Kartik Gada had a Google Talk about the ATOM :
"We know what we are, but we know not what we may become"- William Shakespeare
I have recently come into contact with a few professionals in transition, many from the now-shrinking big semiconductor companies. In speaking to them, one thing that stood out is how it takes them 9-12 months or more to secure a new position.
Why is this the case, in an age of accelerating technological progress, as per the ATOM? This is an instance of where culture has prevented the adoption of a solution that is technologically feasible.
Where Cultural Inertia Obstructs Technology : Before the Internet age, if you wanted to research a subject, you had to go to the library, spend hours there, check out some books, and go back home. Overall, this consumed half a day, and could only be conducted during the library's hours of operation. If the books did not have all the information you needed, you had to repeat this process. Even this was available only in the dozen or so countries that have good public libraries in the first place. But now, in the Internet age, the same research can be conducted in mere minutes, from any location. The precision of Google and other search engines continues to improve, and with deep learning, many improvements are self-propagating. There is a 10x to 30x increase in the productivity of searching for information.
If you feel that this example is imprecise, take the case of LinkedIn. It has enabled many aspects of career research and networking that were just not possible before. If a young person wishes to explore dozens of career paths and estimate common patterns, the utility of a certain degree, or the probability of reaching a certain title, LinkedIn has an endless supply of information and people you can identify and communicate with.
Yet despite all of this, job searches are just as lengthy as in the days before the Internet, LinkedIn, and other resources. If a candidate can match with three potential jobs in their search region at any given time, then the connection between employer and candidate should take mere weeks, not close to a year. There is no other widespread transaction within society that takes anywhere near as long. Despite new apps to organize the job search and new social media outlets that announce endless meetups and networking events, technology has clearly failed to generate any productivity gains in this process.
For one thing, the Internet has reduced the marginal cost of an application to so little that each position receives hundreds of candidates, unlike three or four back when paper resumes had to be sent via the US Postal Service. To cope with this, employers use software that searches resumes for keywords. This method selects for certain types of resumes, with keyword optimization superceding more descriptive elements of the resume, and filtering out many suitable candidates in favor of those who know how to game the keyword algorithm.
From this point, a desire to mitigate hiring risk combined with the lack of imagination inherent to most corporations defaults into a practice of increasing the number of interviewers that the candidate faces. Three rounds and a dozen interviews is not uncommon, but by most accounts, job interviews are nearly useless as predictors of performance. In reality, a candidate only needs to be interviewed by three people : the hiring manager, the manager above that, and one lateral peer. If these three people cannot make an accurate assessment, adding several other interviewers is not going to add additional value. Indeed, if the boss's boss cannot make accurate assessment of candidates, then they are failing at the primary skill that an executive is supposed to have. Reference checks are also a peculiar ritual, as a candidate will only submit favorably disposed references who have been contacted beforehand.
Modernizing Hiring For the Information Age : Matching openings with candidates should not be so tedious in this age of search engines, emailed resumes, and LinkedIn. Resistance to change and a miscalculation of risk and opportunity cost are the human obstacles standing athwart favorable evolution.
To correct this obsolete situation, consider the mismanagement that occurs at the source. Only after a hiring manager sees a persistent and pronounced need for additional personnel does the process of getting a requisition approved and advertised commence. Hence, the job begins to receive resumes only several months after the need for a new hire arose. After that point, the lengthy selection and interviewing process takes months more.
Instead, what if the Data Analytics of a corporate setting could be gathered, mined, and processed, so that the AI identifies a cluster of gaps within the existing team, and identifies suitable candidates from LinkedIn? Candidates with the correct skillset could be identified with a compatibility score such as '86% fit', '92% fit', and so on. The entire process from the starting point of where a team begins to find itself understaffed to when a candidate deemed to be an acceptable fit is hired, can compress from over a year to mere weeks. The hefty fees charged by recruiters vanish, and the shorter duration of unemployment reduces all the indirect costs of extended unemployment.
For this level of dynamic assessment of gaps and subsequent candidate mapping, the capability of search and data analytics within a corporation has to evolve to a far more advanced state than presently exists. Emails, performance reviews, and project schedules, etc. all have to be searchable across the same search and patterning capabilities. Then, this has to interface with LinkedIn, which itself has to become far more advanced with the capability for a candidate to continuously re-verify skills and prove certain competencies (through tests, certified courses, etc.. The platform has had no real improvement in capabilities in the last few years, and the obvious next step - generating a complex set of skill parameters for LinkedIn members, and matching that pattern to employers with similar needs, is quite overdue. If this seems like added work for candidates, remember that this effort is far less than the amount of time and hassle it will save in the job search process.
Of course, such a capability across LinkedIn and some pattern matching machine learning engine will not be adopted overnight. After all, corporations still think university degrees and school rank are good indicators of candidate job performance, despite both evidence and common sense. After that, the interface between some internal corporate software and LinkedIn will take a lot of work to become robust. Finally, the belief that a greater number of interviews somehow reduces the risk of hiring a candidate is a belief that will be difficult to purge.
But eventually, with technology companies leading the way, the massive hidden cost of current hiring practices may come to light, and give way to a system that uses AI to find more precise matches with much greater speed.
Conclusion : We now possess the machine learning capabilities to dynamically detect gaps within corporate teams and organizational structures that may be large enough to warrant an increase in headcount. These gaps can be matched with parameters that can be mined from LinkedIn profiles, and provide candidates with an assessment of their approximate fit. A percentage score calculated for each candidate is not only a more accurate indicator than the very imprecise interview process, but is far quicker as well. It is high time that these tools were created by LinkedIn and others, and that corporate culture shifted towards their adoption.
This application of AI is the second most necessary technological disruption that AI can deliver to our civilization at present. For the first, check back for the next article.
I do not have the time to pursue a company built around this type of machine learning product, but if someone else is inspired to take up this challenge, I would certainly like to be on your board of directors.
Related ATOM Chapters :
The recent FOMC meetings continue to feature a range of debate only around the rate at which the Fed Funds rate can be increased up to about 4% (which has not coincided with a robust economy since the late 1990s). They actually describe this as a 'normal' rate, and the process of raising the rate as 'normalization'. The 'Dot Plot' pictured here indicates the paradigm that the Federal Reserve still believes. Even the most 'dovish' members still think that the Fed Funds rate will be above 2% by 2019.
This is dangerously inaccurate. At the start of 2016, the Federal Reserve expected that they will do four rate likes this year itself. Now they are down to an expectation of just two (one more than the one early in this year), and may just halt with one. How can a collection of supposedly the best and wisest economic forecasters be so consistently wrong? A 20% stock market correction will lead to a swift rate reversal and a 25%+ correction will lead to a resumption of QE in excess of $100B/month.
As we can see in the ATOM e-book, technological deflation is endless and exponentially increasing, and hence the Wu-Xia shadow rate indicates the natural Fed Funds rate for the US to be around the equivalent -2%. Yes, minus two percent, achieved through the various rounds of QE that have been done to date in order to simulate a negative interest rate. The US stopped its QE in 2014, but continues to be held afloat by a portion of the $220B/month of worldwide central bank easing that flows into the US. This is barely enough to keep US Nominal GDP (NGDP) growth at 3%, which is far below the level at which innovation can proceed at its trendline rate. The connection between technological progress, technological deflation, and worldwide central bank action is still not being discovered by decision-makers.
The -2% indicated by the Wu-Xia shadow rate might be as deep as -4% by 2025, under current trends of technological diffusion. The worldwide central bank easing required to halt deflation by that time will be several times higher than today. As per the ATOM policy reform recommendations, this can be an exceptionally favorable thing if the fundamentals are recognized.
For the full analysis and thesis, read the ATOM e-book.
Related ATOM Chapters :
In the ATOM e-book, we examine how technological disruption can be measured, and how the aggregate disruption ongoing in the world at any given time continues along a smooth, exponentially rising trendline. Among these, certain disruptions are invisible to most onlookers, because a tangential technology is simultaneously disrupting seemingly unrelated industries from an orthogonal direction. In that vein, here are two separate lists of industries that are being disrupted, one by Deep Learning and the other by Blockchain.
Note how many industries are present in both of the above lists, meaning that the sectors have to deal with compound disruptions from more than one direction.
In addition, we see that sectors where disruption was artificially thwarted due to excessive regulation and government protectionism merely see a sharper disruption, higher up in the edifice. When the disruption arrives through abstract technologies such as Deep Learning and Blockchain, the incumbents are unlikely to be able to thwart it, due to the source of the disruption being effectively invisible to the untrained eye. What is understood by very few is that the accelerating rate of adoption/diffusion, depicted in this chart here from Blackrock, is enabled by such orthogonal forces that are not tied to any one product category or even industry.
Related ATOM Chapters :
A number of new telescopes are soon going to be entered into service, all of which are far more powerful than equivalent predecessors. This is fully expected by any longtime reader of The Futurist, for space-related articles have been a favorite theme here.
To begin, refer to the vintage 2006 article where I estimated telescope power to be rising at a compound annual rate of approximately 26%/year, although that is a trendline of a staircase with very large steps. This, coincidentally, is exactly the same rate at which computer graphics technology advances, which also happens to be the square root of Moore's Law's rate of progress. According to this timeline, a wave of powerful telescopes arriving now happens to be right on schedule. Secondly, refer to one of the very best articles on The Futurist, titled 'SETI and the Singularity', where the impact of increasing telescopic power is examined. The exponential increase in the detection of exoplanets (chart from Wikipedia), and the implications for the Drake Equation, are measured, with a major prediction about extraterrestrial life contained therein.
Building on that, in the ATOM e-book, I detail how accelerating technological progress has a major impact on space exploration. Contrary to a widely-repeated belief that space exploration has plateaued since the Apollo program, technology has ensure that quite the opposite is true. Exoplanet detection is now in the hundreds per year (and soon to be in the thousands), even as technologies such as 3D Printing in space and asteroid mining are poised to generate great wealth here on Earth. With space innovation no longer exclusively the domain of the US, costs have lowered through competition. India has launched a successful Mars orbiter at 1/10th the cost of equivalent US or Russian programs, which has been in operation for two years.
Related ATOM Chapters :
The best news of the last month was something that most people entirely missed. Amidst all the distractions and noise that comprises modern media, a quiet press release discloses that a supercomputer has suddenly become more effective than human doctors in diagnosing certain types of ailments.
This is exceptionally important. As previously detailed in Chapter 3 of The ATOM, not only was a machine more competent than an entire group of physicians, but the machine continues to improve as more patients use it, which in turn makes it more attractive to use, which enables the accrual of even more data upon which to improve further.
But most importantly, a supercomputer like Watson can treat patients in hundreds of locations in the same day via a network connection, and without appointments that have to be made weeks in advance. Hence, such a machine replaces not one, but hundreds of doctors. Furthermore, it takes very little time to produce more Watsons, but it takes 30+ years to produce a doctor from birth, among the small fraction of humans with the intellectual ability to even become a physician. The economies of scale relative to the present doctor-patient model are simply astonishing, and there is no reason that 60-80% of diagnostic work done by physicians cannot soon be replaced by artificial intelligence. This does not mean that physicians will start facing mass unemployment, but rather than the best among them will be able to focus on more challenging problems. The most business-minded of physicians can incorporate AI into their practice to see a greater volume of patients on more complicated ailments.
This is yet another manifestation of various ATOM principles, from technologies endlessly crushing the cost of anything overpriced, to self-reinforcing improvement of deep learning.
Related ATOM Chapters :
In the ATOM, I have written at length about why, barring a substantial increase in the size and directness of worldwide central bank money creation, we are going to enter a major financial crisis as soon as 2017. Among the list of factors contributing to this impending crisis, one that the public seems to be in denial of is the perilous state of the federal budget balance.
The budget deficit governs the rate at which the national debt rises. The interest on the debt is a component of federal expenditure and contributes to the deficit which gets added to the debt which generates more interest. None of that is new, but what is new is how a -3% deficit exists even this late into the economic expansion, and after millions of jobs have been created. This deficit looks good when compared to what it was during the depths of 2009, but that is not the correct apples-to-apples comparison, as we see in the chart.
This is not a problem yet, but almost no one realizes that the buffer that the US has long enjoyed is now gone, and that if a shock were to arise, then it will hence be that much more severe. The trend is towards a very ominous explosion in the deficit when the next recession hits. Even worse, the traditional method of QE will not work this time. A more direct form of QE is the only solution.
Related ATOM Chapters :
My research for the ATOM has revealed that pervasive technological disruption is the reason for this structurally declining inflation. Failure to recognize that this technological force is permanent and rising exponentially is the reason 'experts' are baffled as to where all the central bank money is going, and reforms towards a revamp of central bank monetary easing is not being discussed. Remember that this fall in yield is across all countries with significant technology density. German and Japanese 10-year bond yields are almost 0%.
US Real Estate received a decades-long boost from lowering mortgage rates as long-term bond yields fell. Few question how homes that used to be 2.5 times the household income of the area are now priced at 10 times the household income or higher. With yields getting this low, and with property taxes now as large a contributor to home ownership costs as the mortgage payment, how much higher can home prices go? How much of US GDP is dependent on not merely high, but rising home prices?
Related ATOM chapters :
MIT Technology Review has an article describing how Tesla Motors has brought rapid disruption to the previously staid auto industry, where there are too many factors precluding the entry of new companies. But this is nothing new for readers of The Futurist, as I specifically identified Tesla as a key candidate for disruption way back in 2006. In Venture Capital terms, this was an exceptionally good pick such an early stage.
In ATOM terms, the progress of Tesla is an example of everything from how all technological disruptions are interlinked, to how each disruption is deflationary in nature. It is not just about the early progress towards electric cars, removal of the dealership layer of distribution, or the recent erratic progress of semi-autonomous driving. Among other things, Tesla has introduced lower-key but huge innovations such as remote wireless software upgrades of the customer fleet, which itself is a paradigm shift towards rapidly-iterating product improvement. In true ATOM form, the accelerating rate of technological change is beginning to sweep the automobile along with it.
When Tesla eventually manages to release a sub-$35,000 vehicle, the precedents set in dealership displacement, continual wireless upgrades, and semi-autonomous driving will suddenly all be available across hundreds of thousands of cars, surprising unprepared observers but proceeding precisely along the expected ATOM trajectory.
However, there may be more nuances to this concept than previously addressed. It may be that since GDP is a human construct, it only happens to be correlated to the accelerating rate of change by virtue of humans being the forefront of advancing intelligence. It could be that once artificial intelligence can advance without human assistance, most types of technology that improve human living standards may stagnate, since the grand goal of propagating AI into space is no longer bottlenecked by human progress. Humans are certainly not the final state of evolution, as evidenced by the much greater suitability of AI for space exploration (AI does not require air or water, etc.).
That is certainly something to think about. Human progress may only be on an accelerating curve until a handoff to AI is completed. After that, metrics quite different than GDP may be the best to measure progress, as the AI perhaps only cares about computational density, TERAFLOPs, etc.
Over in Chapter 6 of The ATOM, I provide a list of factors that are accumulating into the origins of the next major financial crisis, which is not years away, but merely months. The factors are :
1) Insufficient, narrowly-concentrated central bank easing.
2) Fundamental ceiling of home prices, as explained in the chapter.
3) US National Debt crossing 100% of GDP, with total interest payments high despite low rates.
4) Unprecedented demographic transitions
5) ^vix volatility normalization is due.
6) China's growth will soon engineer shifts in the tectonic plates of the global economy.
Go there and read the detailed explanations of each. Are you prepared for the crisis? Discuss both there and below.
I am unveiling 'The ATOM', a 14-chapter e-book that contains novel concepts, research, and policy prescriptions about the various effects of technological progress on the economy and society. You can go over to the e-book and start reading and commenting there. Blog posts on The Futurist will now be related to ATOM-affiliated concepts.
The e-book is published in blog format, so that comments can accrue underneath each chapter, and future blog posts can link to specific parts of the e-book. Videos at the start of each chapter serve as summaries for those who do not wish to read a wall of text in order to get a synopsis. Go over there and read it, chapter by chapter, up and down. You will never see the world quite the same way again.
It is the end of an era here at The Futurist. As long-time readers know, this has been a blog of two individual bloggers who did not distinguish themselves from each other. This was a worthwhile experiment at the inception of the website in early 2006. But now, the goals have changed. The technology blogger will be the primary blogger here, taking a slightly different direction for this site. The political blogger has, for the most part, retired from blogging, and has discontinued participation in some of his other online communities (such as anti-misandry).
The technology blogger has been working on a related project of much more comprehensive scope, and will be linking it here to The Futurist. Hence, this blog will be primarily devoted to technological and economic topics, with very little political content going forward. Both bloggers will write under their real names.
From Imran Khan (the political blogger) :
Many of my fans from the anti-misandry sphere have wondered why I drifted away from there in 2014. Well, it was a combination of several factors :
1) My Work There Was Done : The predictions in The Misandry Bubble were solidified and part of the DNA of the 'androsphere'. Existing bloggers keep up with current events and parse the news through the anti-misandry filter, but my contribution was just comments, after The Misandry Bubble over 6 years ago. Over time, much of the content in the androsphere trends toward repetition. When 2020 arrives, we will do an assessment scorecard of the predictions made a decade prior.
2) Not Enough Activism : Anti-misandry ideas have spread to the mainstream through the effort of some great bloggers (like Dalrock and PM/AFT). But too many of the other participants do far too little beyond Internet commenting. I mentioned this in The Misandry Bubble about 'Why There is no Men's Rights Movement', and this continues to be true. I even invented a strategy and campaign uniquely tailored to operate within the constraints of anonymity, cost, and decentralization that were needed for any real Men's Rights Activism, but only half a dozen men did the legwork despite everyone hailing it as highly effective. To this day, there is minimal activism beyond about five key people, while far smaller causes immediately manage to get the apparatus of activism established.
3) Too Much Infighting : The blogs I commented at do an admirable job of attracting and keeping civil commenters. But elsewhere, some major figure in the androsphere is in an acrimonious battle with another almost every month. The reasons are usually just poor communication between the two parties. For a community of just 300 or so active participants that is up against an evil that outnumbers and outspends them by a ratio of several million to one, there is too much wasteful infighting among people who agree on 90% of their views. Such a 'movement' makes little real movement.
4) Too Much Anger Towards Average Women : As The Misandry Bubble states, the hierarchy of misandric zeal is Hardcore 'Feminist' > Mangina > Average Woman. The average woman does not seethe with a desire to harm any and all males the way a full-time 'feminist' does. The average woman just wants to side with whoever is winning, which is an evolutionary mechanism that helped women survive. I always maintained that ordinary women were being harmed by 'feminism' just as much as ordinary men, since what average women value most has been taken away from them by 'feminists'. As I have maintained, it is impossible to harm one gender without harming the other.
Some parts of the 'sphere have too much anger towards average women, and too little towards the sleazy men who think groveling to 'feminists' will improve their social status. These 'manginas' are universally hated by normal men, normal women, and even hardcore 'feminists', yet do most of the heavy-lifting that keeps the hate-cult going. If there is an Achilles heel that can be attacked to bring the edifice down, it is these manginas. The inability of Men's Rights to focus on the weakest target ensures a lack of progress. Speaking of manginas....
5) Too Many Neo-Nazis : The androsphere has been infested by a strain of Neo-Nazis (describing themselves as 'white nationalists') who are both racial supremacists and economic leftists. Their views are wrong on both of those counts, but that is not even the worst thing about them. They are antithetical to the notion of Men's Rights since they believe that a woman of their race is far more valuable than a man, to the extent of being a goddess. It is apparent that any ethno-centric ideology will default to an obsession with fertility rates, and since women are the scarcer reproductive resource, such ideologies invariably become nothing more than fertility goddess cults. This is true, of course, of any ethno-centric ideology, not just whites. In fact, it is a testament to white maturity that 'white nationalists' never get any real traction among their own population. This is precisely why whites are successful - they do a better job marginalizing their own degenerates than other groups do.
My debates with the Neo-Nazis were funny. I would routinely point out that 90% of American whites are just not racist, and they would counter that they indeed are, contrary to my observation. In other words, I would insist that their group is not racist, which they see as a bad thing (as it explains their poor recruitment), leading them to insist that more whites are. And I am not just brown, but a Muslim too.
Remember that 'white nationalism' recruits only the least successful white men, almost entirely due to their desire to obstruct a white woman's choice to date outside her race. This is leftist protectionism demanded by uncompetitive actors, nothing more. The coup de grace I apply in such debates is to point out that there is almost zero female participation in 'white nationalism', despite it being an ideology wholly dependent on white women having more babies. The hilarity of an ideology built around higher reproduction nonetheless finding itself to be 98-99% male is self-evident. Women have a natural radar that steers them away from loserdom, and manginas (whether general or Neo-Nazi) always create this effect.
Since the ideologies of Neo-Nazis and 'feminists' have substantial overlap, Men's Rights cannot advance without a purge of these Neo-Nazis. Over time, this purge will happen, but my time is better spent elsewhere.
6) The Futurist has a Different Destiny : My technology co-blogger has created something of grand purpose, something so profound that it has a higher significance. It is valuable enough that this website should be devoted exclusively to it, without tangential distractions, given that he is more of a political moderate than I.
For these reasons, my participation in the androsphere has drawn to a close. The Misandry Bubble will remain where it is, but it should be seen as a time capsule of predictions, to be opened 10 years hence from original publication.
A decade ago, in the early days of this blog, we had an article tracking video game graphics at 10-year intervals. As per that cadence, it is time to add the next entry to the progression.
The polygons in any graphical engine increase as a square root of Moore's Law, so the number of polygons doubles every three years.
Sometimes, pictures are worth thousands of words :
I distinctly remember when the 2006 image looked particularly impressive. But now, it no longer does. This inevitably brings us to...
2016 (an entire video is available, with some gameplay footage) :
This series illustrates how progress, while not visible over one or two years, accumulates to much more over longer periods of time.
Now, extrapolating this trajectory of exponential progress, what will games bring us in 2020? or 2026? Additionally, note that screen sizes, screen resolution, and immersion (e.g. VR goggles) have risen simultaneously.
I refer readers back to an article written here in 2011, titled 'The End of Petrotyranny', where I claimed that high oil prices were rapidly burning through the buffer that was shielding oil from technological disruption. I quantified the buffer in an equation, and even provided a point value to how much of the buffer was still remaining at the time.
I am happy to declare a precise victory for this prediction, with oil prices having fallen by two-thirds and remaining there for well over a year. While hydraulic fracturing (fracking) turned out to be the primary technology to bring down the OPEC fortress, other technologies such as photovoltaics, batteries, and nanomaterials contributed secondary pressure to the disruption. The disruption unfolded in accordance with the 2011 Law of Finite Petrotyranny :
From the start of 2011, measure the dollar-years of area enclosed by a chart of the price of oil above $70. There are only 200 such dollar-years remaining for the current world petro-order. We can call this the 'Law of Finite Petrotyranny'.
Go to the original article to see various scenarios of how the dollar-years could have been depleted. While we have not used up the full 200 dollar-years to date, the range of scenarios is now much tighter, particularly since fracking in the US continues to lower its breakeven threshold. At present, over $2T/year that was flowing from oil importers to oil producers, has now vanished, to the immense benefit of oil importers, which are the nations that conduct virtually all technological innovation.
The 2011 article was not the first time this subject of technological pressure rising in proportion to the degree of oil price excess has been addressed here at The Futurist. There were prior articles in 2007, as well as 2006 (twice).
As production feverishly scales back, and some of the less central petrostates implode, oil prices will gradually rise back up, generally saturating at the $70 level (itself predicted in 2006) in order to deplete the remaining dollar-years. But we may never again see oil at such a high price relative to world GDP, as existed from most of 2007-14 (oil would have to be $200+/barrel today to surpass the record of $147 set in 2008, in proportion to World GDP).
The rate of technological change has been considerably slower than its trendline ever since the start of the 21st century. I wrote about this back in 2008, but at the time, I did not have quite as advanced techniques of observing and measuring the gap between the rate of change and the trendline, as I do now.
The dot-com bust coincided with a trend toward lower nominal GDP (since everyone wrongly focuses on 'real' GDP, which has less to do with real-world decisions than nominal GDP), and this has led to technological change, despite sporadic bursts, generally progressing at what is currently only 60-70% of its trendline rate. For this reason, may technologies that seemed just 10 years away in 2000, have still not arrived as of 2014. I will write much more on this at a later date.
But for now, two overdue technologies are finally plodding towards where many observers thought they would have been by 2010. Nonetheless, they are highly disruptive, and will do a great deal to change many industries and societies.
1) Artificial Intelligence :
A superb article by Kevin Kelly in Wired Magazine describes how three simultaneous breakthroughs have greatly accelerated the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Most disruptions are usually the result of two or more seemingly unrelated technologies both crossing certain thresholds, and observers tend to be surprised because each group of observers was following only one of the technologies. For example, the iPod emerged when it did because storage, processing, and the ability to store music as software all reached certain cost, size, and power consumption limits at around the same time.
What is interesting about AI is how it can greatly expand the capabilities of those who know know to incorporate AI with their own intelligence. The greatest chess grandmaster of all time, Magnus Carlssen, became so by training with AI, and it is unclear that he would have become this great if he lived before a time when such technologies were available.
The recursive learning aspect of AI means that an AI can quickly learn more from new people who use it, which makes it better still. One very obvious area where this could be used is in medicine. Currently, millions of MD general practitioners and pediatricians are seen by billions of patients, mostly for relatively common diagnostics and treatments. If a single AI can learn enough from enough patient inputs to replace most of the most common diagnostic capabilities of doctors, then that is a huge cost savings to patients and the entire healthcare system. Some doctors will see their employment prospects shrink, but the majority will be free to move up the chain and focus on more serious medical problems and questions.
Another obvious use is in the legal system. On one hand, while medicine is universal, the legal system of each country is different, and lawyers cannot cross borders. On the other hand, the US legal system relies heavily on precedent, and there is too much content for any one lawyer or judge to manage, even with legal databases. An AI can digest all laws and precedents and create a huge increase in efficiency once it learns enough. This can greatly reduce the backlog of cases in the court system, and free up judicial capacity for the most serious cases.
The third obvious application is in self-driving cars. Driving is an activity where the full range of possible traffic situations that can arise is not a particularly huge amount of data. Once an AI gets to the point where it analyzes every possible accident, near-accident, and reported pothole, it can easily make self-driving cars far safer than human driving. This is already being worked on at Google, and is only a few years away.
Get ready for AI in all its forms. While many jobs will be eliminated, this will be exceeded by the opportunity to add AI into your own life and your own capabilities. Make your IQ 40 points higher than it is when you need it most, and your memory thrice as deep - all will be possible in the 2020s for those who learn to use these capabilities. In fact, being able to augment your own marketable skills through the use of AI might become one of the most valuable skillsets for the post-2025 workforce.
2) Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality :
Longtime readers recall that in 2006, I correctly predicted that by 2012-13, video games would be a greater source of entertainment than television. Now, we are about to embark on the next phase of this process, as a technology that has had many false starts for over 20 years might finally be approaching reality.
Everyone knows that the Oculus Rift headset will be released to the consumer in 2015, and that most who have tried it has had their expectations exceeded. It supposedly corrects many of the previous problems of other VR/AR technologies that have dogged developers for two decades, and has a high resolution.
But entertainment is not the only use for a VR/AR headset like the Oculus Rift, for the immersve medium that the device facilitates has tremendous potential for use in education, military training, and all types of product marketing. Entirely new processes and business models will emerge.
One word of caution, however. My decade of direct experience with running a large division of a consumer technology company compels me to advise you not to purchase any consumer technology product until it is in its third generation of consumer release, which is usually 24-48 months after initial release. The reliability and value for money are usually not compelling until Gen three. Do not mistake fractional generations (i.e. 'version 1.1', or 'iPhone 5, 5S, and 5C) for actual generations. Thre Oculus Rift may be an exception to this norm (as are many Apple products), but in general, don't be an early adopter on the consumer side.
Update (5/27/2016) : The same Kevin Kelly has an equally impressive article about VR/AR.
Combining the Two :
Imagine, if you would, that the immersive movies and video games of the near future are not just fully actualized within the VR of the Oculus Rift, but that the characters of the video game adapt via connection to some AI, so that game characters far too intelligent to be overcome by hacks and cheat codes emerge.
Similarly, imagine if various forms of training and education are not just improved via VR, but augmented via AI, where the program learns exactly where the student is having a problem, and adapts the method accordingly, based on similar difficulties from prior students. Suffice it to say, both VR and AI will transform medicine from its very foundations. Some doctors will be able to greatly expand their practices, while others find themselves relegated to obsolesence.
Two overdue technologies, are finally on our doorstep. Make the most of them, because if you don't, someone else surely is.
I was not going to write an article, except that this disruption is so imminent that if I wait any longer, this article would no longer be a prediction. Long-time readers may recall how I have often said that the more overdue a disruption is, the more sudden it is when it finally occurs, and the more off-guard the incumbents are caught. We are about to see a disruption in one of the most anti-productivity, self-important, and corrupt industries of them all, and not a moment too soon. High-quality education is about to become more accessible to more people than ever before.
The Natural Progression of Educational Efficiency : The great Emperor Charlemagne lived in a time when even most monarchs (let alone peasants) were illiterate. Charlemagne had a great interest in attaining literacy for himself and fostering literacy on others. But the methods of education in the early 9th century were primitive and books were handwritten, and hence scarce. Despite all of his efforts, Charlemagne only managed to learn to read after the age of 50, and never quite learned how to write. This indicates how hard it was to attain modern standards of basic literacy at the time.
Over time, as the invention of the printing press enabled the mass production of books, literacy became less exclusive over the subsequent centuries, and methods of teaching that could teach the vast majority of six-year-old children how to read became commonplace, delivered en masse via institutions that came to be known as 'schools'. Since most of us grew up within a mass-delivered classroom model with minimal customization, we consider this method of delivery to be normal, and almost every parent can safely assume that if their child has an IQ above 80 or so, that they will be able to read competently at the right age.
But consider what the Internet age has made available for those who care to take it. I can say with great certainty that the most valuable things I have learned have all been derived from the Internet, free of cost. Whether it was the knowledge that led to new incomes streams, new social capital, or any other useful skills, it was available over the Internet, and that too in just the last decade. Almost every challenge in life has an answer than can be found online. This brings up the question of whether formal schooling, and the immense pricetag associated with it, is still the primary source from which a person can attain the most marketable skills.
Why Education Became an Industry Prone to Attracting Inefficiency : To begin, we first have to address some of the adverse conditioning that most people receive, about what education is, what it should cost, and where it can be obtained. Through centuries of marketing that preys on human insecurity at being left behind, and the tendency to conflate correlation with causation, an immense bubble has inflated over a multi-decade period, and is at its very peak.
Education, which in the bottom 99.9% of classroom settings is really just the transmission of highly commoditized information, has usually correlated to greater economic prospects, especially since, until recently, very few people were likely to overtake the threshold beyond which further education would no longer have a tight correlation to greater earnings. This is why many parents are willing to spare no expense on the education of their children, even to the extent of having fewer children than they might otherwise have had, when estimating the cost of educating them. Exploiting the emotions of parents, the education industry manages to charge ever more money for a product that is often declining in quality, with surprisingly little questioning from their customers. We are so accustomed to this unrelenting rise in costs at all levels of education that few people realize how highly perverse it is.
Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, with his books 'The Higher Education Bubble' and 'The K-12 Implosion', has been the earliest and most vocal observer of a bubble in the education industry. The vast corruption and sexual misconduct by faculty in K-12 public schools is described in the latter of those two books, but over here, we will focus mostly on higher education.
Among the dynamics he has described are how government subsidization of universities directly as well as of student loans enables universities to increase fees at a rate that greatly outstrips inflation, which in turn allows universities to hire legions of non-academic staff, many of whom exist only to politicize the university experience and further the goals of politicians and government bureaucrats.
As a result, university degrees have gotten more expensive, while the salaries commanded by graduates have remained flat or even fallen. The financial return of many university degrees no longer justifies their cost, and this is true not just of Bachelor's Degrees, but even of many MBA and JD degrees from any school ranked outside the Top 10 or even Top 5.
Graduates often have as much as $200,000 in debt, yet have difficulty finding jobs that pay more than $50,000 a year. Student loan debt has tripled in a decade, even while many universities now see no problem in departing from their primary mission of education, and have drifted into a priority of ideological brainwashing. Combine all these factors, and you have a generation of young people who may have student debt larger than the mortgage on a median American house (meaning they will not be the first-time home purchasers that the housing market depends on to survive), while having their head filled with indoctrination that carries zero or even negative value in the private sector workforce.
When you combine this erosion of value with the fact that it now takes just minutes to research a topic, from home and at any hour, that previously would have involved half a day at the public library, why should the same sort of efficiency gain not be true for more formal types of education that are actually becoming scarcer within universities?
Primed For Creative Destruction : Employers want skills, rather than credentials. There may have been a time when a credential had a tight correlation with a skillset that an employer sought in a new hire, but that has weakened over time, given the dynamic nature of most jobs, and the dilution of rigor in attaining the credential that most degrees have become. Furthermore, technology makes many skillsets obsolete, while creating openings for new ones. With the exception of those with highly specialized advanced degrees, very few people over the age of 30 today, can say that the demands of their current job have much relevance to what they learned in college, or even what computing, productivity, and research tools they may have used in college. Furthermore, anyone who has worked at a corporation for a decade or more is almost certainly doing a very different job than the one they were doing when they were first hired.
Hence, the superstar of the modern age is not the person with the best degree, but rather the person who acquires the most new skills with the greatest alacrity, and the person with the most adaptable skillset. A traditional degree has an ever-shortening half-life of relevance as a person's career progresses, and even fields like Medicine and Law, where one cannot practice without the requisite degree, will not be exempt from this loosening correlation between pedigree and long-term career performance. Agility and adaptability will supercede all other skillsets in the workforce.
Google, always leading the way, no longer mandates college degrees as a requirement, and has recently disclosed that about 14% of its employees do not have them. If a few other technology companies follow suit, then the workforce will soon have a pool of people working at very desirable employers, who managed to attain their position without the time and expense of college. If employers in less dynamic sectors still have resistance to this concept, they will find it harder to ignore the growing number of resumes from people who happen to be alumni of Google, despite not having the required degree. As change happens on the margins, it will only take a small percentage of the workforce to be hired by prestigious employers.
The Disruption Begins at the Top : Since this disruption is technological and almost entirely about software, perhaps the disruption has to originate where the people most directly responsible for the disruption exist. The program that has the potential to slash the costs of entry into a major career category is an online Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) degree through a collaboration between the Georgia Institute of Technology, Udacity, and AT&T. For an estimated cost of just $6700, this program can enroll 10,000 geographically dispersed students at once (as opposed to the mere 300 MSCS degrees per year that Georgia Tech was awarding previously). This is a tremendous revolution in terms of both cost and capacity. A degree that can make a graduate eligible for high-paying jobs in a fast-growing field, is now accessible to anyone with the ability to succeed in the program. The implications of this are immense.
