’s colleges. And the best and brightest are learning still Keynesian economics, that the only solution to our problem is more inflation, bigger government and more intrusion in our lives.

And it’s most unfortunate that despite every effort by the Chicago school, Milton Freidman, and the Austrian School of Mises and Hayek, of which I’m partial to, we just have not made much of a dent. Supply-set economics has had some successes, but government is still very large, very intrusive, and it’s both in terms of our money system, which I think is suspect and government policy in general, the interventionist policies, the level of taxation. There’s just a whole series of problems that our country faces, and it’s largely due to bad government policy that has been taught in the schools over the years.

So one of my purposes just as yours is, I believe is to teach people sound economic principles. And I’ve written a textbook called Economic Logic, and I’ve written a series of textbooks to try to reverse this trend, but it’s still very much an uphill battle.

Chris Martenson:  You know, it seems much of the Keynesian economics, in my mind well, let me be fair to Keynes, I think it’s been distorted heavily over time, and in favor of allowing certain rationalizations to take hold such that people think they’re associated with Keynes, which is the idea that government should run persistent deficits, which I don’t think he really ever advocated. So maybe there’s a little fairness to him that’s due. But you’ve characterized two big areas; one is the size of the government itself, and I’ve seen a lot lately with doctors giving up on the medical profession because it’s just too complicated because more and more rules get layered on top of them. Teachers giving up for the same sets of reasons. It’s natural for any organizational bureaucracy, every company, to want to grow. Growing’s easy, but your argument would be that it’s grown too large. In fact, now additional growth is harming us rather than helping us.

Mark Skousen:  Yeah; I’m not a total pessimist in the sense that I think we’re headed for an absolute disaster. I do think we are headed for disaster, but it is reversible. I don’t think we’ve reached the point of no return, like a lot of analysts think, but it does require you know, we’re headed for a cliff, we’re driving a car. We’re in charge of the car, and we can make a U-turn but we’re coming closer and closer to the cliff, and we’re going fairly fast, so we have to put on the brakes in enough time to turn around; otherwise we go off the cliff.

So I like to use the example of Canada, our neighbor to the north, as a classic example in the mid-1990s that faced a similar problem of excessive government. I think government spending as a percentage of GDP was over 50%. The Canadian dollar was falling, they were running these huge deficits, government was too interventionist, and the liberal party of Canada of all groups, the ones responsible for causing or creating this crisis said, Enough is enough, and we’re going to reverse this ourselves. So in the mid 1990s, they fired federal workers, they balanced the budget in two or three years, and then they went on an 11-year supply-side tax-cut policy and high economic growth. They had no financial crisis in 2008, and the Canadian dollar is back.

So it is reversible, but it’s not going to be automatic; it depends on a change in government policy. And that requires leadership, and that’s one thing we really lack right now. President Obama is not listening to this podcast, unfortunately, and so that’s the problem; so we have to go to a survival mode. We have to predict where this is headed, the unfunded liability problems, Obamacare that you mentioned, you know how is that going to affect us? Our investment portfolio, our business, our relationships, and our standard of living?

Chris Martenson:  Certainly, at the higher level of this, one of the Austrian quotes I really love from Ludwig von Mises is to paraphrase it, it roughly says, When you undergo a credit expansion, you either voluntarily terminate it or you face a catastrophe of the currency system involved. And that’s what we’ve really done here. If you look back over the last 40 years and this is apolitical, this is independent of party, because this has happened across all parties and all decades we’ve been growing our credit market debt at roughly twice the rate of the underlying economy.

And as an individual, you can’t do that; you can’t grow your debts on your credit card faster than your income forever; that breaks. And instead of owning up to that, what we’ve got is a whole slew of new interventionist policies from the Fed, on the monetary side, from the fiscal side. And basically I think the collective statement there is, we don’t want to have to live below our means to adjust for the period where we lived beyond our means. We want to pretend that the period where we lived beyond our means was normal and something that could happen in persistent perpetuity. How would we go about you turning that particular dynamic at this point, would you think?

Mark Skousen:  I do think things are reversible, but it is, to some, extent painful. There is no free lunch here. It means layoffs; it means changing direction. Take for example the Department of Education, which has spent something like a trillion dollars since it’s inception, and what evidence what do we got to show for it, really? Nothing. The SAT scores are still down. We’re “teaching to the test,” which my wife will tell you, as a professor of English, is the worst way of teaching. People don’t really learn; they’re just regurgitating what they’re told that’s going to be on the test. And funding, dealing with these problems.

So if you decide to get rid of the Department of Education, which you and I and others have advocated for years, that means a lot of layoffs of federal workers. They got to find other jobs. Now there’s a savings there, the deficit is reduced as a result of it, but there’s still a lot of pain; individuals who are working for the government now have to find gainful employment elsewhere. When Canada went through this, they did fire 60,000 federal workers in Canada, which is a lot of people for them. So there is that pain that’s involved, and the media is not going to understand it. They’re going to complain; there’s going to be all kinds of protests. There could be riots in the streets.

You saw what’s happening in Greece and in Europe. That’s a classic example of where people who are benefit-corrupted, who are on welfare and so on, and you start cutting back on that, that’s why we have when companies go through downsizing, they often do it through attrition. They say, we’ll make it a part time job or we’ll show you where you can get a new job. There’s all of these different methods that are used to minimize the pain, but you can’t eliminate the pain.

Chris Martenson:  Right. Okay, well, let’s turn quickly now to the other side of this. You mentioned a couple of big trends, and the other one is kind of loss of civil liberties, if I could put it that way. Let’s turn now to this I guess it’s very much in the news, and it should be we’ve got the NSA tracking scandal, of course; we also have the IRS deal; we’ve got the journalist wire tapping. But looking at this NSA tracking scandal, what are your views there?

Mark Skousen:  I think it’s a major – frankly, I’m really I applaud these whistleblowers who have done this. I know they’re viewed as traitors and may be prosecuted for what they’ve done, but I think its like the Pentagon papers back in the early 1970s, where we definitely need to tell government that you’ve overstepped your bounds. I mean, look, I worked for the CIA; I understand the need for secrecy; I understand the need for intelligence, especially against foreign threats. But there are plenty of ways to do this without this wholesale invasion of everybody’s emails and telephone records. You don’t have to use those methods, and in many cases we haven’t used those methods and yet we’ve kept so many terrorists threats and plots from being carried out. I’ve talked to a number of my CIA people, and they have all kinds of means and methods of finding these things out that are pinpointed without violating the Fourth Amendment, the right to privacy, with the ordinary U.S. citizen.

So I am very disturbed about this new NSA building that is being built. I mean, it’s a monstrous, multi-level building that you’re finding out – in Bluffdale, Utah – that is going to be collecting the big data, collecting the emails. Okay,they may not be reading it, but they’re going to be collecting this data so that they could read it when they wanted to, when people like Chris Martenson become an enemy of the state.

Chris Martenson:  Freedom and privacy have always gone hand in hand, and I’ve heard the argument lately where Obama had said that if you want 100% security, you’ve got to make some trade-offs. We have to be willing to concede certain things, and society has to decide where it wants to draw the lines. And the thing I objected to in that statement immediately was the idea that society didn’t decide anything. This was done in secret, and in many cases I believe even the Congressional and Senate people charged with oversight had no clue what was going on.

