the plan for the future
February 6, 2009 - March 4, 2013
Author: Bart klein Ikink
The exponential growth of human activities is hitting the limits of the planet Earth. The likely consequences are mass starvation, ecological disasters and resource wars. The current political and economic system have no solutions. Humanity is on a path to a collective suicide. Problem areas are food, energy, social cohesion and population growth.
Building the Future outlines solutions for the main problem areas. A prerequisite for a peaceful and prosperous future within the limits of the planet is a switchover to Natural Money. Local Natural Money currencies promote local self reliance by favouring local production and consumption. This will reduce energy and resource usage. Natural Money promotes the development of sustainable energy sources and the recycling of materials.
Currently available food stocks are sufficient to feed humanity for a few months. Widespread famine is possible because of climate change and the die off of honey bees. It is wise to increase food stocks and to take measures to ensure food security. The introduction of local currencies will lead to higher food prices relative to other items. Consequently a migration from the cities to the countryside will ensue and the redistribution of land will become an important issue.
Local self-sufficiency will reduce the need for central governments and large corporations. Most social problems can be solved because specific countries have found a good solution. Experimenting and copying best practises is a good way of improving social conditions. It can be applied in areas such as policing, health care and politics. Copying best practises will produce more predictable results compared to experimenting.
Peaceful coexistence includes addressing the causes of cultural tensions. Often discrimination is based on culture and not on race. Behaviour that is more often seen in specific ethnic groups can harm other people and cause conflict. For example, work ethic differ per culture. In multicultural societies some ethnic groups make more use of welfare than others. On the other hand achievers use more energy and natural resources to attain a high standard of living, thus depriving future generations of a good life.
The challenges we face
Exponential growth of human activities is hitting the limits of the planet Earth. This is not difficult to understand. Assume that there is a lake. On the surface of the lake a plant is growing that suffocates all life inside the lake. The plant has already been there for a thousand days and it grows at a rate of 100% each day. Assume that the lake is already covered for 50%. How many days are still left to save the lake? The correct answer is: one day. You can replace the lake by the planet Earth and the suffocating plant by humans. Make no mistake. We are in the last day.
The depletion of natural resources and the degradation of the planet are the most serious challenges humans are facing collectively. If this challenge is not addressed then billions of humans may die of hunger, resource wars [+] and ecological disasters in the course of the 21st century. In recent decades poverty was declining, but the number of poor people will rise in the future because of the reduced availability of natural resources and the rising demand for them. If the current trends in resource consumption do not change, three planets equivalent to the Earth are needed by 2050 [+].
The current political and economic system
Failing economic theory
In eight slide shows Jay Hanson, the maker of the website Dieoff.org, investigates the reasons why the current political and economic systems fail. Limits to growth are politically incorrect and banned from the public discourse but they still exist [+]. Capitalism needs more and more natural resources to fuel economic growth. In order to supply those natural resources, more and more energy is needed. Humans are social animals and their social instincts block rational solutions. Humans must become aware of their social nature to solve the problems their behaviour is causing.
Economics does not solve problems because economists are often paid for by interest groups such as the FED [+]. Jay Hanson claims that economics is political propaganda with agendas hidden in the assumptions. Science in general consists of causal reasoning based on assumptions, which has its limitations [+]. In the field of economics the assumptions often depend on political views and financial interests [+]. According to Paul B. Farrell [+]:
Economic theory is defective because it ignores human nature and the finiteness of the Earth's resources. Most economic activity uses energy and natural resources [+]. Economic growth in the current economic system equals to more future poverty as natural resources are assets [+]. Energy conservation will not help because any increased energy efficiency of a product will increase demand for the product, thus offsetting the effect of the increased energy efficiency [+].
Transforming resources into garbage
Corporations exist to make money and for this they use finite energy and natural resources. During this process corporations transform natural resources into garbage [+]. When energy and natural resources are gone, money will be worthless and the planet Earth will look like a garbage dump. Corporations are out of control because they control politics. Money is social and political power and enables people to buy the time and energy of others [+]. Money allows rich people and corporations to manipulate poor people, to buy favours of politicians and to use the finite resources of the planet. Consequently there is no democracy in countries controlled by corporations. According to Prof. Claudia von Werlhof [+]:
Blaming the corporations does not help as they provide every otiose item many people think they need. Socialising often involves consuming products in order to be accepted in a group. Some people go to great lengths to get that new $ 200 limited edition Nike Air Jordan 11 Concords sneakers [+] made by child slave labour in sweat shops [+]. Humans are genetically programmed to socialise [+]. Human social behaviour is political and humans have evolved to deceive other people and to deceive themselves about their true motives [+].