For one thing, this profession, which happens to be one with possibly the fastest-growing demand, has itself found a way to greatly increase the influx of new contributors to the field. By removing both cost and geographical location, the program competes not just with brick and mortar MSCS programs, but with other degrees as well. Students who may have otherwise not considered Computer Science as a career at all, may now choose it simply due to the vastly lower cost of preparation relative to similarly high-paying careers like other forms of engineering, law, or medicine. Career changers can jump the chasm at lower risk than before, for the same reasons.
As fields similarly suitable to remote learning (say, systems engineering, mathematics, or certain types of electrical engineering) see MOOC degree programs created for them, more avenues open up. Fields where education can be more easily transmitted to this model will see an inherent advantage over fields that cannot be learned this way, in terms of attracting talent. These fields in turn grow in size, becoming a larger portion of the economy, and creating even more demand for new entrants above a certain competence threshold.
But these fields are still not the 'top' echelon of professional excellence. The profession that is the most widespread, most dynamic, most durable, and has created the greatest wealth, is one that universities almost never do a good job of teaching or even discussing : that of entrepreneurship. I have stated before that the ever-increasing variety of technological disruption means that the foremost career of the modern era is that of the serial entrepreneur. If universities are not the place where the foremost career can be learned, then how important are formal degrees from these universities? Since each entrepreneurial venture is different, the individual will have to synthesize a custom solution from available components.
Multi-Faceted Disruption : As The Economist has noted, MOOCs have not yet unleashed a 'gale of Schumpeterian creative destruction' onto universities. But this is still a conflation of the degree and the knowledge, particularly when the demands of the economy may shift many times during a person's career. Udacity, Coursera, MITx, Khan Academy, and Udemy are just a few of the entities enabling low-cost education at all levels. Some are for-profit, some are non-profit. Some address higher education, and some address K-12 education. Some count as credit towards degrees, and some are not intended for degree-granting, but rather for remedial learning. But among all these websites, an innovative pupil can learn a variety of seemingly unrelated subjects and craft an interlocking, holistic education that is specific to his or her goals.
When the sizes and shapes of education available online has so much variety, many assumptions about who has what skills will be challenged. There will be too many counterexamples against the belief that a certain degree qualifies a person for a certain job. Furthermore, the standardization of resumes and qualifications that the paradigm of degrees creates has gone largely unchallenged. People who are qualified in two or more fields will be able to cast a wider net in their careers, and entrepreneurs seeking to enter a new market can get up to speed swiftly.
Scale to the Topmost Educators : There was a time when music and video could not be recorded. Hundreds of orchestras across a nation might be playing the same song, or the same play might be performed by hundreds of thespians at the same time. Recording technologies enabled the most marketable musicians and actors to reach millions of customers at once, benefiting them and the consumer, while eliminating the bottom 99% of workers in these professions. Consumers and the best producers benefitted, while the lesser producers could no longer justify their presence in the marketplace and had to adapt.
The same will happen to teachers. It is not efficient for the same 6th-grade math or 8th grade biology to be taught by hundreds of thousands of teachers across the English-speaking world each year. Instead, technology will enable scale and efficiency. The best few lectures will be seen by all students, and it is quite possible that the best teacher, as determined by market demand, earns far more than one currently thinks a teacher can earn. The rise of the 'celebrity teacher' is entirely possible, when one considers the disintermediation and concentration that has already happened with music and theatrical production. This sort of competition will increase quality that students receive, and ensure renumeration is more closely tied to teacher caliber.
Conclusion : It is not often that we see something experience a dramatic worsening in cost/benefit ratio while competitive alternatives simultaneously become available at far lower costs than just a few years prior. When a status quo has existed for the entire adult lifetime of almost every American alive today, people fail to contemplate the peculiarity of spending as much as the cost of a house on a product of highly variable quality, very uncertain payoff, and very little independent auditing. The degree of outdatedness in the assumption that paying a huge price for a certain credential will lead to a certain career with a certain level of earnings means the edifice will topple far more quickly than many people are prepared for.
2015 is a year that will see the key components of this transformation fall into place. Some people will be enter the same career while spending $50,000 less on the requisite education, than they may have expected. Many colleges will shrink their enrollments or close their doors altogether. The light of accountability will be shone on the vast corruption and ideological extremism present in some of the most expensive institutions (Moody's has already downgraded the outlook of the entire US higher education industry). But most importantly, the most valuable knowledge will become increasingly self-taught from content available to all, and the entire economy will begin the process of adjusting to this new reality.
See Also :
- by Imran Khan
For those who recall, on 1/1/2010, I launched The Misandry Bubble, declaring that the first day of the ten-year series of 201x years during which pervasive societal misandry would be the dominant cultural issue, and how this misandry was itself a bubble that would pop by 2020.
Today, July 1, 2012, is exactly one-fourth into this decade. In the 2.5 years that have elapsed, awareness of misandry has risen greatly, and the number of blogs devoted to shining a light on this has expanded by possibly an order of magnitude.
So at the point of this first-quarter intermission, I am going to post a simple poll, and embed that in the original article as well. The reason I did not include a poll on 1/1/2010 itself was that the concepts introduced in that article were too novel and explosive for average people. But since that time, awareness has risen, and the opposition has become more shrill and extreme. There are still many deniers who refuse to admit that it is even possible for laws to be rigged against men. Thus, a poll today would be more appropriate, with 75% of the decade in question still remaining.
It is true that the first 400,000 visits to the original article did not have an opportunity to vote in the poll, but the traffic to the article is still quite steady, and starting the poll from this point would still have enough voters.
So here it is (poll closed after 60 days) :
Quite simple. Let us see how the results turn out. For those of you who think there may be a sampling bias among voters, I encourage all of you to post the link of this poll on a misandry-heavy site to even out any such bias (the poll was in fact posted on DailyKos, only for the results to not be nearly as tilted in the favor of 'feminists' as they may have hoped). You will be surprised at how many people are now awake to the pervasive presence of misandry in society.
Poll Closure : It appears that Pollhost took it upon itself to twice delete this 'politically incorrect' poll (even though it is a poll, and hence an aggregate of reader opinions). Fortunately, I saved the results after 60 days, showing a landslide in favor of the view that misandry is for real. At over 6 to 1, the diverse readers of this size recognize misandry to be a real problem.
Here is yet another poll built around this topic, with similar results from a relatively diverse reader pool.
Amongst people under the age of 35 in America, a predominant view that I see emerging is how the Baby Boom generation in the US (born 1946-64) is consuming the future of the younger generation in an attempt to finance an opulent retirement. While this may indeed be the political goal of at least some Boomers and the core mission of many retiree organizations, the fiscal situation in the US is far worse for the Boomers than they realize, even for those who don't seek to extract from younger people.
Boomers and Entitlements : While the first Baby Boomer turned 65 in 2011, the median Boomer (born in 1955) turns 65 in 2020, and the last ones turn 65 in 2029, which indicates that their big harvesting of Social Security and Medicare from the government has not even begun yet. Given rising life expectancies, the peak years of Boomer harvesting will be 2015-2035 or so, which means that a huge level of withdrawals are anticipated for this 20-year window.
But alas, someone got to the goodies first. This chart shows how US Federal Debt went from 65% of GDP in 2008 to almost 100% today. That 35-point rise was supposed to be consumed by Boomers seeking to finance their retirement, but now, with debt already so high well before Boomers can get their, the future payouts to Boomers have been crowded out. There is certainly no room for another 35-point rise in Federal Debt as a percentage of GDP (credit downgrades and a capital exodus would happen long before debt could ever reach 135% of GDP), and given that the big debt spike began in 2009, it appears that President Obama and the Democrat Senate have already expended the funds that were supposed to sustain the Boomers.
As debt thresholds that were not meant to be reached until many Boomers were well into their retirement have been pierced ahead of schedule, the squeeze will cause some very ugly intra-Boomer conflicts as each group seeks to secure a portion of the diminished pie, which we will examine later in the article.
Boomers and Home Equity : But it gets worse for the Boomers, even for those who have resources that makes them less dependent on Social Security. The housing market has been in a slump (which I predicted at the very height of the boom in April 2006), and this will, at best, tread water for the next several years. Ultra-low mortgage rates have merely arrested a further decline, and even that deep well has been fully consumed (chart from Calculated Risk, click to enlarge).
While some Baby Boomers believe they still may have enough time to recoup substantial home equity with which they may seek to finance a portion of their retirement, in order to retain their equity, they need a steady flow of first-time buyers to enter the housing market,in numbers greater than the rate at which retiring Boomers want to sell.
Who are these new first-time buyers? Why, the endless supply of young people starting their careers and forming families, of course. But alas; the many members of this generation, born after 1990, will not be in any position to buy the houses that Boomers are seeking to sell.
To cultivate a new generation of home buyers who can take on a mortgage, it is imperative that they do not already have a mortgage-sized debt before that. But the higher education industry got to this generation before the mortgage industry could, and many members of this generation have already signed away the first several years of their earnings to servicing their student loans in a rapidly inflating bubble (chart from The Atlantic, click to enlarge), amounting to some $867 Billion in indebtedness that is yet to abate. It may be unfortunate that this upcoming generation was unavoidably destined to take on debt, and that it was only a question of whether the student loan industry or the mortgage industry yoked them in first. But it appears that student loans won the race to reach their prey, which is bad news for Boomers seeking to sell their homes in 2015-20.
On top of the student loan burden postponing their home purchases, there are more sinister cultural forces that are moving this upcoming generation towards apartments and condos, and away from the single-family homes that Boomers will seek to sell. The US legal system severely disincentivizes young men from family formation by subjecting them to preposterously unfair laws if they enter a modern marital contract, and while those who profit from this status quo have done their best to conceal the risks of marriage and family from young men, the anti-misandry sphere continues to expose the truth, particularly to these younger generations of men. Fewer young men are willing to take on the risk of entering such a lopsided contract.
In desperation, Boomers will turn to the last remaining source of new blood - skilled immigration. Skilled immigrants not only do not have student debt to the degree that American youths do, but are usually from countries that have not been ravaged by misandry. I am strongly in favor of increasing skilled, legal immigration and will go so far as to say America cannot prosper without it, but even here, Boomers are behind the curve, as by the time this bright idea gets favored, a new generation of skilled foreigners will be far less interested in coming to America than their predecessors in the 1990s and 2000s. The opportunities in India and China are much more than they were in the 1990s when America could attract the very best and brightest in the world. But by 2015, the immigrants America can attract will be diminished in quality and number. So financing their retirements on the backs of skilled immigrants as a substitute for a generation of Americans disincentivized from family formation is a scheme the Boomers will find to be too little, too late.
If selling their homes at a price that retains some of their home equity was important Baby Boomers, they should have pre-emptively blocked laws that would greatly inhibit family formation and the resultant purchases of single-family homes, among the next generation of Americans. Boomers let this tragedy happen right in front of them, and will pay for it with their home equity.
All Boomers Are Not Equal : Lest you think I am being harsh to Baby Boomers, there is another level of scrutiny here that cannot be exposed often enough. As I have established elsewhere, 70-80% of all government spending is a transfer from men to women, a default state almost every democracy will revert to over time, and this is especially true of entitlement programs. Since women live 5-7 years longer than men, their average post-65 lifespan is thus about twice as long as a man's. Add to this the fact that women use more healthcare per year than men anyway, and we get the heavily unidirectional transfer from men to women that is Medicare.
As it has become apparent that SS and Medicare are not sufficiently funded to meet the needs of Boomers, many women (in the NYT, no less) are openly rooting for men to die early so that they don't consume the funds that would otherwise be collected by women (nevermind that the taxes paid into the system were mostly from men). Expect this demand that men die when it is financially optimal for women to become increasingly frequent and shameless. If women are wondering why more and more men don't see the need to put their own well-being behind that of women they don't know, they should contemplate their own contribution to how it has become typical for men to be treated as disposable commodities, rather than human beings.
This is, of course, an opportunity for Boomer men to finally fight back. When it is considered acceptable for the mainstream media to say the lives of men are a burden when they have outlived their earning years, and Obamacare, with the power to ration healthcare along political lines, is already prepared to fund women's health at the expense of men's, don't think for a minute that the legislative bias will stop there. An additional surtax on men only, greater defunding of male health procedures, etc. are all being discussed. Perhaps this will finally be enough to provoke a reaction from men.
Conclusion : Overall, the fiscal cliff and non-cooperation of younger Americans and immigrants will bring great calamity to any Baby Boomers with a net worth under $2 Million. Only the Boomers wealthy enough to not be dependent on either entitlement programs or home equity will go unscathed, and, unless Boomer men start fighting for their rights, they will find that an entire apparatus has been built to minimize their access Social Security and Medicare that they have paid into. At the same time, despite an organized attempt to disenfranchise men, Boomer women will just not be able to extract more than they are already getting, since even the deepest wells of funding will be exhausted given the unprecedented number of women seeking to live off of the state. While the excess spending has been the work of Democrats, do not think for one minute that Republicans will cut spending even if they win every election they stand in.
Perhaps this event will be necessary in the process of dismantling many archaic and unjust structures.
It is time for an economics lesson that most actual professors of economics will never deliver, because the contradiction in what I am about to explain is often not visible to those immersed within the orthodoxy of their field.
We often hear of 'recessions' as small events and 'depressions' as major events, however the two are defined in a very apples-to-oranges way, that is about to become exposed as we are entering a period that does not fit within either.
A recession only counts the period of the decline, but not the period that it takes for the economy to climb back to the previous high water mark.
A depression counts not only the decline but also the period it takes to return to the high water mark.
Thus, recessions are defined by a definition that is incomplete and deceptive for not accounting for whether the recovery is rapid or slow, while depressions have a more accurate and complete definition. The governments of the US and other nations have gotten away with this since almost every recovery out of a recession since 1948 was rapid enough that this flaw was not noticed. But no longer.
The last recession was deemed by the NBER to have ended in June 2009. However, note this chart from Calculated risk (click to enlarge), which indicates that payroll employment will take several more years to reach its high water mark from before the recession, far longer than any prior recession. That we may be heading into another recession now extends this process even longer.
Now, about depressions, there are some myths that have to be corrected. Some depressions are shallow but very long (like the 'Long Depression' from 1873-96), while others are very deep but shorter. Naturally, when the term 'depression' arises, most people think of the most recent one, which was the Great Depression from 1929-39, which a few people still alive today are old enough to remember. However, a closer look at the Great Depression reveals that the sharp downturn that started in 1929 ended in 1933, and that from 1934 onwards, there was rapid improvement. For all the 'Grapes of Wrath' imagery, anyone who managed to survive until 1934 saw continuous and persistent improvement in economic conditions from the deep bottom.
Now, if we measure this period by the standards that recessions are measured by, there was a steep recession from 1929-33, followed by a recovery, and a much smaller recession in 1937-38. The two recessions would seem unrelated, and the entire 1929-39 period would not be combined into one event. Clearly, the failure to recapture the 1929 high water mark is the determinant of the depression classification lasting until 1939.
Will the present period from 2008 to ~2017(?) be classified as a shallow depression? Perhaps, but this will not be declared such until several years after it is over. Rather, the proper way to assess this economic episode is to measure its deviation from the long-term exponential trendline, and not for the US, but rather in relation to World GDP.
Since the start of 2008, US nominal GDP has grown a mere 7%, while a combination of differences in inflation and real GDP growth has ensured that the nominal $US GDP of China has grown 99% and India 60% (source : IMF). Never in the last 140+ years has the GDP of the US lagged so much in relation to any other large economies, and shrank so much as a percentage of total world GDP. If the US were to measure itself based on the rate at which other large countries are gaining ground, then this is the worst period since the Great Depression. Europe, as usual, is doing even worse than the US.
This leads to the longer-term assessment, which is that perhaps we are in a midst of seeing Asia correct to a historically normal percentage of world GDP. As this chart from The Economist shows (click to enlarge), at no time before 1820 was India + China less than 45% of world GDP on a PPP basis, and this chart ends in 2008, before most of the aforementioned India-China surge that I discussed earlier. While India began to decline in 1700, China was at a very high point as recently as 1820. Perhaps the rapid gains that India and China are seeing now is merely a reversion back to historical norms established over 5000 years, where these two nations were always at least 45% of world GDP. If that is the case, the 1820-2020 period was an atypical 200-year golden era for the 'West'. Indeed, the major European powers have already shrunk below any relative size they have been since 1500. The US, of course, is a nation that did not exist for most of the period this chart covers, and thus may not shrink away the way that Europe has, and despite a classification of being part of the 'West' (a grouping Japan is also often shoehorned into), may align closer to Asia due to sheer gravitional pull.
Since economic growth is exponential and accelerating, we now live in an age when it is possible to have such a large deviation from the trendline, while still experiencing minimal absolute growth. This may not be called a 'depression' according to the way this was defined in the 20th century, but for the US it is a departure of a similar magnitude as the 1930s.
Lastly, as I want to keep all articles consistent and with a minimum of contradictions, everyone should also remember that the US economy will not reach its full potential again until there is a substantial confrontation of state-backed misandry. A Republican ouster of Obama will do very little to change this. As various economists are baffled about 'why' the economy remains sluggish, their unwillingness to violate an increasingly absurd umbrella of 'political correctness' prevents them from seeing the blindlingly obvious root causes.
As oil prices remain high, we once again see murmurs of anticipated doom from various quarters. Such fears are grossly miscalculated, as I have described in my 2007-08 articles about how oil at $120/barrel creates desirable chain reactions, as well as my rebuttal to the poorly considered beliefs of peak oil alarmists, who seem capable of being sold not one, but two bridges in Brooklyn. Today, however, I am going to combine the concepts in both of those articles with some new analysis I have done to enable us to predict when oil will lose the economic power it currently holds. You are about to see that not only are peak oil alarmists wrong, but they are just about as wrong as those predicting in 1988 that the Soviet Union would soon dominate the world, and will soon be equally worthy of ridicule.
Unenlightened Punditry and Fashionable Posturing :
As I mentioned in a previous article, many observers incessantly contradict themselves on whether they want oil to be inexpensive, or whether they want higher oil prices to spur technological innovations. One of the most visible such pundits is Thomas Friedman, who has many interesting articles on the subject, such as his 2007 piece titled 'Fill 'Er Up With Dictators' :
But as oil has moved to $60 to $70 a barrel, it has fostered a counterwave — a wave of authoritarian leaders who are not only able to ensconce themselves in power because of huge oil profits but also to use their oil wealth to poison the global system — to get it to look the other way at genocide, or ignore an Iranian leader who says from one side of his mouth that the Holocaust is a myth and from the other that Iran would never dream of developing nuclear weapons, or to indulge a buffoon like Chávez, who uses Venezuela’s oil riches to try to sway democratic elections in Latin America and promote an economic populism that will eventually lead his country into a ditch.
But Mr. Friedman is a bit self-contradictory on which outcome he wants, as evidenced across his New York Times columns.
In short, the best tool we have for curbing Iran’s influence is not containment or engagement, but getting the price of oil down
So here’s my prediction: You tell me the price of oil, and I’ll tell you what kind of Russia you’ll have. If the price stays at $60 a barrel, it’s going to be more like Venezuela, because its leaders will have plenty of money to indulge their worst instincts, with too few checks and balances. If the price falls to $30, it will be more like Norway. If the price falls to $15 a barrel, it could become more like America
Either tax gasoline by another 50 cents to $1 a gallon at the pump, or set a $50 floor price per barrel of oil sold in America. Once energy entrepreneurs know they will never again be undercut by cheap oil, you’ll see an explosion of innovation in alternatives.
And by not setting a hard floor price for oil to promote alternative energy, we are only helping to subsidize bad governance by Arab leaders toward their people and bad behavior by Americans toward the climate.
All of these articles were written within a 4-month period in early 2007. Both philosophies are true by themselves, but they are mutually exclusive. Mr. Friedman, what do you want? Higher oil prices or lower oil prices? Such confusion indicates how the debate about energy costs and technology is often high on rhetoric and low on analysis.
Much worse, however, is the fashionable scaremongering that the financial media uses to fill up their schedule, amplified by a general public that gets suckered into groupthink. To separate the whining from the reality, I apply the following simple test to verify whether people are actually being pinched by high oil prices or not. If a large portion of average Americans have made arrangements to carpool to work (as was common in the 1970s), then oil prices are high. Absent the willingness to make this adjustment, their whining about gasoline is not a reflection of actual hardship. This enables us to declare that oil prices are not approaching crisis levels until most 10-mile-plus commuters are carpooling, that too in groups of three, rather than just two. Coordinating of carpools is thus the minimum test of whether oil prices are actually causing any significant changes in behavior.
Fortunately, $100 oil, a price that was considered a harbinger of doom as recently as 2007, is now not even enough to induce carpooling in 2011. This quiet development is remarkably unnoticed, and conceals the substantial economic progress that has occurred.
Economic Adaptations :
The following chart from Calculated Risk (click to enlarge) shows the US trade deficit split between oil and non-oil imports. This chart is not indexed as a percentage of GDP, but if it were, we would see that oil imports at $100/barrel today are not much higher of a percentage of GDP than in 1998, when oil was just $20/barrel. In fact, the US produces much more economic output per barrel of oil compared to 1998. We can thus see that unlike in 1974 when the US economy has much less demand elasticity for oil, today the ability of the economy to adjust oil consumption more quickly in reaction to higher prices makes the bar to experience an 'oil shock' much harder to clear. US oil imports will never again attain the same percentage of GDP as was briefly seen in 2008.
Of even more importance is the amazingly consistent per capita consumption of oil since 1982, which has remained at exactly 4.6 barrels/person despite a tripling real GDP per capita during the same period (chart by Morgan Downey). This immediately deflates the claim that the looming economic growth of China and India will greatly increase oil consumption, since the massive growth from 1982 to 2011 did not manage to do this. At this point, annual oil consumption, currently at around 32 billion barrels, only rises at the rate of population growth - about 1% a year.
This leads me to make a declaration. 32 billion barrels at around $100/barrel is $3.2 Trillion in annual consumption. This is currently less than 5% of nominal world GDP. I hereby declare that :
Oil consumption worldwide will never exceed $4 Trillion/year, no matter how much inflation, political turmoil, or economic growth there is. Thus, 'Peak Oil Consumption' happens long before 'Peak Oil Supply' ever could.
This would mean that oil would gradually shrink as a percentage of world GDP, just as it has shrunk as a percentage of US GDP since 1982. Even when world GDP is $150 Trillion, oil consumption will still be under $4 Trillion a year, and thus a very small percentage of the economy. Mark my words, and proceed further to read about how I can predict this with confidence.
The Carnival of Creative Destruction :
There are at least seven technologies that are advancing to reduce oil demand by varying degrees, many of which have been written about separately here at The Futurist :
1) Natural Gas : Technologies that aid the discovery of natural gas have advanced at great speed, and supplies have skyrocketed to a level that exceeds anything humanity could consume in the next few decades. The US alone has enough natural gas to more than offset all oil consumption, and the price of natural gas is currently on par with $50 oil.
2) Efficiency gains : From innovations in engine design, airplane wing shape, reflective windows, and lighter nanomaterials, efficiency is advancing rapidly, to the extent that economic growth no longer increases oil consumption per capita, as described earlier. There are many options available to consumers seeking 40 mpg or higher without sacrificing too much power or size, and I predicted back in early 2006 that in 2015, a 4-door family car with a 240 hp engine would deliver 60 mpg (or equivalent) yet still cost no more than $35,000 in 2015 dollars. People scoffed at that prediction then, but now it seems quite safe.
3) Cellulose Ethanol and Algae Oil : Corn ethanol was never going to be suitable in cost or scale, but the infrastructure established by the corn ethanol industry makes the transition to more sophisticated forms of ethanol production easier. But fuels from switchgrass and algae are much more cost-effective, and will be ramping up in 2012. Solazyme is an algae oil company that went public recently, and already has a market capitalization of $1.5 Billion.
4) Batteries : Most of the limitations of electric and hybrid vehicles stem from shortcomings in battery technology. However, since batteries are improving at a rate that is beginning to exceed the traditional 5-8% per year, and companies such as Tesla are able to lower the cost of their fully electric vehicles, the knee of the curve is near.
5) Telepresence : Telepresence, while expensive today, will drop in price under the Impact of Computing and displace a substantial portion of business air travel, as described in detail here. By 2015, geographically dispersed colleagues will seem to be closer to each other, despite meeting in person less often than they did in 2008.
6) Wind Power : Wind Power already generates almost 3% of global electricity consumption, and is growing quickly. When combined with battery advances that improve the range and power of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, we get two simultaneous disruptions - oil being displaced not just by electriciy, but by wind electricity.
7) Solar Power : This source today generates the least power among those listed here. But it is the fastest growing of the group with multiple technologies advancing at once, and with decades of steady price declines finally reaching competitive pricepoints. It also has many structural advantages, most notably the fact that it be deployed to land that is currently unused and inhospitable. Many of the countries with the fastest growth in energy consumption are also those with the greatest solar intensity.
Plus, these are just the technologies that displace oil demand. There are also technologies that increase oil supply, such as supercomputing-assisted oil discovery and new drilling techniques. Supply-increasing technologies work to reduce oil prices and while they possibly slow down oil demand displacement, they too work to weaken petrotyranny.
The problem in any discussion of these technologies is that the debate centers around an 'all or none' simplicity of whether the alternative can replace all oil demand, or none at all. That is an unnuanced exchange that fails to comprehend that each technology only has to replace 10% of oil demand. Natural gas can replace 10%, ethanol another 10%, efficiency gains another 10%, wind + solar another 10%, and so on. Thus, if oil consumption as a percentage of world GDP is lower in a decade than it is today, that itself is a huge victory. It hardly matters which technology advances faster than the others (in 2007, natural gas did not appear as though it would take the lead that it enjoys today), what matters is that all are advancing, and that many of these technologies are highly complementary to each other.
What is also overlooked is how quickly the pressure to shift to alternatives grows as oil becomes more expensive. If, say, cellulose ethanol is cost-effective with oil at $70, then oil at $80 causes a modest $10 dollar differential in favor of cellulose. If oil is $120, then this differential is now $50, or five times more. Such a delta causes much greater investment and urgency to ramp up research and production in cellulose ethanol. Thus, each increment in oil price creates a much larger zone of profitability for any alternative.
The Cost of Petrotyranny :
This map of nations scaled in proportion to their petroleum reserves (click to enlarge) replaces thousands of words. Some contend that the easy money derived from exporting oil leads to inevitable corruption and the financing of evil well beyond the borders of petro-states, while others lament the misfortune that this major energy source is concentrated in a very small area containing under 2% of the world's population. Other sources of energy, such as natural gas, are much more evenly distributed across the planet, and this supply chain disadvantage is starting to work against oil.
However, as we saw in the 2008 article, many of these regimes are dancing on a very narrow beam only as wide as the span between oil of $70 and $120/barrel. While a price below $70 would be fatal to the current operations of Iran, Venezuela, and Russia, even a high price leads to a shrinkage in export revenue, as domestic consumption rises to reduce export units to a greater degree than can be offset by a price rise. Furthermore, higher prices accelerate the advance of the previously mentioned technologies. For the first time, we can now estimate how long oil can still hold such an exalted economic status.
Quantifying the Remaining Petro-Yoke :
For the first time, we can make the analysis of both technological and political pressure exerted by a particular oil price more precise. We can now quantify the rate of technological demand destruction, and predict the actual number of years before oil ceases to have any ability to cause economic recessions, and regimes like Iran, Venezuela, and Russia no longer can subsist on oil exports to the same degree. This brings me to the second declaration of this article :
From the start of 2011, measure the dollar-years of area enclosed by a chart of the price of oil above $70. There are only 200 such dollar-years remaining for the current world petro-order. We can call this the 'Law of Finite Petrotyranny'.
Allow me to elaborate.
Through some proprietary analysis, I have calculated that the remaining lifetime of oil's economic importance as follows :
You can plug in your own numbers to estimate the year in which oil will cease to exert such power. For example, if you believe that oil will average $120, which is $50 above the $70 floor, then the X points are expended at a rate of $50/year, meaning depletion at the end of 2014. If oil instead averages just $100, then the X points are expended at $30/year, meaning it will take 6.67 years, or until late 2017, to consume them. Points are only depleted when oil is above $70, but are not restored if oil is below $70 (as research projects may be discontinued or postponed, but work already done is not erased). For those who (wrongly) insist that oil will soon be $170, the good news for them is that in such an event they will see the X points depleted in just two short years. The graph provides 3 scenarios, of oil averaging $120, $110, and $100, and indicating in which year such a price trend would exhaust the 200 X points from points A, B, and C, which is the area of each of the three rectangles. In reality, price fluctuations will cause variations in the rate of X point depletion, but you get the idea.
Keep in mind the Law of Finite Petrotyranny, and on that basis, welcome any increase in oil prices as the hastening force of oil replacement that it is. My personal opinion? We average about $100/barrel, causing depletion of the X points in 2017 (scenario 'C' in green).
So what happens after the Law of Finite Petrotyranny manifests itself? Let me pre-empt the strawmen that critics will erect, and state that oil will still be an important source of energy. But most people will no longer care about the price of oil, much as the average person does not keep track of the price of natural gas or coal. Oil will simply be a fuel no longer important enough to cause recessions or greatly alter consumer behavior through short-term spikes. Many OPEC countries will see a great reduction in their power, and will no longer be able to placate their citizens through petro-handouts alone. These countries would do well to act now and diversify their economies, phase in civil liberties while they can still do so incrementally, and prepare for a future of much lower leverage over their current customers.
So cheer oil prices higher so that the X points get frittered away quickly. It will be fun.
- by Imran Khan
This is a different sort of article, unlike any other written on The Futurist. It is no coincidence that this article is written on 1/1/2011, exactly 365 days after The Misandry Bubble was posted on 1/1/2010. While this website normally discusses and predicts the future, in this instance, I would like to enlist people to help alter the trajectory of one aspect of the future. A year ago, I did say that I would not become an activist of any sort, but what I have seen over the last year makes me unable to let such lopsided and egregious injustice go unchallenged.
We have completed the first year of the decade of The Misandry Bubble, and I remain as convinced as ever that The Misandry Bubble will correct by 2020 no matter what due to the Four Horsemen of Male Emancipation. However, there is much to lose if the correction is turbulent, rather than orderly. Millions of innocent men and women can be saved from wrenching misfortune if we act now to fight the culture of misandry that is cancerously pervading the entire Western world.
So why is so much injustice met with so little opposition? It is a combination of i) a lack of awareness about the complexity of various laws and the perverse incentives they create, ii) an overwhelming cultural bias to crush any questioning of the increasingly tyrannical bent of 'feminism', iii) insufficient time or resources at the disposal of the very small anti-misandry community, iv) a shortage of any prior experience in political activism, and v) simply not knowing where or how to begin. There thus exists a need for a simple, low risk solution that enables this small civilian force to wage asymmetrical warfare against misandry within the above constraints.
It takes an extreme amount of research to learn that, for example, the Federal Government, under 'feminist' pressure, pays grants to police departments in proportion to the number of men jailed under VAWA legislation, leading to an incentive for police to expand the defintion of 'domestic violence' to absurd extremes. Or that 'feminists' lobbied to steer money away from disabled veterans towards able-bodied women. But before one can digest such intracacies, we must take a step back, and contemplate what it might take to get more men reading, discussing, and eventually opposing such convoluted mechanisms for tyranny.
At the moment, the only notable anti-misandry activity underway is the production of blog articles. Many great articles have been written, and there are a number of subjects that I myself would not have known about without the Internet authorship of anti-misandrists. However, this is only a small fraction of the total blogosphere, which is itself frequented by only a small fraction of the adult population. My five years of running this blog, and commenting on others, leads me to estimate that in the US, the number of people who are active denizens of the blogosphere (as defined by visiting multiple blogs per day, every day) is no greater than 50,000. Blogs with very high traffic are still sparsely viewed relative to television programs that may receive millions of viewers. For this reason, while the creation of new anti-misandry web content is essential, the trajectory of that tactic has already reached a saturation point.
So let us take a top-down approach. Men over the age of 18 fall in three broad groups in their capacity to grasp the concept of misandry :
C) Drones : Men who just do what they believe everyone else does. They don't think very far beyond their own social group, and cannot comprehend complex concepts that span a variety of subjects. They don't go out of their way to live by a code of needy chivalry, either.
B) White Knights/Pedestalizers/Girlie-Men : These 'men' are a very major force propagating misandry on both sides of the mainstream political spectrum. As detailed in The Misandry Bubble, they have a misguided belief that appeasing women is the way to succeed with women, despite the overwhelming evidence that contradicts this, and the vast amount of Internet material that describes why the act of appeasing women makes a man repulsive to women. As more men are awaking to the excesses of 'feminism', these pedestalizers are doubling down in their support of female supremacism and male disenfranchisement.
A) Men Who Could Grasp the Concepts, if Introduced to Them : Virtually all men who currently have a deep understanding of the various topics discussed in anti-misandry blogs started out by observing anecdotes in real life that seemed askew, did some web searching, and discovered the ocean of content leading to a multi-month digestion process. After a vast amount of reading, they became aware of all sorts of subjects that took a 17,000-word article just to summarize.
Our target audience is Group A. While we do not know exactly what percentage of men fall into each category, it is safe to assume that Group A amounts to tens of millions of men in the Anglosphere countries. We only need to get a small fraction of them to become aware of the sinister agenda of VAWA, the Bradley Amendment, the drugging of little boys in schools, etc. to generate real momentum against misandry. These are also the men who are the most capable of recognizing that beyond men, average women are being greatly damaged by the modern incarnation of 'feminism'.
Piercing the Matrix
The Location : Male restrooms in public buildings have urinals. When a man is using a urinal, he has no choice but to see the blank wall that is directly in front of his face above the urinal at eye-level. Every man taller than 5'2", whether young or old, rich or poor, is a captive audience for that brief passage of time. A urinal in a crowded location might be used hundreds of times in a single day. Yet, to this day, I have almost never seen this valuable advertising space used.
The Seeds of Thought : A lot of men from Group A above have either experienced in their own lives, or observed in the lives of other men, situations that seem inexplicably unfair to good men. They somehow sense that something is fundamentally wrong, but they never had anyone tie together these separate anecdotes to put the broader picture of societal misandry into focus. This process can, and often does, happen quickly if such a man is shown the right reading material, and is placed into a setting where he can ask plenty of questions to others who became aware before him.
If a man sees a flyer that provokes a jolting thought where he leasts expects it, he will remember it for a long time to come. Those of us who have studied and practiced Neuro-Linguisting Programming (NLP) will recognize this as a very strong anchor, and thus ensure that he will remember the seed planted in his mind in many future instances of standing in front of a urinal. The periodic recollection will be unshakeable, due to such a strong anchor being planted. Whenever he hears of yet another such situation again, he will think back to the thought evoked by the flyer he saw on that day.
Moving on to the optimal content of each flyer, it should ideally ask a question that sounds mainstream and hard to condemn, yet be sufficiently strong as to cause the aforementioned jolt. It should also have a simple URL directed the reader to further information, or a couple of words that can be Googled. For example, a flyer could ask "Why do 4 times more commit suicide than women?", followed by "Visit www.the-spearhead.com to learn why". Or maybe "Why are little boys being drugged in schools? Visit www.the-spearhead.com". Or perhaps something like "Are you tired of being called a 'misogynist' for no reason? If so, Google "The Misandry Bubble"".