So this is all happening with secret courts, with secret rulings, and in fact, they tell us it’s legal, but we can’t actually see the ruling, because that’s secret. And this really harkens not to the principles upon which this country was founded, but others – more totalitarian regimes would have a better alignment with such an idea. In your views, do we really [need this] – is the world changed to the point where it’s worth it to give up our most fundamental right to privacy? I guess it’s a privilege, because rights can’t be taken away; privileges are temporary. For security, is the world that dangerous that we could no longer suffer an insult from a danger that we would have to give up something that’s worked so well for us for hundreds of years?

Mark Skousen:  You know, Chris, I don’t think it’s so much that the world is more dangerous; it’s just that the technology has advanced so rapidly that we’re now facing a situation where with these unmanned drones that can be the size of a mosquito, that are taking pictures and that sort of thing; we have the GPS that they’re mandating – they’re considering a rule to mandate that it be in every car, every cell phone so we know where you are at all times. The capability of the NSA to collect all of this data – this is all new technology, and it’s kind of like new military weapons. You always want to try them out. We even start wars to see how good we can use these weapons. And I think that’s what’s happening here.

The technology to maintain privacy is also growing. There are ways to maintain privacy in your email and that sort of thing, but it just seems like the invasion of privacy is growing faster in technology then the privacy protectors. So I think that’s really what’s going on, and they’re just using this as a ruse and excuse to use this new technology.

Chris Martenson:  Technology has a bad habit of advancing faster than the culture that generates it, and so it’s just going to take time for our rules, our regulations, our understandings, our habits to catch up with the technology. In the meantime, though, the government seems to be saying Trust us; don’t talk about it; we’re not going to misuse this in any way. But the IRS scandal shows power gets misused. In fact history shows that power will be misused and abused. And so I, for one, am not willing to sport a lot of faith to technology that’s so powerful. I think Stephen Colbert sort of nailed it for me last night, when he said, If you’re doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide from the giant surveillance apparatus the government’s been hiding.

Mark Skousen:  I’ve never bought into that, either, because you do have something to hide. I mean, what if I asked you, Do you have any gold and silver coins, and can you please tell me where they are, and can you please give me your address, and can you tell me when you’re not going to be at home? So you have nothing to hide? What you mean to say is that you’re not doing anything illegal. But you still have things to there’s a reason there’s a rationale behind privacy.

The other thing is, if somebody is looking over your shoulder, that changes the way you talk and the way you act regarding people. A lot of times, you don’t tell people what you really think, because you know your voice is being monitored. That’s not freedom, you know; that’s a regulatory environment. That is what we mean by a “police state.” So I think this idea that if you have nothing to hide, what do you care? is really something to reject.

Chris Martenson:  I agree. Now, let’s turn to Freedom Fest. You mentioned you started about 10 years ago, and it’s got a couple thousand attendees. What’s the mission behind Freedom Fest? Why’d you start it?

Mark Skousen:  I came up with the idea when I was president of FEE, the Foundation for Economic Education; that’s why I moved to New York. And I said, We’ve never done this before, but let’s have a national convention. We’re the oldest free-market think tank; let’s invite all the other free market organizations. Let’s have a festival of great ideas, great thinkers, and great books, and have an intellectual feast. Let’s have it in the entertainment capital of the world, the most laissez-faire city in the United States. Let’s have it in Las Vegas. I mean, CPAC has its event in Death Star, which is what we call Washington, DC. And so we thought, as a Libertarian movement, why don’t we have it out in Las Vegas? And it fit just perfectly; we had 850 people the very first meeting.

I didn’t continue as president of FEE, but I thought Freedom Fest was something that should stick around. Because I think in many ways we’re all doing our own thing; we’re like a heard of cats. As Libertarians, we’re all going in different directions, and we’re losing. So I felt an urgency to come up with this idea of a national convention or a world conference, if you will of freedom lovers, where we all come together. There’s value to physically being together to see each other in the eye, to talk. Not just over the phone, not just through email, not just through texting, not through podcasts and all the other things that we do in different directions, but that we come together.

We live busy lives; we do it just once a year, only once a year, in July, in Las Vegas. A very hot time, so we have a captive audience; nobody leaves during the day. But it’s been growing. It’s taken a long time, but I think now we have a critical mass, if you will, because once you get a critical mass, then your growth can be like an atomic bomb it can really explode. And I think we’ve reached that point, because we have all the major free-market think tanks coming, we have Kato and Heritage and Reason and FEE and Goldwater Institute and Freedom Works, Americans for Prosperity, they’re all coming. They all have booths, they all have exhibits, and we have other organizations that are coming together as well. So we have full exhibit space this year, and that’s really the idea behind it.

And in all these breakout sessions, we have over 100 speakers. So we have the top speakers, like Senator Rand Paul is coming; we have Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal, Steve Forbes comes for all three days. John Mackey of Whole Foods Market is one of our co-ambassadors with Steve Forbes. So we have representatives from all of these organizations, and then each year, we choose a theme. And our theme this year is Are We Rome? Are we in decline; are we like the Roman Empire, like the British Empire? Like China, like Egypt? Are we all going through the same cycle, where we have this rise and become the super power? And then we start our decline and fall and maybe even collapse? And that’s the concern that you’re raising, and others are raising, and it’s a very legitimate concern.

This theme has really resonated with people, and I would encourage your podcast listeners to go to FreedomFest.com and watch our two and a half minute video “Are we Rome?” It’s kind of a preview where we look at the past and compare it to the future, and it’s been rated the number one video in a number of conferences. Just a short two and a half minute video at Freedom Fest.com, and people will get a sense of what we’re talking about.

Chris Martenson:  You know what, we’re going to link that video at the bottom of the podcast so that people can click just straight through to that so check the bottom of the page, you’ll get a link you can click to there. And so, are we Rome? Is that a rhetorical question, or are you really going to how are you going to explore that question?

[Are We Rome? FreedomFest 2013 from Smooky on Vimeo.]

Mark Skousen:  That’s right. We do put a question mark after it, because I’ve done quite a bit of reading and we have over a dozen experts coming to address this issue and by the way, John Stossel and Fox News is coming for the very first time. It’s a real breakthrough for us to have a major TV network coming to Freedom Fest in Vegas. So they’re also John Stossel’s program is going to be called “Are we Rome?” and it is a question mark. So yes, what destroyed Rome? And the answer was an excessive foreign policy, with an army that was very expensive, so that meant an increase in taxes, but that wasn’t enough, so they debased the currency. They didn’t have paper money back then, but they clipped the coins and they made the silver Denarius worth less and less. They had almost a hyperinflation during that time.

Then they imposed state socialism under Diocletian and other leaders. So what Augustus the emperor had established, which was the biggest superpower of its era, went into decline and crashed because of excessive taxation, excessive welfare state, the free bread that they were offering all their citizens. They depended on a slave economy. Anyway, between taxation and inflation and state socialism, where they nationalized the trade unions and the mines and so forth, it all fell into disaster. Now on the other hand so, we face all of those things, we have an excessive welfare state, we have monetary inflation debasement of the currency, we have excessive taxation. Taxation is not fair. It’s unfair to everybody. And finally the reason I say it’s a question mark is because we’re not a slave economy, which the Romans were. We’re not an agrarian economy; we’re a technologically advanced industrial information oriented economy. We’re so far advanced compared to these other countries, compared to Rome.