Social instincts prevent humans from dealing with disturbing facts like the coming energy shortages, because it is socially not acceptable to have a low status by driving a small car or wearing old clothes, to have negative thoughts about work or to go against customary behaviour by actively engaging the issue. For example, cutting the tyres of SUVs with a knife or scorning the people driving them is rational Earth saving behaviour, but it is generally frowned upon. It would be better that it is not acceptable to drive a SUV, sail a luxury motor yacht, instal terrace heating or waste energy on unnecessary items in general. Suicide terrorists and resource wasters are essentially the same. While killing themselves they take others down with them.
Human social behaviour must be seen within its natural context where it is adequate. This is the small group or the village with limited connections to the outside world. In a small group or a village human social behaviour will regulate affairs efficiently. Now the world has become a global village of 7 billion people and the dynamic of social relations has become entirely different. The role models are often billionaires, celebrities and sports heroes. People in poor countries see the affluence of people in rich countries. The strong interconnectedness of the global village affects human judgement in a negative way as crowd wisdom requires independence and decentralisation [+].
For humanity to survive in a civilised manner it is imperative to see achievement in a different way, especially when the process of achievement or the consequences of it consume natural resources and energy. A display of wealth that takes a great amount of natural resources and energy is now considered to be a token of success, but it deprives our children of a good future.
We are on the path to collective suicide
Capitalism equals to a collective suicide of humanity. Capitalists call our roadmap to destruction freedom of choice. Within the Capitalist economy we are free to choose which products to consume, but we are not free to choose for our own survival. Those who take measures to save the Earth will be outcompeted by others who do not take these measures. Money dictates our choices and this can be labelled as a dictatorship of money. According to Prof. Claudia von Werlhof [+]:
Mother Nature is not kind to those who destroy their own living conditions. Their demise will be caused by their own unfitness for survival. The Club of Rome already warned in 1972 with its report The Limits to Growth that the current economic system will end in disaster. Many prominent economists, scientists and political figures criticised The Limits to Growth. They attacked the methodology, the computer, the conclusions, the rhetoric and the people behind the project [+]. Despite that their predictions have proven to be reasonably accurate [+].
Ending the dictatorship of money
A civilised future for humanity is not possible as long as there is interest on money. Interest on money is the underlying cause of many structural problems we face today. Interest makes an amount of money in the future of less value than the same amount of money in the present [+]. Therefore an economy based on interest has a short term bias, which is the main reason why the planet is destroyed. The Natural Economy will be focussed on a longer time horizon so resources will be saved and recycled.
Interest on money is also one of the main causes of poverty and mass migration as it is the main driver behind centralisation and concentration of wealth in specific areas [+]. As long as there is interest on money, poverty cannot be effectively combated. This does not mean that poverty will disappear when interest on money is abolished, but ending interest on money will give more people the opportunity to take their destiny into their own hands. Harsh immigration laws will not stop economic laws from functioning. In the United States there are 11 million illegal immigrants without hope of becoming legalised [+]. Mass migration cannot be ended without reducing poverty in developing nations.
The perceived need for cheap labour in wealthy areas is another cause of mass migration. In rich nations people are often not inclined to do unpleasant jobs for low wages. This issue can be solved when there is no worldwide wage competition and the local market can correct the issue by increasing wages for unpleasant jobs. When using Natural Money with local currencies people will prefer to buy locally produced products. Local economies and communities will be strengthened, the world wide wage competition will be ended, and humans will be able to live in conditions that are more natural.
In the Natural Economy less resources are wasted on activities that do not produce a good or service someone needs. In this way the economy will be more efficient and it will be possible to address the needs of people better. The ageing population of the West needs care and attention, the quality of education may need improvement and more police may be needed in neighbourhoods that are ruled by gangs and criminals. Currently a large part of the workforce is unemployed or locked up in unproductive jobs in bureaucracy, management, consultancy, law, finance, trade and technology [+]. Natural Money can help to restructure the economy so the workforce can be directed to the needs of society, such as caring for the elderly, education and policing.
Changing the direction
Money has become the most important measurement of value. Money in itself is worthless so everything becomes worthless and human existence becomes deprived of real values. Western culture is suicidal because it attaches too much value to money. Our future existence cannot be expressed in terms of money. It is rational to plan for the future but world leaders do not have a realistic plan. Food supplies are practically non-existent, nature is destroyed and social structures are unravelling, while politicians and corporate interests block real solutions.