I recommend websites that have a professional appearance and clean format, and are written in language that can pass the PG-13 test. The reason for this is that we want to draw in Group A men in gradual increments, without anything that will trigger a revulsion reflex. For this reason, some of the websites most suitable for this type of flyer are :
There are many other good websites as well, of course, and you can choose whichever you think has the most useful content. If you wish to pay homage to any of the long-time authors of Men's Rights, or the luminaries of Game, this is a great channel through which to do so. Just err on the side of those websites that maintain a professional appearance and PG-13 language, in order to keep the tent big. If the URL is straightforward, include the URL itself in the flyer. If the URL is longer, instruct the reader to Google the title (e.g. 'For more, Google "The Misandry Bubble" or "Wedded Abyss"). Here is a powerpoint file with a few examples of simple flyers. You can make your flyers colored and more graphically impressive as well.
The Viral Campaign : We don't want to post these flyers in low-traffic locations, but rather where the most men will see them, and specifically where the men who stand to lose the most from misandry are likely to be present. Therefore, the locations of maximum impact are :
i) Convention Centers and Hotels : A major conference might have tens of thousands of attendees, and these are often professional men working extremely hard to support their families, yet who know of men just like them who have been mysteriously driven into poverty, imprisonment, or suicide. Since the modern state depends heavily on the productivity of these career men, who are a very small percentage of the population, they should have a chance to learn about why so many men just like them, who appeared to do everything right, find themselves ruined and criminalized for seemingly mysterious reasons. Go to the website of the biggest convention center in your city, and make a note of which dates that center hosts a major conference likely to be full of male attendees.
ii) Medical, Business, and Graduate Engineering Schools : These locations are filled with men in their mid-late 20s, who are both contemplating marriage and about to embark on lucrative careers. They have much to gain from learning about the differences between Marriage 1.0 and Marriage 2.0, the importance of pre-nuptial agreements, etc. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
iii) Military Locations : Any place full of either current military personnel or older veterans is highly appropriate, as these men are often prime targets of predatory campaigns that legislative misandry enables. The US Government claims to care about reducing the suicide rate of active duty military personnel, but stops short of taking corrective action when reducing the suicide rate would involve a confrontation with 'feminism'. It is our duty to intervene on behalf of our fine soldiers, and inform them of what sequence of events takes place that enables the foulest of parasites to prey on them.
iv) Mosques and Islamic Centers : Muslims in the West do have the right to be informed about laws that they might not be aware of, and plan their lives accordingly. After that, let the chips fall where they may.
Other locations (like sports stadiums) can also be useful. The main objective is to get as many men as possible anchored to the thought of societal misandry at future visits to a urinal, and to get them to visit a website and perhaps step through the gateway into the substantial education he may choose to undertake. Just make sure that you are not violating any laws against flyer-posting in restrooms (as ludicrous as such a law would be).
Now, this being 2011, not only do we benefit from the existence of the Internet, but from the existence of a mobile Internet. I have written about the explosion of mobile Internet connectivity since 2006, and we now live in an age where people have Internet access in their pockets. The advantage here is that he does not have to wait until he goes home to check the URL, but could do so on his iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, etc. right after he leaves the restroom while the thought is fresh. If a flyer that provokes his thoughts about divorce, drugging of boys, or male suicide is sufficiently relevant to past events he has seen or experienced, he might very well go to the website he saw. If he likes the content, he might even send the URL to his friends via Twitter or Facebook. We are thus using elements that are both high-tech and low-tech in nature, to maximum effect.
Let's give this campaign a name. I will call it 'URLs @ Urinals', for that is exactly what it is. That tagline has a symmetric flow, and is easy to remember. It also sounds a little annoying, and that is exactly what we want. If you find the slogan 'URLs @ Urinals' to be both accurate and annoying, imagine how irritated the misandrists will become.
Actually, as of 1/1/2011, we have not even begun to annoy them yet.
1000 Man-Hours to Restore Civil Rights : In 2010, this website received over 250,000 visits averaging about 3 minutes each, most of which were for The Misandry Bubble. That is 750,000 minutes, or 12,500 hours, that went into reading just this modest website. For just a fraction of that time, we can initiate a sequence of events that eventually curbs one of the great evils of this age.
All I request is for people reading this to each spend a couple of hours preparing and posting the flyers of their choice, at strategically valuable locations such as those described above. Time spent should include only the preparation of flyers, and actual taping of them over selected urinals, but not the transit time of going to the target location. This means that an hour of effort would translate into 10 to 60 restrooms being hit. But again, these must be well-visited restrooms.
If everyone reading this article can collectively muster up just 1000 hours of volunteer activism, as measured above.....
We can get the urinals of 10,000 to 60,000 high-traffic men's rooms flyered.
Which could make over 1 million men see the flyers.
Which could plant a seed in the minds of hundreds of thousands of them.
Which could lead to tens of thousands of them reading the websites introduced in the flyers.
Which could result in several thousand more men becoming fully educated about the various dimensions of misandry that are silently enslaving them.
Several thousand new men would be a major expansion from the few hundred that exist today. From these new men will arise new ideas, new activism, and shifts in the cultural flow of society. There will be more challenges to unspoken misandric assumptions, and more pressure to question 'feminist' falsehoods.
The Tea Party went from zero to a dominant political force in under two years. I see anti-misandry as the next stage of the Tea Party's goal of small government, as there can be no reduction in government spending without a direct confrontation of 'feminism'. This also means that anti-misandry can spread as fast as the Tea Party did, and possibly shield the Tea Party from Republican feminists seeking to co-opt it. 1000 Man-Hours to start an avalanche. On this day, 1/1/2011, go and take action.
The Reaction from Misandrists : The reaction that 'URLs @ Urinals' will provoke is alone worth the effort, if their belligerence upon my use of the term 'fatocalypse' in The Misandry Bubble is any indication. Already in a stupor of castrative bloodlust, 'feminists' will be tipped into hysteria by the thought of more men being sent information from outside the plantation. Their reactions will span the whole range of derangement, from demands for taxpayer-funded armed guards to apprehend flyer posters, to feminists barging into men's rooms to inspect for evidence of 'misogyny', to calls for outright bans on urinals themselves as 'male supremacist' appliances, to increasingly bold statements regarding the need to reduce the male population to a fraction of what it currently is (yes, they actually do say this). The good news is that by baiting them, their reactions will do a fair amount of our work for us, and other men in Group A will see this and begin to recoil in revulsion.
Pedestalizers will see these flyers, and tear them down. But that action is futile as due to the viral nature of 'URLs @ Urinals' they have no idea where or when the next flyers will be posted. They will, as mentioned before, double down on their repellent pedestalization of women. But they can only double down so many times, and this will accelerate the process of them cracking under the burdens of their ignorance. If you would like to see the costs of misandry accumulate onto the pedestalizers/girlie-men who sustain it, put in a few hours into 'URLs @ Urinals'. Assume that each hour you spend posting a compelling flyer in the right place is collectively costing pedestalizers money.
Remember that all we are doing is asking men to go to certain websites, some of which have female authors. After that, any opinions these men form, or decisions they make, are their choice, and I would not have it any other way. For those who oppose 'URLs @ Urinals' as 'misogynist', know that they are actually opposed to men knowing what divorce and child custody laws are, what sorts of mechanisms can land them in prison without due process that they think they are protected by, and that little boys are being drugged in schools in order to make them less masculine. What type of creatures would oppose the act of individuals informing themselves about the laws they live under? Keep that in mind as you set out to post flyers.
The Ripple Effects : I do not in any way claim that 1000 hours of 'URLs @ Urinals' will by itself topple the massive legislative-industrial complex of misandry. I do, however, think that 1000 hours of this can expand the number of men who are both well-informed about misandry and seriously troubled by it, by two orders of magnitude more than what it is now. If, by the end of 2011, the number of men who are have awareness is a hundred times higher, then from that platform, many new leaders and ideas will emerge.
Always remember the following characteristics of revolutions :
It appears that all of those points are in favor of justice and freedom, and are working against misandry. There has been no ideology in the West in the modern era that has been more dependent on keeping people uninformed about the laws they live under.
About myself, my career exists in the medium between Silicon Valley and High Finance. I have participated in the creation of disruptive technologies and asymmetrically competitive business models, and longtime readers know about my track record of predictions. I have an eye for how to do a lot with a little, and I believe this tactic will change society quickly. Never aim low.
Who Should Participate in 'URLs @ Urinals'?
In closing, let me add that this is also a test of the anti-misandry-sphere. Hundreds of men comment on blogs about the evils of misandry, but point out (correctly) that they don't know where to begin, and that their numbers and resources are too few, and that they have to remain anonymous. 'URLs @ Urinals' greatly reduces those disadvantages, and is fully decentralized. 1000 hours is very little, and if this nascent community cannot muster even this minimal amount of effort, then, well, the right to complain would become much lower. Debate this strategy, critique it, scoff at it, yes. But do that after have put in an hour or two of your own. If there is to eventually be a real movement against misandry, mobilizing 1000 hours of activism is a minimal prerequisite.
Rise to action, men, and make it happen. Get out and start posting flyers (such as these).
Do it now!!
Note on Comments : The usual pre-emption applies : misandrists have no debate tactics other than to call their opponents 'misogynists' and 'losers'. See The Misandry Bubble for a deconstruction of the inherent projection behind those slurs, particularly since misandry is far more common than misogyny. I continue to be amused by how many 'feminists' are unable to spell the most important word in their vocabulary.
- by Imran Khan
Here we are, on the eve of a red wave that will see the GOP wrest over 60 House seats, 8 Senate seats, and 7 Governorships away from the Democrats. As a free-market, small government advocate, I greet this development with only minimal enthusiasm. In fact, on a scale of 1 to 10, while I certainly rate the Democrats as a shameful 1, I cannot give the Republicans a score any higher than a 4. My ratings of 1 and 4, interestingly, offend not just Democrats but Republicans as well. Allow me to elaborate.
Republicans have held the Presidency for 28 of the last 42 years. They have also held majorities in Congress for substantial periods of time. Yet, no one can dispute that the US is far more left-leaning than it was in 1968. Government spending as a percentage of GDP is much higher, incidence of single motherhood is vastly higher, free enterprise is less respected, individual liberties are lower, and popular entertainment has become vulgar, disgusting, and immoral. These are all things Republicans do not desire, yet it has happened under their noses anyway. We can thus conclude that :
Republicans winning elections does not counter leftism, it merely postpones the inexorable advance of leftism.
So why are Republicans unable to advance what their voters want, while the left can advance their agenda whether they are in office or not? The reasons for this are as follows :
Marketing Ignorance : Longtime readers are aware of how I strongly emphasize that one must never refer to leftists as 'liberals'. In reality, they are illiberal, intolerant, and rigid. By allowing them to assign a positive word like 'liberal' or 'progressive' to themselves, the right already concedes the battle before it has even begun. Would you want to enter into a public debate with someone under the agreement that they get to call themselves the 'smart/good person' while you have to be known as the 'dumb/evil person'? Yet this is what the right readily agrees to, and they appear to be incapable of learning from their errors. In 8 years, I have seen just two articles by a Republican describing why it is unwise to refer to totalitarian leftists as 'liberals', while every other article posted daily continues with this foolishness.
But it goes further. For years and years, the left has behaved with extreme hypocrisy on issues of race, ethics, and pro- vs anti-American stances. The response that the right delivers is to point out this hypocrisy in a polite manner, expecting the left to acknowledge their error and not repeat it in the future. Needless to say, the left has no problem with hypocrisy and projection, and has no intention of changing this. Yet, the Republicans still fail to notice that pointing out such examples of hypocrisy has no effect on the debate. The definition of insanity, or at least stupidity, is repeating the same action a number of times, and expecting a different result, but Republicans fail to see that the character of their opponents is far too uncivilized for the toothless tactics that Republicans restrict themselves to.
Take, for example, the African-American vote, which usually goes 90-96% for Democrats. This is true even if the Republican candidate is black and the Democrat is white (as was the case in 3 major races in 2006). An examination of recent history quickly reveals this loyalty towards Democrats as more than a little odd. George Wallace ran for President as a Democrat on a segregationist platform as recently as 1976 (note that this was after Nixon's 'Southern Strategy' approach). Furthermore, Robert Byrd, a senior leader in the KKK, was a US Senator in the Democratic party until 2010. These facts would make it less surprising for blacks to vote 90% Republican than the current reality of the opposite. But this yet again shows how poor Republican messaging is. The party of George Wallace and Robert Byrd still manages to get 90% of the black vote, due to the left's tireless propaganda in black neighborhoods, and historical revisionism in school textbooks in inner-city public schools. As a result, the black vote is not even remotely available to Republicans, and with African Americans being 11% of the US population, for a Democrat to win a nationwide election, he only has to get 40 out of the remaining 90% of votes to be cast. The Republican, by contrast, has to get 50 out of the remaining 90%. That is correct, for a Republican to win, he has to get not 50 out of 100%, but 50 out of 90%.
And while Democrat tactics have been underhanded, the Republicans can only blame themselves for being so weak, inobservant, and slow to comprehend what they are up against.
The Judicial Battlespace, Where Only One Side Shows Up : Elections are only half of the battlefield. The other half is the legislative/judicial landscape where laws are discreetly created and enacted without voter approval. The left tirelessly pushes its agenda through an army of lawyers and judges, with the right not even noticing. This unchallenged activity from the left is the reason that they have managed to reduce their dependence on the electoral process, easily duping Republicans into thinking that winning elections is a 'victory against leftism'. That Republicans be distracted from even noticing this crucial other half of the battlespace is quite acceptable to the left.
As just one example, this is why the left is easily able to distract Republicans with inconsequential side issues like 'gay marriage', while not a single 'social conservative' protested that New York became the final state out of 50 to replace fault-based divorce with 'no-fault' divorce. For 'socons' who claim to care about preserving the institution of marriage, yet not utter a single word about a legal system that has been rigged to increase lawyer revenues by making it easy and profitable for women to get divorces, is shockingly dim. To put it even more plainly, the number of straight men avoiding marriage to women due to gay marriage legislation is zero, whereas the number of straight men avoiding marriage due to brutally anti-male laws is sizable. The socon reaction to this, in their strategic brilliance, is to attack gay marriage and ignore what really disincentivizes marriage.
Aren't conservatives supposed to be the people who understand how economic incentives work? This socon behavior would be the equivalent of an astronomer being unaware of the existence of the Moon, and is the reason that most 'socons' do not deserve to be taken seriously.
This is why a massive form of brutal redistribution in America today is not even noticed by those who claim to oppose socialism. Alimony is awarded to a divorcing wife on a 'no fault' basis, putting the husband into a 70% marginal tax rate. Even if he did not want a divorce, failure to pay this 'no-fault' alimony carries possible imprisonment. Thus, he is placed into near-slavery, and certainly has no incentive to invent new technologies or start new businesses. 10-30% of the male workforce being under a 70% tax rate during their peak earning years cannot be good for the economy, yet not one 'conservative' is fighting this, as pedestalization trumps capitalism in the conservative ideological hierarchy.
Republican Appeasement of 'Feminists' : As I explained in The Misandry Bubble, a lot of men, both left and right-leaning, have an extremely inobservant belief that groveling to women and excusing them of wrongdoings that no man would be excused for, is the way to get women to like them. In reality, women have the opposite reaction to a man who is too willing to appease, and find such a man to be a useful puppet at best. What makes it worse when a conservative Republican does it, is that in being a white knight, he tosses aside every other principle he claims to advocate.
Most would consider Steve Forbes to be a prominent, central representative of conservative Republican ideology. However, in Forbes magazine he has taken to publishing frequent articles that are decidedly misandric. I had the opportunity to ask him about this online, and he surprisingly gave the unthinking answer, "As a man with 5 daughters, I am concerned about women's issues.". How nice of him, but surely someone as intelligent as Steve Forbes would recognize that caring about the enviroment does not equate to an endorsement of the most fringe lunatic enviromentalists. So why can't he make such a distinction with 'feminism', rather than declare that he endorses any and all 'feminists' without questioning the possibility of extremism (which certainly harms his daughters) in their midst?
It goes deeper. The need for many conservatives to pedestalize women is so ingrained, that when someone points out to them how (and why) serial killers receive a torrent of love letters from an army of swooning women, the conservative gets angry not at the women, but at the messenger who points out this inconvenient reality. Flat-earthers do not like seeing evidence that the Earth is a sphere, and conservative pedestalization of women is precisely the same psychology.
Now, for any leftist reading this, I am going to reveal a secret to you. The secret is : it is easy to get a conservative to support any and all government programs as long as it is packaged as 'chivalry'. Do you want more government-subsidized daycare for unwed mothers to get them to vote Democrat? Tell a conservative that supporting this is 'chivalrous' while opposing this is 'misogynistic'. Do you want conservatives to support another tax on the wealthy to finance Obamacare? Tell him that women will suffer without Obamacare. Do you want more money to go towards teachers unions so that they can indoctrinate public school students even more deeply into Marxism? Tell a conservative that female teachers are underpaid (even though they aren't), and need a higher wage. Do you want cap-and-trade or any other Al Gore legislation passed? Find some convoluted way to show conservatives that women would suffer more than men if more carbon dioxide were produced. Yes, they really can be duped that easily. The typical conservative will jump at the chance to out-left a leftist when the prospect of appearing like a hero to women (again, refusing to learn that this actually repels women) presents itself. Try it, and see how every other principle, from small government, to free markets, to support for two-parent upbringings, to adherence to the US Constitution, will be jettisoned in their rush to be a pedestalizing white knight.
My Republican friends get angry when I give away this weakness to the other side. My answer to them is that if your side is so weak and needy that you are afraid of this weakness being revealed, how can you possibly support such useful idiots? Reform your side instead, and even I would subsequently rejoin.
Steven Baskerville discusses how conservatives who think they are 'tough on crime' have little understanding of the tyranny they have enabled, by building the left's Trojan horse for them. Over here, Ferdinand Bardamu describes how Democrats and Republicans unite to form the Misandry Party. For example, both parties are under the belief that innocent 'single mothers' were abandoned by 'deadbeat dads', and a typical debate between left and right would constitute an argument about who has done more to punish 'deadbeat dads'. In reality, it is usually the mother who has discarded the father's presence, while seizing his money, and is further using the state to prevent him from receiving joint custody or even visitation rights. But this reality is such a departure from the prevailing narrative that such a man can go to neither party for any sort of Father's Rights support. Many conservative women are not sympathetic to the oppression of men under state-backed misandry, and only seek to replace the leftist brand of 'feminism' with a slightly more religious version of their own.
These three reasons are why we see conservatives rarely driving an agenda, but rather only opposing what the left dangles before them as a distraction. Hence, the right keeps falling back and falling back, ceding more and more ground with each cycle. The alternating of power between Democrats and Republicans constitute a two-steps-back, one-step-sideways descent into leftism, so pardon me for not being too excited about the sideways step, the mere postponement we are about to take through the party earning a 4 taking seats from the party earning a 1 out of 10. Their inability to distinguish between insignificant side issues and the topics that actually matter, combined with the needy chivalry that trumps every other principle that they claim to hold, makes the current conservative/Republican mainstream fatally flawed.
While I was in strong agreement with the GOP during the crisis of the last decade, the War on Terror, I see them as very much in a 'useful idiot' role in the crisis of this decade, The Misandry Bubble.
This brings us to the core mismatch in US politics. As the emergence of the Tea Party has shown, at least 70% of the electorate wants lower taxes and lower spending. The approval ratings of the last 3 Presidents all rose and fell in tandem with the level of government spending. All this is established, yet the voters can't seem to figure out how to achieve it.
Back to The Misandry Bubble, where I establish that 70-80% of all government spending is a transfer of wealth from men to women in some form or the other. Entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare are mostly financed by taxes paid by men, but are mostly consumed by women, who live 7 years longer than men, thus creating a reality where a woman's post-65 lifetime is twice as long as a man's (7 years for a man, 14 years post-65 for a woman). Most of the increase in public sector employees have been female. Through unopposed 'feminist' lobbying, most of the $800B stimulus was diverted away from infrastructure projects since too few women work in those, and instead diverted to the already bloated healthcare and education sectors in order to employ more women. Teachers are not just well-paid, but it is a profession that men are mostly barred from. Extreme subsidization of single motherhood has created an America where 41% of all babies are born out of wedlock.
Therefore, if the electorate is truly interested in shrinking the size of government, they first have to confront the artificially created absurdities in American society that are currently considered normal. There is a reason that all traditional societies, whether European or Asian, shamed unwed mothers and recognized them to be parasites. There is a reason the word 'homewrecker' was common until recently. There is a reason there were no jobs for 'court appointed visitation supervisors' to be employed by the state to oversee the actions of a man who has had his children taken from him on a 'no fault' basis. There is a reason that any successful society defended the institution of marriage fiercely by making marriage at attractive arrangement for the man, which in turn ensured that the woman was better off as well. No successful society has replaced the family unit with government, yet America is attempting to do this with taxpayer funds.
To even the most strident Tea Partier, I ask, how badly do you want to trim government spending? Badly enough to cut single mothers off from the trough, and thus prevent the creation of future single mothers and their spawn? Badly enough to lay off thousands of teachers, and fight teacher's unions attempts to prevent merit-based performance reviews? Badly enough to be far more courageous than needy socons, and work to crush the predatory divorce industry, that strives to increase divorces in order to employ more people in the divorce ecosystem? Badly enough to phase out major elements of SS and Medicare (and Obamacare), even if 'women will suffer from the cutbacks'? Badly enough to be called a 'misogynist', 'loser', and 'worse than Hitler'? Badly enough to receive every form of shaming language they can fling at you?
If the answer to any of the above questions is 'no', then you are not ready to do what it takes to reduce government spending. There is no return to the non-defense spending levels of 1960 or even 2006 without curing this culture of the disease currently killing it, and the Tea Party will not be able to take their cause to the next level without such courage. To make this even more clear :
There will be no reduction in Federal, State, or Local government spending in the US without a fierce and pervasive detection, confrontration, and reduction of state-supported misandry, currently propped up by both Democrats and Republicans.
Do you, the American voter, have what it takes to save America?
As a Futurist, it is my job to bring attention to topics that will become more widely discussed several years from now. When the points detailed here are discussed more openly in 2017-18, remember who defined the heart of the challenge in 2010.
Note on Comments : As I already explained in The Misandry Bubble, any Pavlovian utterance of the word 'misogynist' takes very little probing to quickly reveal itself as just projection of anti-male bigotry outward, and is an admission of such bigotry. Although I am amused that 'feminists' still can't even spell the most important word in their vocabulary.
Observers have been waiting for carbon nanotubes, buckyballs, and graphene to transform the world for quite some time, and the wait has been longer than they expected. Enthusiasts for this new miracle material had all but vanished. Is this warranted? Where does the state of innovation in various forms of carbon, that could yield ultra-strong, ultra-light materials and superfast computing really stand?
CNET had an article just last month about the multiple disruptions that the various allotopes of carbon are about to make. That is quite exciting, except that CNET also had a similar article in 2003. Similarly, Ray Kurzweil extolled carbon nanotubes as a successor to silicon quite heavily in 1999, but not quite as much now, even though that supposed transition would be much closer to the present. This does not mean that Kurzweil's estimation was in error, but rather that the technology was unexpectedly stagnant during the early 2000s. So let us examine why there was such an interruption, and whether progress has since resumed.
I wrote in 2009 about how we had undergone a multi-year nanotech winter, and how we were emerging from it in 2009. As anticipated, carbon nanotubes are now finally lowering in price, and being produced at a scale that could start making an impact. Sure enough, activity began to stir right as I predicted, and the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to research in graphene. Just like CNETs article, Wired also has an article about the diverse applications that graphene could revolutionize. Combining the two articles, we can summarize the core possibilities of carbon allotopes as follows :
Ultra-dense computing and storage : Graphene transistors smaller than 1 nanometer have been demonstrated. Carbon allotopes could keep the exponential doubling of both computing and storage capacity going well into the 2030s.
Carbon Fiber Vehicles : This lightweight, ultrastrong material can save vast amounts of fuel by reducing the weight of cars and aeroplanes. While premium products such as the $6000 Trek Madone bicycles are already made from carbon fiber, greater volume is reducing prices and will soon make the average car much ligher than it is today, increasing fuel efficiency and reducing traffic fatalities.
Energy Storage : Natural Gas is not only much cheaper than oil per unit of energy (oil would have to drop to about $30 to match current NG prices), but the supply of NG is more evenly distributed across the world than the oil supply. The US alone has an enormous reserve of natural gas that could ensure total energy independence. The main problem with NG is storage, which is the primary reason oil displacement is not happening rapidly. But microporous carbon can effectively act as a sponge for natural gas, enabling safe and easy transport. This could potentially change the entire energy map.
There are other applications beyond these core three, but suffice it to say, the allotopes of carbon can perform a greater variety of functions than any other material available to us today. Watch for indications of carbon allotopes popping up in the strangest of places, and know that each emergence drives the cost down ever lower.
On October 23, 2009, I wrote that if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire at the end of 2010, the US would experience another recession. That ultimatum is now squarely facing the US economy, and I have a few assorted thoughts on some major areas that are being under-discussed.
a) I find it revealing that leftists are quick to parrot some memorized garbage about why taxes should rise back to what they were during the Clinton era, yet the same leftists have no interest in returning to the spending levels of the Clinton era. I am perfectly fine with returning to Clinton-era tax brackets if we also return to Clinton-era spending. Any takers? Come on, any takers?
(crickets chirping as leftists flee to avoid having to address the contradiction between wanting Clinton-era tax levels but not Clinton-era spending levels).
If cornered, a leftist will change the subject and say that the Iraq War is the reason spending is high (note that this does not address the point of why they do not wish to return to Clinton-era spending levels). However, contrary to leftist propaganda, the Iraq War actually cost less than the Obama stimulus, as per the chart below from the Washington Examiner. In fact, exclude the Iraq War, and the budget deficit was all but erased by 2007. At least the Iraq War was ultimately successful. But from 2011 onwards, the deficit is set to widen further if the tax rates rise. GDP will shrink below the current projections, causing tax revenue to shrink despite the higher rate of taxation. Republicans winning a few seats in the 2010 Congressional election may halt the tax increase, but will not reduce spending, as Republicans are far too politically uncreative to overturn this increased spending.
b) How a person feels about the capital gains tax is an intoxicating test of how true to free market principles a person is. The fact that capital gains are far more concentrated among the wealthy than wage income is drives socialists into a crazed frenzy that will have them vehemently demanding that capital gains be taxed at 80% or more. However, raising the tax rate of capital gains is the way to inflict the greatest economic damage for the least increase (in fact, often a decrease) in tax revenue. This is simply because of the fact that capital is highly mobile. Russia, China, and India all have long-term capital gains tax rates of 0%, and short term rates no higher than 15%. By contrast, the US long term rate in states like New York and California currently approaches 25%, will rise to 30% with the expiry of the Bush tax cuts, and rise further to 34% under an Obamacare supplemental tax. Capital, thus, finds a better climate in Russia, China, and India than in the US, and trillions of dollars have already departed from the US. Who won the Cold War again? Or rather, is that the wrong question, with the right question being "Where has the traveling disease of socialism migrated towards?".
There should be no capital gains tax at all. This is for the simple reason that if a person sells an appreciated asset, and then pays a capital gains tax, they no longer can buy back the same asset that they had just sold. For those who screech about the 'rich' making too much, remember that taxing capital gains makes them invest less, which means they will employ fewer people. Everyone is either employed by a rich person, or sells to people employed by a rich person, so punitive capital gains taxes always trickle down to people who are not rich.
c) This brings us to the original question of a new recession in 2011. Since the technical definition of a recession is quite limited, it is easy to concoct a 'stimulus' that pulls demand forward, causes a technical 'end' to the recession (in Q309 in the most recent case), and then is concluded by a lengthy hangover that comes perilously close to a new recession in its own right, discussed under the term of a 'double dip'. All of this is a greatly distracted discussion.
The most important measure of economic health, jobs, has not only not seen any recovery since the end of the prior recession in Q309, but is destined to languish through the end of 2011 and possibly much later. This chart from Calculated Risk (click to enlarge) shows that only has the current recession been deeper than all others in the last 60 years, but it has kept jobs at a very low level for over a year. Not only has this recession extended the vertical axis in this chart, but it is certainly destined to extend the horizontal axis as well (unless you believe that 8 million jobs will be created in the next 18 months). So aside from mention of a 'double dip', this recession is already at least 3 times worse than the average post-war recession. There is no chance of a full recovery to breakeven in the remaining 18 months of the existing horizontal axis of this chart, and it is improbable even by 2013, extending the employment recession to a full 6 years at least. The Techno-sponge keeps liquidity lower than policy-makers realize it is, and a rise in tax rates could dry up what little trickle of job growth is currently being seen.
d) Socialism is much more rigged in favor of the ultrawealthy than capitalism is. This is because in capitalism, there is continuous churn in the ranks of the wealthy, and anyone can be displaced by a new technology or new business model. Everyone has a chance to rise, and everyone at the top needs to continue to compete to stay in place.
In socialism, however, only the ultrawealthy can afford to bypass the oppressive rules placed on everyone else (by hiring lawyers, bribing judges and government officials, etc.). The ultrawealthy thus can erect a wall between them and the rest, and make it nearly impossible for an upper-middle-class person to become wealthy on the merit of innovation or business savvy. Hence, any attempt to create a socialist utopia ends up making it easy for the ultrawealthy to build large moats around their incumbent positions.
e) Let me also add a dash of gender psychology here, and explain why many men are capitalistic, while many women are socialistic. As explained before, female hypergamy dictates that women are biologically driven to share their genes with only the best possible man, and women would rather share a top man with other women than have a lesser man all to themselves. If it is clear that the men at the top will remain there (socialism), there is much less risk in the decision-making process for women. In a capitalistic environment, the men at the top today may not be there in a decade, and there is a far riskier 'stockpicking' aspect to choosing which man's genes are going to have long-term value. Thus is further complicated by the fact that a 'valuable' man in the past usually was so due to fighting skill and capacity for violence, while a 'valuable' man today is one with analytical/entrepreneurial skill, which was not easily monetized in the past. But the human brain does not evolve as fast as it needs to, and if you wonder why a serial killer immediately gets love letters from a large number of women (including educated, married women), but the founders of Google and Facebook do not, this is why. The serial killer has proven himself to be a 'valuable' man as per metrics women are evolved to respond to, that were determinants of male power, before modern society existed. By appearing in the media for having been a serial killer, has received a resounding stamp of validation on his credentials, and is certified as an apex male.
Along the same vein, women are also driven to extract resources from lesser men while cutting them off from the better things that society has to offer. Thus, I find it necessary to mention that of all the socialist policies that are obstructing market forces and preventing job creation, organized misandry is a greatly overlooked one. 'Feminist' groups like NOW have lobbied for stimulus dollars to be diverted towards themselves, and away from areas where fewer women work (such as infrastructure and manufacturing). Passage of the 2009 'stimulus' immediately led to an unprecedented chasm between male and female unemployment rates. This sort of shameless vote-purchasing and disenfranchisement of men, zealously enacted by Democrats and almost as zealously condoned by whiteknighting Republicans, will prove to be very corrosive to the long-term economic health of the US economy. This is where Republicans are fatally flawed - they completely fail to see how they themselves undermine their own goals. I will have much more to say on this before election day.
These five thoughts, though not quite related to each other, have been overlooked among the oceans of ink expended in commentary about the current malaise. Perhaps we are on the brink of a breaking point, where government wastage will soon cause visible declines in quality of life, where overburdening productive workers (men in particular) causes a long overdue backlash, and where the little-understood technological deflation quickens in the absence of much-needed liquidity injections. Let us see how far this unique blend of government incompetence and corruption can go.
Words like 'disruption' and 'destruction' usually have negative meanings, and one may strain to find any good ways in which to use the terms. But today, the accelerating rate of change ensures that more technologies alter more aspects of life at an ever-quickening rate. A little-understood dimension of this is the concept of Joseph Schumpeter's 'Creative Destruction', where the process of technological change topples existing norms and replaces them with new ones, often quite rapidly.
Technological diffusion was in a lull in 2008, as I pointed out at the time. But now, in 2010, I am happy to report that the recess has passed, and that the accelerating rate of change is rising back to the long-term exponential trendline (although it may not be fully back at the trendline until 2013, when people who have not been paying attention will be wondering why they were taken by surprise). The Impact of Computing continues to progress, infusing itself into a wider and wider swath of our lives, and speeding up the rate of change in complacently stagnant industries that never thought technology could affect them. Silicon Valley continues to be 'ground zero' for creative destruction, and complacent industries thousands of miles away could be toppled by someone working from their bedroom in Silicon Valley.
Just a few of the examples of creative destruction that is presently in process have been covered by prior articles here at The Futurist. These, along with others, are :
1) Video Conferencing is poised to disrupt not just airline and hotel industry revenues (which stand to lose tens of billions of dollars per year of business travel revenue), but the real-estate, medical, and aeronautical industries as well. Corporations will see substantial productivity gains from successful adoption of videoconferencing as a substitute for 50% or more of their travel expenses. Major mergers and acquisitions have happened in this sector in the last few months, and imminent price reductions will open the floodgates of diffusion. Skype provides a form of video telephony that is free of cost. This is described in detail in my August 2008 article on the subject, as well as in my earlier October 2006 introductory article.
2) Surface Computing, which I wrote about in July of 2008, has begun to emerge in a myriad of forms, from the handheld Apple iPad to the upcoming consumer version of the table-sized Microsoft Surface. This not only transforms human-computer interaction for the first time in decades, but the Apple 'Apps' ecosystem alters the utility of the Internet as well. All sizes between the blackboard and the iPad will soon be available, and by 2015, personal computing, and the Internet, will be quite different than they are today, with surfaces of varying sizes abundant in many homes.
3) The complete and total transformation of video games into the dominant form of home entertainment will be visible by 2012 through a combination of technologies such as realistic graphics, motion-responsive controllers, 3-D televisions, voice recognition, etc. The biggest casualty of this disruption will be television programming, which will struggle to retain viewers. Beyond this, the way in which humans process sensations of pleasure, excitement, and entertainment will irrevocably change. Thus, the way humans relate to each other will also change. I have written about this in April 2006, with a follow-up in July 2009.
4) The book-publishing industry has been stubbornly resistant to technology, as evidenced by their insistence as late as 2003 that manuscript queries be submitted by postal mail, and that a self-addressed stamped envelope be enclosed in which a reply can be sent. A completed manuscript would take a full 12 months to be printed and distributed, and the editors didn't even find this to be odd. Fortunately, two simultaneous disruptions are toppling this obsolete and unproductive industry from both ends. Print-on-demand services that greatly shorten the self-publishing process and entry-cost, such as iUniverse and Blurb, are now flexible and easy, while finished books can further avoid the paper-binding process altogether and be available to millions in e-book format for the Kindle and other e-readers. Books that cost, say, $15 to print, bind, and distribute now cost almost zero, enabling the author and reader to effectively split the money saved. When e-readers are eventually available for only $100, bookstores that sell paper books will be relegated to surviving mostly on gifts, coffee table books, and cafe revenues. This is a disruption that is happening quickly due to it being so overdue in the first place, resulting in a speedy 'catchup'. I wrote about this in more detail in December of 2009.