So that’s why it’s a question mark, because and I think we do have the principles of sound economics among a minority of economists, but maybe people will recognize their problems and turn things around and we could move to a higher era of superpower growth. It’s not inevitable that we are in decline, although I think the evidence is that culturally and economically and politically we are in decline. I would argue we’re on a decline, but I would also argue that we have it in our power to reverse course before we have a collapse.

Chris Martenson:  The reason that I resonate with a lot of that, and the reason that I focus on the economy first I also look at resources, energy, how we’re treating the larger planet in terms of non-renewable natural resources being taken out and waste streams going back in. There are a variety of things we can focus on. I focus on the economy, and the reason is that a lot of people have embedded in them this idea that progress is a one way trip; that we will have better technology in the future. And that’s true if and only if we have an intact, functioning economy there to support it.

It’s worth noting that in the Roman experience, they had heated floors, spas, aqueducts, roads, arts, literature. They were advancing science; they had cement technology we’ve not yet duplicated. It’s extraordinary what they did, and that all went away for a long time. And that went away because their economy collapsed and their society collapsed. And so that’s why, I mean if you have a functioning economy, a lot is possible. Wander over to Greece today and ask the question how are they doing? and you’ll discover they’re not doing all that well because their economy has gone away. It’s not that they lack people who are clever or motivated or resources; their economy has fundamentally gone away.

So I truly believe the greatest threat we face in the near horizon is fiscal and monetary mismanagement. It’s been cooking along for a while, but oh my gosh, if the Federal Reserve gets this wrong, we could actually see great harm, grievous harm, to our sense of selves, our cultural cohesion, and most importantly, our ability to really advance the dreams that we want to live into. If we really want an economy that can function on alternative energies, for instance, some day we have to wean ourselves off fossil fuels eventually. You know, then, how are we going to do that without a fully functioning economy?

So my view is that it’s the economic policies and by that, I mean fiscal and monetary that are some of the most grievous threats. You’ve been running Freedom Fest for a number of years now. What are our opportunities, then, to really effect positive change on the fiscal and monetary front in your estimation? How would we do that?

Mark Skousen:  One of the things that we like to do is, we don’t like the attendees at Freedom Fest to walk away with their heads down and saying, Oh, man, there’s just no way we’re just stuck, and what can we do? and they just wash their hands of it this year. Actually, we go to special lengths to offer an optimistic vision. So we have economists coming in talking about sound economics, but also we have experts who come in, especially led by Richard Ronn at the Kato Institute, who brings in experts of countries around the world that have reversed themselves and are on the road to success. Like Estonia that has a flat tax and has a balanced budget and went through austerity and has real austerity where they cut taxes and cut the size of government. That’s not the false austerity that Europe is going through, where they raise taxes and they didn’t really cut government spending and it’s counterproductive.

We tell the Canada story; we talk about Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and the Economic Freedom Index people. People walk away from Freedom Fest with a new vision that says, Wow, we have in our hands the capability of turning things around if we can do X, Y, and Z. So we have a full three-day investment conference that talks about how people are successful in this environment.

So really, that’s one of the other purposes of Freedom Fest, is to give people hope for the first time. And we get a lot of letters from people saying, I’m really glad I went to Freedom Fest because I couldn’t believe there were so many like-minded people, and it just re-energized people for the first time in their lives to say, Wow there are several thousand people here; they meet new friends and maintain friendships for years. We even had a couple who met at Freedom Fest and get married last year at Freedom Fest, so it’s really quite fun.

The other thing we do, and it’s really important, is to have civil debates. I’m sure a lot of your listeners watch Fox News or some of the other channels, and they see these debates going on, and the shouting matches. We have debates, but they’re all civil; they’re all formal debates, so each person makes their point, and we try to avoid the demonizing that goes on, the left/right dichotomy. We talk about what is good policy and what is bad policy. We don’t care if it comes in a right or the left or whatever; it’s just, as Ronald Reagan once said, There’s no left or right; there’s only up or down. And I really like that approach, to treat everyone truly as an individual and respect the alternative point of view. And so it’s almost a love-fest, if you will, that we have every July.

Chris Martenson:  All right, in Las Vegas; that’s a good place to have something like that.

Mark Skousen:  It’s great, because during the day we have an intellectual feast, and by the evening people want to go out to a fine restaurant, to see a great show, to do some gambling, or whatever they want to do. It really is a “wow” experience, as people have reported to us. So we’re growing, and you can see why we’re growing when you come there.

Chris Martenson:  Fantastic. So for anybody listening who is now hopefully very intrigued and would like to find out more, where do they go?

Mark Skousen:  We have a simple website, FreedomFest.com that they can go to. We have an 800 number they can call there to find out more information. We have $89.00 a night for room rates. It’s really a very simple process.

Chris Martenson:  Fantastic; so, FreedomFest.com, people can go there to look at it.

We’ve been talking with Mark Skousen. Mark, it’s been a real pleasure.

Mark Skousen:  Thank you, Chris.

About the guest

Mark Skousen

Mark is a nationally known investment expert economist, university professor, the author of more than 20 books and the editor in chief of Forecast and Strategies, a popular investment newsletter. But he is perhaps just as well known today as the founder of Freedom Fest, an annual non-partisan festival billed as the world’s largest gathering of free minds.

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37 Comments

CleanEnergyFan's picture
CleanEnergyFan
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 29 2012
Posts: 103
Freedom Fest and a Peak Prosperity Track

Thanks for having Mark Skousen on to acquaint the PP listeners to the FF LV event.  I have been there several times and it truly is a fun and educational opportunity to exchange ideas about economics, freedom, and healthy living.  I would LOVE to see a separate track dedicated to the Crash Course and believe it would be another venue for the PP family to get together once a year physically to complement the excellent Rowe and Kripalu seminars Chris is already doing.  While FF is much more about Economics (primarily Austrian focused), Investments and Freedom and less so about Environment or Energy, the 3E message would be a wonderful complement to the other concepts presented there and would resonate with that audience who would appreciate more exposure to the personal resilience message of PP.  I had to make a choice this year whether to go to Kripalu or FF since both are within a week of each other; I decided to go to Kripalu but hope that next year I don’t have to make that choice.  I would hope that next year we could combine the best of both and meet up with some of the PP family at FF (and perhaps move the Kripalu event to a slightly different month)?  Both PP and FF have a lot to offer their respective audiences and Kudos to you for having Mark on!

 

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Oliveoilguy
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darbikrash
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Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 573
Non-partisan?

 

In the final analysis, what the Austrians offer past anti-war, anti-government hollow sloganeering is nothing more than the free market religion, couched in platitudes like “sound money” and “liberty”. When we have companies like Google with more cash reserves than sovereign nations such as Venezuela for example, when the annual profits of companies like Apple are sufficient to pay the entire debt of Cyprus in one fell swoop, when the total revenues of US corporations could zero our entire national debt in about 7 months of income, apparently none of this gives rise to any concern as to something being wrong with the free market calculus.

 

For the first time in our nation’s history, transnational companies are now de facto nation states, at least in terms of economic power- and now actively expanding into military power. We see congruence between the growing surveillance state, military operations, loss of personal liberties, and the profit motives and the interests of transnational corporation. The Austrians do not see a connection? Further they propose that what is needed is MORE free market deregulation and abolishment of any vestiges of dysfunctional government remaining that might bring into check such unmitigated economic and social power?