Now the situation is critical and unconventional measures are needed. The current political and economic system have to be dismantled to ensure the survival of humanity. Resources must be diverted away from financial activity, unnecessary production and senseless consumption to useful purposes such as preservation of nature, solving social problems, fighting poverty and preventing famine. The introduction of Natural Money can help to achieve those goals.
The Natural Financial System will provide a better future than the interest based financial system. Natural Money may even generate the resources to turn deserts into forests and gardens but in the short run survival is more important. The following types of measures should be taken to ward of imminent threats:
- measures to safeguard food supplies;
- measures to safeguard energy supplies;
- social reform measures.
People are starving while there can be enough food for everyone. In developed countries the number of farms has declined over the years as more and more farmers could not make a living, for example in the United States [+]. The same applies for developing nations where more and more people could not make a living on the countryside. Many migrated to the cities where they ended up in slums. The following causes for this situation can be identified:
- the competition of everybody against everybody on a world wide scale for farm products, resulting in low food prices;
- interest on money favouring large scale operations and short term thinking.
For years food prices have been low and farming was a difficult business. The competition of everybody against everybody on a world wide scale for farm products resulted in low food prices. Investments in sustainable farming were often not profitable. Sustainable farming is possible when the world wide competition of everybody against everybody is ended. Sustainable farming will result in lower crop yields so additional measures are needed to provide food for everyone. Reducing waste and curbing meat consumption can help to make sustainable farming possible. Higher food prices probably will reduce waste. Approximately one third of the global food production, is lost or wasted so there is much to gain from reducing waste [+].
Interest on money works to the advantage of large scale operations [+]. This made farming less labour intensive and more capital intensive. Farmers had to borrow money to make the necessary investments. Consequently a large part of the farming income ends up in the hands of money lenders so the land can support fewer farmers. Only a few large scale farmers were able to survive. The efficiency considerations related to interest charges in the current economic environment resulted in short term thinking [+].
According to most economists low food prices are good because in this way more people can afford food. As most people currently live in cities this appears to be true. However low food prices were an important driver behind the depopulation of the countryside and the concentration of people in cities. In cities many people end up unemployed or in superfluous jobs in the service sector. In developing nations most of those people live in abject poverty.
The agricultural reform requires the following:
- ending the competition of everybody against everybody on a world wide scale for farm products;
- ending interest on money that favours large scale operations;
- land reform to break up large scale farm operations and to bring the land into the hands of small scale farmers;
- reducing legislation on food safety.
Currently the following problems with the food supply exist:
- land ownership and distribution;
- stored food supplies;
- honeybees going extinct;
- inefficient food production;
- unsustainable food production.
Land ownership and distribution
Land in developing nations is often bought up by investors and corporations. Local people are driven of their land and this threatens the food supply of people in developing nations [+], for example in Kenya [+]. In the Amazon rainforest of Brazil local tribes are driven from their land [+]. This land is often used for non essential items like biofuels and feeding the life stock in other countries.
Abolishing corporate ownership of land and limiting land ownership of individuals, while making land ownership hereditary or an communal affair, can solve many issues regarding land ownership and distribution. It should not be possible to mortgage or sell land but it should be possible to lease land. It is also possible to have public lands that can be leased from the community. The community can decide who is eligible for leasing community lands. Buying and selling land is as problematic as charging interest on money. Land is the life blood of a people and the bond between the people and their land is at the essence of human existence.
Sustainable use of natural resources such as rainforests becomes more profitable when interest on money is abolished and there is a holding tax on money. Without interest the future revenues from the wood will be valued higher than current revenues. As there is a high demand for tropical wood, this probably will result in an expansion of the rainforests. The Wörgl example demonstrated that people started planting trees in anticipation of future revenues [+].
Stored food supplies
In 2007/2008 the stock to consumption ratio went below 20%, which means that less than 20% of the yearly consumption of the most important foods is in stock. Humanity has a food supply stocked for two months of consumption (see figure below).
Only minimal food supplies are stored so food shortage can become a serious problem. If harvests are disappointing then famine is imminent [+]. The die off of honey bees and climate change make this a realistic possibility. Some countries already take desperate measures to avert disaster [+]. As food is becoming more expensive, social unrest spreads [+].
It makes sense to store food supplies for bad times just like the Egyptians did after the advice Joseph has given them. Storing food for future consumption locks up capital that could otherwise earn interest. If interest is forbidden and if there is a holding tax on money then it would be more attractive to buy food supplies in advance to evade the holding tax. The introduction of Natural Money can help to solve the problem of low food supplies.