5) The automobile is undergoing multiple major transformations at once. Strong, light nanomaterials are entering the bodies of cars to increase fuel efficiency, engines are migrating to hybrid and electrical forms, sub-$5000 cars in India and China will lead to innovations that percolate up to lower the cost of traditional Western models, and the computational power engineered into the average car today leads to major feature jumps relative to models from just 5 years ago. The $25,000 car of 2020 will be superior to the $50,000 car of 2005 in every measurable way.
By 2016, consumer behavior will change to a mode where people consider it normal to 'upgrade' their perfectly functioning 6-year-old cars to get a newer model with better electronic features. This may seem odd, but people did not tend to replace fully functional television sets before they failed until the 2003 thin-TV disruption. The Impact of Computing pulls ever-more products into a rapid trajectory of improvement.
By 2018, self-driving cars will be readily available to the average US consumer, and will constitute a significant fraction of cars on the highway. This will revise existing assumptions about highway speeds and acceptable commute distances, and will further impede the real estate prices of expensive areas.
6) The Mobile Internet revolution, which I wrote about in October of 2009, is already transforming the way consumers in developed markets access the Internet. The bigger disruption is the entry of 1 billion new Internet users from emerging economies. While many of these people have relatively little education compared to Western Internet users, as the West shrinks as a fraction of total Internet mindshare, many Western cultural quirks that are seen as normal (such as institutionalized misandry sustained by an ever-expanding state) might be seen for the aberrations that they are. Thomas Friedman's concept of the world being 'flat' has not even begun to fully manifest.
7) The energy sector is in the midst of multiple disruptions, which will introduce competition between sectors that were previously unrelated. Electrical vehicles displace oil consumption with electricity, even while the electricity itself starts to be generated through nuclear, solar, and wind. The electrical economy will be further transformed by revolutions in lighting and batteries. Cellulostic ethanol will arrive in 2012, and further replace billions of gallons of gasoline. I wrote in October 2007 why I want oil to surpass $120/barrel and stay there (it subsequently was above that level for a mere 6-week period in 2008). This leads to why I claim that 'Peak Oil', far from being fatal for civilization, will actually be a topic few people even mention in 2020. The creative destruction in energy will extend to the geopolitical landscape, where we will see many petrotyrannies much weaker in 2020 than they are today.
8) Despite the efforts of Democrats to create a system unfavorable to advancement in healthcare and biotechnology, innovation continues on several fronts (partly due to Asian nations compensating for US shortfalls). One disruption is robotic surgery, where incisions can be narrow instead of the customary practice of making incisions large enough for the surgeon's hands, which in turn often necessitates sawing open the sternum, pelvis, etc. Intuitive Surgical is a company that already has a market cap of $14 Billion.
The biggest disruption, however, is that the globalization of technology is enabling medical tourism. In the US, about twice as much is spent on healthcare per person as in other OECD countries. If manufacturing and software work can be offshored, so can many aspects of healthcare, which is much more expensive than manufacturing or software engineering ever became in the US. This will correct inflated salaries in the healthcare sector, return the savings to consumers, and force innovations and systemic improvements in all OECD countries.
9) By all accounts, the cost of genome sequencing has plunged faster than any other technology, ever (it is less clear how this was accomplished, and whether the next 4 years will see a comparable drop). I tend to be skeptical about such eye-popping numbers, because if something became so much cheaper so quickly, yet it still didn't sweep over the world, then maybe it was not so valuable after all.
But it is also possible that while the raw data is now available cheaply, there is not yet enough of a community that instructs people why they should get their genome sequenced, and how to use their data. The Economist has a special report on the implications of inexpensive genome sequencing.
10) Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. are mostly inundated with the trivialities of young people, or of older people who never matured, who think they have an audience far larger than it is. However, these mediums have been used to horizontally organize interest groups and movements for political change that know no distance barriers or boundaries.
Blogs have shattered the hold that traditional media had on the release of information and opinions, and the revenues of newspapers, magazines, and network television have tumbled. The Tea Party movement in the US was started by a very small number of people, but has surged with a momentum that has reshaped the American landscape in just one year, and, irony of ironies, the Tea Party is spreading to overtaxed Britain. The next Iranian revolution will not only use Twitter and YouTube, but will have millions of collaborators outside of Iran, operating out of their own homes.
11) The financial services industry is overdue for disruption, and this was the cover story of Wired Magazine for March 2010, and was a structure established in an era when computing power needed to process transactions was expensive. Today, several startups are seeking to change the way money is transacted to eliminate this cut that incumbent companies take. Major financial services companies will see shrinkages in revenue, and will have to innovate and create new value-added services, or accept a diminishment.
Aside from this effectively being a sizable 'tax cut' for the economy, this is particularly valuable as a complement to mobile Internet penetration in poorer regions, as the capacity to conduct web micro-transactions without fees will be an essential element of human development. The highly successful concept of micro-finance will be augmented when transaction fees that consumed a high percentage of these sub-$10 transactions are minimized.
12) 3-D Printing will soon be accessible to small businesses and households. This transforms everything from commodity consumer goods to the construction of buildings. An individual could download a design and print it at home, rather than be restricted to only those products that can be mass produced. It is quite possible that by 2025, construction of basic structures takes less than one-tenth the time that it does today, which, of course, will deflate the value of all existing buildings in the world at that time.
So we see there are at least 12 ways in which our daily lives will shift considerably in just the next few years. The typical process of creative destruction results in X wealth being destroyed, and 2X wealth being created instead, but by different people. For each of the 12 disruptions listed, 'X' might be as much a $1 Trillion. As a result, the US economy might be mired in a long-term situation where vanishing industries force many laid off workers to start in new industries at the entry level, for half of their previous compensation, even as new fortunes created by the new industries cause net wealth increases. The US could see a continuation of high unemployment combined with high productivity gains and corporate earnings growth for several years to come. Big paydays for entrepreneurs will make the headlines frequently, right alongside stories of people who have to accept permanent 50% pay reductions. This would be the 'new normal'.
Income diversification is the golden rule of the early 21st century. Those that fail to create and maintain multiple streams of income are imperiling themselves. The hottest career one can embark on, which will never be obsolete, is that of the serial entrepreneur.
P.S. I have waited 5 months before doing a new article to follow 'The Misandry Bubble', as I wanted that vital article to cross 100,000 visits. It indeed has breached that threshold as of 4/30/10, ending up at 116,000 visits and 165,000 pageviews as of 5/31/10. Keep an eye on the growth of issues covered in 'The Misandry Bubble'.
Today, on the first day of the new decade of '201x' years, I am going to tell you why that is. I am hereby triggering the national dialog on what the foremost challenge for the United States will be in this decade, which is the ultimate root cause of most of the other problems we appear to be struggling with. What you are about to read is the equivalent of someone in 1997 describing the expected forces governing the War on Terror from 2001-2009 in profound detail.
This is a very long article, the longest ever written on The Futurist. As it is a guide to the next decade of social, political, and sexual strife, it is not meant to be read in one shot but rather digested slowly over an extended period, with all supporting links read as well. As the months and years of this decade progress, this article will seem all the more prophetic.
Abstract : The Western World has quietly become a civilization that has funny tainted the interaction between men and women, where the state forcibly transfers resources from men to women creating various perverse incentives for otherwise good women to inflict great harm onto their own families, and where male nature is vilified but female nature is celebrated. This is unfair to both genders, and is a recipe for a rapid civilizational decline and displacement, the costs of which will ultimately be borne by a subsequent generation of innocent women, rather than men, as soon as 2020.
Now, the basic premise of this article is that men and women are equally valuable, but have different strengths and weaknesses, and different priorities. A society is strongest when men and women have roles that are complementary to each other, rather than of an adverserial nature. Furthermore, when one gender (either one) is mistreated, the other ends up becoming disenfranchised as well. If you disagree with this premise, you may not wish to read further.
The Cultural Thesis
The Myth of Female Oppression : When you tell someone that they are oppressed, against all statistical and logical evidence, you harm them by generating discouragement and resentment. This pernicious effect is the basis of many forms of needlessly inflicted female unhappiness, as well as the basis for unjustified retaliation against men.
All of us have been taught how women have supposedly been oppressed throughout human existence, and that this was pervasive, systematic, and endorsed by ordinary men who did not face hardships as severe as what women endured. In reality, this narrative is entirely incorrect. The average man was forced to risk death on the battlefield, at sea, or in mines, while most women stayed indoors tending to children and household duties. Male life expectancy was always significantly lower than that of females, and still is.
Warfare has been a near constant feature of human society before the modern era, and whenever two tribes or kingdoms went to war with each other, the losing side saw many of its fighting-age men exterminated, while the women were assimilated into the invading society. Now, becoming a concubine or a housekeeper is an unfortunate fate, but not nearly as bad as being slaughtered in battle as the men were. To anyone who disagrees, would you like for the men and women to trade outcomes?
Most of this narrative stems from 'feminists' comparing the plight of average women to the topmost men (the monarch and other aristocrats), rather than to the average man. This practice is known as apex fallacy, and whether accidental or deliberate, entirely misrepresents reality. To approximate the conditions of the average woman to the average man (the key word being 'average') in the Western world of a century ago, simply observe the lives of the poorest peasants in poor countries today. Both men and women have to perform tedious work, have insufficient food and clothing, and limited opportunities for upliftment.
As far as selective anecdotes like voting rights go, in the vast majority of cases, men could not vote either. In fact, if one compares every nation state from every century, virtually all of them extended exactly the same voting rights (or lack thereof) to men and women. Even today, out of 200 sovereign states, there are exactly zero that have a different class of voting rights to men and women. Any claim that women were being denied rights that men were given in even 1% of historical instances, falls flat.
This is not to deny that genuine atrocities like genital mutilation have been perpetrated against women; they have and still are. But men also experienced atrocities of comparable horror at the same time, which is simply not mentioned. In fact, when a man is genitally mutilated by a woman, some other women actually find this humorous, and are proud to say so publicly.
It is already wrong when a contemporary group seeks reparations from an injustice that occurred over a century ago to people who are no longer alive. It is even worse when this oppression itself is a fabrication. The narrative of female oppression by men should be rejected and refuted as the highly selective and historically false narrative that it is. In fact, this myth is evidence not of historical oppression, but of the vastly different propensity to complain between the two genders.
The Masculinity Vacuum in Entertainment : Take a look at the collage of entertainers below (click to enlarge), which will be relevant if you are older than 30. All of them were prominent in the 1980s, some spilling over on either side of that decade. They are all certainly very different from one another. But they have one thing in common - that there are far fewer comparable personas produced by Hollywood today.
As diverse and imperfect as these characters were, they were all examples of masculinity. They represented different archetypes, from the father to the leader to the ladies man to the rugged outdoorsman to the protector. They were all more similar than dissimilar, as they all were role-models for young boys of the time, often the same young boys. Celebrities as disparate as Bill Cosby and Mr. T had majority overlap in their fan bases, as did characters as contrasting as Jean-Luc Picard and The Macho Man Randy Savage.
At this point, you might be feeling a deep inner emptiness lamenting a bygone age, as the paucity of proudly, inspiringly masculine characters in modern entertainment becomes clear. Before the 1980s, there were different masculine characters, but today, they are conspicuously absent. Men are shown either as thuggish degenerates, or as effete androgynes. Sure, there were remakes of Star Trek and The A-Team, and series finales of Rocky and Indiana Jones. But where are the new characters? Why is the vacuum being filled solely with nostalgia? A single example like Jack Bauer is not sufficient to dispute the much larger trend of masculinity purging.
Modern entertainment typically shows businessmen as villains, and husbands as bumbling dimwits that are always under the command of the all-powerful wife, who is never wrong. Oprah Winfrey's platform always grants a sympathetic portrayal to a wronged woman, but never to men who have suffered great injustices. Absurdly false feminist myths such as a belief that women are underpaid relative to men for the same output of work, or that adultery and domestic violence are actions committed exclusively by men, are embedded even within the dialog of sitcoms and legal dramas.
This trains women to disrespect men, wives to think poorly of their husbands, and girls to devalue the importance of their fathers, which leads to the normalization of single motherhood (obviously with taxpayer subsidies), despite the reality that most single mothers are not victims, but merely women who rode a carousel of men with reckless abandon. This, in turn, leads to fatherless young men growing up being told that natural male behavior is wrong, and feminization is normal. It also leads to women being deceived outright about the realities of the sexual market, where media attempts to normalize single motherhood and attempted 'cougarhood' are glorified, rather than portrayed as the undesirable conditions that they are.
The Primal Nature of Men and Women : Genetic research has shown that before the modern era, 80% of women managed to reproduce, but only 40% of men did. The obvious conclusion from this is that a few top men had multiple wives, while the bottom 60% had no mating prospects at all. Women clearly did not mind sharing the top man with multiple other women, ultimately deciding that being one of four women sharing an 'alpha' was still more preferable than having the undivided attention of a 'beta'. Let us define the top 20% of men as measured by their attractiveness to women, as 'alpha' males while the middle 60% of men will be called 'beta' males. The bottom 20% are not meaningful in this context.
Research across gorillas, chimpanzees, and primitive human tribes shows that men are promiscuous and polygamous. This is no surprise to a modern reader, but the research further shows that women are not monogamous, as is popularly assumed, but hypergamous. In other words, a woman may be attracted to only one man at any given time, but as the status and fortune of various men fluctuates, a woman's attention may shift from a declining man to an ascendant man. There is significant turnover in the ranks of alpha males, which women are acutely aware of.
As a result, women are the first to want into a monogamous relationship, and the first to want out. This is neither right nor wrong, merely natural. What is wrong, however, is the cultural and societal pressure to shame men into committing to marriage under the pretense that they are 'afraid of commitment' due to some 'Peter Pan complex', while there is no longer the corresponding traditional shame that was reserved for women who destroyed the marriage, despite the fact that 90% of divorces are initiated by women. Furthermore, when women destroy the commitment, there is great harm to children, and the woman demands present and future payments from the man she is abandoning. A man who refuses to marry is neither harming innocent minors nor expecting years of payments from the woman. This absurd double standard has invisible but major costs to society.
To provide 'beta' men an incentive to produce far more economic output than needed just to support themselves while simultaneously controlling the hypergamy of women that would deprive children of interaction with their biological fathers, all major religions constructed an institution to force constructive conduct out of both genders while penalizing the natural primate tendencies of each. This institution was known as 'marriage'. Societies that enforced monogamous marriage made sure all beta men had wives, thus unlocking productive output out of these men who in pre-modern times would have had no incentive to be productive. Women, in turn, received a provider, a protector, and higher social status than unmarried women, who often were trapped in poverty. When applied over an entire population of humans, this system was known as 'civilization'.
All societies that achieved great advances and lasted for multiple centuries followed this formula with very little deviation, and it is quite remarkable how similar the nature of monogamous marriage was across seemingly diverse cultures. Societies that deviated from this were quickly replaced. This 'contract' between the sexes was advantageous to beta men, women over the age of 35, and children, but greatly curbed the activities of alpha men and women under 35 (together, a much smaller group than the former one). Conversely, the pre-civilized norm of alpha men monopolizing 3 or more young women each, replacing aging ones with new ones, while the masses of beta men fight over a tiny supply of surplus/aging women, was chaotic and unstable, leaving beta men violent and unproductive, and aging mothers discarded by their alpha mates now vulnerable to poverty. So what happens when the traditional controls of civilization are lifted from both men and women?
The Four Sirens : Four unrelated forces simultaneously combined to entirely distort the balance of civilization built on the biological realities of men and women. Others have presented versions of the Four Sirens concept in the past, but I am choosing a slightly different definition of the Four Sirens :
1) Easy contraception (condoms, pills, and abortions): In the past, extremely few women ever had more than one or two sexual partners in their lives, as being an unwed mother led to poverty and social ostracization. Contraception made it possible for females to act on their urges of hypergamy.
2) 'No fault' divorce, asset division, and alimony : In the past, a woman who wanted to leave her husband needed to prove misconduct on his part. Now, the law has changed to such a degree that a woman can leave her husband for no stated reason, yet is still entitled to payments from him for years to come. This incentivizes destruction because it enables women to transfer the costs of irresponsible behavior onto men and children.
3) Female economic freedom : Despite 'feminists' claiming that this is the fruit of their hard work, inventions like the vacuum cleaner, washing machine, and oven were the primary drivers behind liberating women from household chores and freeing them up to enter the workforce. These inventions compressed the chores that took a full day into just an hour or less. There was never any organized male opposition to women entering the workforce (in China, taxes were collected in a way that mandated female productivity), as more labor lowered labor costs while also creating new consumers. However, one of the main reasons that women married - financial support - was no longer a necessity.
Female entry into the workforce is generally a positive development for society, and I would be the first to praise this, if it were solely on the basis of merit (as old-school feminists had genuinely intended). Unfortunately, too much of this is now due to corrupt political lobbying to forcibly transfer resources from men to women.
4) Female-Centric social engineering : Above and beyond the pro-woman divorce laws, further state interventions include the subsidization of single motherhood, laws that criminalize violence against women (but offer no protection to men who are the victims of violence by women, which happens just as often), and 'sexual harassment' laws with definitions so nebulous that women have the power to accuse men of anything without the man having any rights of his own.
These four forces in tandem handed an unprecedented level of power to women. The technology gave them freedom to pursue careers and the freedom to be promiscuous. Feminist laws have done a remarkable job of shielding women from the consequences of their own actions. Women now have as close to a hypergamous utopia as has ever existed, where they can pursue alpha males while extracting subsidization from beta males without any reciprocal obligations to them. Despite all the new freedoms available to women that freed them from their traditional responsibilities, men were still expected to adhere to their traditional responsibilities.
Marriage 2.0 : From the West to the Middle East to Asia, marriage is considered a mandatory bedrock of any functioning society. If marriage is such a crucial ingredient of societal health, then the West is barreling ahead on a suicidal path.
We earlier discussed why marriage was created, but equally important were the factors that sustained the institution and kept it true to its objectives. The reasons that marriage 'worked' not too long ago were :
1) People married at the age of 20, and often died by the age of 50. People were virgins at marriage, and women spent their 20s tending to 3 or more children. The wife retained her beauty 15 years into the marriage, and the lack of processed junk food kept her slim even after that. This is an entirely different psychological foundation than the present urban norm of a woman marrying at the age of 34 after having had 10 or more prior sexual relationships, who then promptly emerges from her svelte chrysalis in an event that can best be described as a fatocalypse.
2) It was entirely normal for 10-20% of young men to die or be crippled on the battlefield, or in occupational accidents. Hence, there were always significantly more women than able-bodied men in the 20-40 age group, ensuring that not all women could marry. Widows were common and visible, and vulnerable to poverty and crime. For these reasons, women who were married to able-bodied men knew how fortunate they were relative to other women who had to resort to tedious jobs just to survive, and treated their marriage with corresponding respect.
3) Prior to the invention of contraception, female promiscuity carried the huge risk of pregnancy, and the resultant poverty and low social status. It was virtually impossible for any women to have more than 2-3 sexual partners in her lifetime without being a prostitute, itself an occupation of the lowest social status.
4) Divorce carried both social stigma and financial losses for a woman. Her prospects for remarriage were slim. Religious institutions, extended clans, and broader societal forces were pressures to keep a woman committed to her marriage, and the notion of leaving simply out of boredom was out of the question.
Today, however, all of these factors have been removed. This is partly the result of good forces (economic progress and technology invented by beta men), but partly due to artificial schemes that are extremely damaging to society.
For one thing, the wedding itself has gone from a solemn event attended only by close family and friends, to an extravaganza of conspicuous consumption for the enjoyment of women but financed by the hapless man. The wedding ring itself used to be a family heirloom passed down over generations, but now, the bride thumbs through a catalog that shows her rings that the man is expected to spend two months of his salary to buy. This presumption that somehow the woman is to be indulged for entering marriage is a complete reversal of centuries-old traditions grounded in biological realities (and evidence of how American men have become weak pushovers). In some Eastern cultures, for example, it is normal even today for either the bride's father to pay for the wedding, or for the bride's family to give custody of all wedding jewelry to the groom's family. The reason for this was so that the groom's family effectively had a 'security bond' against irresponsible behavior on the part of the bride, such as her leaving the man at the (Eastern equivalent of the) altar, or fleeing the marital home at the first sign of distress (also a common female psychological response). For those wondering why Indian culture has such restrictions on women and not men, restrictions on men were tried in some communities, and those communities quickly vanished and were forgotten. There is no avoiding the reality that marriage has to be made attractive to men for the surrounding civilization to survive. Abuse and blackmail of women certainly occurred in some instances, but on balance, these customs existed through centuries of observing the realities of human behavior. Indian civilization has survived for over 5000 years and every challenge imaginable through enforcement of these customs, and, until recently, the Christian world also had comparable mechanisms to steer individual behavior away from destructive manifestations. However, if the wedding has mutated into a carnival of bridezilla narcissism, the mechanics of divorce are far more disastrous.
In an 'at will' employment arrangement between a corporation and an employee, either party can terminate the contract at any time. However, instead of a few weeks of severance, imagine what would happen if the employer was legally required to pay the employee half of his or her paycheck for 20 additional years, irrespective of anything the employee did or did not do, under penalty of imprisonment for the CEO. Suppose, additionally, that it is culturally encouraged for an employee to do this whenever even minor dissatisfaction arises. Would businesses be able to operate? Would anyone want to be a CEO? Would businesses even form, and thus would any wealth be created, given the risks associated with hiring an employee? Keep these questions in mind as you read further.
So why are 70-90% of divorces initiated by women (she files 70% of the time, and the other 20% of the time, she forces the man to file, due to abuse or adultery on the part of the woman)? Women have always been hypergamous, and most were married to beta men that they felt no attraction towards, so what has changed to cause an increase in divorce rates?
Divorce lawyers, like any other professional group, will seek conditions that are good for business. What makes attorneys different from, say, engineers or salespeople, is that a) they know precisely how to lobby for changes to the legal system, bypassing voters and the US constitution, that guarantees more revenue for them, and b) what benefits them is directly harmful to the fabric of society in general, and to children in particular. When they collude with rage-filled 'feminists' who openly say that 90% of the male gender should be exterminated, the outcome is catastrophic.
The concept of 'no fault' divorce by itself may not be unfair. The concepts of asset division and alimony may also be fair in the event of serious wrongdoing by the husband. However, the combination of no-fault divorce plus asset division/alimony is incredibly unfair and prone to extortionary abuse. The notion that she can choose to leave the marriage, yet he is nonetheless required to pay her for years after that even if he did not want to destroy the union, is an injustice that should not occur in any advanced democracy. Indeed, the man has to pay even if the woman has an extramarital affair, possibly even being ordered to pay her psychiatric fees. Bogus claims by 'feminists' that women suffer under divorce are designed to obscure the fact that she is the one who filed for divorce. Defenders of alimony insist that a woman seeking a divorce should not see a drop in living standards, but it is somehow acceptable for the husband to see a drop even if he did not want a divorce. I would go further and declare that any belief that women deserve alimony on a no-fault basis in this day age is utterly contradictory to the belief that women are equals of men. How can women both deserve alimony while also claiming equality? In rare cases, high-earning women have had to pay alimony to ex-husbands, but that is only 4% of the time, vs. the man paying 96% of the time. But it gets worse; much worse, in fact.
Even if the woman chooses to leave on account of 'boredom', she is still given default custody of the children, which exposes the total hypocrisy of feminist claims that men and women should be treated equally. Furthermore, the man is required to pay 'child support' which is assessed at levels much higher than the direct costs of child care, with the woman facing no burden to prove the funds were spent on the child, and cannot be specified by any pre-nuptial agreement. The rationale is that 'the child should not see a drop in living standards due to divorce', but since the mother has custody of the child, this is a stealthy way in which feminists have ensured financial maintenence of the mother as well. So the man loses his children and most of his income even if he did not want divorce. But even that is not the worst-case scenario.
The Bradley Amendment, devised by Senator Bill Bradley in 1986, ruthlessly pursues men for the already high 'child support' percentages, and seizes their passports and imprisons them without due process for falling behind in payments, even if on account of job loss during a recession. Under a bogus 'deadbeat dads' media campaign, 'feminists' were able to obscure the fact that women were the ones ending their marriages and with them the benefit that children receive from a two-parent upbringing, and further demanding unusually high spousal maintenence, much of which does not even go to the child, from a dutiful ex-husband who did not want a divorce, under penalty of imprisonment. So the legal process uses children as pawns through which to extract an expanded alimony stream for the mother. Talk about a multi-layer compounding of evil. The phony tactic of insisting that 'it is for the children' is used to shut down all questions about the use of children as pawns in the extortion process, while avoiding scrutiny of the fact that the parent who is choosing divorce is clearly placing the long-term well-being of the children at a very low priority.
So as it stands today, there are large numbers of middle-class men who were upstanding citizens, who were subjected to divorce against their will, had their children taken from them, pay alimony masked as child support that is so high that many of them have to live out of their cars or with their relatives, and after job loss from economic conditions, are imprisoned simply for running out of money. If 10-30% of American men are under conditions where 70% or more of their income is taken from them under threat of prison, these men have no incentive to start new businesses or invent new technologies or processes. Having 10-30% of men disincentivized this way cannot be good for the economy, and is definitely a contributor to current economic malaise, not to mention a 21st-century version of slavery. Sometimes, the children are not even biologically his.
This one-page site has more links about the brutal tyranny that a man can be subjected to once he enters the legal contract of marriage, and even more so after he has children. What was once the bedrock of society, and a solemn tradition that benefited both men and women equally, has quietly mutated under the evil tinkering of feminists, divorce lawyers, and leftists, into a shockingly unequal arrangement, where the man is officially a second-class citizen who is subjected to a myriad of sadistic risks. As a result, the word 'marriage' should not even be used, given the totality of changes that have made the arrangement all but unrecognizable compared to its intended ideals. Suicide rates of men undergoing divorce run as high as 20%, and all of us know a man who either committed suicide, or admits seriously considering it during the dehumanization he faced even though he wanted to preserve the union. Needless to say, this is a violation of the US Constitution on many levels, and is incompatible with the values of any supposedly advanced democracy that prides itself on freedom and liberty. There is effectively a tyrannical leftist shadow state operating within US borders but entirely outside the US constitution, which can subject a man to horrors more worthy of North Korea than the US, even if he did not want out of the marriage, did not want to be separated from his children, and did not want to lose his job. Any unsuspecting man can be sucked into this shadow state.
Anyone who believes that two-parent families are important to the continuance of an advanced civilization, should focus on the explosive growth in revenue earned by divorce lawyers, court supervisors, and 'feminist' organizations over the past quarter-century. If Western society is to survive, these revenues should be chopped down to a tenth of what they presently are, which is what they would be if the elements that violate the US Constitution were repealed.
Marriage is no longer a gateway to female 'companionship', as we shall discuss later. For this reason, as a Futurist, I cannot recommend 'marriage', as the grotesque parody that it has become today, to any young man living in the US, UK, Canada, or Australia. There are just too many things outside of his control that can catastrophically ruin his finances, emotions, and quality of life.
At a minimum, he should make sure that having children is the most important goal of his life. If not, then he has insufficient reason to enter this contract. If this goal is affirmed, then he should conduct research by speaking to a few divorced men about the laws and mistreatment they were subjected to, and attend a few divorce court hearings at the local courthouse. After gaining this information, if he still wants to take the risk, he should only marry if he can meet the following three conditions, none of which can substitute either of the other two :
1) The woman earns the same as, or more than, he does.
2) He has a properly done pre-nuptial arrangement with lawyers on each side (even though a pre-nup will not affect the worst aspect of divorce law - 'child support' as a cloak for stealth alimony and possible imprisonment).
3) He is deeply competent in the Seduction Arts (Game), and can manage his relationship with his wife effortlessly. Even this is a considerable workload, however. More on this later.
There are still substantial risks, but at least they are somewhat reduced under these conditions. If marriage is a very important goal for a young man, he should seriously consider expatriation to a developing country, where he ironically may have a higher living standard than in the US after adjusting for divorce risk.
So, to review, the differences between Marriage 1.0 and Marriage 2.0 are :
Traditional cultures marketed marriage with such punctilious alacrity that most people today dare not even question whether the traditional truths still apply. Hence, hostility often ensues from a mere attempt to even broach the topic of whether marriage is still the same concept as it once was. Everyone from women to sadistic social conservatives to a young man's own parents will pressure and shame him into marriage for reasons they cannot even articulate, and condemn his request for a pre-nup, without having any interest in even learning about the horrendously unequal and carefully concealed laws he would be subjected to in the event that his wife divorces him through no reasons he can discern. But some men with an eye on self-preservation are figuring this out, and are avoiding marriage. By many accounts, 22% of men have decided to avoid marriage. So what happens to a society that makes it unattractive for even just 20% of men to marry?
Women are far more interested in marriage than men. Simple logic of supply and demand tells us that the institution of monogamous marriage requires at least 80% male participation in order to be viable. When male participation drops below 80%, all women are in serious trouble, since there are now 100 women competing for every 80 men, compounded with the reality that women age out of fertility much quicker than men. This creates great stress among the single female population. In the past, the steady hand of a young woman's mother and grandmother knew that her beauty was temporary, and that the most seductive man was not the best husband, and they made sure that the girl was married off to a boy with long-term durability. Now that this guidance has been removed from the lives of young women, thanks to 'feminism', these women are proving to be poor pilots of their mating lives who pursue alpha males until the age of 34-36 when her desirability drops precipitously and not even beta males she used to reject are interested in her. This stunning plunge in her prospects with men is known as the Wile E. Coyote moment, and women of yesteryear had many safety nets that protected them from this fate. The 'feminist' media's attempt to normalize 'cougarhood' is evidence of gasping desperation to package failure as a desirable outcome, which will never become mainstream due to sheer biological realities. Women often protest that a high number of sexual partners should not be counted as a negative on them, as the same is not a negative for men, but this is merely a manifestation of solipism. A complex sexual past works against women even if the same works in favor of men, due to the natural sexual attraction triggers of each gender. A wise man once said, "A key that can open many locks is a valuable key, but a lock that can be opened by many keys is a useless lock."
The big irony is that 'feminism', rather than improving the lives of women, has stripped away the safety nets of mother/grandmother guidance that would have shielded her from ever having to face her Wile E. Coyote moment. 'Feminism' has thus put the average woman at risk in yet another area.
Game (Learned Attraction and Seduction) : The Four Sirens and the legal changes feminists have instituted to obstruct beta men have created a climate where men have invented techniques and strategies to adapt to the more challenging marketplace, only to exceed their aspirations. This is a disruptive technology in its own right. All of us know a man who is neither handsome nor wealthy, but consistently has amazing success with women. He seems to have natural instincts regarding women that to the layperson may be indistinguishable from magic. So how does he do it?
Detractors with a vested interest in the present status quo are eager to misrepresent what 'Game' is, and the presence of many snake-oil salesmen in the field does not help, but as a definition :
The traits that make a man attractive to women are learnable skills, that improve with practice. Once a man learns these skills, he is indistinguishable from a man who had natural talents in this area. Whether a man then chooses to use these skills to secure one solid relationship or multiple brief ones, is entirely up to him.
The subject is too vast for any description over here to do it full justice, but in a nutshell, the Internet age enabled communities of men to share the various bits of knowledge they had field tested and refined (e.g. one man being an expert at meeting women during the daytime, another being an expert at step-by-step sexual escalation, yet another being a master of creating lasting love, etc.). The collective knowledge grew and evolved, and an entire industry to teach the various schools of 'Game' emerged. Men who comprehended the concepts (a minority) and those who could undertake the total reconstitution of their personalities and avalanche of rejections as part of the learning curve (a still smaller minority) stood to reap tremendous benefits from becoming more attractive than the vast majority of unaware men. While the 'pick-up artist' (PUA) implementation is the most media-covered, the principles are equally valuable for men in monogamous long-term relationships (LTRs). See Charlotte Allen's cover story for The Weekly Standard, devoted to 'Game'.
Among the most valuable learnings from the body of knowledge is the contrarian revelation that what women say a man should do is often quite the antithesis of what would actually bring him success. For example, being a needy, supplicative, eager-to-please man is precisely the opposite behavior that a man should employ, where being dominant, teasing, amused, yet assertive is the optimal persona. An equally valuable lesson is to realize when not to take a woman's words at face value. Many statements from her are 'tests' to see if the man can remain congruent in his 'alpha' personality, where the woman is actually hoping the man does not eagerly comply to her wishes. Similarly, the 'feminist' Pavlovian reaction to call any non-compliant man a 'misogynist' should also not be taken as though a rational adult assigned the label after fair consideration. Such shaming language is only meant to deflect scrutiny and accountability from the woman uttering it, and should be given no more importance than a 10-year-old throwing a tantrum to avoid responsibility or accountability. Far too many men actually take these slurs seriously, to the detriment of male rights and dignity.
Success in internalizing the core fundamentals of Game requires an outside-the-box thinker solidly in the very top of Maslow's Hierarchy, and in my experience, 80% of men and 99.9% of women are simply incapable of comprehending why the skills of Game are valuable and effective. Many women, and even a few pathetic men, condemn Game, without even gaining a minimal comprehension for what it truly is (which I have highlighted in red above), and how it benefits both men and women. Most of what they think they know about Game involves strawmen, a lack of basic research, and their own sheer insecurity.
For anyone seeking advice on learning the material, there is one rule you must never break. I believe it is of paramount importance that the knowledge be used ethically, and with the objective of creating mutually satisfying relationships with women. It is not moral to mistreat women, even if they have done the same to countless men. We, as men, have to take the high road even if women are not, and this is my firm belief. Nice guys can finish first if they have Game.
'Feminism' as Unrestrained Misandry and Projection : The golden rule of human interactions is to judge a person, or a group, by their actions rather than their words. The actions of 'feminists' reveal their ideology to be one that seeks to secure equality for women in the few areas where they lag, while distracting observers from the vast array of areas where women are in a more favorable position relative to men (the judicial system, hiring and admissions quotas, media portrayals, social settings, etc.). They will concoct any number of bogus statistics to maintain an increasingly ridiculous narrative of female oppression.
Feminists once had noble goals of securing voting rights, achieving educational parity, and opening employment channels for women. But once these goals were met and even exceeded, the activists did not want to lose relevance. Now, they tirelessly and ruthlessly lobby for changes in legislation that are blatantly discriminatory against men (not to mention unconstitutional and downright cruel). Not satisfied with that, they continue to lobby for social programs designed to devalue the roles of husbands and fathers, replacing them with taxpayer-funded handouts.
As it is profitable to claim victimhood in this age, a good indicator is whether any condemnation by the supposedly oppressed of their oppressor could be similarly uttered if the positions were reversed. We know that what Rev. Jeremiah Wright said about whites could not be said by a white pastor about blacks, and we see even more of a double standard regarding what women and men can say about each other in America today. This reveals one of the darkest depths of the human mind - when a group is utterly convinced that they are the 'victims' of another group, they can rationalize any level of evil against their perceived oppressors.