 

Sure, it’s fair to say the Keynesians are wrong- so what. More appropriately, what you can also say is the Austrians are wrong too, but they are substantially more wrong than the Keynesians. The Rothbard/Austrian predicted hyperinflation did not happen. And is not going to happen. Simply put, the dollar is the least wrinkled shirt in the hamper, a result that should have been very easy to predict.

 

Schumpeter and Hayek made some admirable advances to the theory of business cycles in the ‘30’s, notably with the concept of “creative destruction” advanced by Schumpeter. Not much has happened since then in Austrian thinking of any consequence. In fact, modern Austrian think tanks such as the Cato Institute are co-opted, owned lock, stock and barrel by the Koch Brothers-nullifying any semblance of non-partisan claims. “Creative destruction” however, has been embedded into free market thought as the answer to all questions, no matter the circumstance, you simply let the market self correct dangerous anomalies (which of course were created by government intervention in the first place<sarc>) and prohibit outside intervention of any kind, and voila, any conceivable market based problem is instantly solved by the invisible hand of Adam Smith.

 

In a major intellectual blunder (one of many it turns out), Austrians fail to acknowledge that not all capitalist destruction is “creative”. In fact, in contemporary times, not much of it is. There is a profound difference between companies going out for business because of their inability to remain competitive (which I support), through technology or otherwise (think of Kodak as an example) and the type of dangerous and damaging capitalist destruction of the kind that Minsky introduced with his theory of financial instability. Financial instruments can and are regularly created that have destructive repercussions that affect market non-participants. Further, these capitalist instruments are created solely by free market actors without government influence. Think $600 trillion derivatives as an example.  The destruction that these instruments can create, impacts even people with no involvement in financial markets.

 

Individuals and corporations pursuing their own profits, en masse , regardless of societal impact in an environment of wholesale declining profit margins sets up a violation of normative social justice that cannot be reconciled by Austrian thinking. In short, these unregulated free market solutions in fact result in fewer freedoms, less liberty, and ultimately totalitarian, repressive nation/states governed by corporations.

 

As an example, in the current NSA security state scandal “free market” contractor Booze Allen pulls down a hefty $5.8 billion in annual revenue, much of it selling security and surveillance services. And not just to the US government. As reported in today’s NY Times, Booze Allen has sold to United Arab Emigrates in effect a replication of the entire NSA security apparatus, replete with spy software and everything one might want to create a surveillance state. There are hundreds of firms like Booze Allen, all creating free market “products” and services that satiate the demand from not just governments, but from corporations or anyone that wishes to “maintain security”, now a euphemism for exportable totalitarian police states.

 

As to an argument that the government instigates these software based arms wars, consider the intrinsic signature element of the coercive laws of competition, e.g. if a free market actor creates a surveillance state product of it’s own accord, on speculation, (quite common it turns out) if it is effective, and the US government declines to buy it, some other government (or corporation) may then step in, placing the US at a disadvantage. So they are then coerced into buying it to maintain parity, and the downward spiral continues. We saw this phenomenon with the nuclear arms race, and in fact international regulation was necessary -exactly the opposite tact than the free market advocates prescribe.

 

Both Keynesian and Austrian economics are based on bogus neoclassical economic theories tracing back to such elementary errors as belief in theory of marginal utility, theory of the rational consumer, and price/preference curves scaling from micro to macro- which they don’t. This is like studying astrophysics and discovering the associative theorem you learned in 5th grade algebra was wrong. The whole house of cards collapses. Any conclusions the Austrians draw from their supposed understanding of economics as applied to capitalism is flawed at first principles.

 

If you don’t understand the intrinsic instabilities in a capitalist free market economy of course you don’t need (or want) government regulation. If you do not understand the role debt plays in supplying the growth imperative in capitalism of course you don’t need a Federal Reserve Bank. If you do not recognize that the fiat dollar was created explicitly to support and advance free market capitalism, in fact specifically designed, tested, and optimized for this express purpose, than of course you advocate “sound money”. And debt, why, who needs that either? This is like walking into a room full of aerospace engineers and upbraiding them for designing wings that allow heaver than air flight- what knuckleheads, who ever heard of gravity?

 

In the end, the Austrians will be (and currently are being) sent back to back the conspiracy theory peanut galleries, of mumbling, dust bowl era edentulous farmers, talking to themselves, cussing and swearing at the gubymint. Just like in the ’30’s when Hayek and company were sent packing into the bush leagues by the likes of Sraffa and Keynes, banished from economics and forced into political philosophy where there is less need for the “maths”.  In the meantime the Koch bothers just keep smiling.

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
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Posts: 728
Three things

 

3 things.

First, Oliveoilguy, the levity is hilarious. laugh

Second, I liked the clarification regarding people who have nothing to hide.  I've been perhaps less concerned than I should be about spying.

Finally I adopt the role of devils advocate.  I have been a Malthusian far longer than a member of this website and have agreed with the ideas brought forth by ZPG (Zero Population Growth) since the mid 70s. I had two children largely because of ZPG teachings.  There are quite a few people living these days that believe we may very well be in population overshoot already, given pollution, extinction and resource depletion issues that we are already facing.

When I hear someone who drives a large SUV or luxury car talk about climate change or peak oil, I cannot take them entirely seriously.

By the same argument, when someone who has 5 children talks about perpetual economic growth as an issue, I take a step back.  Having 5 children implies that you expect the economy you live in to more than double in 20 years just to provide the extra jobs your children will need to get by, or you are counting on someone else to forgoe having children so that you can have more.

The concept of exponential growth is critical here as well.  If you plot the actual exponential population growth Earth is experiencing into the future, assuming no resource constraints, how many years would it be before you have overpopulated every theoretical inhabitable planet in the Milky Way Galaxy?  I'm not even going to do the math today and I'll still bet you it would be under 2,000 years.

A question that has popped into my mind a time or two in the past is, how does a libertarian government, or any other "free" government effectively discourage excess children within a family when that government finally realizes that the resources are no longer available to support them?  Conversely, is it reasonable to expect people to ever voluntarily cut back?

Inquiring minds wonder.

My purpose here is not to specifically put Mark on the spot.  I have done things I would rather take back.  Given a do-over, I would use less energy over my life time.  My energy consumption was normal for a US Citizen, but imprudent in light of peak oil.  My purpose here is to, once again, bring up the topic people don't talk about; population control.  We talk about trying to control resource depletion, pollution, etc. ad nauseum, but rarely do we link it back to population.  Even when we do, more often than not the solution suggested is cutting back life style rather than addressing exponential population growth.

Les

 
bigelow's picture
bigelow
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Regarding "nothing to hide"

"As the computer-security specialist Schneier aptly notes, the nothing-to-hide argument stems from a faulty "premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong." Surveillance, for example, can inhibit such lawful activities as free speech, free association, and other First Amendment rights essential for democracy.

The deeper problem with the nothing-to-hide argument is that it myopically views privacy as a form of secrecy. In contrast, understanding privacy as a plurality of related issues demonstrates that the disclosure of bad things is just one among many difficulties caused by government security measures.”