Honeybees going extinct
The Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) annihilates bee colonies [+]. This poses a threat of a worldwide famine [+]. Possible causes of CCD are:
- the use of pesticides [+];
- electromagnetic radiation, most notably from mobile phones [+];
- selective commercial breeding and lost genetic diversity [+];
- malnutrition [+];
- the Varroa and Israel acute paralysis virus [+];
- a combination of viruses and fungi [+];
- bee rentals and migratory beekeeping [+].
Some recent studies suggest that the use of pesticides is the most important cause of CCD [+]. As long as there is no certainty about the causes of CCD, it is a good idea to eliminate or reduce the potential causes that humans can influence.
Inefficient food production
Promoters of a vegetarian lifestyle often argue that to produce 1 kilogramme of meat, 7 kilogrammes of grain are needed. These food supplies could otherwise be used to feed humans [+]. On average pound of beef requires about seven pounds of feed, compared to more than three pound for a pound of pork and less than two pounds for a pound of chicken. This is only an average as production of a pound of beef may require between 4 and 5 pounds of feed high in protein and metabolizable energy content, or more than 20 pounds of feed of low quality [+].
Deforestation caused by ranching is one of the main causes of the loss of some unique plant and animal species in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America as well as carbon release in the atmosphere. Land quality decline is sometimes associated with overgrazing. Grazing occupies 26% of the earth's ice-free terrestrial surface, and feed crop production uses about one third of all arable land [+]. Livestock production also requires water including water used in producing feed [+]. It has been estimated that livestock contributes to about 9% of total carbon dioxide emissions caused by human activities [+].
In many water-short areas well-managed, extensive production of grazing cattle or sheep with a sustainable level of water use is possible, and often the most efficient method for food production. Among the benefits of meat production is conversion of materials that might otherwise be wasted, to produce high-protein food. Currently, 70 % of the feedstock used in the Dutch feed industry originates from the food processing industry [+]. Even though in some cases meat is produced efficiently, meat production overall is inefficient and reducing meat consumption could reduce famine and increase the number of humans the planet can support.
Unsustainable food production
The following practises in our food production are not in harmony with nature:
- genetic modification of crops and animals;
- factory farming;
- pesticides and fertilisers;
- unsustainable land use;
- commercial fishing.
Genetic modification of crops and animals
The Day of the Triffids is a novel about what can go wrong with genetic engineering [+]. The disease myxomatosis is a real life example of how humans can cause a lethal plague [+]. Another problem may be that the release of transgenic species will damage native populations even to the point of extinction [+]. Rogue scientists already have begun experimenting in the wild by introducing a new breed of genetically modified mosquitoes with a gene that cripples its own offspring [+]. The motive may be laudable as the act was perpetrated to crush native mosquito populations and to wipe out dengue fever, one of the world's most troublesome aggressive diseases.
There are serious issues with genetically modified crops. Farmers have become dependent on corporations and economies have been destroyed by genetically modified crops. An example of this is the way Monsanto changed the cotton economy of India [+]. Poor peasants have to buy seed for every planting season. Seed, which was once free, has become a commodity which farmers were forced to buy every year, leading to increased poverty and indebtedness to moneylenders. As debts became unpayable farmers were forced to sell kidneys or even to commit suicide. Since 1997 more than 200,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide and the numbers continue to rise. Only in Europe resistance against genetically modified crops has been effective, making a type of corn produced by Monsanto the only biotech crop grown in Europe [+].
In cables released by Wikileaks US diplomats around the world are found to have pushed GM crops as a strategic government and commercial imperative. The US embassy in Paris even advised Washington to start a military-style trade war against any European Union country which opposed genetically modified crops. In addition the cables show US diplomats working directly for GM companies such as Monsanto. Spain and the US have worked closely together to persuade the European Union not to strengthen biotechnology laws [+]. Monsanto spends around $2 million per quarter to lobby the federal government on issues including regulations for genetically engineered crops and patent reforms [+].
Genetically modified crops pose a health risk to consumers. A review of 19 studies announced that consumption of GMO corn or soybeans may lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice – particularly in the liver and kidneys [+]. Genetic engineering is out of control. Scientists are already trying to breed humanimals, which are humans with animal genes or animals with human genes [+]. It is not an exaggeration to assert that a genetic genocide or genetic Armageddon is in the making like Aaron Dykes and Alex Jones did [+].
At a Dutch university researchers turned the deadly but relatively difficult-to-catch bird-flu virus into a highly infectious airborne super strain [+]. In the wrong hands, it could be turned to devastating effect, dwarfing even the threat of a nuclear bomb as sixty percent of the human population on Earth could be killed. The bioterrorism expert responsible for censoring this scientific research has admitted that the information is going to get out eventually and could get into the hands of terrorists [+]. Genetic modification poses a threat to all life on Earth. It should be abandoned immediately and completely. Genetically altered crops and animals should be destroyed. The corporations producing them should be outlawed and their laboratories should be dismantled.