Go to any major 'feminist' website, such as feministing.com or Jezebel.com, and ask polite questions about the fairness of divorce laws, or the injustice of innocent men being jailed on false accusations of rape without due process. You will quickly be called a 'misogynist' and banned from commenting. The same is not true for any major men's site, where even heated arguments and blatant misandry are tolerated in the spirit of free speech and human dignity. When is the last time a doctrinaire 'feminist' actually had the courage to debate a fair woman like Camille Paglia, Tammy Bruce, or Christina Hoff Somers on television?
Ever-tightening groupthink that enforces an ever-escalating narrative of victimhood ensures that projection becomes the normal mode of misandrist thought. The word 'misogynist' has expanded to such an extreme that it is the Pavlovian response to anything a 'feminist' feels bad about, but cannot articulate in an adult-like manner. This reveals the projected gender bigotry of the 'feminist' in question, which in her case is misandry. For example, an older man dating women 10 years younger than him is also referred to as a 'misogynist' by the older bitterati. Not an ageist, mind you, but a misogynist. A man who refuses to find obese women attractive is also a 'misogynist', as are gay men who do not spend money on women. The male non-compliance labeled as 'misogyny' thus becomes a reaction to many years of unopposed misandry heaped on him first, when he initially harbored no such sentiments. Kick a friendly dog enough times, and you get a nasty dog.
There are laws such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), that blatantly declares that violence against women is far worse than violence against men. VAWA is very different from ordinary assault laws, because under VAWA, a man can be removed from his home at gunpoint if the woman makes a single phonecall. No due process is permitted, and the man's Constitutional rights are jettisoned. At the same time, half of all domestic violence is by the woman against the man. Tiger Woods' wife beat him with a blunt weapon and scratched his face, only to be applauded by 'feminists' in a 'you go girl' manner. Projection can normalize barbarism.
Rape legislation has also bypassed the US Constitution, leaving a man guilty until he proves himself innocent, while the accusing woman faces no penalty for falsely sending a man to prison for 15 years, where he himsef will get raped. The Duke Lacrosse case was a prominent example of such abuse, but hundreds of others occur in America each year. The laws have been changed so that a victim has 1 month to 'decide' if she has been raped, and such flexibility predicatably leads to instances of a woman reporting rape just so that she does not have to tell her husband that she cheated on him (until it becomes profitable to divorce him). 40-50% of all rape accusations are false, but 'feminists' would rather jail scores of innocent men than let one guilty man get away, which is the exact opposite of what US Constitutional jurisprudence requires.
But, unimaginably, it gets even worse. Polls of men have shown that there is one thing men fear even more than being raped themselves, and that is being cuckolded. Men see cuckolding as the ultimate violation and betrayal, yet there is an entire movement among 'feminists' to enshrine a woman's right to commit adultery and use the resources of her husband to dupe him into thinking the child is his. These misandrists even want to outlaw the right of a man to test the paternity of a child.
So, to review, if a woman has second thoughts about a tryst a few days later, she can, without penalty, ruin a man financially and send him to prison for 15 years. 'Feminists' consider this acceptable. At the same time, even though men consider being cuckolded a worse fate than being raped, 'feminists' want to make this easier for a woman to do, by preventing paternity testing. They already have rigged laws so that the man, upon 'no fault' divorce, has to pay alimony, to a woman who cuckolded him.
This is pure evil, ranking right up there with the worst tyrannies of the last century. Modern misandry masking itself as 'feminism' is, without equal, the most hypocritical ideology in the world today. The laws of a society are the DNA of that society. Once the laws are tainted, the DNA is effectively corrupted, and mutations to the society soon follow. Men have been killed due to 'feminism'. Children and fathers have been forcibly separated for financial gain via 'feminism'. Slavery has returned to the West via 'feminism'. With all these misandric laws, one can fairly say that misandry is the new Jim Crow.
Shaming Language and Projection as a Substitute for Rational Debate : As discussed previously, any legitimate and polite questions about the fairness of anti-male realities in the legal system and media are quickly met with Pavlovian retorts of 'misogynist' and 'loser'. Let us deconstruct these oft-used examples of shaming language, and why misandrists are so afraid of legitimate debate.
Contrary to their endless charges of 'misogyny' (a word that many 'feminists' still manage to misspell), in reality, most men instinctively treat women with chivalry and enshrine them on exalted pedestals. Every day, we see men willing to defend women or do favors for them. There is infinitely more chivalry than misogyny exhibited by the male population. On the other hand, we routinely see anti-male statements uttered by 'feminists', and a presumption that all men are monsters guilty of crimes committed by a small number of people of the same gender. When well-known 'feminists' openly state that 90% of the male population should be exterminated, the unsupported accusation of 'misogyny' is a very pure manifestion of their own misandric projection.
On the second charge of being a 'loser who cannot get laid', any observation of the real world quickly makes it obvious that men who have had little experience with women are the ones placing women on pedestals, while those men who have had substantial sexual experience with women are not. Having sex with a large number of women does not increase respect for women, which is the exact opposite of the claim that 'feminists' make. Again, this charge of 'loserdom' is merely the psychosexual frustration of 'feminists' projected outwards, who express surprise that unrelenting hatred by them towards men is not magically metabolized into love for these particular 'feminists'.
That misandrists are so unchallenged is the reason that they have had no reason to expand their arsenal of venom beyond these two types of projection. Despite my explanation of this predictable Pavlovian response, the comments section will feature misandrists use these same two slurs nonetheless, proving the very point that they seek to shout down, and the very exposure they seek to avoid. My pre-emption will not deter them from revealing their limitations by indulging in it anyway. They simply cannot help themselves, and are far from being capable of discussing actual points of disagreement in a rational manner.
Men, of course, have to be savvy about the real reason their debate skills are limited to these two paths of shaming language, and not be deterred. Once again, remember that this should be taken no more seriously than if uttered by a 10-year-old, and there is no reason to let a 'feminist' get away with anything you would not let a man get away with. They wanted equality, didn't they?
'Feminism' as Genuine Misogyny : The greatest real misogyny, of course, has been unwittingly done by the 'feminists' themselves. By encouraging false rape claims, they devalue the credibility of all claims, and genuine victims will suffer. By incentivizing the dehumanization of their ex-husbands and the use of children as pawns, they set bad examples for children, and cause children to resent their mothers when they mature. By making baseless accusations of 'misogyny' without sufficient cause, they cause resentment among formerly friendly men where there previously was none. By trying to excuse cuckolding and female domestic violence, they invite formerly docile men to lash out in desperation.
One glaring example of misandry backfiring is in the destruction of marriage and corresponding push of the 'Sex in the City/cougar' fantasy. Monogamous marriage not only masked the gap between 'alpha' and 'beta' men, but also masked the gap between attractiveness of women before and after their Wile E. Coyote moment. By seducing women with the myth that a promiscuous single life after the age of 35 is a worthy goal, many women in their late 30s are left to find that they command far less male attention than women just a decade younger than them. 'Feminism' sold them a moral code entirely unsuited to their physical and mental realities, causing great sadness to these women.
But most importantly, 'feminists' devalued the traditional areas of female expertise (raising the next generation of citizens), while attaching value only to areas of male expertise (the boardroom, the military, sexual promiscuity) and told women to go duplicate male results under the premise that this was inherently better than traditional female functions. Telling women that emulating their mothers and grandmothers is less valuable than mimicking men sounds quite misogynistic to me, and unsurprisingly, despite all these 'freedoms', women are more unhappy than ever after being inflicted with such misogyny.
So how did the state of affairs manage to get so bad? Surely 'feminists' are not so powerful?
Social Conservatives, White Knights, and Girlie-Men : It would be inaccurate to deduce that misandrists were capable of creating this state of affairs on their own, despite their vigor and skill in sidestepping both the US Constitution and voter scrutiny. Equally culpable are men who ignorantly believe that acting as obsequious yes-men to 'feminists' by turning against other men in the hope that their posturing will earn them residual scraps of female affection.
Chivalry has existed in most human cultures for many centuries, and is seen in literature from all major civilizations. Chivalry greatly increased a man's prospects of marriage, but the reasons for this have been forgotten. Prior to the modern era, securing a young woman's hand in marriage usually involved going through her parents. The approval of the girl's father was a non-negotiable channel in the process. If a young man could show the girl's parents that he would place her on a pedestal, they could be convinced to sanction the union. The girl herself was not the primary audience of the chivalry, as the sexual attraction of the girl herself was rarely aroused by chivalry, as the principles of Game have shown.
Hence, many men are still stuck in the obsolete, inobservant, and self-loathing notion that chivalry and excess servility are the pathways to sex today, despite the modern reality that a woman's sexual decisions are no longer controlled by her parents, and are often casual rather than locked in matrimony. Whether such men are religious and called 'social conservatives', or effete leftists and called 'girlie men', they are effectively the same, and the term 'White Knights' can apply to the entire group. Their form of chivalry when exposed to 'feminist' histrionics results in these men harming other men at the behest of women who will never be attracted to them. This is why we see peculiar agreement between supposedly opposed 'social conservatives' and 'feminists' whenever the craving to punish men arises. A distressingly high number of men actually support the imprisonment of innocent men for false rape accusations or job loss causing 'child support' arrears merely because these 'men' don't want to risk female disapproval, incorrectly assuming that fanatically vocal 'feminists' represent the official opinion of all women. These men are the biggest suckers of all, as their pig-headed denial of the effectiveness of Game will prevent them from deducing that excess agreeability and willingness to do favors for the objects of their lust are exactly the opposite of what makes women sexually attracted to men. No woman feels attraction for a needy man.
For this reason, after lunatic 'feminists', these pedestalizing White Knights are the next most responsible party for the misandry in Western society today. The average woman is not obsessively plotting new schemes to denigrate and swindle men, she merely wants to side with whoever is winning (which presently is the side of misandry). But pedestalizing men actually carry out many dirty deeds against other men in the hopes of receiving a pat on the head from 'feminists'. Hence, the hierarchy of misandric zeal is thus :
Strident 'feminist' > pedestalizer/white knight > average woman.
For reasons described earlier, even a declaration that many men are bigger contributors to misandry than the average woman will not deter 'feminists' from their Pavlovian tendency to call articles such as this one 'misogynist'.
Lastly, the religious 'social conservatives' who continue their empty sermonizing about the 'sanctity of marriage' while doing absolutely nothing about the divorce-incentivizing turn that the laws have taken, have been exposed for their pseudo-moral posturing and willful blindness. What they claim to be of utmost importance to them has been destroyed right under their noses, and they still are too dimwitted to comprehend why. No other interest group in America has been such a total failure at their own stated mission. To be duped into believing that a side-issue like 'gay marriage' is a mortal threat to traditional marriage, yet miss the legal changes that correlate to a rise in divorce rates by creating incentives for divorce (divorce being what destroys marriage, rather than a tiny number of gays), is about as egregious an oversight as an astronomer failing to be aware of the existence of the Moon. Aren't conservatives the people who are supposed to grasp that incentives drive behavior? An article worthy of being written by The Onion could conceivably be titled 'Social conservatives carefully seek to maintain perfect 100% record of failure in advancing their agenda'.
Why There is No Men's Rights Movement : At this point, readers may be wondering "If things are this bad, why don't we hear anything about it?". Indeed, this is a valid question, and the answer lies within the fundamentals of male psychology. Most beta men would rather die than be called a 'loser' by women (alpha men, of course, know better than to take this at face value). White Knights also join in the chorus of shaming other men since they blunderously believe that this is a pathway to the satiation of their lust. So an unfairly ruined man is faced with the prospect of being shamed by women and a large cohort of men if he protests about the injustice, and this keeps him suffering in silence, leading to an early death. We have millions of fine young men willing to die on the battlefield to defend the values enshrined in the US Constitution, but we don't see protests of even 100 divorced men against the shamefully unconstitutional treatment they have received. The destruction of the two-parent family by incentivizing immoral behavior in women is at least as much of a threat to American safety and prosperity as anything that ever could have come out of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, or Saudi Arabia. Men being too afraid to be the 'squeaky wheel' even when they have lost their children and their present and future assets is a major contributor to the prevailing status quo. Alpha men have no incentive beyond altruism to act as they benefit from the current climate, and thus my altruism will be limited to putting forth these ideas.
Any serious movement has to start a think tank or two to produce research reports, symposiums, and specific policy recommendations, and the few divorce lawyers who were compelled by their conscience to leave the dark side have to be recruited as experts. Subsequently, televised panel discussions have to be conducted at top medical, business, and graduate engineering schools (where young men about to embark on lucrative careers are approaching marriage age, but know nothing about the law), documentary films have to be produced, prominent victims like Mel Gibson, Paul McCartney, Hulk Hogan, and Tiger Woods have to be recruited as spokesmen, and visibly powerful protests outside of divorce courts have to be organized. In this age of Web 2.0/social media/viral tools, all this should be easy, particularly given how quickly leftist groups can assemble a comparable apparatus for even obscure causes.
Instead, all that exists are Men's Rights Authors (MRAs) that run a few websites and exchange information on their blogs. 'Something is better than nothing' is the most generous praise I could possibly extend to their efforts, and this article I am presenting here on The Futurist is probably the single biggest analysis of this issue to date, even though this is not even a site devoted to the subject and I am not the primary author of this site. Hence, there will be no real Men's Rights Movement in the near future. The misandry bubble will instead be punctured through the sum of millions of individual market forces.
The Faultline of Civilization : After examining all the flaws in modern societies, and the laws that exacerbate them, it becomes apparent that there are two realms of legal/judicial thought that stand alone in determining whether our civilization is going to ever-improving or merely cyclical. These two legal areas are a) the treatment of paternity rights, and b) the treatment of due process in rape accusations. The human brain is wired to value the well-being of women far higher than that of men (for reasons that were once valid, but no longer are today), which is why extending due process to a man falsely accused of rape is not of particular interest to people who otherwise value due process. Similarly, there is little resistance to 'feminist' laws that have stripped away all types of paternity rights from fathers. The father is not seen as valuable nor as worthy of rights, as we have seen above. These two areas of law are precisely where our society will decide if it ascends or declines. All other political sideshows, like immigration, race relations, and even terrorism are simply not as important as none of those can destroy an entire society the way these laws can.
The Economic Thesis
Ceilings and Floors of Glass : Misandrists shriek about a supposed 'glass ceiling' of pervasive sexism that explains why 50% of the CEOs of major corporations are not women. What is never mentioned is the equally valid 'glass floor', where we see that 90% of imprisonments, suicides, and crippling occupational injuries are of men. If these outcomes are the results of the actions or choices of men who suffer from them, then is that not the same reason that determines who rises above the 'glass ceiling'? The inability of misandrists to address these realities in good faith tells us something (but not everything) about the irrational sense of entitlement they have.
One of the most dishonest myths of all is the claim that 'women earn just 75% of men for the same job'. Let me dispense of this myth, in the process of which we will see why it is profitable and seductive for them to broadcast this bogus belief.
It is true that women, on average, earn less per year than men do. It is also true that 22-year-olds earn less, on average, than 40-year-olds. Why is the latter not an example of age discrimination, while the former is seized upon as an example of gender discrimination?
If women truly did earn less for doing exactly the same job as a man, any non-sexist CEO could thrash his competition by hiring only women, thus saving 25% on employee salaries relative to his competitors. Are we to believe that every major CEO and Board of Directors is so sexist as to sacrifice billions of dollars of profit? When the 'Director of Corporate Social Responsibility' of a nun congregation wrote to TJ Rodgers, CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, that his company should have more women in its Board of Directors, Rodgers replied with a letter explaining why the pursuit of profit could not accommodate such political correctness. That a nun congregation pays a recession-proof salary to someone as a 'Director of Corporate Social Responsibility' is itself an example of a pampered existence, and I was unaware that convents were now advancing secular Marxist beliefs.
Furthermore, women entrepreneurs could hire other women and out-compete any male-dominated business if such a pay gap existed, but we do not see this happening in any country in the world. Market forces would correct such mispricings in female compensation, if they actually existed. But they do not, and those who claim that they do are not just advertising an extreme economic illiteracy, but are quite happy to make similarly illiterate women angry about an injustice that does not exist. I notice that women who actually are/were CEOs of publicly traded companies never claim that there is a conspiracy to underpay women relative to their output.
I am willing to pass laws to ensure that 50% of all Fortune 500 CEOs are women, if we also legally mandate that 50% of all imprisonments are of women, and 50% of the jobs that involve working with heavy machinery, being outdoors in inclement weather, inhaling toxic fumes, or apprehending dangerous criminals are also occupied by women. Fair is fair. Any takers?
The 'Mancession' and the 'Sheconomy' : I would be the first to be happy if the economic success of women were solely on the basis of pure merit. For many of them, it is. But far too much has been the result of not market forces or meritocracy, but political graft and ideology-driven corruption.
In the recent recession and ongoing jobless recovery, the male unemployment rate continues to be much higher than the female unemployment rate. If this was simply due to market forces, that would be fine. However, 'feminist' groups have lobbied hard to ensure that government stimulus funds were steered to boost female employment at the expense of assistance for men. The leftist Obama administration was more than eager to comply, and a forcible transfer of wealth was enacted, even though it may not have been the best deployment of money for the economy.
Maria Shriver, a woman who has the most fortunate of lives from the vast wealth earned first by her grandfather and then by her husband, recently published 'A Woman's Nation : The Shriver Report', consisting of gloating about how women were now outperforming men economically. The entire research report is full of all the standard bogus feminist myths and flawed statistics, as thoroughly debunked here, as well as the outright sexism of statements like 'women are better managers' (imagine a man saying the reverse). Furthermore, the report reveals the typical economic illiteracy (evidenced by, among other things, the ubiquitous 'women are underpaid' myth), as well as belief that businesses exist to act as vehicles of social engineering rather than to produce a profit.
All of this bogus research and organized anti-male lobbying has been successful. As of today, the male unemployment rate is worse than the female unemployment rate by an unprecedented chasm. The 'mancession' continues as the US transitions to a 'sheconomy', and among the millions of unemployed men, some owe prohibitive levels of 'child support' despite not being the ones wanting to deprive their children of a two-parent household, landing in prison for lack of funds. Furthermore, I emphasize again that having 10-30% of the US male workforce living under an effective 70% marginal tax rate will kill their incentives for inventing new technologies or starting new companies. It is petty to debate whether the top federal income tax bracket should be 35% or 39.6%, when a slice of the workforce is under a 70% tax on marginal income. Beyond the tyranny of this, it also costs a lot of taxpayer money to jail a growing pool of unemployed men. Clearly, moving more and more men out of a tax-generating capacity and into a tax-consuming capacity is certainly going to do two-fold damage to governmental budgets. The next time you hear someone say that 'the US has the largest prison population in the world', be sure to mention that many of these men merely lost their jobs, and were divorced against their will. The women, in the meantime, are having a blast.
The Government Bubble : While public sector vs. private sector workforce distribution is not highly correlated to gender, it is when the focus is on women earning over $100,000 or more. This next chart from the Cato Institute shows that when total compensation (wages + benefits) are taken into account, the public sector has totally outstripped the private sector this decade. Has the productivity of the typical government employee risen so much more than that of the private worker, that the government employee is now paid twice as much? Are taxpayers receiving value for their money?
It goes further. The vast majority of social security taxes are paid by men, but are collected by women (due to women living 7 years longer than men on average). That is not troubling by any means, but the fact that women consume two-thirds of all US healthcare, despite most of this $2.5 Trillion annual expenditure being paid by men, is certainly worthy of debate. It may be 'natural' for women to require more healthcare, since they are the ones who give birth. But it was also 'natural' for men to finance this for only their wives, not for the broader community of women. The healthcare profession also employs an immense number of women, and not just in value-added roles such as nursing, but even in administrative and bureaucratic positions. In fact, virtually all government spending except for defense and infrastructure, from Medicare to Obamacare to welfare to public sector jobs for women to the expansion of the prison population, is either a net transfer of wealth from men to women, or a byproduct of the destruction of Marriage 1.0. In either case, 'feminism' is the culprit.
This Cato Institute chart of Federal Government spending (click to enlarge) shows how non-defense expenditures have steadily risen since 1960. The decline in defense spending, far from being a 'peace dividend' repatriated back to taxpayers, was used to fund more social programs. No one can seriously claim that the American public receives better non-defense governance in 2010 than in 1960 despite the higher price, and as discussed earlier, most of this increase is a direct or indirect result of 'feminism'. When state and local government wastage is added to this, it would appear that 20% of GDP is being spent just to make the government a substitute for the institution of Marriage, and yet still has not managed to be an effective replacement. Remember again that the earnings of men pays 70%-80% of all taxes.
The left has finally found a perfect Trojan Horse through which to expand a tyrannical state. 'Feminists' can lobby for a transfer of wealth from men to women and from private industry to the government, while knowing that calling any questioner a 'misogynist' will silence him far more effectively than their military fifth columnist and plain socialist brethren could ever silence their respective opponents. Conservatives are particularly vulnerable to such shaming language, and most conservatives will abandon their stated principles to endlessly support any and all socialism if it can be packaged as 'chivalry', the opposition to which makes one a 'misogynist'. However, there is reason to believe that tax collection in many parts of the US, such as in states like CA, NY, NJ, and MA, has reached saturation. As the optimal point has already been crossed, a rise in tax rates will cause a decrease, rather than an increase in revenue, and the increase in Federal tax rates exactly one year from today on 1/1/2011 is likely to cause another recession, which will not be so easily transferred to already-impoverished men the next time.
When men are severed from their children with no right to obstruct divorce, when they are excluded from the labor market not by market forces but rather by social engineering, and when they learn that the society they once believed in and in some cases joined the military to protect, has no respect for their aspirations, these men have no reason to sustain such a society.
The Contract Between the Sexes : A single man does not require much in order to survive. Most single men could eke out a comfortable existence by working for two months out of the year. The reason that a man might work hard to earn much more than he needs for himself is to attract a wife amidst a competitive field, finance a home and a couple of children, and ultimately achieve status as a pillar of the community. Young men who exhibited high economic potential and favorable compatibility with the social fabric would impress a girl's parents effectively enough to win her hand in marriage. The man would proceed to work very hard, with the fruits of his labor going to the state, the employer, and the family. 80-90% of a man's output went to people other than himself, but he got a family and high status in return, so he was happy with the arrangement.
The Four Sirens changed this, which enabled women to pursue alpha males despite the mathematical improbability of marrying one, while totally ignoring beta males. Beta males who were told to follow a responsible, productive life of conformity found that they were swindled.
Men who excelled under the societal rules of just two decades ago are often left totally betrayed by the rules of today, and results in them refusing to sustain a society heavily dependent on their productivity and ingenuity. Women believed that they could free themselves from all their traditional obligations (only to find, amusingly, that they are unhappier now than they were then), while men would still fulfill all of their traditional obligations, particularly as bankrollers of women and protectors of women. Needless to say, despite the chivalry ground into men, eventually, they will feel that chivalry requires a level of gratitude that is not forthcoming.
To see what happens when the role of the husband and father is devalued, and the state steps in as a replacement, look no further than the African American community. In Detroit, the average home price has fallen from $98,000 as recently as 2003 to just $14,000 today. The auto industry moved jobs out of Detroit long before 2003, so the decline cannot be attributed to just industrial migration, and cities like Baltimore, Oakland, Cleveland, and Philadelphia are in scarcely better shape. For those who believe that this cannot happen in white communities, have a look at the white underclass in Britain. The lower half of the US white population is vulnerable to the same fate as the black community, and cities like Los Angeles are perilously close to 'Detroitification'.
Additionally, people seem to have forgotten that the physical safety of society, particularly of women, is entirely dependent on ratio of 'aggressor' men to 'protector' men staying below a certain critical threshold. As more men get shut out of the labor market, crime becomes an alternative. Even highly educated men who feel betrayed can lash out, and just about every shooting spree and every recent terrorist attempt in the West was by men who were educated and had good career prospects, but were unloved.
While professional men will certainly never resort to crime, what they could resort to is an unwillingness to aid a damsel in distress. More men will simply lose interest in being rescuers, and this includes policemen who may also feel mistreated by the prevailing misandry. Safety is like air - it is only noticed when it is gone. Women have a tremendous amount to lose by creating a lot of indifferent men.
Patriarchy works because it induces men and women to cooperate under their complementary strengths. 'Feminism' does not work, because it encourages immoral behavior in women, which eventually wears down even the durable chivalry of beta men, making both genders worse off. It is no secret that single motherhood is heavily subsidized, but it is less understood that single spinsterhood is also heavily subsidized through a variety of unsustainable and unreciprocated means. The default natural solution is for the misandric society to be outcompeted and displaced.
Population Displacement : So we have arrived at a society where 'feminists' feel that they are 'empowered', 'independent', and 'confident', despite being heavily dependent on taxes paid mostly by men, an unconstitutional shadow state that extracts alimony and 'child support' from men, an infrastructure maintained by men, technologies invented by men, and a level of safety that men agree to maintain. So exactly what has society received from this population of women who are the most privileged class of humans ever to have lived?
Now, let me be clear; I believe a woman should get to decide how many children she bears, or even whether or not to have any children at all. However, a childless old woman should not then be able to extract resources from the children of other women. Fair is fair, and the obligation of working-age people to support the elderly should not be socialized in order to subsidize women who chose not to reproduce.
Let us take a hypothetical example of three 20-year-old single women, one who is an urban lefto-'feminist', one who is a rural conservative, and one who is a devout Muslim. The following table charts the parallel timelines of their lives as their ages progress in tandem, with realistic estimates of typical life events. When people talk about falling birth rates in the West, they often fail to account for the additional gap caused by having children at age 23 vs. at age 33. As the table shows, a 1:1:1 ratio of three young ladies takes only 40 years to yield a 12:4:0 ratio of grandchildren. Consider, also, that we are already 20 years into this 40-year process, so each of these women are 40 years old today.
So how do we estimate the value society will ultimately receive from organizing itself in a manner that young women could choose a life of bar-hopping, shopping for $300 purses, and working as government bureaucrats to make the government a more complete husband substitute? If the sight of a pitiful 60-year-old Code Pink harpy lecturing 12 Muslim adolescents that 'gender is a social construct' seems amusing, then let us move on to the macro chart. This world map(click to enlarge) shows how many children under the age of 15 existed in the major countries of the world in 2005 (i.e. born between 1990 and 2005), in proportion to the country with the most children. Notably, Mexico and the US have the same number of children, while Pakistan and Bangladesh each have about as many as all of Western Europe. While developing countries are seeing their fertility rates converge to Western levels, the 1990-2005 births already seal certain realities. Needless to say, if we move time forward just 15 years, the proportions in this chart reflect what the proportions of adults aged 20-35 (the female reproductive years) will be per nation in the year 2025. Even the near future belongs to those who show up.
Lefto-'feminists' will be outbred and replaced very quickly, not by the conservatives that they hate, but by other cultures antithetical to 'feminism'. The state that lefto-'feminists' so admire will quickly turn on them once the state calculates that these women are neither producing new taxpayers nor new technologies, and will find a way to demote them from their present 'empowered' position of entitlement. If they thought having obligations to a husband was such an awful prospect, wait until they have obligations to the husband-substitute state.
The Fabric of Humanity Will Tear
Humans like ourselves have been around for about 100,000 years, and earlier hominids similar to us for another 1-3 million years before that. For the first 99.99% of humanoid existence, the primary purpose of our species was the same as that of every other species that ever existed - to reproduce. Females are the scarcer reproductive resource, since the number of babies that can be produced does not fall even if most men die, but it does fall for each woman that dies (humans did not live much past age 40-45 in the past, as mentioned earlier). For this reason, the human brain continued the evolutionary hardwiring of our ancestors, placing female well-being at a premium while males remain expendable. Since funneling any and all resources to women closely correlated with the survival of children, this was a natural priority, with both men and women seeing this status quo as normal. The Female Imperative (FI) was the human imperative.
As human society progressed, priorities adjusted. For one thing, advances in technology and prosperity ensured that child mortality fell from about 50% to very low levels, so 12 births were no longer needed to produce 6 children who reach adulthood. Secondly, as humans moved away from agriculture into a knowledge-based economy, the number of children desired fell, and almost all high and middle-income countries have birth rates lower than 2 as of today, with many women producing zero children. Thirdly, it has become evident that humans are now the first species to produce something more than just offspring; humans now produce technology. As a result, the former direct correlation between funneling resources to women and the survival of children, is no longer true. It was true for 99.99% of our existence, but for the first time, it now no longer is.
Yet, our hardwired brains have not adapted to this very recent transformation, and perhaps cannot adapt. Women are programmed to extract resources endlessly, and most men are programmed to oblige. For this once-valid but now obsolete biological reason, society still funnels the vast majority of resources to women. But instead of reaching children, this money now finds its way into consumer products geared towards women, and a shadow state designed to transfer all costs and consequences away from women. Most people consider our existing society to be normal, but they have failed to observe how many resources are poured into women for a reason that is now obsolete. In the 21st century, there is no reason for any resource distribution, if there must be one at all, to be distributed in any manner other than 50-50.
Go to any department store or mall. At least 90% of the products present there are ones no ordinary man would consider buying. Yet, they occupy valuable shelf space, which is evidence that those products do sell in volume. Who buys them? Look around in any prosperous country, and we see products geared towards women, paid for by money that society diverted to women. From department store products, to the proliferation of take-out restaurants, to mortgage interest, to a court system rigged to subsidize female hypergamy, all represent the end product of resources funneled to women, for a function women have greatly scaled back. This is the greatest resource misallocation ever, and such malinvestment always results in a correction as the bubble pops.
This is not to suggest that we should go back to birth rates of 12, for that is neither desirable nor necessary. The bigger picture here is that a major aspect of the human psyche is quite obsolete, with men and women both culpable. When this situation corrects, it will be the most disruptive event humanity has ever faced. Some call this a variant of the 'Technological Singularity', which will happen much later than 2020 (more like 2060-65), but even prominent thinkers steer clear of any mention of the obvious correction in gender-tilted resource flows that will occur.
The Four Horsemen of Male Emancipation
We earlier examined how the Four Sirens of Feminism unexpectedly combined and provided women with choices they never could have dreamed of before. Some women made positive contributions to society, but quite a few let misandry and unrestrained greed consume them, and have caused the disastrous situation we presently see. Technology always causes disruption in the status quo, always creating new winners and losers with each wave. In centuries past, Gloria Steinem would be a governess and Mystery would be a court jester.
The title of this article is not the 'Misandry Crisis' or even 'The War on Misandry'. It is 'The Misandry Bubble', because the forces that will ensure the demise of the present mistreatment of men are already on the horizon. So allow me to introduce the Four Horsemen of Male Emancipation as a coalescence of many of the forces we have discussed, which will shred the present, unsustainable hierarchal order by 2020 :
1) Game : Learning the truth about how the female mind works is a precious and transcendant body of knowledge for any man. Whether he uses it to become a fully immersed pick-up artist, to create a soulmate bond in a lifelong monogamous marriage, or even to engage in only infrequent yet efficient trysts with women, a man is free from the crushing burdens that uninitiated beta men are capitulating under.
When a man learns that there is no reason for him to buy a $50,000 car, $20,000 ring, $50,000 bridezilla festival, overpriced house contrary to any logical financial analysis, or a divorce lawyer to save him from ruin even though he was the victim of spousal abuse, there is no greater feeling of liberation and jubilation, equating to a windfall of $2 Million for all objective and subjective purposes. When a man realizes that reducing his income by half will now have little detriment to his sexual prospects, he can downsize to an easier job with a shorter commute and lower stress. When a man learns that appeasing a woman is the exact opposite of what he should be doing during the process of romancing and seducing her, that entire humiliating gauntlet of rituals can be jettisoned.
The ecstasy of two or even three concurrent relationships with women of substantially above average beauty are quite attainable to a man who has scaled the summit, which further deprives the hapless betas (again, male attractiveness to women is zero-sum in a way that female attractiveness to men is not). Thus, while 80% of men have no intellectual capacity to grasp and master Game, if the number of solid practitioners even begins to approach 20%, multiple parasitic beasts, from female moochers to the tax-swilling state to the corrupt real-estate and divorce lawyer industries, can be effectively starved.
2) Adult Entertainment Technologies of 2020 : What of the 80% of men who cannot conceptualize or master the core skills of Game? Won't they be condemned to live a life of frustration, humiliation, and near-slavery as second class citizens? Thankfully, these poor souls will experience a satisfactory release through technology, just like women did through technologies such as contraceptive pills, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners.
For a number of reasons, Internet pornography is substantially more addictive to the male brain than the VHS cassette or 'Skinimax' content of the 1990s. When yet another generation of technology diffuses into the market, the implications will be profound enough to tear the current sexual market asunder.
This site has written in the past about how haptic, motion sensing, and graphical technologies would elevate video games to the premier form of entertainment by 2012. 3-D/holographic images with haptic interfaces and sufficient AI will make rudimentary 'virtual sex' a technology available to many men well before 2020, but by 2020 we will see this cross certain thresholds that lead to a dramatic market impact far greater than contraceptive pills and Internet pornography combined. A substantial portion of the male population will drift into addiction to virtual sex without even realizing it.
For those (mostly women) who claim that the VR sex of 2020 would not be a sufficient substitute for the real thing, that drawback is more than superceded by the inescapable fact that the virtual woman would be made to be a 10/10+ in appearance, while the real women that the typical beta male user has access to would be in the 4-7 range. Real 10 > VR 10 > Real 7, making irrelevant the claim that a virtual 10 is not as good as a real 10 (under 1% of all women), when the virtual 10 is really competing with the majority of women who are 7s and lower. Women are largely unaware how vastly different the male reaction is to a 10 relative to a 7, let alone to women of even lower scores. As single men arrive home from work on Friday evening, they will simply default into their VR immersion, giving a whole new meaning to the concept of 'beta testing'. These sequestered men will be conspicuously absent from the bars and nightclubs that were the former venues of expenditure and frustration, causing many establishments to go out of business. The brains of these men will warp to the extent that they can no longer muster any libido for the majority of real women. This will cause a massive devaluation in the sexual market value of most women, resulting in 8s being treated like 5s, and 35-year-old women unable to attract the interest of even 55-year-old men. The Wile E. Coyote moment for women will move a few years ahead, and the alphas with Game competence will find an even easier field of desperate women to enjoy.
Another technology making advancements in Japan is that of lifelike female robots. I do not believe that 'sexbots' will be practical or economical relative to software/gaming-derived solutions, simply because such a robot is not competitive with VR on cost, privacy, versatility, and upgradeability.
Some 'feminists' are not blind to the cataclysmic sexual devaluation that women will experience when such technologies reach the market, and are already moving to seek bans. Such bans will not be possible, of course, as VR sex technologies are inseparable from broader video game and home theater technologies. Their attempts to lobby for such bans will be instructive, however.
Another positive ramification of advanced adult entertainment technologies is that women will have to sharpen the sole remaining attribute which technology cannot substitute - the capacity to make a man feel loved. Modern women will be forced to reacquaint themselves with this ancient concept in order to generate a competitive advantage. This necessity could lead to a movement of pragmatic women conducting a wholesale repudiation of misandry masquerading as 'feminism' that has created this state of affairs, and thus will be the jolt that benefits both men and women.