“"My life's an open book," people might say. "I've got nothing to hide." But now the government has large dossiers of everyone's activities, interests, reading habits, finances, and health. What if the government leaks the information to the public? What if the government mistakenly determines that based on your pattern of activities, you're likely to engage in a criminal act? What if it denies you the right to fly? What if the government thinks your financial transactions look odd—even if you've done nothing wrong—and freezes your accounts? What if the government doesn't protect your information with adequate security, and an identity thief obtains it and uses it to defraud you? Even if you have nothing to hide, the government can cause you a lot of harm.
"But the government doesn't want to hurt me," some might argue. In many cases, that's true, but the government can also harm people inadvertently, due to errors or carelessness.”

http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Privacy-Matters-Even-if/127461/

FreeNL's picture
FreeNL
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Posts: 112
I would wager that "they"

I would wager that "they" know exactly how to use the technology......

to make money!

 

Everything in this world is set up to distract you while they rob you. Now they can find and silence anyone who gets any crazy ideas about a fair and honest world...at lightening speed! 

Hold on a sec...theres a knock at the door..........

 

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
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Posts: 423
Fantasy, paradox, and overshoot

Wow, some very good comments. First, Darbikrash you point out the shortcomings and contradictions that I also see in the Austrian and Keynesian theories. That's not to discount some of the contributions though, as you also acknowledge. Your well-written post must have taken awhile to write, so thank you for taking the time. It's easy to be attracted to the free market fantasy that stresses the liberty of the individual, but Les's point on population overshoot brings the fantasy to a crash landing. 

I ask again, how do we establish what is enough? What level of free market economic gain by an individual is acceptable? Is it a dollar amount? A perceived level of "power?" A combination of both? With our hitting the limits of resources, an individual who is allowed to pursue economic gain without limit eventually becomes someone that gains at the expense of someone else's liberty, or even worse someone else's ability to live. This to me is the paradox we face.  What justifies a person being allowed to be a multi-billionaire, controlling the resources that is the lifeline for hundreds of thousands or even millions of people? How do we reconcile this structural part of free market with liberty? Make government smaller? To me that seems to be a nastalgic yearning for times when life was smaller, simpler, and the population was smaller, so was only tapping the interest of the planet's resources. The reality is as Les describes... a huge planet population that only continues to grow.

Les, we absolutely should be talking about population control and setting a limit on how many children, but that flies in the face of liberty,...and the pursuit of happiness if you know what I mean ;-) So it's always a non-starter. Can we have it both ways, unlimited individual liberty/free market for an ever increasing population AND limited resources?

Bigelow, nice comments on what all this spying could lead to.

FreeNL, don't answer the door! Lol Sneak out the back door and go stay with the neighbors for a few days. Even those at the NSA get bored after awhile and need to get back to their computers for visual stimulation.

jcat3022's picture
jcat3022
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gillbilly wrote: Wow, some
gillbilly wrote:

Wow, some very good comments. First, Darbikrash you point out the shortcomings and contradictions that I also see in the Austrian and Keynesian theories. That's not to discount some of the contributions though, as you also acknowledge. Your well-written post must have taken awhile to write, so thank you for taking the time. It's easy to be attracted to the free market fantasy that stresses the liberty of the individual, but Les's point on population overshoot brings the fantasy to a crash landing. 

I ask again, how do we establish what is enough? What level of free market economic gain by an individual is acceptable? Is it a dollar amount? A perceived level of "power?" A combination of both? With our hitting the limits of resources, an individual who is allowed to pursue economic gain without limit eventually becomes someone that gains at the expense of someone else's liberty, or even worse someone else's ability to live. This to me is the paradox we face.  What justifies a person being allowed to be a multi-billionaire, controlling the resources that is the lifeline for hundreds of thousands or even millions of people? How do we reconcile this structural part of free market with liberty? Make government smaller? To me that seems to be a nastalgic yearning for times when life was smaller, simpler, and the population was smaller, so was only tapping the interest of the planet's resources. The reality is as Les describes... a huge planet population that only continues to grow.

Les, we absolutely should be talking about population control and setting a limit on how many children, but that flies in the face of liberty,...and the pursuit of happiness if you know what I mean ;-) So it's always a non-starter. Can we have it both ways, unlimited individual liberty/free market for an ever increasing population AND limited resources?

Bigelow, nice comments on what all this spying could lead to.

FreeNL, don't answer the door! Lol Sneak out the back door and go stay with the neighbors for a few days. Even those at the NSA get bored after awhile and need to get back to their computers for visual stimulation.

I take it you don't have children?  I probably would never have been born had there been some sort of "population control" law written on the books in the 1970's.  

I'm not trying to start an argument here and you're entitled to your opinion, but I find what you said about controlling the population down right scary.  I believe that is the same rhetoric that came out of Germany in the late 20's & 30's?

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1982
benefit-corrupted

Thanks, Mr. Skousen. That's my new favorite phrase of the day: benefit-corrupted.

I think the corruption goes deeper than government promising things and then spending more than they have. It's personal. I've seen protestors in various countries who rail against butget cuts because, it seems, they've lost the will or ability to take care of themseslves. They've become dependents. They leave all the descision making to the state. I've been a poor single parent and I can tell you the state in the USA is a terrible provider (not for me, I never took anything more than three years of subsidized child care). Ask those living on social securility if it's enough. I can see why they'd protest cuts since they are already suffering. Of course they protest cuts.

But whenever an able-bodied person shows the attitude of "someone else has to save me," I cringe. Dude - what if no one saves you? What if our government, like that of Rome, dies? I mean, we have the elderly, children and disabled (and if you, on a personal and community level, are not involved in helping them as indviduals - why not?) but spend your energy on trying to find solutions rather than hoping the old model will somehow ressurect and you can live off the financial Ponzi scheme of exponential growth. So the government is shedding jobs, so your industry is dying, so your company is laying people off. If you'd been paying attention instead of living on false hopes, you'd have seen this coming a decade or more ago and taken steps to become more self-sufficient.

How do you get a generation of people who think such "benefits" are normal to accept any cuts? It's like they've lost the will to live. I like what Cuba did when Soviet monies were no longer propping up their economy--they grew food on any piece of land they had rather than starve. I love how NZ basically gutted their bloated government spending in a stunning reset. I love how the people of Iceland refused to pay rapacious bankers and let their world credit be destroyed rather than be the next Greece and play by the old system: they stood on their own feet and are better off for it. I love how Estonia went to a flat tax. Do we have the guts to even contemplate such changes? I hope so.

Oh, by the way, I also think the biggest benefit-corrupted groups are the recipients of corporate welfare and the bankers who feed at the QE window. But I wonder if such things have so much inertia in the USA that change is no longer possible here.

thc0655's picture
thc0655
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"I don't have anything to hide"

Bigelow is exactly right!  Privacy isn't about the freedom to conceal one's wrongdoing. Amongst other things, the Fourth Amendment is to keep the government out of our personal business so that there is no potential of abuse of the citizen by the government (including "rogue" individuals and groups within it). Clearly, the Founders had experienced and were knowledgeable about various forms of government abuse of citizens and they set up the Constitution and Bill of Rights to prevent those sorts of things in their time and in the future. It is the government's future decision to engage in oppression that much of the Constitution is designed to prevent, even if you start with the assumption that TODAY'S government would never oppress the citizen.  Assuming I am a perfectly law-abiding citizen, what prevents a future government or rogue element (like the IRS) from attacking me on the basis of something that USED TO BE legal based on information they gained from unlawful searches and seizures of my "personal papers and effects?" The Nazi's made being Jewish or a Gypsy "illegal". Imagine how much easier it would've been for them to round targeted people up if they had electronic surveillance like ours.  What if a future US government made criticizing the government illegal next month or next year? All that surveillance will make punishing opponents that much easier and put a chill on any more criticism.  What if a government wanted to round up its political opponents and put them in detention camps?  A national or state registry of gun owners would tip them off as to which addresses they could send just 2-3 goons to and which would require a show of force like a SWAT team.  

