Thursday, November 1, 2012

Odds and Ends

From the EconoMatrix (and H/T) to Bayou Renaissance Man,  Megan McArdle in the Atlantic sees some interesting things in the European situations, but still doesn't quite get it: 
Since the invention of birth control and antibiotics, country after country has gone through a fairly standard shift. First, the mortality rate drops, especially among the young and the aging, and that quickly translates into a bigger workforce. Then, birthrates drop, as families realize that they no longer need to birth a basketball team to ensure that a couple members will survive to adulthood. A falling birthrate means that parents can invest more in each child; with fewer mouths to feed, more and better food can nourish each of them, and children can spend more years in school, causing worker productivity to rise from one generation to the next. As the burden of bearing and rearing children lightens, mothers can do more work outside the home, boosting both household resources and the national economy.
But the dividend does not last forever. Eventually, the baby bulge reaches retirement age, the labor force stops growing, and older workers start spending their savings, depleting the nation’s supply of capital. The virtuous cycle turns vicious. This is what is happening right now in much of southern Europe.
Yes, economic growth would help right now, and yes they (and we) may have set up programs that were destined to lead to the collapse by assuring a shrinking population, but the answer isn't tweaking society to implement more Keynesian multiplication.  We simply can't keep growing at the rates we've been growing at.  Those rates are artificial.  It will collapse.  All bubbles pop.  Remember the logistic growth curve of bacteria, weeds, and government regulations:

As one of the commenters said,
"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." - Dr. Alan Bartlett

Observant readers may note that I've added two new pages to my list of permanent pages in the right column.  First, a permalink to my article where I demonstrate by using the global warming advocates' own data that you could shutter the US, drive us back to the stone age, and not affect the temperature in any measurable way.  I had this discussion with an Obamanoid this week and it occurred to me it was worth the permalink.  Second, I've added a repository for the "The Least You Should Know" series, which I'm planning to get back to.   Real. Soon. Now.


  1. I am fairly ignorant concerning anything beyond the basics of economics, but her statement: "older workers start spending their savings, depleting the nation’s supply of capital", sounds like idiocy.

    So, we "old folks" bust our asses all of our lives, depriving ourselves of the toys and treats that people today like to spend their money on, saving our money to help when our incomes drop to a fourth of what they were during our "productive" years, and this twit claims we are depriving the country of its supply of capitol. What a Marxist moron.

    1. Yeah. If you spend your capitol - guess what? - it goes to someone elsem who spends it on someone else, and so on. It could go right back into investments, too.

      Believe it or not, she's considered a conservative commentator, and Wikipedia calls her a libertarian, for whatever that's worth.

      I'll be charitable and say she simply hasn't realized that the Bernank and his crew are trying to destroy everyone's savings.