3) Globalization : The Third Horseman is a vast subject that contains many subtopics. The common theme is that market forces across the world eventually find a way around legislative fences constructed in any one country :
a) Islam : Aside from the higher birthrates of Muslims living in the same Western cities that 'feminists' reside in, an Achilles heel of leftists in general and misandrists in particular is their unwillingess to confront other cultures that actually do place restrictions on women. In Britain, Islamic courts are now in operation, deciding cases through Sharia principles. British divorce laws are even more misandric than US divorce laws, and so many British men, in desperation, are turning to Sharia courts in order to avoid the ruin that British law would inflict on them. The Islamic courts are more than happy to accomodate these men, and 'feminists' dare not protest too loudly. By driving British men to Sharia courts, misandry is beautifully self-defeating. The irony is that the group that was our enemy in the crisis of the prior decade are now de-facto allies in the crisis of this decade. I do not say this simply because I am a Muslim myself.
b) Expatriation : While America continues to attract the greatest merit and volume of (legal) immigrants, almost every American man who relocates to Asia or Latin America gives a glowing testimonial about the quality of his new life. A man who leaves to a more male-friendly country and marries a local woman is effectively cutting off a total of three parasites in the US - the state that received his taxes, the potential wife who would take his livelihood, and the industries he is required to spend money on (wedding, diamond, real estate, divorce attorney). Furthermore, this action also shrinks the number of available men remaining in America. The misandrists who project their pathology outward by calling such men 'misogynists' are curiously troubled that these same men are leaving the US. Shouldn't 'feminists' be happy if 'misogynists' are leaving? We thus see yet another example of 'feminists' seeking to steal from men while not providing them any benefit in return.
The more unfair a place becomes, the more we see talented people go elsewhere. When word of US divorce laws becomes common in India and China, this might even deter some future taxpayers from immigrating to America, which is yet another reason the government is losing money to misandry.
c) Medical Tourism : The sum total of donor eggs + IVF + surrogacy costs $150,000 or more in the US, but can be done in India for just $20,000 at top-quality clinics that are building a strong track record. While most customers of Indian fertility clinics are couples, there have been quite a few single men opting to create their own biological babies this way. While this avenue is not for everyone, the ability to have a child for $20,000 (and even two children in parallel with two different surrogates in a two-for-one bundle deal for $35,000) now exists. The poor surrogate mother in India earns more than she could earn in 10 years in her prior vocation of construction or housecleaning. It is a win-win for everyone involved, except for the Western woman who was priced out of the market for marriage to this man.
Medical tourism also prices the US healthcare system out of contention for certain procedures, and the US healthcare system employs a large number of women, particularly in administrative and bureaucratic roles that pay them over twice what they could make in the private sector. Such women will experience what male manufacturing workers did a generation earlier, despite the increasinglly expensive government bubble that has kept these women's inflated salaries safe for so long.
So as we can see, the forces of globalization are far bigger than those propping up the current lop-sided status quo.
4) Male Economic Disengagement and Resultant Tax-Base Erosion : Earlier passages have highlighted how even the most stridently egomaniacal 'feminist' is heavily dependent on male endeavors. I will repeat again that there will never, ever be a successful human society where men have no incentive to aspire to the full maximum of their productive and entrepreneurial capabilities.
The contract between the sexes has been broken in urban America (although is still in some effect in rural America). The 'progressive' income tax scale in the US was levied under the assumption that men who could earn 10 times more than they needed for themselves would always do so, for their families. A man with no such familial aspirations may choose an easier job at lower pay, costing the state more than he costs himself. Less tax revenue not just means fewer subsidies for single mothers and government jobs for women, but less money for law enforcement. Less tax revenue also means fewer police officers, and fewer court resources through which to imprison men. The 'feminist' hypergamous utopia is not self-financing, but is precariously dependent on every beta man working at his full capacity, without which the government bubble, inseparable from the misandry bubble, collapses. Misandry is thus mathematically impossible to finance for any extended period of time. A state with a small government is far more sustainable than a state seeking an ever-expanding government, which then cannot be financed, and descends into a mass of contradictions that is the exact opposite of what the statists intended. See the gangster capitalism that dominates contemporary Russia.
These Four Horsemen will all converge at the end of this decade to transfer the costs of misandry from men onto women, and on 1/1/2020, we will assess how the misandry bubble popped and the fallout that women are suffering under for having made the mistake of letting 'feminists' control their destiny. Note that I did not list the emergence of any Men's Rights Movement as one of the Four Horsemen, as this is unlikely to happen for aforementioned reasons.
For those who dispute the Four Horsemen (I'd like to see their track record of predictions to compare against my own), women had their Four Sirens, and now the pendulum has to swing at the same amplitude in the other direction. Keep the Four Horsemen in mind throughout this decade, and remember what you read here on the first day of 2010.
Who Should Care?
As we leave a decade where the prime threat to US safety and prosperity was Islamic terrorism and enter a decade where the prime threat is misandry, anyone concerned with any of the following topics should take heed :
I could list even more reasons to care, but the point is clear. The biggest challenge of the decade is summarized before us.
Update (7/1/2012) : On this day, July 1, 2012, exactly 25% of the decade described in this article has passed. I did not include a poll on the original launch date of 1/1/2010, as the concepts described here were too radical for the majority of readers. But now that these ideas have become more mainstream, I can include a simple poll on the subject of whether we are indeed in a Misandry Bubble (poll closed after 60 days).
I am just an observer, and will not become an activist of any sort, although, as described earlier, being an 'inactivist' in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi is also powerful. As a Futurist, I have to predict things before they become obvious to everyone else. Regular readers know of my track records of predictions being accurate, and heed my words when I say that the further inflation and subsequent precipitous deflation of the misandry bubble will define the next American decade. So here, on the first day of the '201x' decade, I am unveiling the article that will spawn a thousand other articles.
As mentioned at the top, what you have just finished reading is the equivalent of someone in 1997 predicting the entire War on Terror in vivid detail. The level of detail I have provided about the collapse of the Misandry Bubble will unfold with comparable accuracy as when this site predicted the real estate bubble two years beforehand, and the exact level the stock market would bottom at, 6 months before the fact. I know a bubble when I see one, and misandry is the premier one of this age. Bet against my predictions at your own risk.
This website has predicted that the US will still be the only superpower in 2030, and while we are not willing to rescind that prediction, I will introduce a caveat that US vitality by 2030 is contingent on a satisfactory and orderly unwinding of the Misandry Bubble. It remains to be seen which society can create economic prosperity while still making sure both genders are treated well, and the US is currently not on the right path in this regard. For this reason, I am less confident about a smooth deflation of the Misandry Bubble. Deflate it will, but it could be a turbulent hurricane. Only rural America can guide the rest of the nation into a more peaceful transition. Britain, however, may be beyond rescue.
Required Reading :
Note on Comments : Just because I linked to a particular blog does NOT mean that I endorse all of the other views of that author. Are 'feminists' all willing to be responsible for all of the extremism that any other feminist utters (note that I have provided links to 'feminists' openly calling for slavery, castration, and murder of men without proving him guilty of anything)? Also, you will see Pavlovian use of the word 'misogyny' dozens upon dozens of times, so remember what I wrote about the importance of not taking that at face value, as it is merely a manifestation of projected misandry, as well as a defense mechanism to avoid taking responsibility for genuine wrongdoings of 'feminists'.
What a unique thing a book is. Made from a tree, it has a hundred or more flexible pages that contain written text, enabling the book to contain a large sum of information in a very small volume. Before paper, clay tablets, sheepskin parchment, and papyrus were all used to store information with far less efficiency. Paper itself was once so rare and valuable that the Emperor of China had guards stationed around his paper posessions.
Before the invention of the printing press, books were written by hand, and few outside of monastaries knew how to read. There were only a few thousand books in all of Europe in the 14th century. Charlemagne himself took great effort to learn how to read, but never managed to learn how to write, which still put him ahead of most kings of the time, who were generally illiterate.
But with the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century, it became possible to make multiple copies of the same book, and before long, the number of books in Europe increased from thousands to millions.
Fast forward to the early 21st century, and books are still printed by the millions. Longtime readers of The Futurist know that I initially had written a book (2001-02), and sought to have it published the old-fashioned way. However, the publishing industry, and literary agents, were astonishingly low-tech. They did not use email, and required queries to be submitted via regular mail, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope included. So I had to pay postage in both directions, and wait several days for a round trip to hear their response. And this was just the literary agents. The actual publishing house, if they decide to accept your book, would still take 12 months to produce and distribute the book even after the manuscript was complete. Even then, royalties would be 10-15% of the retail price. This prospect did not seem compelling to me, and I chose to parse my book into this blog you see before you.
The refusal by the publishing industry to use email and other productivity-enhancing technologies as recently as 2003 kept their wages low. Editors always moaned that they worked 60 hours a week just to make $50,000 a year, the same as they made in 1970. My answer to them is that they have no basis to expect wage increases without increasing their productivity through technology.
In the meantime, self-publishing technologies emerged to bypass the traditional publishers' role as arbitrers of what can become a book and what cannot. From Lulu to iUniverse to BookSmart, any individual can produce a book, with copies that can be printed on demand. Instances where an individual is seeking to go it alone without being saddled with a huge upfront inventory production and storage burden, or is otherwise marketing to only a tiny audience, have flourished. But print-on-demand is not the true disruption - that was yet to come.
The Amazon Kindle launched in late 2007 at the high price of $400. Within 2 years, a substantially more advanced Kindle 2 was available for a much lower price of $260, alongside competing readers from several other companies. Many people feel that the appeal of holding a physical book in our hands cannot be replaced by a display screen, and take a cavalier attitude towards dismissing e-readers. The tune changes upon learning that the price of a book on an e-reader is just a third of what the paper form at a brick-and-mortar bookstore, with sales tax, would cost. Market research firm iSuppli estimates that 5 million readers have been sold in 2009, and another 12 million will sell in 2010. Amazon estimates that over one-third of its book sales are now through the kindle, greatly displacing sales of paper books.
Imagine what happens when the Kindle and other e-readers cost only $100. Brick and mortar bookstores will consolidate to fewer premises, extract profits mainly from picture-heavy books and magazines, and step up their positioning as literary coffeehouses. Many employees and affiliates of the publishing industry will see their functions eliminated as part of the productivity gains. College students forced to pay $100 for a textbook produced in small quantities will now pay only $20 for an e-reader version. But even this is not the ultimate endgame of disruption.
Intel now has a reader for the visually impaired that scans text from paper books, and reads them in an acceptable audio voice. It is reported that with practice, an audio rate of 250 words per minute can be coherent. While the reader costs $1500, and requires a user to turn pages manually, it is a matter of time before not only the reader's price drops, and more and more books are available as text files similar to those contained in e-readers like the Kindle. There are already books available as free downloads of text files under the ironically named Project Gutenberg.
Therein lies the crescendo of disruption. The Intel Reader is a $1500 device for the visually impaired, but will soon evolve into a technology that interfaces with Kindle-type e-readers and chatters off e-books at 250 words/minute, from the full e-book library that is vastly larger than any traditional collection of audiobooks. A 90,000-word novel could be recited in just 6 hours, enabling a user to imbibe the whole book during a single coast-to-coast flight, even if the lights are dimmed. People could further choose to preserve their vision at home, devouring book after book with the lights out. As the technology advances further, the speech technology will allow the user to select a voice of his choosing to be read to in, perhaps even his own voice.
Thus, without many people even noticing the murmurs, we can predict that the next 3 years will see the biggest transformation in book production and consumption since the days of Johannes Gutenberg. That is a true demonstration of both the Accelerating Rate of Change and The Impact of Computing.
This is a version 2.0 of a legendary article written here back on March 19, 2006, noticed and linked by Hugh Hewitt, which led to The Futurist getting on the blogosphere map for the first time. Less than four years have elapsed since the original publication, but the landscape of global warfare has changed substantially over this time, warranting an update to the article.
In the mere 44 months since the original article was written, what seemed impossible has become a reality. The US now has an upper hand against terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, despite the seemingly impossible task of fighting suicidal terrorists. As regular readers of The Futurist are aware, I issued a prediction in May of 2006, during the darkest days of the Iraq War, that not only would the US win, but that the year of victory would be precisely in 2008. As events unfolded, that prediction turned out to be precisely correct. As readers continue to ask how I was able to make such a prediction against seemingly impossible odds, I claim that it is not very difficult, once you understand the necessary conditions of war and peace within the human mind.
Given the massive media coverage of the minutia of the Iraq War, and the fashionable fad of being opposed to it, one could be led to think that this is one of the most major wars ever fought. Therein lies the proof that we are actually living in the most peaceful time ever in human history.
Just a few decades ago, wars and genocides killing upwards of a million people were commonplace, with more than one often underway at once. Remember these?
Second Congo War (1998-2002) : 3.6 million deaths
Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) : 1.5 million deaths
Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan (1979-89) : 1 million deaths
Khmer Rouge (1975-79) : 1.7 million deaths from genocide
Bangladesh Liberation War (1971) : 1.5 million deaths from genocide
Vietnam War (1957-75) : 2.4 million deaths
Korean War (1950-53) : 3 million deaths
This list is by no means complete, as wars killing fewer than one million people are not even listed. At least 30 other wars killed over 20,000 people each, between 1945 and 1989.
If we go further back to the period from 1900-1945, we can see that multiple wars were being simultaneously fought across the world. Going further back still, the 19th century had virtually no period without at least two major wars being fought.
We can thus conclude that by historical standards, the current Iraq War was tiny, and can barely be found on the list of historical death tolls. That it got so much attention merely indicates how little warfare is going on in the world, and how ignorant of historical realities most people are.
Why have so many countries quitely adapted to peaceful coexistence? Why is a war between Britain and France, or Russia and Germany, or the US and Japan, nearly impossible today? Why are we not seeing a year like 1979, where the entire continent of Asia threatened to fly apart due to three major events happening at once (Iranian Revolution, Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, Chinese invasion of VietNam)?
We can start with the observation that never have two democratic countries, with per-capita GDPs greater than $10,000/year on a PPP basis, gone to war with each other. The decline in warfare in Europe and Asia corelates closely with multiple countries meeting these two conditions over the last few decades, and this can continue as more countries graduate to this standard of freedom and wealth. The chain of logic is as follows :
1) Nations with elected governments and free-market systems tend to be the overwhelming majority of countries that achieve per-capita incomes greater than $10,000/year. Only a few petro-tyrannies are the exception to this rule.
2) A nation with high per-capita income tends to conduct extensive trade with other nations of high prosperity, resulting in the ever-deepening integration of these economies with each other. A war would disrupt the economies of both participants as well as those of neutral trading partners. Since the citizens of these nations would suffer financially from such a war, it is not considered by elected officials.
3) As more of the world's people gain a vested interest in the stability and health of the interlocking global economic system, fewer and fewer countries will consider international warfare as anything other than a lose-lose proposition.
4) More nations can experience their citizenry moving up Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, allowing knowledge-based industries thrive, and thus making international trade continuously easier and more extensive.
5) Since economic growth is continuously accelerating, many countries have crossed the $10,000/yr barrier in just the last 20 years, and so the reduction in warfare after 1991 years has been drastic even if there was little apparent reduction over the 1900-1991 period.
This explains the dramatic decline in war deaths across Europe, East Asia, and Latin America over the last few decades. Thomas Friedman has a similar theory, called the Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention, wherein no two countries linked by a major supply chain/trade network (such as that of a major corporation like Dell Computer), have ever gone to war with each other, as the cost of losing the presence of major industries through war is prohibitive to both parties. If this is the case, then the combinations of countries that could go to war with each other continues to drop quickly.
To predict the future risk of major wars, we can begin by assessing the state of some of the largest and/or riskiest countries in the world. Success at achieving democracy and a per-capita GDP greater that $10,000/yr are highlighted in green. We can also throw in the UN Human Development Index, which is a composite of these two factors, and track the rate of progress of the HDI over the last 30 years. In general, countries with scores greater than 0.850, consistent with near-universal access to consumer-class amenities, have met the aforementioned requirements of prosperity and democracy. There are many more countries with a score greater than 0.850 today than there were in 1975.
Let's see how some select countries stack up.
China : The per-capita income is rapidly closing in on the $10,000/yr threshold, but democracy is a distant dream. I have stated that China will see a sharp economic slowdown in the next 10 years unless they permit more personal freedoms, and thus nurture entrepreneurship. Technological forces will continue to pressure the Chinese Communist Party, and if this transition is moderately painless, the ripple effects will be seen in most of the other communist or autocratic states that China supports, and will move the world strongly towards greater peace and freedom. The single biggest question for the world is whether China's transition happens without major shocks or bloodshed. I am optimistic, as I believe the CCP is more interested in economic gain than clinging to an ideology and one-party rule, which is a sharp contrast from the Mao era where 40 million people died over ideology-driven economic schemes. Cautiously optimistic.
India : A secular democracy has existed for a long time, but economic growth lagged far behind. Now, India is catching up, and will soon be a bulwark for democracy and stability for the whole world. Some of the most troubled countries in the world, from Burma to Afghanistan, border India and could transition to stability and freedom under India's sphere of influence. India is only now realizing how much the world will depend on it. Optimistic.
Russia : A lack of progress in the HDI is a total failure, enabling many countries to overtake Russia over the last 15 years. Putin's return to dictatorial rule is a further regression in Russia's progress. Hopefully, energy and technology industries can help Russia increase its population growth rate, and up its HDI. Cautiously optimistic.
Indonesia : With more Muslims than the entire Middle East put together, Indonesia took a large step towards democracy in 1999 (improving its HDI score), and is doing moderately well economically. Economic growth needs to accelerate in order to cross $10,000/yr per capita by 2020. Cautiously optimistic.
Pakistan : My detailed Pakistan analysis is here. The divergence between the paths of India and Pakistan has been recognized by the US, and Pakistan, with over 50 nuclear warheads, is also where Osama bin Laden and thousands of other terrorists are currently hiding. Any 'day of infamy' that the US encounters will inevitably be traced to individuals operating in Pakistan, which has regressed from democracy to dictatorship, and is teetering on the edge of religious fundamentalism. The economy is growing quickly, however, and this is the only hope of averting a disaster. Pakistan will continue to struggle between emulating the economic progress of India against descending into the dysfunction of Afghanistan. Pessimistic.
Iraq : Although Iraq is not a large country, its importance to the world is disproportionately significant. Bordering so many other non-democratic nations, our hard-fought victory in Iraq now places great pressure on all remaining Arab states. The destiny of the US is also interwined with Iraq, as the outcome of the current War in Iraq will determine the ability of America to take any other action, against any other nation, in the future. Optimistic.
Iran : Many would be surprised to learn that Iran is actually not all that poor, and the Iranian people have enough to lose that they are not keen on a large war against a US military that could dispose of Iran's military just as quickly as they did Saddam's. However, the autocratic regime that keeps the Iranian people suppressed has brutally quashed democratic movements, most recently in the summer of 2009. The secret to turning Iran into a democracy is its neighbor, Iraq. If Iraq can succeed, the pressure on Iran exerted by Internet access and globalization next door will be immense. This will continue to nibble at the edges of Iranian society, and the regime will collapse before 2015 even without a US invasion. If Iran's leadership insists on a confrontation over their nuclear program, the regime will collapse even sooner. Cautiously optimistic.
So Iraq really is a keystone state, and the struggle to prevail over the forces that would derail democracy has major repurcussions for many nations. The US, and the world, could nothave afforded for the US mission in Iraq to fail. But after the success in Iraq, all remaining roads to disastrous tragedy lead to Pakistan. The country in which the leadership of Al-Qaeda resides is the same country where the most prominent nuclear scientist was caught selling nuclear secrets on the black market. This is simply the most frightening combination of circumstances that exists in the world today, far more troubling than anything directly attributable to Iran or North Korea.
But smaller-scale terrorism is nothing new. It just was not taken as seriously back when nations were fighting each other in much larger conflicts. The 1983 Beirut bombing that killed 241 Americans did not dominate the news for more than two weeks, as it was during the far more serious Cold War. Today, the absence of wars between nations brings terrorism into the spotlight that it could not have previously secured.
Wars against terrorism have been a paradigm shift, because where a war like World War II involved symmetrical warfare between declared armies, the War on Terror involves asymmetrical warfare in both directions. Neither party has yet gained a full understanding of the power it has over the other.
A few terrorists with a small budget can kill thousands of innocents without confronting a military force. Guerilla warfare can tie down the mighty US military for years until the public grows weary of the stalemate, even while the US cannot permit itself to use more than a tiny fraction of its power in retaliation. Developed nations spend vastly more money on political and media activites centered around the mere discussion of terrorism than the terrorists themselves need to finance a major attack on these nations.
At the same time, pervasively spreading Internet access, satellite television, and consumer brands continue to disseminate globalization and lure the attention of young people in terrorist states. We saw exactly this in Iran in the summer of 2009, where state-backed murders of civilian protesters were videotaped by cameraphone, and immediately posted online for the world to see. This unrelentingly and irreversibly erodes the fabric of pre-modern fanaticism at almost no cost to the US and other free nations. The efforts by fascist regimes to obstruct the mists of the information ethersphere from entering their societies is so futile as to be comical, and the Iranian regime may not survive the next uprising, when even more Iranians will have camera phones handy. Bidirectional asymmetry is the new nature of war, and the side that learns how to harness the asymmetrical advantage it has over the other is the side that will win.
It is the wage of prosperous, happy societies to be envied, hated, and forced to withstand threats that they cannot reciprocate back onto the enemy. The US has overcome foes as formidable as the Axis Powers and the Soviet Union, yet we managed to adapt and gain the upper hand against a pre-modern, unprofessional band of deviants that does not even have the resources of a small nation and has not invented a single technology. The War on Terror was thus ultimately not with the terrorists, but with ourselves - our complacency, short attention spans, and propensity for fashionable ignorance over the lessons of history.
But 44 months turned out to be a very long time, during which we went from a highly uncertain position in the War on Terror to one of distinct advantage. Whether we continue to maintain the upper hand that we currently have, or become too complacent and let the terrorists kill a million of us in a day remains to be seen.
Many of you may be familiar with this sectoral strategy that I have presented, which was due to the unusually wide extreme to which these two sectors had diverged from each other as of April 22, 2008. To review :
Then, on May 20, 2009, I decided to cover the Energy short, and use the proceeds to double down on Financials. Up till that point, the trade had earned a loss of -5.36%, vs. a loss of -32.20% for the S&P500.
Now, it is time to sell the Financials position, and assess the final performance over the entire 18-month period, against the S&P 500.
The purple line indicates the May 20, 2009 transition from being short XLE to covering that short and using the full proceeds to double down on XLF. Note that the short of XLE was profitable, so that the amount that was redeployed to XLF was more than the existing value of the XLF position.
Therefore, the final results are (with all dividends reinvested) :
This strategy yielded a gain of 21.92% vs. a loss of -17.19% for the S&P500. This is a huge gap of almost 40 points, and means that $10,000 deployed to this strategy would have yielded $12,192, vs. just $8,281 if placed in the S&P500 over this period. Also note how the gap widened from what it was on May 20, 2009.
This continues our track record here at The Futurist of collectively beating the market by a wide margin, with portfolios that beat the market greatly exceeding the deficit of those that do not. Of course, these trades are for entertainment purposes only, and should not be taken as professional advice.
Here at The Futurist, we maintain a track record of predicting bubbles, busts, and recessions long before they happen. For example, the housing bubble was identified in April 2006, back when a person could be socially excommunicated for claiming that houses may not rise in value forever. After that, I have identified when the current recession started, months before most economists, and have even predicted when the present recession will end, and at what level job losses would end at. This track record will now lead me to set my sights on the next two troubles on the horizon, which will be the causes of the next two potential recessions.
1) 2011 : The tax cuts enacted by President Bush are set to expire at the end of 2010, returning tax brackets to what they were in 2000. Most middle class brackets will rise by 3%, and the top bracket will rise 4.6% from 35% to 39.6%. This is effectively a tax increase that will be upon us in 14 months. At the same time, the Fed Funds rate is at a record low near 0%, and has been for several months. This low interest rate has ended the current recession, but virtually guarantees future inflation. As the Federal Reserve is forced to raise interest rates, liquidity contracts again, the housing prices continue on the correction that was not allowed to complete itself in 2009. A mere rise in the rate back up to 3% could push housing prices down another leg, battering household wealth yet again, and driving yet more people into negative net worth. The housing correction is not fully complete until we have sustained a Fed Funds rate over 3% for at least a year. The timing of this could combine with the tax increase, which would create a joint burden too heavy for the economy to bear, causing a new recession in 2011.
This situation could be avoided easily, by reducing the budget deficit through the quaint notion of spending cuts instead of tax increases that stifle incentives and encumber small businesses. However, barring a seismic shift in the 2010 congressional elections that dispose of many Democrats and replace them with fiscally conservative Republicans (themselves an endangered group within the Republican Party), I do not see the government taking prudent preventive action.
2) ~2017 : For all the uninformed talk about a 'weak dollar', the damage of this will affect nations that export to the US more than the US itself. However, when the PPP per capita GDP of China begins to exceed the world average (by about 2017), then Chinese currency will have to rise to achieve convergence with PPP GDP, effectively adding several trillion dollars to nominal World GDP. This will lead to massive tectonic shifts in the global economy, none of which are destructive, but will result in confusion, for which the immediate reaction will be a US and EU recession (even amidst a rise in World GDP) until all of the following effects are sorted out :
a) The US will see a bout of inflation as prices of Chinese imports rise. At the same time, US exports will surge.
b) Oil prices will briefly spike above $120 as Chinese purchasing power of oil rises, effectively creating greater demand. This will cause short-term pain, followed by longer-term good as described here. Part of the good from an oil spike will be the collapse of many tyrannical petro-regimes, due to burning the candle at both ends, as detailed in the link.
c) Many of the developing countries that neighbor China (which are populated by an additional 2 billion people) will experience the gravitational pull of China's now huge economy, and see a forced currency appreciation long before they are ready. This will cause an unexpected set of changes in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, VietNam, the Philipines, and Indonesia (these 6 countries containing 2 billion people) as a massive adjustment process will have to occur in a very short time, toppling many industries and creating new ones within these countries.
d) After everything is sorted out, the US and EU will be significantly smaller percentages of World GDP, but the US would see higher GDP growth rates due to a near-elimination of the trade-deficit. Asia, as a region, would have a much larger economy than the EU or North America.
So these are the two possible recessions that the US faces, the first in 2011 and the second in the latter half of the next decade. Prudent fiscal management could sidestep the first, while the second is an inevitable byproduct of the adjustments borne of poverty reduction.
In any event, investment opportunities, and, more importantly, bullet-dodging opportunities abound. In the immediate term, however, if you are considering buying a home in an expensive US area such as New York or California, do not buy one.
Some of you may recall that over three and a half years ago, on February 4, 2006, I predicted that by 2013, at least 900 million people in emerging nations, 80% of whom had no Internet connection in 2006, would have access to a wireless broadband connection through their cellphones. That seemed like a bold prediction at the time.
But in the Economist, there is a special report on mobile phones in the developing world, and this chart depicts the progress towards my prediction quite nicely. Mobile broadband subscribers will go from nearly zero in early 2006 when the prediction was first made, to 1.4 billion by 2013 (of which 900 million can safely be assumed to be in emerging nations).
It is often said that no other invention has done more for so many people so quickly than the mobile phone, given the large number of people who did not have even a landline phone prior to getting a mobile phone. However, the inital deployment of rudimentary mobile phones was just the beginning. As 3G broadband at speeds greater than 1 mbps spread to a billion people with no prior Internet access, the entire nature of their existence is transformed. As per this second chart from the Economist report, the GDP boost from broadband Internet penetration is far higher than the already-impressive boost we have seen from simple mobile access, and we can thus expect another, stronger wave of human advancement as mobile broadband diffuses. Simultaneously, the entire nature of the Internet is also transformed. Think of the massive developmental catalyst such a rapid technological diffusion would be. Child literacy would rise as the educational materials of the full Internet will be available in locations where no libraries exist, making near-universal child literacy a reality within a decade. Agricultural and fishery supply chains will shorten tremendously. Disaster relief will become far easier, as will the apprehension of criminals. The upliftment that once appeared to be a process of decades will now happen in mere years.
We can thus proceed to the next prediction, which is that by 2020, 4 billion people will have 4G wireless broadband access on their handheld mobile phone, at speeds exceeding 100 Mbps. In other words, a landline speed that even wealthy Americans could not have in 2005 will be available wirelessly to billions of the very poorest people just 15 years later, in 2020. Imagine that.
The Singularity. The event when the rate of technological change becomes human-surpassing, just as the advent of human civilization a few millenia ago surpassed the comprehension of non-human creatures. So when will this event happen?
There is a great deal of speculation on the 'what' of the Singularity, whether it will create a utopia for humans, cause the extinction of humans, or some outcome in between. Versions of optimism (Star Trek) and pessimism (The Matrix, Terminator) all become fashionable at some point. No one can predict this reliably, because the very definition of the singularity itself precludes such prediction. Given the accelerating nature of technological change, it is just as hard to predict the world of 2050 from 2009, as it would have been to predict 2009 from, say, 1200 AD. So our topic today is not going to be about the 'what', but rather the 'when' of the Singularity.
Let us take a few independent methods to arrive at estimations on the timing of the Singularity.
1) Ray Kurzweil has constructed this logarithmic chart that combines 15 unrelated lists of key historic events since the Big Bang 15 billion years ago. The exact selection of events is less important than the undeniable fact that the intervals between such independently selected events are shrinking exponentially. This, of course, means that the next several major events will occur within single human lifetimes.
Kurzweil wrote with great confidence, in 2005, that the Singularity would arrive in 2045. One thing I find about Kurzweil is that he usually predicts the nature of an event very accurately, but overestimates the rate of progress by 50%. Part of this is because he insists that computer power per dollar doubles every year, when it actually doubles every 18 months, which results in every other date he predicts to be distorted as a downstream byproduct of this figure. Another part of this is that Kurzweil, born in 1948, is famously taking extreme measures to extend his lifespan, and quite possibly may have an expectation of living until 100 but not necessarily beyond that. A Singularity in 2045 would be before his century mark, but herein lies a lesson for us all. Those who have a positive expectation of what the Singularity will bring tend to have a subconscious bias towards estimating it to happen within their expected lifetimes. We have to be watchful enough to not let this bias influence us. So when Kurzweil says that the Singularity will be 40 years from 2005, we can apply the discount to estimate that it will be 60 years from 2005, or in 2065.
2) John Smart is a brilliant futurist with a distinctly different view on accelerating change from Ray Kurzweil, but he has produced very little visible new content in the last 5 years. In 2003, he predicted the Singularity for 2060, +/- 20 years. Others like Hans Moravec and Vernor Vinge also have declared predictions at points in the mid/late 21st century.
3) Ever since the start of the fictional Star Trek franchise in 1966, they have made a number of predictions about the decades since, with impressive accuracy. In Star Trek canon, humanity experiences a major acceleration of progress starting from 2063, upon first contact with an extraterrestrial civilization. While my views on first contact are somewhat different from the Star Trek prediction, it is interesting to note that their version of a 'Singularity' happened to occur in 2063 (as per the 1996 film Star Trek : First Contact).
4) Now for my own methodology. We shall first take a look at novel from 1863 by Jules Verne, titled "Paris in the 20th Century". Set about a century in the future from Verne's perspective, the novel predicts innovations such as air conditioning, automobiles, helicopters, fax machines, and skyscrapers in detail. Such accuracy makes Jules Verne the greatest futurist of the 19th century, but notice how his predictions involve innovations that occured within 120 years of writing. Verne did not predict exponential growth in computation, genomics, artificial intelligence, cellular phones, and other innovations that emerged more than 120 years after 1863. Thus, Jules Verne was up against a 'prediction wall' of 120 years, which was much longer than a human lifespan in the 19th century.
But now, the wall is closer. In the 3.5 years since the inception of The Futurist, I have consistently noticed a 'prediction wall' on all long-term forecasts, that makes it very difficult to make specific predictions beyond 2040 or so. In contrast, it was not very hard to predict the state of technology in 1930 from the year 1900, just 30 years prior. Despite all the inventions between 1900 and 1930, the diffusion rate was very slow, and it took well over 30 years for many innovations to affect the majority of the population. The diffusion rate of innovation is much faster today, and the pervasive Impact of Computing is impossible to ignore. This 'event horizon' that we now see does not mean the Singularity will be as soon as 2040, as the final couple of decades before the Singularity may still be too fast to make predictions about until we get much closer. But the compression of such a wall/horizon from 120 years in Jules Verne's time to 30 years today gives us some idea of the second derivative in the rate of change, and many other top futurists have observed the same approaching phenomenon. By 2030, the prediction wall may thus be only 15 years away. By the time of the Singularity, the wall would be almost immediately ahead from a human perspective.
So we can return to the Impact of Computing as a driver of the 21st century economy. In the article, I have written about how about $700 Billion per year as of 2008, which is 1.5% of World GDP, comprises of products that improve at an average of 59% a year per dollar spent. Moore's Law is a subset of this, but this cost deflation applies to storage, software, biotechnology, and a few other industries as well.
If products tied to the Impact of Computing are 1.5% of the global economy today, what happens when they are 3%? 5%? Perhaps we would reach a Singularity when such products are 50% of the global economy, because from that point forward, the other 50% would very quickly diminish into a tiny percentage of the economy, particularly if that 50% was occupied by human-surpassing artificial intelligence.
We can thus calculate a range of dates by when products tied to the Impact of Computing become more than half of the world economy. In the table, the columns signify whether one assumes that 1%, 1.5%, or 2% of the world economy is currently tied, and the rows signify the rate at which this percentage share of the economy is increasing, whether 6%, 7%, or 8%. This range is derived from the fact that the semiconductor industry has a 12-14%% nominal growth trend, while nominal world GDP grows at 6-7% (some of which is inflation). Another way of reading the table is that if you consider the Impact of Computing to affect 1% of World GDP, but that share grows by 8% a year, then that 1% will cross the 50% threshold in 2059. Note how a substantial downward revision in the assumptions moves the date outward only by years, rather than centuries or even decades.
We see these parameters deliver a series of years, with the median values arriving at around the same dates as aforementioned estimates. Taking all of these points in combination, we can predict the timing of the Singularity. I hereby predict that the Technological Singularity will occur in :
2060-65 ± 10 years
So the earliest that it can occur is 2050 (hence the URL of this site), and the latest is 2075, with the highest probability of occurance in 2060-65. There is virtually no statistical probability that it can occur outside of the 2050-75 range (sorry, Ray).
So now we know the 'when' of the Singularity. We just don't know the 'what', nor can we with any certainty.
Almost 3 years ago, in October of 2006, I first wrote about Cisco's Telepresence technology which had just launched at that time, and how video conferencing that was virtually indistinguishable from reality was eventually going to sharply increase the productivity and living standards of corporate employees (image : Cisco).