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
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Posts: 423
I have a daughter.

jcat3022,

My wife and I chose to have one child because we thought it was the responsible thing to do. I respect and understand your concern, but I did say we should be "talking about" it. I am the youngest of four and probably wouldn't be here if population control was implemented in the 60's. But, ignoring it only delays the inevitable conversation. When do we have a discussion regarding population? When the planet is at 9, 10, 11 billion people, and one third of that population is dying of starvation? Is that ethical? I respectfully disagree that a conversation about population in regard to the planet and human survival has no connection to the rhetoric that came out of Germany. I'm merely bringing it up because we can't seem to put limits on anything in the system we've created (and continue to create), but yet the planet has finite resources and living space. Something has to give, and we all have to be thinking outside the box as to what is responsible and ethical in regard to all. Unfortunately, it's not about individual liberty anymore. If we can't figure out how to live within limits (population included), it will be decided for us as Nature steps up to bat.

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
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Posts: 728
What's done is done

It's ludicrous to resist a change because, were it retroactive X years, it would have resulted in me not being born.  What we are facing is now and it's real.  The Crash Course talks about resource consumption growth supporting either growth or increased prosperity or both.  It talks about the exponential growth in both population and growth in a wide variety of forms of consumption and growth in problems such as pollution and extinction.

The exponential graphs have the same curve in the same time frame.  We have a problem.

It may not be necessary to pass laws telling families how many children they can have.  Perhaps we just eliminate the subsidies that society provides free for having children.

1. Property tax is based on property value regardless of the number of inhabitants in a property.  If you have six children, many of the real costs associated with those children (schools, roads, etc.) are directly related the the number, not the value of your property.  People with no kids or on child are subsidising people with four children.

2. Health insurance premiums go up if you include spouse and if you include children.  However, the premium increase for children is the same for one child or ten children.  A family with one child is subsidising a family with ten children.

3. Federal tax exemptions reduce the tax burden basd on the number of children.  Yet, again, the services provided by the government increase based on the number of children rather than going down.

When a person decides to commute in a Hummer or own and use a private Gulf Stream, they are making a consumption decision that impacts the prosperity and well being of everyone on the planet.  When a family make a decision to increase the global population by having a large family, they are making a consumption decision that impacts the prosperity and well being of everyone on the planet.  One key difference exists.  If someone wants to own a Hummer, they pay a premium for their decision.  However, a couple who wants to have a large family, only pays a portion of the cost.

Not placing enough emphasis on this issue is a severe, perhaps fatal, flaw in our approach to the crisis we face.

Books, articles and other information on the topic of peak energy have changed the way I live.  Before becomming aware in detail of the energy issue, I commuted in a 15 mpg F150.  I now have a 37 mpg car that I only use when my 80 mpg scooter or bicycle will not suffice.  Thanks to people like Chris, I now make life decisions that are constrained by prudent consumption decisions.  I no longer make vechicle purchase decisions to accommodate my lifestyle preferences.

Th same types of decision changes might occur with young couples, provided we just talk about the primary cause of the problems we face.

Again, what's done is done.  Let's talk about what needs to be done to make sure we survive and hopefully thrive.

Les

TechGuy's picture
TechGuy
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Posts: 366
Subsidies to the Poor and Energy consumption

"It may not be necessary to pass laws telling families how many children they can have. Perhaps we just eliminate the subsidies that society provides free for having children."

This doesn't work since the poorest (any country) have the most children. The most educated and wealthest have the fewest children. The countries will no subsidies for the poor, still have more children than people living in wealth nations with subsidies (Developing World). In the US, the population is growing because of immigrants, either from relocation to the US or because they have more kids than the rest of the population. As long as the boarders remain unsecure, the population will continue to expand. As long as the US offers a better standard of living there will be a supply of immigrants. Removing subsidies, will not stop the flow of  immigrants

 

" I now have a 37 mpg car that I only use when my 80 mpg scooter or bicycle will not suffice. "

Unfortunately it does not help the planet, since other people and nations consume energy that you don't. US Oil consumption is down about 10% to 20% from the peak, yet oil global production has risen since then (On a plateu now) because of increasing demand in Asia (China and India mostly). The world will consume as much energy made available and this will continue until depletion causes a collapse in the global economy. Nothing you can do will impact or delay a collapse as long as global consumption does not decline, and thats simply not going to happen. At best, your efforts can be used to save money that you can put to use to make yourself self reliant. FWIW: Using a bike or scooter is probably not the wisest choice in a enviroment with drivers texting while driving SUVs, or driving drunk or driving recklessly. If you are maimed for life, or killed your not going to be able to provide for your family. Best option is to remain safe, at the expense of some energy. Penny wise, Pound foolish.

I don't have any children and never will. There is going to be a collapse and there is no place to go to avoid it. I simply don't want to bring children into a world that is doomed. There are already too many people on the planet, and most are now dependent on the availability of cheap energy to eat. Once Oil and Gas production reaches a tipping point, we are going to see a return of the dark ages. Wars will be fought (most likely Nuclear), as nations use force to take resources from others, and panademics will spread through out the world. As the availablity of food declines, so will the consumption of nuetrious foods. Lack of nutrition will weaken the immune systems leading to the spread of disease. The plagues of the Dark Ages were started because of a lack of nutrition, as the climate of era (little ice age) culled crops. We can already see the drums of war as the West continues to invade resource rich nations in order to secure strategy resources. Eventually they are going to run out of easy prey and when that happens the big wars will begin.

 

Doug's picture
Doug
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Posts: 3125
irony

Am I the only one here to see the supreme irony in Freedon Fest, with it's ridiculous video condemning bread, circuses and debauchery of Rome, being held in Caeser's Palace in Las Vegas?  Isn't that ground zero for every form of debauchery?  Including, not incidentally, gambling?

That strange contradiction does, however, perfectly symbolize the moral and ethical bankruptcy of Ayn Randian libertarianism.  The winners in such a system have a playground such as Las Vegas to display their own massive accumulation of wealth and elitism to their peers.  How is that different than the baths and colliseum of Rome?  They are Goldman Sachs and the other big banksters that are still hell-bent on destroying the global economy.

Chris, can you reconcile the massive contradictions in Mr. Skousen's professed views?  Is there any doubt that his goal is to destroy government to the benefit of the very wealthy?

Doug

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
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LesPhelps wrote:When I hear
LesPhelps wrote:

When I hear someone who drives a large SUV or luxury car talk about climate change or peak oil, I cannot take them entirely seriously.

By the same argument, when someone who has 5 children talks about perpetual economic growth as an issue, I take a step back.  Having 5 children implies that you expect the economy you live in to more than double in 20 years just to provide the extra jobs your children will need to get by, or you are counting on someone else to forgoe having children so that you can have more.

As a very Peak-Oil and economics-conscious mother of 4 children, the first of whom was conceived when I was just 24, I can say two things for sure:

1) At that age, I hadn't run into the concept of Peak Oil and I didn't have a clue that there was anything to worry about in our economy.  I had been fed the idea that things were fine and would truck along similarly forever, and I don't think you can blame someone at that age -- merely two years out of a lifelong mainstream educational mill -- for not having developed that awareness yet.  Want to blame the adults, teachers, mentors in my life for that lack or omission in my education?  Go ahead. 

2) People who drive big vehicles generally have the choice to trade theirs in for something smaller (I did as soon as I reasonably could).  People who have large families do not generally have the option of "trading down" to a smaller family size (a horrifying thought at best, as I hope you'll agree). 

Please note that by the time a child is conceived, there is no going back.  For me, those milestone moments occurred in 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2003.  (Perhaps it is relevant to note here that I met the Martensons in 2004.)  My thoughts on many topics have evolved tremendously in the past decade.

Having 5 children, or 4, or any other number, implies nothing about the current beliefs and values of the parent(s) -- only their beliefs and values at the time of conception.  What it does imply, or at least beg, is that those parents need to be extra-careful to raise those children to be thoroughly conscious and careful in their use of resources of all kinds.  They need to raise them with flexible expectations about how the future will play out, and they need to equip them with resilience-friendly skills early in life. 

It also begs that all of us do our part in making sure that young people who are not yet parents have enough of the right kind of information (and support, and reliable access to birth control) to make prudent choices about reproduction.  Without this support, information, and access, would-be parents (including the accidental sort) will continue making decisions based on old myths and beliefs about the 3Es, rather than solid information.

I think families who already have several children might not be the prime target for this effort.

Ready's picture
Ready
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Posts: 917
LesPhelps wrote: I have been
LesPhelps wrote:

I have been a Malthusian far longer than a member of this website and have agreed with the ideas brought forth by ZPG (Zero Population Growth) since the mid 70s. I had two children largely because of ZPG teachings. 

Les,

Having 2 children is not zero population growth. Not when every 20 - 25 years a generation produces 2 more offspring but the typical lifespan is nearly 4 generations. How many people in your or yout parents or grandparents lineage currently walk the Earth? 

To have zero population growth you and your wife would need to have 2 children and then decease. Think about it. Since that is not realistic, you can see that exponential population growth is in our DNA - just like it is for every other animal on this planet trying to survive and forward the species.

It's just math. You are still contributing to exponential population growth. I am not making a judgment, just pointing out a logical error.

Denny Johnson's picture
Denny Johnson
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Posts: 348
Ready......you may want to

Ready......you may want to rethink that........you seem to be overlooking the fact that older generations die off.

Ready's picture
Ready
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Posts: 917
Sorry Denny...

I think you just fell into the same trap of logic.

Man and Woman each 20 years old have 2 kids

Those 2 kids pair up and have 2 of their own at 20. Mom and Dad are still alive at 40

Those 4 kids now pair up at 20 and have 2 kids per set. (Now) G'ma and G'pa are 60. They are still alive and are responsible for 2 + 4 + 8 offsping when their grandkids have children.

 

Are you seeing the point yet? The exponential growth? So what if the older generation dies off at 60. The damage is done. They take 2 lives out but leave 14 behind.

 

Not trying to be calous about life or death, just trying to make a mathematical point. 

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
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Posts: 728
Amanda Witman wrote:Having 5
Amanda Witman wrote:

Having 5 children, or 4, or any other number, implies nothing about the current beliefs and values of the parent(s) -- only their beliefs and values at the time of conception. 

 

I was as clear as I know how to be that the past is not the issue and what's done is done.  But this conversation is overdue.

I also included examples of personal behavior I'm not proud of, to indicate that I'm not pointing a finger, or placing myself above blame.

But we need to have this conversation and spread this message or basically we are wasting our time.  Continued exponential populaton growth will make virtually every other issue impossible to address.

Unlike an algae bloom, we can as a species control our population.  So far, we've behaved exactly like an algae bloom when it comes to population and that is frightening.  What's even more frightening is that we are largely ignoring this issue.

I will admit that the loudest thing I heard in the podcast was that Mark raised five children.  That's one of my hot buttons.  Perhaps Mark would do it differently if he were starting again today.  I do not know, nor to your point, should I entirely discount his message today because of decisions he made years ago.

Regards,

   Les

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FreeNL
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We are no better than the humble bacteria...

We will exploit out environment until it cannot sustain our numbers and then most of us will die off. There will be some who are better adapted to an environment devoid of resources, and these will be the ones to survive.

The rich and elite believe they are above this, but they too will find out that they do not necessarily have the correct adaptations for survival, just like everyone else.

It could happen in our lifetime. People have to accept that this cycle will complete itself regardless of what anyone does or wants.

Its in our nature.

 

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gillbilly
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Population and Rome

I agree Les. I also am not pointing fingers, but it is something that could be brought to the table knowing what we know.

What Skousen doesn't mention about Rome's collapse, but Chris hints at, is that toward the end of Rome's reign their primary resource of energy was agriculture. It provided for 90 percent of the government's revenue. The financial collapse was really just the consequence of the entropic bill. The fertility of the soil was mined to the extent that it yielded less and less. They couldn't expand the empire out further because the cost of transporting food became too expensive to support their armies at such great distances. Farmers had to work the land even harder in the end which only further mined the soil. Once the farmer's land could not yield enough to pay for the farmer to support his family, he abandoned the land, took his family and went into the city to live off the dole. Without proper land maintanence this turned the farm into swamp land (and caused malaria). This only perpetuated the problem. As the military and government continued to grow, the energy source continued to dwindle. At the very end, the government had no choice but to force the farmer to stay, yoking him to the land...and behold we usher in the feudal system and the Dark Ages.

If we are discussing smaller government, maybe we should discuss and focus on cutting the military budget by fifty to seventy five percent? I mean, it is costing us almost as much as our social programs.  And what is the net economic return of the militiary? What if we cut the military budget by the same percentage as whatever is proposed in cuts to social programs?

Let's hope Arthur's cold fusion is a reality.

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Denny Johnson
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Ready.......now you are

Ready.......now you are overlooking the family trees of the new families you have introduced with each pairing..........if two 20 year olds pair w two other 20 year olds, there are four parents needed to produce those four 20 year olds, there are four grandparents responsible for four grandkids if every couple has two kids...........each new generation is the same size as the previous generation if you count all the families involved.

To keep it simple, set aside incest and inbreeding and imagine that a couple has a boy and a girl who mate w each other who have a boy and a girl, etc..........no population growth, only two people per generation.

If no one had more than 2 kids and some had one or none, the population would decline yes.

 

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VeganDB12
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Posts: 731
re: population overshoot....

re: population overshoot.... I may not have kids but derive little benefit from realizing I am not contributing to population growth. With all due respect to those, including myself, who see it is a huge problem, I still don't blame people for having a lot of kids. It is instinctive, good luck getting people to stop. Might as well ask them to stop eating.  JMHO.

Regarding privacy, there are so many good posts here.  My association:  In medicine, when doctors do too many tests, and gather too much information, they have been known to feel an "obligation" to take action and overtreat. Had they not gotten the extra information they wouldn't feel the need to act. I suppose, when all the various powers have access to phone, email, health care, facial recognition data.... http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/state-photo-id-databas...