At that time, Cisco and Hewlett Packard both launched full-room systems that cost over $300,000 per room. Since then, there has not been any price drop from either company, which is unheard of for a system with components subject to Moore's Law rates of price declines. This indicates that market demand has been high enough for both Cisco and HP to sustain pricing power and improve margins. Smaller companies like LifeSIze, Polycom, and Teleris have lower-end solutions for as little as $10,000, that have also been selling briskly, but have not yet dragged down the Cisco/HP price tier.
In a trend that could transform the way companies do business, Cisco Systems has slashed its annual travel budget by two-thirds — from $750 million to $240 million — by using similar conferencing technology to replace air travel and hotel bills for its vast workforce.
Likewise, Hewlett-Packard says it sliced 30 percent of its travel expenses from 2007 to 2008 — and expects even better results for 2009 — in large part because of its video conference technology.
If Cisco can chop its travel expenses by two-thirds, and save $500 million per year (which increases their annual profit by a not-insignificant 6-10%), then every other large corporation can save a similar magnitude of money. For corporations with very narrow operating margins, the savings could have a dramatic impact on operating earnings, and therefore stock price. The Fortune 500 alone (excluding airline and hotel companies) could collectively save $100 billion per year, in a wave set to begin immediately if either Cisco or HP drops the price of their solution, which may happen in a matter of months. We will soon see that for every $20 that corporations used to spend on air travel and hotels, they will instead be spending only $1 on videoconferencing expenses. This is gigantic gain in enterprise productivity.
Needless to say, high-margin airline revenue from flights between major business centers (such as San Francisco-Taipei or New York-London) will be slashed, and airlines will have to consolidate to fewer flights, making suitability for business travel even less flexible and losing even more passengers. Hotels will have to consolidate, and taxis and restaurants in business hubs will suffer as well. But these are merely the most obvious of disruptions. What is even more interesting are the less obvious ripple effects that only manifest a few years later, which are :
1) Employee Time and Hassle : Anyone who has had to travel to another continent for a Mon-Fri workweek trip knows that the process of taking a taxi to the airport, waiting 2 hours at the airport, the flight itself, and the ride to the final destination consumes most of the weekends on either side of the trip. Most senior executives log over 200,000 miles of flight per year. This is a huge drag on personal time and quality of life. Travel on weekdays consume productive time that the employer could benefit from, which for senior executives, could be worth thousands of dollars per hour. Furthermore, in an era of superviruses, we have already seen SARS, bird flu, and swine flu as global pandemic threats within the last few years. A reduction of business travel will slow down the rate at which such viruses can spread across the globe and make quarantines less inconvenient for business (although tourist travel and remaining business travel are still carriers of this).
2) Real Estate Prices in Expensive Areas : Home prices in Manhattan and Silicon Valley are presently 4X or more higher than a home of the same square footage 80 miles away. By 2015, the single-screen solution that Cisco sells for $80,000 today may cost as little as $2000, and those from LifeSize and others may be even cheaper, so hosting meetings with colleagues from a home office might be as easy as running a conference call. A good portion of employees who have small children may find it possible to do their jobs in a manner than requires them to go to their corporate office only once or twice a week. If even 20% of employees choose to flee the high-cost housing near their offices, the real estate prices in Manhattan and Silicon Valley will deflate significantly. While this is bad news for owners of real-estate in such areas, it is excellent news for new entrants, who will see an increase in their purchasing power. Best of all, working families may be able to afford to have children that they presently cannot finance.
3) Passenger Aviation Technological Leap : Airlines and aircraft manufacturers have little recourse but to respond to these disruptions with innovations of their own, of which the only compelling possibility is to have each journey take far less time. It is apparent that there has been little improvement in the speed of passenger aircraft in the last 40 years. J. Storrs Hall at the Foresight Institute has an article up with a chart that shows the improvements and total flattening of the speed of passenger airline travel. The cost of staying below Mach 1 vs. being above it are very different, as much as 3X, which accounts for the sudden halt in speed gains just below the speed of sound after the early 1960s. However, the technologies of supersonic aircraft (which exist, of course, in military planes) are dropping in price, and it is possible that suborbital passenger flight could be available for the cost of a first-class ticket by 2025. The Ansari X-prize contest and Space Ship Two have already demonstrated early incarnations of what could scale up to larger planes. This will not reverse the video-conferencing trend, of course, but it will make the airlines more competitive for those interactions that have to be in person.
So we are about to see a cascade of disruptions pulsate through the global economy. While in 2009, you may have no choice but to take a 14-hour flight (each way) to Asia, in 2025, the similar situation may present you with a choice between handling the meeting with the videoconferencing system in your home office vs. taking a 2-hour suborbital flight to Asia.
This, my friends, is progress.
On April 1, 2006, I wrote a detailed article on the revolutionary changes that were to occur in the concept of home entertainment by 2012 (see Part I and Part II of the article). Now, in 2009, half of the time within the six-year span between the original article and the prediction has elapsed. Of course, given the exponential nature of progress, much more happens within the second half of any prediction horizon relative to the first half.
The prediction issued in 2006 was:
Video Gaming (which will no longer be called this) will become a form of entertainment so widely and deeply partaken in that it will reduce the time spent on watching network television to half of what it is (in 2006), by 2012.
The basis of the prediction was detailed in various points from the original article, which in combination would lead to the outcome of the prediction. The progress as of 2009 around these points is as follows :
1) Video game graphics continue to improve : Note the progress of graphics at 10-year intervals starting from 1976. Projecting the same trend, 2012 will feature many games with graphics that rival that of CGI films, which itself can be charted by comparing Pixar's 'Toy Story' from 1995 to 'Up' from 2009. See this demonstration from the 2009 game 'Heavy Rain', which arguably exceeds the graphical quality of many CGI films from the 1990s.
The number of polygons per square inch on the screen is a technology that is closely tied to The Impact of Computing, and can only rise steadily. The 'uncanny valley' is a hurdle that designers and animators will take a couple of years to overcome, but overcoming this barrier is inevitable as well.
2) Flat-screen HDTVs reach commodity prices : This has already happened, and prices will continue to drop so that by 2012, 50-inch sets with high resolution will be under $1000. A thin television is important, as it clears the room to allow more space for the movement of the player. A large size and high resolution are equally important, in order to create an immersive visual experience.
We are rapidly trending towards LED and Organic LED (OLED) technologies that will enable TVs to be less than one centimeter thick, with ultra-high resolution.
3) Speech and motion recognition as control technologies : When the original article was written on April 1, 2006, the Nintendo Wii was not yet available in the market. But as of June 2009, 50 million units of the Wii have sold, and many of these customers did not own any game console prior to the Wii.
The traditional handheld controllers are very limited in this regard, despite being used by hundreds of millions of users for three decades. If the interaction that a user can have with a game is more natural, the game becomes more immersive to the human senses. See this demonstration from Microsoft for their 'Project Natal' interface technology, due for release in 2010.
Furthermore, haptic technologies have made great strides, as seen in the demonstration videos over here. Needless to say, the possibilities are vast.
4) More people are migrating away from television, and towards games : Television viewership is plummeting, particularly among the under-50 audience, as projected in the original 2006 article. Fewer and fewer television programs of any quality are being produced, as creative talent continues to leak out of television network studios. At the same time, World of Warcraft has 11 million subscribers, and as previously mentioned, the Wii has 50 million units in circulation.
There are only so many hours of leisure available in a day, and Internet surfing, movies, and video games are all more compelling than the ever-declining quality of television offerings. Children have already moved away from television, and the trend will creep up the age scale.
5) Some people can earn money through games : There are an increasing number of ways where avid players can earn real money from activities within a Game. From trading of items to selling of characters, this market is estimated at over $1 billion in 2008, and is growing. Highly skilled players already earn thousands of dollars per year this way, and with more participants joining through more advanced VR experiences described above, this will attract a group of people who are able to earn a full-time living through these VR worlds. This will become a viable form of entrepreneurship, just like eBay and Google Ads support entrepreneurial ecosystems today.
Taking all 5 of these points in combination, the original 2006 prediction appears to be on track. By 2012, hours spent on television will be half of what they were in 2006, with sports and major live events being the only forms of programming that retain their audience.
Overall, the prediction seems to be well on track. Disruptive technologies are in the pipeline, and there is plenty of time for each of these technologies to combine into unprecedented new applications. Let us see what the second half of the time interval, between now and 2012, delivers.
Here at The Futurist, we are two authors. One who contributes on technology, and the other who contributes on political/social topics. Occasionally, we collaborate on a joint article that addresses both of those spheres. This article is one of those.
The United States of America has traditionally been the most economically innovative nation on Earth, and the best place for free-enterprise and self-accomplishment. It still is, but we cannot quite say that with as much certainty as before. Where did we lose our way? Why did America stop being able to dream the greatest dreams, and do the greatest things?
All this can be reversed almost immediately if the US government, private sector, and public really want to, however. There are eight straightforward changes could push US economic growth onto a permanently higher trajectory. These are not short-term stimuli meant to postpone the present malaise, but are ideas that have separately been floating around for a long time, but without a core theme to unify them. These are also not unoriginal ideas (such as raising the retirement age in corelation with rising life expectancy), or unrealistic ideas (such as exporting violent criminals to some poor country to be detained there at low cost), even if those ideas would be effective and popular. Instead, we aim to think bigger. Each idea presented, thus, has to surpass the $1 Trillion mark in direct and indirect benefits, yet still be practical enough to implement immediately (if the mediocrity of the decision-makers in power were not a barrier).
These ideas would usher in a permanent surge in the growth rate for the next 20 years, even though some of them would also bring an immediate burst nonetheless. Most of the ideas are governmental, but there is one idea each for US corporations and for US citizens.
We hereby present a path to unprecedented prosperity for America :
1) Immigration Reform : My detailed case for skill-based immigration can be found here. In summary :
US immigration policy, at present, is exactly the opposite of what it should be. Presently, highly skilled immigrants who seek to follow the law are put through an excruciating process lasting 7-12 years, fraught with restrictions on the changing of employers and the spouse's right to work. At the same time, unskilled immigrants, many with criminal tendencies, have an incentive to enter the US illegally and consume services paid for by the US taxpayer. US prisons are filled with a disproportionate number of unskilled illegal immigrants, while the next Andy Grove, Vinod Khosla, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, and Sergey Brin are faced with a tortuous, interminable ordeal that may lead them to conclude that coming to America is not as worthwhile as it was a generation ago.
If a corporation or a university can choose to accept only the best that it can get, why can't America do the same? We propose that the US allow quick and unlimited immigration for anyone with a bachelor's degree from a recognized university in their country (a list of institutions by country which the US DHS maintains on a website). This will create an influx of about 1,000,000 young, educated immigrants each year into the US, which is still lower than the number of unskilled immigrants, legal plus illegal, entering each year. It takes $200,000 to educate a child from age 4 all the way through completion of a bachelor's degree, so such an influx would effectively create a knowledge import of $200 Billion into the US each year. Only 30% of US citizens have a bachelor's degree, so these immigrants would increase the average educational level and median income of the country. Simultaneously, unskilled immigration, legal and certainly illegal, should be halted/prevented until further notice.
Every problem, from social security shortfalls to a surplus of unsold homes and cars to a lack of engineering and science talent in the US, will be solved. Healthcare cost increases would be contained as the supply of doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists rises. Every distortion caused by an aging population and the retirement of baby boomers will be offset. Political, economic, and even social/familial ties with India and China will strengthen, as most of these skilled immigrants will be from these two countries.
It is just about the most productive economic strategy that the US can employ, and would start taking effect almost immediately. The shockingly uninformed notion that such immigrants 'take jobs away' or 'depress wages' has been debunked in the detailed case, and is a belief held by reactionaries who fail to consider that the same jobs can be offshored out of the US to find their candidates if the candidate is not brought here.
2) Tax Simplification : My detailed case for tax simplification can be found here. In summary :
Time is money, and moreso than ever in a prosperous society. Before even discussing the reduction or increase in tax rates, there should first be a reduction in tax complexity. If a family earning $100,000 is currently required to pay $20,000 in income taxes to the Federal Government, so be it. But at least let the process of calculating this tax payment take 20 minutes instead of 20 hours. For a small business, preparing their taxes can consume as much as 80 hours per year. At present, the complexity of the tax code costs the US economy $400 to $600 billion a year in lost productivity and transactional wastage.
Is there any possible argument against this, aside from the need to provide loopholes to favored groups, who themselves still suffer from the complexity of the tax code, outside of their custom loophole? The present morass is a massive burden that is a disgrace to the spirit of free enterprise and unworthy of America.
3) Tax Exemption for Entrepreneurial Innovators : The reason that innovation prizes like the X-Prize are so valuable is that they evoke superlative efforts out of their contestants. This is entirely the opposite of most charities, which merely give ambition-dampening handouts to those deemed to be needy. By some measures, a $10 million X-Prize creates $500 million or more of innovation value.
However, after one team out of dozens of competitors wins a particular X-Prize of $10 Million or so, they have to turn around and pay 45% of it in income taxes. So the real prize is just $5.5 Million. If the IRS were to exempt these innovation prizes from taxation, the cost to the US government would be tiny, relative to the value of innovation that the now-larger prize would inspire.
I would take this concept further, and state that anyone who founds a successful technology company should be exempt from taxes on his shares and stock options. Effectively, a tax cut for creators of jobs, technologies, and wealth, who are known as 'change agents'. Of course, proper restrictions must be made to prevent fraud, but this stimulus would create a tremendous incentive for entrepreneurial innovation, and actually lead to higher overall tax revenue from the surplus of new jobs created, as the employees of these companies are not exempt from taxes.
This is just about the highest gain targeted tax relief that could be employed, and, if combined with idea 1), would bring the most dynamic entrepreneurs to America from across the globe (at least 40% of Silicon Valley startups are founded by immigrants, even today). For an initial cost of less than 0.1% of current tax collections, we could supercharge the economy. History has shown that a society that is unfriendly to entrepreneurship is not a society worth living in, but a society where the entrepreneur is cherished is the best society of all.
4) Make Sarbanes-Oxley Voluntary : The 'SarbOx' compliance requirements make it far more tedious for a young company to go public. For a small public company, SarbOx compliance may cost $3 million per year in auditing and legal fees, which could otherwise be spent on research and development. Even 8 years after the end of the dot-com collapse, the flow of high-tech IPOs remains a trickle, while corruption has arguably not seen any general reduction.
The solution is to make SarbOx compliance voluntary. A corporation can choose to comply, and then let the market decide whether compliance to SarbOx should result in a share price premium, or discount. If a company that has chosen not to comply to SarbOx is later found to have conducted fraud, all other companies will see their decision regarding SarbOx reflected in their prices. If a company that does not spend money on SarbOx instead outcompetes its rivals due to more R&D investment, let the market reflect that as well. The entirely different situations facing blue-chip corporations relative to fresh IPOs can thus be catered to.
5) Reform Divorce Laws : The present laws for the dissolution of marriage have resulted in millions of highly productive workers having a strong incentive not to perform at their full capacity. This is a huge opportunity cost to the economy.
Two single people pay higher combined taxes than a married couple. Beyond this, children who grow up with divorced parents tend to underachieve in many aspects of life, and become liabilities to the taxpayer. Yet, we currently have divorce laws in America that provide perverse incentives for women to leave marriages that traditionally would have been considered acceptable, and consequently for the next generation of men to not enter marriage in the first place. Thus, the percentage of adults in stable marriages continues to shrink. Incentives matter, and the present incentive structure has disastrous long-term implications.
A few decades ago, a person seeking divorce was required to provide significant justification. Now, 'no-fault' divorce grants quick divorce to either party, without any burden of justification. At the same time, the concept of alimony was meant to maintain a woman who did not have any financial security of her own, and to dissuade a man from leaving his family (i.e. when he was at fault). Both of these laws independently had merit in the era that they were passed.
However, both of these combined lead to 'no-fault alimony'. A woman can decide to not work at all while the husband is out working long hours, and still leave him on a 'no-fault' basis and still get payments from him for years, possibly forever if the marriage was long enough. Let me state that again : she decides to leave without having to provide any justification, and he still has to pay her for a very long time after that. This leads to many women abusing the law for financial gain, or at the very least, threaten the husband throughout the marriage, knowing that the power of the state is behind her. Perversely, the dutiful husbands are often the ones ruined by the machinery of the state under the current laws, while the 'bad boys' get off lightly. 70-90% of divorces are initiated by the wife due to this incentive stucture, and while feminists seek to punish 'bad boys', 'players', and 'deadbeats', it is actually the faithful, responsible men who usually suffer.
Given the extreme risks to a man entering marriage in present-day America, more and more younger men are deciding that it is simply not worth the risk. As a result, many good-hearted, average women who want nothing more than to create a picture-perfect family, will find themselves competing for a much smaller pool of men who are willing to marry, and thus many of these women will not find husbands within the window of their youth. Such market forces have accelerated the meteoric rise of the pickup artist (PUA) industry complete with seminars, coaches, blogs, manuals, support networks of 'wingmen', and hidden-camera footage of successful pickups packaged and sold as instructional courses. This is leading to an America of 'more cads, less dads'. While this may be fun for practicing PUAs, it is not a sustainable societal model for any prosperous country. Furthermore, many divorced men are forced to live off just 20% of their original income after being brutalized by the machinery of the state. The natural response from such men would be to not work as hard, but such a disincentive for productive work would be ruinous. As almost all technological inventors are men, why should an inventor paying alimony bother to invent? Why not become a PUA instead, since that is a skill that no one can take away from him?
If America (and other Anglosphere countries) make it too unattractive for men to marry, Anglosphere society will deservedly die. This is where social conservatives have been an abysmal failure, shambolically unable to see the forest from the trees. Their distracted focus on combating issues that are already done deals (abortion) or that affect very few people (gay marriage), while limiting their support of marital commitment to empty sermonizing about how marriage is 'sacred', has meekly ceded the defense of the fabric they hoped to preserve. Their sermonizing, against legally sanctioned financial incentives for divorce combined with growing misandry in the media, is about as effective as a pea shooter against steel.
The solution is to have either no-fault divorce, OR alimony, but certainly not both. Either one by itself may be fair, but the two in combination certainly is not. One of the two, preferably alimony, must end. The second solution is for social conservatives to get their priorities in order, under a new generation of leadership that understands the 21st century social and legal climate.
6) Make Tax Day One Day Before Election Day : The fact that April 15 and the first Tuesday in November are as far apart from each other as they are has itself cost the American taxpayer trillions of dollars, only due to human psychology. If, however, elections were held precisely when the taxpayer is most irate with the wastage of taxpayer funds, fiscal conservatism will immediately become the highest priority of any political candidate.
The recent 'Tea Party' protests are a step in the right direction, but are still too unfocused. If anyone with Tea Party connections is reading this, please consider pitching this idea as a mission to focus the efforts around. All other objectives of tax reduction, spending restraint, and penalties for pork-barrel wastage will automatically flow as downstream outcomes of this. This would enable ideas 2) and 3) to become realities as well. Politicians will resist this, but when cornered into a debate, they will not be able to produce any persuasive excuse that conceals their desire to maintain the profligate status quo.
As you can see, many of these are policies that have existed in America in the past - when America was ascendant. Out of these six, even one or two would create a dramatic economic boom. We have no illusions that the politicians in Washington would implement (indeed, re-implement) any of these ideas, or even have the courage to uproot the entrenched interests that profit from the moribund status quo.
However, US corporations are not blameless in all this. The shortsightedness of many senior executives costs their corporations far more money than an approach that sees beyond merely the next quarter or the end of the fiscal year.
1) A Measured Balance Between Layoffs and Salary Reductions : During economic contractions, headcount reductions are often necessary, and often facilitate the process of creative destruction and reinvention. However, too many corporations are taking an axe, rather than scalpel approach to cost-reduction, that has collateral expenses that they do not account for.
A layoff involves granting 2-12 weeks of severance pay to an employee. When hiring resumes 6-18 months later (the average duration of most recessions), the employer has to spend time interviewing new candidates, paying them a signing bonus, and training them for a couple of months. Even then, the new employee may or may not be a fit for the organization. The whole layoff and re-hiring process has great inefficiencies and large transactional costs, leading to crashes in consumer confidence and then lengthy 'jobless recoveries' in the economy.
There are also hidden costs, born by the former employee and broader society. Divorces rise after layoffs, and the combination of many tragedies at once can often lead to the final tragedy - suicide. The employer bears costs too, as an army of resentful ex-employees can join competitors, tarnish the company's reputation in this Web 2.0 era, or, in the most extreme cases, mentally snap and gun down a few of his former bosses (which does happen from time to time).
At the same time, the concept of temporary salary reductions receives an illogical, knee-jerk dismissal. The stupid claim that it 'discourages top performers' seems to assume that hearing about a divorce, suicide, or foreclosure in the life of your former colleague of many years, or the prospect of a shooting, is somehow not as discouraging.
The solution is very simple : drain the bath water out systematically, rather than throwing the baby out with it. Most corporations have a 5-point performance rating scale, with 5 being the top, 3 being adequate, and 2 or 1 leading to necessary termination. A corporation could simply implement a reduction of 0% for employees rated at '5', 10% for employees rated at '4', 20% for employees rated at '3', for two quarters, before taking the more drastic step of layoffs. If economic conditions stabilize, the salaries can be restored (which itself is quicker and cheaper than recruiting and hiring new employees). If conditions worsen further, only then begin with either a deeper reduction or layoffs.
No one gets divorced or suicidal from the ripple effects of a temporary 20% pay cut. A few may leave, but those are likely to be average performers, and are leaving by their choice (and hence do not get severance pay). In fact, most employees may not even know who got how much of a reduction, due to performance ratings being mostly confidential. The dignity of the employee is preserved, the transaction costs of firing and re-hiring are avoided, and the 'jolt' to the employee, and thus collateral damage in society, is lessened. Thus, the sharp plunge and jobless recovery cycle is greatly moderated, and the drop in consumer confidence that is found at the deepest part of the recession is avoided, which quickens the recovery itself.
Some corporations already do this, and have been more successful than their competitors over cumulative business cycles. But the concept of longer-term planning on this issue is still absent in most large employers, and it is shocking that the value of gradual staging and restoration is not recognized.
Last but not least, there is an elephant in the room of economic reform. It is that of the US citizen, and one major aspect of the economy that is usually at the top of any list of economic issues.
1) Americans Have to Adopt Healthier Habits: It is hard to go a single day without seeing an article about healthcare reform. However, we did not put it in our list of 6 governmental ideas, as we were never quite convinced that it is entirely the government's responsibility to keep Americans healthy, or to extend their lifespan, despite their abuse of their own health. Too much of our healthcare system is built around treatment, and too little around the prevention of illness in the first place. Personal responsibility to reduce the habits that lead to disease has to be taken by the individual, and so we are going to hold the pudgy feet of the average American to the fire.
While America is the best county in the world in most ways, in terms of dietary health, it sadly is just about the worst. What North Korea and Zimbabwe are to economics, America is to healthy cuisine. So much so, that most Americans don't eat actual food at all, but rather 'food-like substances' as Michael Pollan calls them. Dismantling and rebuilding the American diet will be about as hard as dismantling the USSR and Eastern Bloc.
Cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease are the four leading causes of death in America. We spend, directly or indirectly, about $2 Trillion a year (15% of GDP) on these four diseases. Yet, a person can greatly reduce their chances of getting all four with some very simple adaptations. For all the anguish about life expectancy not rising quickly enough, and the need for more funding for research, the old adage of a penny of prevention outweighing a pound of cure still applies. US life expectancy would rise by 5 years if all adults did the following :
1) Do not smoke at all, and only drink a little, of either beer or red wine.
2) Do not consume sugary foods or drinks, fried foods, fast foods, or too many processed foods.
3) Make sure that 80% of what you eat is fruits and vegetables of as many different varieties as possible (fresh, not canned). Dairy consumption should be moderate. Red meat should be kept to an absolute minimum (no more than 2 times a month), and should be of the highest quality.
4) Berries, mangoes, lentils, whole beans, cauliflower, cabbage, beets, carrots, turmeric, garlic, green tea, avocados, wild greens, fresh tomatoes, salmon, olive oil, flaxseeds, walnuts, cilantro, oatmeal, yogurt, and dark chocolate should be favored ahead of all other foods, for reasons too lengthy to get into here.
5) Cut every portion size by at least 10%, ideally 20%.
6) Exercise 3 times a week, for 30 minutes each.
7) Adopt a bit of yoga and meditation into your life.
That is it. Do just this, and you will gain both quantity and quality of years. No one disputes the merit of these habits, and most discussion of them centers around why the person in question lacks and discipline or willpower to stick to these habits. The death rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer's would plunge, and healthcare costs would be cut in half (saving $1 Trillion/year). Furthermore, since healthier foods are cheaper than unhealthy ones, another $500 Billion will be saved in consumer spending, to be better used elsewhere.
$1.5 Trillion saved per year, as well as 5 more years of life. Yet, Americans can't seem to do it, and often become hostile when it is suggested that this program is easy. It does not make much sense to whine about the lack of a cure for cancer before a person has taken the simple steps that can reduce their chances of getting cancer by 75% or more. More education through some government initiatives is not the answer. That has already been done to the extreme. You can lead a horse to water, and even force its mouth into the water, but you cannot make it drink.
Americans have to get their own health in order first, then talk about the healthcare system meeting them halfway. Currently, the healthcare system is expected to magically undo too many self-inflicted maladies, an admission most Americans are unwilling to make.
Just eight steps to be taken, six by the government, and one each for corporations and individuals, to create the Golden Age, where US prosperity would triple between now and 2030. All of these ideas have to do with creating better incentive structures, with an underpinning of more personal responsibility. It is so simple, yet so distant.
The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) seeks to answer one of the most basic questions of human identity - whether we are alone in the universe, or merely one civilization among many. It is perhaps the biggest question that any human can ponder.
The Drake Equation, created by astronomer Frank Drake in 1960, calculates the number of advanced extra-terrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy in existence at this time. Watch this 8-minute clip of Carl Sagan in 1980 walking the audience through the parameters of the Drake Equation. The Drake equation manages to educate people on the deductive steps needed to understand the basic probability of finding another civilization in the galaxy, but as the final result varies so greatly based on even slight adjustments to the parameters, it is hard to make a strong argument for or against the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence via the Drake equation. The most speculative parameter is the last one, fL, which is an estimation of the total lifespan of an advanced civilization. Again, this video clip is from 1980, and thus only 42 years after the advent of radio astronomy in 1938. Another 29 years, or 70%, have since been added to the age of our radio-astronomy capabilities, and the prospect of nuclear annihilation of our civilization is far lower today than in was in 1980. No matter how ambitious or conservative of a stance you take on the other parameters, the value of fL in terms of our own civilization, continues to rise. This leads us to our first postulate :
The expected lifespan of an intelligent civilization is rising.
Carl Sagan himself believed that in such a vast cosmos, that intelligent life would have to emerge in multiple locations, and the cosmos was thus 'brimming over' with intelligent life. On the other side are various explanations for why intelligent life will be rare. The Rare Earth Hypothesis argues that the combination of conditions that enabled life to emerge on Earth are extremely rare. The Fermi Paradox, originating back in 1950, questions the contradiction between the supposed high incidence of intelligent life, and the continued lack of evidence of it. The Great Filter theory suggests that many intelligent civilizations self-destruct at some point, explaining their apparent scarcity. This leads to the conclusion that the easier it is for civilization to advance to our present stage, the bleaker our prospects for long-term survival, since the 'filter' that other civilizations collide with has yet to face us. A contrarian case can thus be made that the longer we go without detecting another civilization, the better.
But one dimension that is conspicuously absent from all of these theories is an accounting for the accelerating rate of change. I have previously provided evidence that telescopic power is also an accelerating technology. After the invention of the telescope by Galileo in 1609, major discoveries used to be several decades apart, but now are only separated by years. An extrapolation of various discoveries enabled me to crudely estimate that our observational power is currently rising at 26% per year, even though the first 300 years after the invention of the telescope only saw an improvement of 1% a year. At the time of the 1980 Cosmos television series, it was not remotely possible to confirm the existence of any extrasolar planet or to resolve any star aside from the sun into a disk. Yet, both were accomplished by the mid-1990s. As of May 2009, we have now confirmed a total of 347 extrasolar planets, with the rate of discovery rising quickly. While the first confirmation was not until 1995, we now are discovering new planets at a rate of 1 per week. With a number of new telescope programs being launched, this rate will rise further still. Furthermore, most of the planets we have found so far are large. Soon, we will be able to detect planets much smaller in size, including Earth-sized planets. This leads us to our second postulate :
Telescopic power is rising quickly, possibly at 26% a year.
This Jet Propulsion Laboratory chart of exoplanet discoveries through 2004 is very overdue for an update, but is still instructive. The x-axis is the distance of the planet from the star, and the y-axis is the mass of the planet. All blue, red, and yellow dots are exoplanets, while the larger circles with letters in them are our own local planets, with the 'E' being Earth. Most exoplanet discoveries up to that time were of Jupiter-sized planets that were closer to their stars than Jupiter is to the sun. The green zone, or 'life zone' is the area within which a planet is a candidate to support life within our current understanding of what life is. Even then, this chart does not capture the full possibilities for life, as a gas giant like Jupiter or Saturn, at the correct distance from a Sun-type star, might have rocky satellites that would thus also be in the life zone. In other words, if Saturn were as close to the Sun as Earth is, Titan would also be in the life zone, and thus the green area should extend vertically higher to capture the possibility of such large satellites of gas giants. The chart shows that telescopes commissioned in the near future will enable the detection of planets in the life zone. If this chart were updated, a few would already be recorded here. Some of the missions and telescopes that will soon be sending over a torrent of new discoveries are :
Kepler Mission : Launched in March 2009, the Kepler Mission will continuously monitor a field of 100,000 stars for the transit of planets in front of them. This method has a far higher chance of detecting Earth-sized planets than prior methods, and we will see many discovered by 2010-11.
COROT : This European mission was launched in December 2006, and uses a similar method as the Kepler Mission, but is not as powerful. COROT has discovered a handful of planets thus far.
New Worlds Mission : This 2013 mission will build a large sunflower-shaped occulter in space to block the light of nearby stars to aid the observation of extrasolar planets. A large number of planets close to their stars will become visible through this method.
Allen Telescope Array : Funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the ATA will survey 1,000,000 stars for radio astronomy evidence of intelligent life. The ATA is sensitive enough to discover a large radio telescope such as the Arecibo Observatory up to a distance of 1000 light years. Many of the ATA components are electronics that decline in price in accordance with Moore's Law, which will subsequently lead to the development of the.....
Square Kilometer Array : Far larger and more powerful than the Allen Telescope Array, the SKA will be in full operation by 2020, and will be the most sensitive radio telescope ever. The continual decline in the price of processing technology will enable the SKA to scour the sky thousands of times faster than existing radio telescopes.
These are merely the missions that are already under development or even under operation. Several others are in the conceptual phase, and could be launched within the next 15 years. So many methods of observation used at once, combined with the cost improvements of Moore's Law, leads us to our third postulate, which few would have agreed with at the time of 'Cosmos' in 1980 :
Thousands of planets in the 'life zone' will be confirmed by 2025.
Now, we will revisit the under-discussed factor of accelerating change. Out of 4.5 billion years of Earth's existence, it has only hosted a civilization capable of radio astronomy for 71 years. But as our own technology is advancing on a multitude of fronts, through the accelerating rate of change and the Impact of Computing, each year, the power of our telescopes increases and the signals of intelligence (radio and TV) emitted from Earth move out one more light year. Thus, the probability for us to detect someone, and for us to be detected by them, however small, is now rising quickly. Our civilization gained far more in both detectability, and detection-capability, in the 30 years between 1980 and 2010, relative to the 30 years between 1610 and 1640, when Galileo was persecuted for his discoveries and support of heliocentrism, and certainly relative to the 30 years between 70,000,030 and 70,000,000 BC, when no advanced civilization existed on Earth, and the dominant life form was Tyrannosaurus.
Nikolai Kardashev has devised a scale to measure the level of advancement that a technological civilization has achieved, based on their energy technology. This simple scale can be summarized as follows :
Type I : A civilization capable of harnessing all the energy available on their planet.
Type II : A civilization capable of harnessing all the energy available from their star.
Type III : A civilization capable of harnessing all the energy available in their galaxy.
The scale is logarithmic, and our civilization currently would receive a Kardashev score of 0.72. We could potentially achieve full Type I status by the mid-21st century due to a technological singularity. Some have estimated that our exponential growth could elevate us to Type II status by the late 22nd century.
This has given rise to another faction in the speculative debate on extra-terrestrial intelligence, a view held by Ray Kurzweil, among others. The theory is that it takes such a short time (a few hundred years) for a civilization to go from the earliest mechanical technology to reach a technological singularity where artificial intelligence saturates surrounding matter, relative to the lifetime of the home planet (a few billion years), that we are the first civilization to come this far. Given the rate of advancement, a civilization would have to be just 100 years ahead of us to be so advanced that they would be easy to detect within 100 light years, despite 100 years being such a short fraction of a planet's life. In other words, where a 19th century Earth would be undetectable to us today, an Earth of the 22nd century would be extremely conspicuous to us from 100 light years away, emitting countless signals across a variety of mediums.
A Type I civilization within 100 light years would be readily detected by our instruments today. A Type II civilization within 1000 light years will be visible to the Allen or the Square Kilometer Array. A Type III would be the only type of civilization that we probably could not detect, as we might have already been within one all along. We do not have a way of knowing if the current structure of the Milky Way galaxy is artificially designed by a Type III civilization. Thus, the fourth and final postulate becomes :
A civilization slightly more advanced than us will soon be easy for us to detect.
The Carl Sagan view of plentiful advanced civilizations is the generally accepted wisdom, and a view that I held for a long time. On the other hand, the Kurzweil view is understood by very few, for even in the SETI community, not that many participants are truly acceleration aware. The accelerating nature of progress, which existed long before humans even evolved, as shown in Carl Sagan's cosmic calendar concept, also from the 1980 'Cosmos' series, simply has to be considered as one of the most critical forces in any estimation of extra-terrestrial life. I have not yet migrated fully to the Kurzweil view, but let us list our four postulates out all at once :
The expected lifespan of an intelligent civilization is rising.
Telescopic power is rising quickly, possibly at 26% a year.
Thousands of planets in the 'life zone' will be confirmed by 2025.
A civilization slightly more advanced than us will soon be easy for us to detect.
As the Impact of Computing will ensure that computational power rises 16,000X between 2009 and 2030, and that our radio astronomy experience will be 92 years old by 2030, there are just too many forces that are increasing our probabilities of finding a civilization if one does indeed exist nearby. It is one thing to know of no extrasolar planets, or of any civilizations. It is quite another to know about thousands of planets, yet still not detect any civilizations after years of searching. This would greatly strengthen the case against the existence of such civilizations, and the case would grow stronger by year. Thus, these four postulates in combination lead me to conclude that :
Most of the 'realistic' science fiction regarding first contact with another extra-terrestrial civilization portrays that civilization being domiciled relatively nearby. In Carl Sagan's 'Contact', the civilization was from the Vega star system, just 26 light years away. In the film 'Star Trek : First Contact', humans come in contact with Vulcans in 2063, but the Vulcan homeworld is also just 16 light years from Earth. The possibility of any civilization this near to us would be effectively ruled out by 2030 if we do not find any favorable evidence. SETI should still be given the highest priority, of course, as the lack of a discovery is just as important as making a discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence.
If we do detect evidence of an extra-terrestrial civilization, everything about life on Earth will change. Both 'Contact' and 'Star Trek : First Contact' depicted how an unprecedented wave of human unity swept across the globe upon evidence that humans were, after all, one intelligent species among many. In Star Trek, this led to what essentially became a techno-economic singularity for the human race. As shown in 'Contact', many of the world's religions were turned upside down upon this discovery, and had to revise their doctrines accordingly. Various new cults devoted to the worship of the new civilization formed almost immediately.
If, however, we are alone, then according to many Singularitarians, we will be the ones to determine the destiny of the cosmos. After a technological singularity in the mid-21st century that merges our biology with our technology, we would proceed to convert all matter into artificial intelligence, make use of all the elementary particles in our vicinity, and expand outward at speeds that eventually exceed the speed of light, ultimately saturating the entire universe with out intelligence in just a few centuries. That, however, is a topic for another day.
On April 22, 2008, I wrote about how the Energy and Financial sectors had diverged from each other, up to that point, to a degree that rarely happens between any two major sectors of the market. I proceeded to suggest a trade of shorting Energy while going long on Financials.
Let us see how that trade turned out, about 1 year after it was suggested.
Both sectors did worse than the S&P500, but as we were short on Energy, this is favorable. With dividends reinvested (which for Financials, were substantial), we come to total returns of :
So this trade earned a return of -5.36%, vs. -32.20% for the S&P500. This is a dramatic outperformance relative to the index, even though staying in cash would have been even better.
For a next step, I would cover the short on Energy, and double down on my long position in Financials, given the low current price of Financials.
Anyone who follows technology is familiar with Moore's Law and its many variations, and has come to expect the price of computing power to halve every 18 months. But many people don't see the true long-term impact of this beyond the need to upgrade their computer every three or four years. To not internalize this more deeply is to miss financial opportunities, grossly mispredict the future, and be utterly unprepared for massive, sweeping changes to human society. Hence, it is time to update the first version of this all-important article that was written on February 21, 2006.
Today, we will introduce another layer to the concept of Moore's Law-type exponential improvement. Consider that on top of the 18-month doubling times of both computational power and storage capacity (an annual improvement rate of 59%), both of these industries have grown by an average of approximately 12% a year for the last fifty years. Individual years have ranged between +30% and -12%, but let us say that the trend growth of both industries is 12% a year for the next couple of decades.
So, we can conclude that a dollar gets 59% more power each year, and 12% more dollars are absorbed by such exponentially growing technology each year. If we combine the two growth rates to estimate the rate of technology diffusion simultaneously with exponential improvement, we get (1.59)(1.12) = 1.78
The Impact of Computing grows at a scorching pace of 78% a year.
Sure, this is a very imperfect method of measuring technology diffusion, but many visible examples of this surging wave present themselves. Consider the most popular television shows of the 1970s, where the characters had all the household furnishings and electrical appliances that are common today, except for anything with computational capacity. Yet, economic growth has averaged 3.5% a year since that time, nearly doubling the standard of living in the United States since 1970. It is obvious what has changed during this period, to induce the economic gains.
We can take the concept even closer to the present. Among 1990s sitcoms, how many plot devices would no lon ger exist in the age of cellphones and Google Maps? Consider the episode of Seinfeld entirely devoted to the characters not being able to find their car, or each other, in a parking structure (1991). Or this legendary bit from a 1991 episode in a Chinese restaurant. These situations are simply obsolete in the era of cellphones. This situation (1996) would be obsolete in the era of digital cameras, while the 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' situation would be obsolete in an era of Netflix and YouTube.
In the 1970s, there was virtually no household product with a semiconductor component. In the 1980s, many people bought basic game consoles like the Atari 2600, had digital calculators, and purchased their first VCR, but only a fraction of the VCR's internals, maybe 20%, comprised of exponentially deflating semiconductors, so VCR prices did not drop that much per year. In the early 1990s, many people began to have home PCs. For the first time, a major, essential home device was pegged to the curve of 18-month halvings in cost per unit of power. In the late 1990s, the PC was joined by the Internet connection and the DVD player.
Now, I want everyone reading this to tally up all the items in their home that qualify as 'Impact of Computing' devices, which is any hardware device where a much more powerful/capacious version will be available for the same price in 2 years. You will be surprised at how many devices you now own that did not exist in the 80s or even the 90s.
Include : Actively used PCs, LCD/Plasma TVs and monitors, DVD players, game consoles, digital cameras, digital picture frames, home networking devices, laser printers, webcams, TiVos, Slingboxes, Kindles, robotic toys, every mobile phone, every iPod, and every USB flash drive. Count each car as 1 node, even though modern cars may have $4000 of electronics in them.
Do not include : Tube TVs, VCRs, film cameras, individual video games or DVDs, or your washer/dryer/oven/clock radio just for having a digital display, as the product is not improving dramatically each year.
If this doesn't persuade people of the exponentially accelerating penetration of information technology, then nothing can.
To summarize, the number of devices in an average home that are on this curve, by decade :
1960s and earlier : 0
1970s : 0-1
1980s : 1-2
1990s : 3-4
2000s : 6-12
2010s : 15-30
2020s : 40-80
The average home of 2020 will have multiple ultrathin TVs hung like paintings, robots for a variety of simple chores, VR-ready goggles and gloves for advanced gaming experiences, sensors and microchips embedded into clothing, $100 netbooks more powerful than $10,000 workstations of today, surface computers, 3-D printers, intelligent LED lightbulbs with motion-detecting sensors, cars with features that even luxury models of today don't have, and at least 15 nodes on a home network that manages the entertainment, security, and energy infrastructure of the home simultaneously.
At the industrial level, the changes are even greater. Just as telephony, photography, video, and audio before them, we will see medicine, energy, and manufacturing industries become information technology industries, and thus set to advance at the rate of the Impact of Computing. The economic impact of this is staggering. Refer to the Future Timeline for Economics, particularly the 2014, 2024, and 2034 entries. Deflation has traditionally been a bad thing, but the Impact of Computing has introduced a second form of deflation. A good one.
It is true that from 2001 to 2009, the US economy has actually shrunk in size, if measured in oil, gold, or Euros. To that, I counter that every major economy in the world, including the US, has grown tremendously if measured in Gigabytes of RAM, TeraBytes of storage, or MIPS of processing power, all of which have fallen in price by about 40X during this period. One merely has to select any suitable product, such as a 42-inch plasma TV in the chart, to see how quickly purchasing power has risen. What took 500 hours of median wages to purchase in 2002 now takes just 40 hours of median wages in 2009. Pessimists counter that computing is too small a part of the economy for this to be a significant prosperity elevator. But let's see how much of the global economy is devoted to computing relative to oil (let alone gold).
Oil at $50/barrel amounts to about $1500 Billion per year out of global GDP. When oil rises, demand falls, and we have not seen oil demand sustain itself to the extent of elevating annual consumption to more than $2000 Billion per year.
Semiconductors are a $250 Billion industry and storage is a $200 Billion industry. Software, photonics, and biotechnology are deflationary in the same way as semiconductors and storage, and these three industries combined are another $500 Billion in revenue, but their rate of deflation is less clear, so let's take just half of this number ($250 Billion) as suitable for this calculation.
So $250B + $200B + $250B = $700 Billion that is already deflationary under the Impact of Computing. This is about 1.5% of world GDP, and is a little under half the size of global oil revenues.
The impact is certainly not small, and since the growth rate of these sectors is higher than that of the broader economy, what about when it becomes 3% of world GDP? 5%? Will this force of good deflation not exert influcence on every set of economic data? At the moment, it is all but impossible to get major economics bloggers to even acknowledge this growing force. But over time, it will be accepted as a limitless well of rising prosperity.
12% more dollars spent each year, and each dollar buys 59% more power each year. Combine the two and the impact is 78% more every year.
It is time for me to put forth a prediction on the shape and form of when and where the present recession will end. Recall that The Futurist correctly predicted when the recession will be deemed to have started, about 10 months before the NBER arrived at the same conclusion. Also recall that The Futurist identified the housing bubble back in April of 2006, when suggesting such a thing could get you persecuted by fanatical home-owners.
I hereby predict that :
1) The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) will declare the recession to have ended in the window of July-Sept, 2009. However, they only declare this retroactively, several months after the fact. The recession will thus have lasted 20-22 months in total.
2) Employment will bottom at 130 Million jobs, which means that there are still another 3 million jobs to be lost (on top of the 5 million already lost in this recession). This the steepest fall in employment of any recession in the last 50 years, even after adjusting for the size of the workforce.
3) The Unemployment Rate will top out at 10.5% +/- 0.3% early in 2010.
4) Neither deflation nor hyperinflation will happen to any significant degree. No calendar year will have an inflation rate below -2% or above 5%.
A conclusion of the recession, however, does not mean the recovery will be strong. It will take many years for the unemployment rate to fall below 5% again. It is, however, absolutely necessary for Americans to reacquaint themselves with the notions of frugality and delayed gratification, and hopefully this recession has taught a suitable lesson to enough profligate gluttons that better decisions are made in the future.
All of us remember the dot-com bubble, the crippling bust that eventually was a correction of 80% from the peak, and the subsequent moderated recovery. This was easy to notice as there were many publicly traded companies that could be tracked daily.
I believe that nanotechnology underwent a similar bubble, peaking in early 2005, and has been in a bust for the subsequent four years. Allow me to elaborate.
By 2004, major publications were talking about nanotech as if it was about to surge. Lux Capital was publishing a much-anticipated annual 'Nanotech Report'. There was even a company by the name of NanoSys that was preparing for an IPO in 2004. BusinessWeek even had an entire issue devoted to all things nanotech in February 2005. We were supposed to get excited.
But immediately after the BusinessWeek cover, everything seemed to go downhill. Nanosys did not conduct an IPO, nor did any other company. Lux Capital only published a much shorter report by 2006, and stopped altogether in 2007 and 2008. No other major publication devoted an entire issue to the topic of nanotechnology. Venture capital flowing to nanotech ventures dried up. Most importantly, people stopped talking about nanotechnology altogether. Not many people noticed this because they were too giddy about their home prices rising, but to me, this shriveling of nano-activity had uncanny parallels to prior technology slumps.
The rock bottom was reached at the very end of 2008. Regular readers will recall that on January 3, 2009, I noticed that MIT Technology Review conspicuously omitted a section titled 'The Year in Nanotech' among their year-end roundup of innovations for the outgoing year. I could not help but wonder why they stopped producing a nanotech roundup altogether, and I subsequently concluded that we were in a multi-year nanotech winter, and that the MIT Technology Review omission marked the lowest point.
But there are signs that nanotech is on the brink of emerging from its chrysalis. The university laboratories are humming again, promising to draw the genie out of its magic lamp. In just the first 12 weeks of 2009, carbon nanotubes, after staying out of the news for years, have suddenly been making headlines. Entire 'forests' of nanotubes are now being grown (image from MIT Tech Review) and can be used for a variety of previously unrelated applications. Beyond this, there is suddenly activity in nanotube electronics, light-sensitive nanotubes, nanotube superbatteries, and even nanotube muscles that are as light as air, flexible as rubber, but stronger than steel. And all this is just nanotubes. Nanomedicine, nanoparticle glue, and nanosensors are also joining the party. All this bodes well for the prospect of catching up to where we currently should be on the trendline of molecular engineering, and enabling us to build what was previously impossible.
The recovery out of the four-year nanotech winter could not be happening at a better time. Nanotech is thus set to be one of the four sectors of technology (the others being solar energy, surface computing, and wireless data) that pull the global economy into its next expansion starting in late 2009.
Three years ago, I wrote about the end of broadcasted television signals through the air on February 17, 2009. It was one of the earliest articles here on The Futurist, and we have now arrived at the date when this transition will take place.
In the last 3 years, we have seen the Apple iPhone (now in a 2.0 version), as well as broad deployment of 3G service to cellular phones. Neither were available in February 2006. But these are small increments compared to what access to the previously unavailable 700 MHz spectrum will give rise to. The auction for the spectrum fetched $19.6 Billion, indicating how valuable this real-estate is.
Signals sent at this frequency can easily pass through walls, and over far greater distances than signals in higher frequency bands. More importantly, since wireless is the dominant (and often only) means of Internet access in many developing countries, the innovations designed to exploit the 700 MHz band in the US will inevitably be modified to supercharge wireless Internet access in India, Latin America, and Africa. An additional 1 billion broadband Internet users in developing regions will be connected by 2013, as predicted in Part I of this article. There are few technologies that can help pull people out of poverty so quickly.
In the depths of a recession, the events that spark the next expansion arise almost unnoticed. WIthin 24 months of this event, there will be a vast array of exciting wireless products and services for all of us to enjoy. Remember that today, despite the economy being in its darkest hour, was the day that it began.
I have written beffore about the reduction in price of solar energy, and how each succcessive price decline would deliver a new generation of adoption. Now, we can examine some of the specfic technologies that are driving the race to affordability, and will enable solar energy to be one of the only candidate technologies to lead an economic recovery from the present downturn.
Popular Mechanics has a roundup of five new areas of innovation in harnessing energy from the Sun. All five promise to make solar energy competitive with the cheapest sources of fossil-fuel energy, and many of these five technologies could work in combination with each other. The five technologies are the following :
Now, many of these technologies were invented before 2008, so this roundup does not alter the fact that 2008 was a year of very low technological innovation. However, all these innovations bode very well for a tremendous boom in solar power starting around 2010. Each technology has one or more startup companies mentioned in each section. The industry consensus is that solar power becomes competitive with conventional sources of power generation by around 2011, varying by the local cost of electricity and the solar intensity of a particular region (i.e Arizona becomes cost-competitive for solar before British Columbia does).
The greatest benefits, however, will accrue to emerging markets. Many poorer countries not only have electricity rates that are much more expensive than in the US, but these countries, being in more southern latitudes, receive greater solar intensity to begin with. Breakeven in these markets arrives even sooner than it does for the wealthy countries at more northern latitudes. Many villages in India, VietNam, Iraq, Egypt, and Indonesia will go from having no electricity to having photovoltaic electricity.
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
- Robert Heinlein
The secret sauce of Silicon Valley is the tradition of leaving established companies to start or join new ones, secure funding from venture capitalists, build the company to a suitable size, and then either float or sell the company for a windfall to the founders and early employees. The incentive to continue this practice is the engine that keeps the fire of human technological innovation alive.
Silicon Valley's unique ecosystem has so far been nearly impossible to eclipse. The combination of research universities, the best and brightest immigrants from India and China, a culture of entrepreneurship, and a nearly perfect climate has kept the competitors to Silicon Valley at bay. In the 1990s, the prevalent belief was that the high cost of living in Silicon Valley would enable Austin, Dallas, Seattle, and Phoenix to attract technology workers and cultivate their own tech sectors. This did not happen, as the Silicon Valley ecosystem just had too strong of a gravitational pull.
This, however, should not be an excuse for complacency, or a belief that Silicon Valley is a bottomless supply of tax revenue. There are four steps that would make Silicon Valley prohibitively inhospitable to the formation of new ventures. Any one of these by itself would not be enough to dent the might of the Silicon Valley engine, but all four combined would exceed the breaking point. The first two of these four steps have already happened, and the final two are set to happen, barring direct intervention.
The four steps are :
1) Sarbanes-Oxley : This attempt to reduce the risk of another Enron-style fraud has inflicted a cost on the US economy greater than 100 Enron collapses. In Silicon Valley, the crushing costs of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance (up to $3M a year) have dried up IPOs to a trickle, as the prospect of spending money of compliance that could otherwise be spent on R&D is unappealing. IPOs are less frequent than they were even in the early 1990s, before the bubble, and start-ups can only hope to be acquired by a larger company. In the last 8 years, only two IPOs were large enough to be considered 'blockbuster' : Google and VMWare. This crushes the incentive to leave stable jobs to go work at a new venture.
2) Tortuous Immigration Process : Any list of the most successful people in the history of Silicon Valley will quickly reveal that at least one third of them were born outside of the US. In response, America has chosen to make it much harder for more such people to come here, even as the quality of life in their home countries is rising.
While politicians pander to illegal immigrants with minimal education, they somehow refuse to make immigration easier for legal, highly-skilled immigrants who start new ventures in America. This is significant given the fact that about half of Silicon Valley's skilled workforce is Indian or Chinese. Many are choosing to return to their home countries in exasperation, and are advising their younger relatives that the US immigration process is so tedious that it is better to pursue their careers at home, working for Indian or Chinese branches of HP or Microsoft.
Under current procedures, an engineer from India or China has to be on an H1-B visa for 6 years before he can get a greencard. If he changes employers during that period, he has to start the clock again. The immigrant's spouse cannot work during this period. Even after the greencard, it takes 5 more years to become a US citizen. Unsurprisingly, the best and brightest are deciding that this 11-year limbo is not worth it, and return to their home countries (eventually starting companies there rather than in Silicon Valley). In the 1990s, Americans had not even heard of Bangalore or Suzhou.
If these two factors weren't bad enough, two more negatives are about to be piled on.
3) California State Income Taxes are Set to Rise : The budget shortfalls and underfunded pensions in California are a ticking time bomb. CalPERS, which invests in many of the top venture capital funds that nurture the growth of start-ups in Silicon Valley, is in a shambolic state, and has to add $80 billion in assets just to meet present obligations. The top income bracket in California is already taxed at 9.3%, and this is set to rise. Sales taxes are also set to rise. Due to this horrendous mismanagement worthy of a banana republic, California will soon reach a tipping point where taxes are so high as to destroy California's private sector, which until now has been the envy of the world. It would, of course, be better to reduce CA state expenditures, but government officials have made it clear that raising taxes is their preferred course of action.
4) Federal Income Taxes are Set to Rise : If the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, then from 2011 onwards, the top income bracket will be taxed at 39.6% rather than the current 35%. Here, too, the concept of reducing expenditures is not palatable to Washington decision-makers. While this does affect the entire US equally, when this is combined with the increase in California Sate tax, the combined marginal tax rate in California rises several percentage points, and possibly rises well above 50%.
The danger here is that each of these factors by themselves are not life-threatening. But all four of them in cumulative combination are deadly. So on top of the difficulty of conducting an IPO, and the brain drain out of Silicon Valley back to Asia, if the financial windfall that a worker receives after his startup makes a successful exit is taxed at a grand total of 50-55%, fewer and fewer people will aspire to toil away for years in a startup. As a result, fewer startups will form in Silicon Valley, and instead will form in Bangalore, Shanghai, and Taipei.
Furthermore, after these forces have been in effect for a few years a simple reversal of the higher tax rates, dysfunctional immigration policy, and Sarbanes Oxley will not simply restore Silicon Valley to its prior grandeur. The technology centers in Asia will have achieved critical mass by then, and Silicon Valley will have permanently lost its exclusivity. It would never recover the dominance it once had.
Silicon Valley will be reduced to a location that still hosts the headquarters of HP, Intel, Cisco, and Google, but 90% of the employees of these corporations will be overseas, and startups will be rare. Silicon Valley will effectively become like Cleveland or Pittsburgh, which even today host the headquarters of more than 20 Fortune 500 corporations each, but still have a lower population than they each had in 1960, and cannot attract new young people to come and live there. Cleveland and Pittsburgh are still functioning societies, of course, but their economic vibrancy is irretrievably dead.
This bleak outlook can certainly be reversed if prompt action is taken now. Sadly, the current path is one that is set to have a smothering effect on Silicon Valley.
On November 11, 2007, I created an investment portfolio to be frozen at that time, and evaluated on December 31, 2008, against the S&P500 over the same period. The portfolio incorporated principles, economic trends, and technologies discussed in other articles here on The Futurist. Dividends were reinvested, and so the price paid reflects dividend-adjusted cost-basis. Yahoo and Google Finance do tend to miss recording some dividends, so one must go to a more reliable site like Morningstar to account for the exact dividends.
So how did the portfolio do? Well, the portfolio declined by 37.1% while the S&P500 declined by 36.0%. So we lagged the benchmark by 1.1%. Of course, this was a year when keeping money in cash would have been superior to almost any long equity portfolio.
As always, weightage matters just as much as selection, and the largest component, IWN, outperformed the S&P500. However, this was dragged down by IIF and GOOG. Had I simply followed my advice on shorting energy stocks, I would have done better, but that was not a trade in this portfolio.
At least the 2007 Futurist portfolio outperformed the S&P500 by a greater margin than the 2008 portfolio lagged by, so we are still ahead on aggregate. Let us see what 2009 holds.
Each year, I post a roundup of technology breakthroughs for that year from the MIT Technology Review, and I now present the 2008 edition.
2008 was a year of unusually low technological innovation. This is not merely the byproduct of the economic recession, as some forms of innovation actually quicken during a recession. Furthermore, the innovations from 2006 and 2007 (linked below) showed very little additional progress in 2008, except in the field of energy. This also confirms my observation from February 2008 that technology diffusion appears to be in a lull.
The innovations in 2008 are categorized below :
What is conspicuously absent is any article titled 'The Year in Nanotechnology'. Both 2006 and 2007 had such articles, but the absence of a 2008 version speaks volumes about how little innovation took place in 2008. The entire field on nanotechnology was lukewarm.
Most of the innovations in the articles above are in the laboratory phase, which means that about half will never progress enough to make it to market, and those that do will take 5 to 15 years to directly affect the lives of average people (remember that the laboratory-to-market transition period itself continues to shorten in most fields).
Furthermore, The Wall Street Journal has its own innovation awards for 2008, but this merely confirms that 2008 was a poor year for innovation. For example, the Tata Nano is chosen in the WSJ article, yet it is not available to consumers until mid-2009. Let's hope 2009 has more genuine innovations.
Into the future we continue, where 2009 awaits....
The Nation Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) said that the US has been in recession since December 2007. Of course, that is precisely the time I had given here on The Futurist, except that my declaration was back in February 2008. So I arrived at the same timing estimation, just 10 months before the Federal Government, back when knowing this would actually have been useful.
The longest post-war recession in the US lasted 16 months, so if this recession lasts beyond April of 2009 (which it very well may), it would be the longest post-war recession the US has had. Of course, this recession was shallow for the first 10 months, and only turned sharply lower in October of 2008, so 'duration' is not the whole story.
At present, the consensus is that all of 2009 will effectively be recessionary, putting the recession at 24 months in total duration. Whether this occurs or that pessimism itself is over-shooting remains to be seen.
Congratulations are in order to Barack Obama for becoming the 44th President of the United States. When he first emerged at the 2004 Democratic Convention, no one thought he could topple Hillary Clinton, and go on to win the general election, just 4 years later.
And while I did not vote for him, his success proves once again that America is truly the land of opportunity, far more so than any other nation on Earth.
Now, there are a few electoral statistics that reveal where the Democrats made the biggest gains relative to their losing effort 2004 (all data from CNN.com).
First, in income :
What is remarkable is the the highest income bracket, earning $200,000 or more, has swung 17 points towards the Democrats. Given that Obama wants to tax this group, this swing is surprising. By contrast, those earning between $100,000 and $200,000 have swung just 7 points towards Democrats.
Now, onto race :
Black turnout rose enough for them to become 13% of the vote, vs. just 11% before. The 7-point swing in favor of Obama relative to what Kerry got is unsurprising. But where the GOP took the biggest damage is in the Latino vote. A 13-point loss is huge, and resulted in states like Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado shifting from the red column in 2004 to the blue column in 2008.
Lastly, we move onto ideology :
The GOP lost 6 points of the conservative vote. That is appalling, and if McCain was able to maintain the same 84% of conservative votes that Bush captured in 2004, the whole 2008 election would have been much closer. This also shows that Sarah Palin, as much as we may like her, did not enable McCain to net Bush's 2004 share of the conservative vote. Some may contend that Palin is the reason McCain got even 78% of the conservative vote, but this is impossible to prove or disprove.
For the Republican Party to return from the wilderness in a future election (whether 2012 or 2016), they must achieve at least three of the following four objectives.
1) Win at least 55% of the votes of those earning over $100,000 a year, including at least 60% of those earning over $200,000 a year.
2) Win at least 15% of the black vote. Blacks are the most loyal Democratic vote bank, but this also means Democrats are so dependent on the black vote that they cannot afford to let the GOP have even 15% of it.
3) Win at least 45% of the Latino vote. This group is growing quickly, and without it, the GOP has no future.
4) Always win at least 85% of conservatives. A party that cannot win 85% of its own base is in trouble. Now that Obama has won 20% of the conservative vote, he has to do their bidding as well, which is a topic I have discussed here, and is bad news for leftists.
So, of these four, pick any three. These four points do overlap with each other, particularly points 1 and 4, so courting multiple groups can be done simultaneously. But until at least three of these four are accomplished, the GOP will not win again.
Recent market turmoil has many wondering when the freefall will cease, and whether we are on the brink of a new Great Depression, which is supposed to happen every 70-80 years according to Kondratieff Wave theory. I don't believe we are on the brink of a depression, even though the present recession is already in its 10th month. But it would be instructive to compare the current situation with prior market corrections, and judge the present situation in a historical context.
We can first start with a chart of the S&P500, from 1950 to today. We can see that the deepest deviations from the trendline appear to be in 1950, 1970, 1974, 1982, 1987, 1990, and 2002. We shall term these instances as historical 'bottoms' for the stock market. All but the 1987 bottom were in the midst of economic recessions.
From this chart, we can see that the time period between bottoms can be irregular, with over a decade passing between them, in some cases. 1974 and 1982 appear to be the deepest corrections. These bottoms coincide with recessions, but interestingly do not coincide with other major crises. The Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy assassination, and 9/11/01 did not induce major market crashes beyond the first few days. Now, we can take the datapoints of each of these bottoms, and chart the exponential trendline that connects them. This is purely a chart of index valuation, with dividends not included.
From this chart. we can see that the equivalent value of the S&P500 in 2008, as designated by the red circle, would be around the 1000 level. As of October 10, 2008, the S&P500 is at 899, or 10% below the level of the bottoms trendline. However, we can see that both the 1974 and 1982 bottoms are substantially below the trendline.
The S&P500, since 1950, has delivered an 11.4% average return, with 7.7% of that in the form of a rise in the index itself, and 3.7% of the return being in the form of dividends. If the long-term underlying growth rate of the index is 7.7%, we can chart a 7.7% compounded projection trend from each of these bottoms as another method to compare them to an approximate 2008 equivalent. We shall start this chart from 1970.
It is apparent that 4 of the 6 bottoms cluster around a 2009 projection of 1100-1200, but the two deepest bottoms of 1974 and 1982 project to a 2009 equivalent of only 700-750. These should be considered the two 'mega-bottoms' that happen a couple times per half-century, with the other 4 being only smaller bottoms that happen every 7-10 years, whenever there is a recession.
Since we are presently at 900 for the S&P500, we are about half-way between a smaller bottom and a mega-bottom. Therefore, do not be surprised if the S&P500 does, in fact, dip into the low 700s in 2009, merely to match this correction to 1974/1982 levels. This would be a further 20% correction from the 900 close of October 10, 2008. It may not happen, but it certainly could in terms of historical precedent. This also means that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would simultaneously decline to as low as 6500. Indeed, there is no guarantee that it could not go even lower, but that would he historically unprecedented. Even the 1932 bottom in the Great Depression was not deeper than the 1974 and 1982 bottoms, by these measures.
The Good News :
If the thought of a further 20% decline in the S&P500 or DJIA is depressing, also consider the following :
1) After both the 1974 and 1982 mega-bottoms, the stock market promptly returned at least 60% in the next 9 months. This also happened after the 1932 bottom within the Great Depression.
2) Never forget about dividend reinvestment. Dividend yields are highest when the stock market is at the depths of a bottom, and reinvestment ensures that new shares are purchased at the lower prices. This enables the investor to enhance his returns when the recovery finally commences. Even in the 1970s, the major indices were stuck within a flat range for a decade, but dividend yields as high as 5% enabled total returns that were substantially better.
Considering points 1) and 2), make sure that you are in a position to capture the recovery, and are not forced to sell at the unfavorable prices of the bottom. This means that you must a) never hold any substantial margin debt, b) be positioned across a diversifed set of securities, preferably ETFs ahead of individual stocks, and c) watch as little financial news as possible, thereby reducing your chances of panic that could lead you to take ill-considered actions.
Tremendous profits will be made by those who can steel themselves through this purging of the weak, and are subsequently prepared for the post-bottom recovery. Put daily volatility aside, and enjoy the historical times that we are experiencing first-hand.
The accelerating rate of change in many fields of technology all manifest themselves in terms of human development, some of which can be accurately tracked within economic data. Contrary to what the media may peddle and despite periodic setbacks, average human prosperity is rising at a rate faster than any other time in human history. I have described this in great detail in prior articles, and I continue to be amazed at how little attention is devoted to the important subject of accelerating economic growth, even by other futurists.
The time has thus come for making specific predictions about the details of future economic advancement. I hereby present a speculative future timeline of economic events and milestones, which is a sibling article to Economic Growth is Exponential and Accelerating, v2.0.
2008-09 : A severe US recession and global slowdown still results in global PPP economic growth staying positive in calendar 2008 and 2009. Negative growth for world GDP, which has not happened since 1973, is not a serious possibility, even though the US and Europe experience GDP contraction in this period. The world GDP growth rate trendline resides at growth of 4.5% a year.
2010 : World GDP growth rebounds strongly to 5% a year. More than 3 billion people now live in emerging economies growing at over 6% a year. More than 80 countries, including China, have achieved a Human Development Index of 0.800 or higher, classifying them as developed countries.
2011 : Economic mismanagement in the US leads to a tax increase at the start of 2011, combined with higher interest rates on account of the budget deficit. This leads to a near-recession or even a full recession in the US, despite the recovery out of the 2008-09 recession still being young.
2012 : Over 2 billion people have access to unlimited broadband Internet service at speeds greater than 1 mbps, a majority of them receiving it through their wireless phone/handheld device.
2013 : Many single-family homes in the US, particularly in California, are still priced below the levels they reached at the peak in 2006, as predicted in early 2006 on The Futurist. If one adjusts for cost of capital over this period, many California homes have corrected their valuations by as much as 50%.
2014 : The positive deflationary economic forces introduced by the Impact of Computing are now large and pervasive enough to generate mainstream attention. The semiconductor and storage industries combined exceed $800 Billion in size, up from $450 Billion in 2008. The typical US household is now spending $2500 a year on semiconductors, storage, and other items with rapidly deflating prices per fixed performance. Of course, the items puchased for $2500 in 2014 can be purchased for $1600 in 2015, $1000 in 2016, $600 in 2017, etc.
2015 : As predicted in early 2006 on The Futurist, a 4-door sedan with a 240 hp engine, yet costing only 5 cents/mile to operate (the equivalent of 60 mpg of gasoline), is widely available for $35,000 (which is within the middle-class price band by 2015). This is the result of combined advances in energy, lighter nanomaterials, and computerized systems.
2016 : Medical Tourism introduces $100B/year of net deflationary benefit to healthcare costs in the US economy. Healthcare inflation is slowed, except for the most advanced technologies for life extension.
2017 : China's per-capita GDP on a PPP basis converges with the world average, resulting in a rise in the Yuan exchange rate. This is neither good nor bad, but very confusing for trade calculations. A recession ensues while all the adjustments are sorted out.
2018 : Among new cars sold, gasoline-only vehicles are now a minority. Millions of vehicles are electrically charged through solar panels on a daily basis, relieving those consumers of a fuel expenditure that was as high as $3000 a year in 2008. Some electrical vehicles cost as little as 1 cent/mile to operate.
2019 : The Dow Jones Industrial Average surpasses 25,000. The Nasdaq exceeds 5000, finally surpassing the record set 19 years prior in early 2000.
2020 : World GDP per capita surpasses $15,000 in 2008 dollars (up from $8000 in 2008). Over 100 of the world's nations have achieved a Human Development Index of 0.800 or higher, with the only major concentrations of poverty being in Africa and South Asia. The basic necessities of food, clothing, literacy, electricity, and shelter are available to over 90% of the human race.
Trade between India and the US touches $400 Billion a year, up from only $32 Billion in 2006.
2022 : Several millon people worldwide are each earning over $50,000 a year through web-based activities. These activities include blogging, barter trading, video production, web-based retail ventures, and economic activites within virtual worlds. Some of these people are under the age of 16. Headlines will be made when a child known to be perpetually glued to his video game one day surprises his parents by disclosing that he has accumulated a legitimate fortune of more than $1 million.
2024 : The typical US household is now spending over $5000 a year on products and services that are affected by the Impact of Computing, where value received per dollar spent rises dramatically each year. These include electronic, biotechnology, software, and nanotechnology products. Even cars are sometimes 'upgraded' in a PC-like manner in order to receive better technology, long before they experience mechanical failure. Of course, the products and services purchased for this $5000 in 2024 can be obtained for $3200 in 2025, $2000 in 2026, $1300 in 2027, etc.
2025 : The printing of solid objects through 3-D printers is inexpensive enough for such printers to be common in upper-middle-class homes. This disrupts the economics of manufacturing, and revamps most manufacturing business models.
2027 : 90% of humans are now living in nations with a UN Human Development Index greater than 0.800 (the 2008 definition of a 'developed country', approximately that of the US in 1960). Many Asian nations have achieved per capita income parity with Europe. Only Africa contains a major concentration of poverty.
2030 : The United States still has the largest nominal GDP among the world's nations, in excess of $50 Trillion in 2030 dollars. China's economy is a close second to the US in size. No other country surpasses even half the size of either of the two twin giants.
The world GDP growth rate trendline has now surpassed 5% a year. As the per capita gap has reduced from what it was in 2000, the US now grows at 4% a year, while China grows at 6% a year.
10,000 billionaires now exist worldwide, causing the term to lose some exclusivity.
2032 : At least 2 TeraWatts of photovoltaic capacity is in operation worldwide, generating 8% of all energy consumed by society. Vast solar farms covering several square miles are in operation in North Africa, the Middle East, India, and Australia. These farms are visible from space.
2034 : The typical US household is now spending over $10,000 a year on products and services that are affected by the Impact of Computing. These include electronic, biotech, software, and nanotechnology products. Of course, the products and services purchased for this $10,000 in 2034 can be obtained for $6400 in 2035, $4000 in 2036, $2500 in 2037, etc.
2040 : Rapidly accelerating GDP growth is creating astonishing abundance that was unimaginable at the start of the 21st century. Inequality continues to be high, but this is balanced by the fact that many individual fortunes are created in extremely short times. The basic tools to produce wealth are available to at least 80% of all humans.
Greatly increased lifespans are distorting economics, mostly for the better, as active careers last well past the age of 80.
Tourism into space is affordable for upper middle class people, and is widely undertaken.
I believe that this timeline represents a median forecast for economic growth from many major sources, and will be perceived as too optimistic or too pessimistic by an equal number of readers. Let's see how closely reality tracks this timeline.