 

...even if when motive is not malicious, the mid level and lower level "Powers" will feel obligated to "do something" because "now they know" something.  As you said, the data collection and technology has surpassed the ability to cope with it. 

BTW Las Vegas is a lot of fun. Wish I could go. :)

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Oliveoilguy
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Survival of the Unfittest
TechGuy wrote:

 

I don't have any children and never will. There is going to be a collapse and there is no place to go to avoid it. I simply don't want to bring children into a world that is doomed. 

Interesting mindset. I'm sorry you don't want to have children, cause you seem like the kind of world citizen we need. It could be argued that your unwillingness to continue your lineage will diminish the probability of a good global outcome.

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Ready
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Posts: 917
Denny, take a step back and look at the big picture

If it helps you to understand, start with Adam and Eve. They have 2 children, a boy and a girl. Those children have 2 children together, and so on.

This is simply a thought experiment. Forget about the taboo and go with it for a minute. Do you still think that after 1000 years there are just 2 people on the planet? If so, I really don't know how else to word it to help you understand.

It's not about keeping a steady population per generation, it is about keeping a steady population per lifetime. The only way to have zero population growth is to replace you and your wife with 2 offspring and then immediately die. Otherwise you just went from 2 to 4, doubling the population. Then your kids will do it again while you are still alive, and so on.

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Doug
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generation length
Quote:

 Do you still think that after 1000 years there are just 2 people on the planet?

Assuming Adam and Eve promptly die after giving birth to twins, and those children can successfully breed another set of twins, after which the second generation dies, etc., etc., then yes, in 1,000 years there will be two people.  The failure of parents to die in a timely manner will add to the total population, just as it does in real life.  The ages of parents having children changes the number of children they must have to simply replace themselves, because mortality figures into the equation.

Doug

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TechGuy
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Oliveoilguy
Oliveoilguy wrote:

Interesting mindset. I'm sorry you don't want to have children, cause you seem like the kind of world citizen we need. It could be argued that your unwillingness to continue your lineage will diminish the probability of a good global outcome.

I don't see how having kids will have any impact on the future. The world is in deep population overshoot and most will die in the next 15 to 25 years. If the opportunity rises, I will adopt. There is more than ample supply of unwanted children. 

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Denny Johnson
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Ready..................If we

Ready..................keeping it simple, if we assume having two kids at 20 and dying at 60..........there will be 4 people when A&E have kids at 20, 6 people when A&E are grandparents at 40, and 6 people when they die at 60 (assuming they die at the same time their great grands are born).
The world population then stabilizes at 6 people til the end of time, two kids are born every 20 years, two old folks die every 20 years.
Each couple having two children after A&E die is Zero Population Growth, never more than 6 people on the planet.
Do you think that after 1000 years there are more than six people on the planet?

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Ready
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ok

This has nothing to do with the podcast and we are getting no where, so I'll bid you good luck Denny. No time for an internet argument today.

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bigelow
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Posts: 13
When propaganda at last

When propaganda at last becomes ineffective at controling the public, government monitoring, Homeland Security and the policestate is all setup and ready to take over.

 

Interview yesterday with Snowden:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/17/edward-snowden-nsa-files-whistleblower

 

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BeingThere
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Posts: 56
Who's watching those who watch us?

When everything is a matter of national security, then of course nobody's watching. The congress is on a need to know basis and doesn't even know the budget for these privatized contractors. Just amazing how fast this complex of govt-privatized surveillance grew after 9/11. Just goes to show that when the government wants to do something it does it big-time and fast. Too bad they don't want to rebuild infrastructure here.

Small govt types want you to believe govt. can't do anything. This industry is about the only one flourishing today. Of course they have no problem when govt money when it goes to them or private entities.

Dana Priest did a great job on her reporting of "Top Secret America" see show on PBS Frontline. They did at least 3 segments in the last 2 years. Truly worth watching. When you see it, nothing that came out this past week will surprise you.

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Hotrod
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Posts: 177
Everyone is missing the most important aspect of spying on us

One word:  Blackmail.  Massive intelligence will be used to further the status quo at any cost.  That is much worse than any terrorist threat.

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VeganDB12
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Posts: 731
The possibilities are endless

"This opens up a Pandora's box," said Mark Rasch, former head of the Department of Justice Computer Crimes Unit, and now an independent consultant. “You will have situations where the phone companies no longer have the data, but the government does, and lawyers will try to get that data.”

http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/20/19061109-lawyers-eye-nsa-dat...

It is frightening to me that this information might be commandeered for civil suits and criminal suits.  By all sides.  Where does it end?

 

 

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BeingThere
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Posts: 56
"they" know exactly how to use the technology...... to make mon

I couldn't agree more. The AT&T data was being collected for corporations before 9/11. It fits into the globalization of what was once national companies. There can't be a balance between the Stockmarket and main street in this system and I think it is a way of tracking  worldwide consumers for what has become transnationals.

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Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
Go to DotDotGo for a Clean Search Engine.

If you want to use a search enging that has a reputation of not tracing your interests go to DotDotGo.

Interesting URL. No WWW.

http://ww12.dotdotgo.com/

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Christopher H
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Posts: 148
I'll take your irony and raise you another....

Not only is Las Vegas the most debauched place in the United States, it is also the most subsidized.  The city could not exist were it not fully subsidized from the outside in terms of fuel, food and water.  Without draining other areas of those things, it would literally dry up and blow away in the desert wind.

And yet we have the libertarians of freedom fest coming together at that locale in order to celebrate their dedication to rugged individualism.  (eyeroll)

I must admit that I turned off the podcast as soon as Skousen started talking about FF in LV.  I normally am a big fan of the podcast material that Chris and Adam put out.  This one, however, is not one that I will be returning to in the future.  Way too ideological and way too little in the way of reasoned, self-introspective analysis.  And for that I don't blame Chris and/or Adam at all -- I think it's just this particular guest.

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Bankers Slave
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Posts: 519
thc0655 wrote: Bigelow is
thc0655 wrote:

Bigelow is exactly right!  Privacy isn't about the freedom to conceal one's wrongdoing. Amongst other things, the Fourth Amendment is to keep the government out of our personal business so that there is no potential of abuse of the citizen by the government (including "rogue" individuals and groups within it). Clearly, the Founders had experienced and were knowledgeable about various forms of government abuse of citizens and they set up the Constitution and Bill of Rights to prevent those sorts of things in their time and in the future. It is the government's future decision to engage in oppression that much of the Constitution is designed to prevent, even if you start with the assumption that TODAY'S government would never oppress the citizen.  Assuming I am a perfectly law-abiding citizen, what prevents a future government or rogue element (like the IRS) from attacking me on the basis of something that USED TO BE legal based on information they gained from unlawful searches and seizures of my "personal papers and effects?" The Nazi's made being Jewish or a Gypsy "illegal". Imagine how much easier it would've been for them to round targeted people up if they had electronic surveillance like ours.  What if a future US government made criticizing the government illegal next month or next year? All that surveillance will make punishing opponents that much easier and put a chill on any more criticism.  What if a government wanted to round up its political opponents and put them in detention camps?  A national or state registry of gun owners would tip them off as to which addresses they could send just 2-3 goons to and which would require a show of force like a SWAT team.  

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