Keeping animals on an industrial scale is not in harmony with nature. Factory farm animals are not kept in their natural habitats. Food for factory farm animals is often transported over long distances. In many cases there is a manure surplus at the site where the factory farms are located, while there is an extra need for fertilisers at the location where the animal food is produced. To keep animals in harmony with nature means that the food for the animals is produced locally and the manure is used locally. Interest on money is the primary driver behind the economies of scale that cause the spread and expansion of factory farms [+].
Factory farming can affect animal welfare in the following ways [+]:
- close confinement systems or lifetime confinement in indoor sheds;
- discomfort and injuries caused by inappropriate flooring and housing;
- restriction or prevention of normal exercise and most of natural foraging or exploratory behaviour;
- restriction or prevention of natural maternal nesting behaviour;
- lack of daylight or fresh air and poor air quality in animal sheds;
- social stress and injuries caused by overcrowding;
- health problems caused by extreme selective breeding and management for fast growth and high productivity;
- reduced lifetime of breeding animals;
- fast-spreading infections encouraged by crowding and stress in intensive conditions;
- beak trimming in the poultry and egg industry to avoid pecking in overcrowded quarters;
- forced and over feeding in the production of foie gras.
Environmental impacts of factory farming can include [+]:
- deforestation for animal feed production;
- unsustainable pressure on land for production of high-protein/high-energy animal feed;
- pesticide, herbicide and fertiliser manufacture and use for feed production;
- unsustainable use of water for feed-crops, including groundwater extraction;
- pollution of soil, water and air by nitrogen and phosphorus from fertiliser used for feed-crops and from manure;
- land degradation (reduced fertility, soil compaction, increased salinity, desertification);
- loss of biodiversity due to eutrophication, acidification, pesticides and herbicides;
- worldwide reduction of genetic diversity of livestock and loss of traditional breeds;
- species going extinct due to livestock-related habitat destruction.
Factory farming is not more beneficial to livestock producers than traditional farming because it contributes to the overproduction that drives down prices. Through forward contracts and marketing agreements, meat packers are able to set the price of livestock long before they are ready for production. These strategies often cause farmers to lose money [+].
Humans keep animals that hold diseases that can be dangerous to humans. Especially large scale factory farms pose a health risk. As GRAIN reports, the rise of large-scale factory farms in North America has created a breeding ground for new highly-virulent strains of influenza. The pig faecal waste is at the centre of the problem. The GRAIN study noted that, because concentrated animal feeding operations tend to concentrate large numbers of animals close together, they are ideal breeding grounds for toxins and virulent pathogens [+].
In 2003 Science magazine warned that swine flu was on a new evolutionary track due to the increasing size of factory farms and the widespread use of vaccines in these operations. The same applies for bird flu. Huge industrial factory farms with tens of thousands of chickens were the breeding ground for this disease. The bird droppings also create a toxic waste problem. Another highly infectious disease that is spread by the keeping of animals is Q-fever, which can be found in cattle, sheep and goats.
Most notably the keeping of pigs is risky because pigs have much in common with humans. This makes it possible for diseases to spread from pigs to humans more easily than from any other type of animal. The similarity between humans and pigs makes scientists even consider to use pig organs for transplantation into humans [+]. Transplanting pig organs into humans is not safe because the spread from diseases from pigs to humans would become more easy. Because pigs and humans have many common characteristics the keeping of pigs should be considered a greater health risk than the keeping of other animals.
Pesticides and fertilisers
Pesticides damage humans and nature. According to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 9 of the 12 most dangerous and persistent organic chemicals are pesticides. Pesticides may play an important role in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) which annihilates bee colonies. Agricultural pesticides, including some commonly found in food, disrupt male hormones [+].
Pesticides can save money by preventing crop losses to insects and other pests. Farmers get an estimated fourfold return on money they spend on pesticides. One study found that not using pesticides reduced crop yields by about 10%. A ban on pesticides in may result in a rise of food prices and an increase in world hunger [+].
Pesticide exposure can cause a variety of adverse health effects. These effects can range from simple irritation of the skin and eyes to more severe effects such as affecting the nervous system, mimicking hormones causing reproductive problems, and cancer [+]. It is likely that many health risks of pesticides are still unknown.
Over 95% of sprayed pesticides reach a destination other than their target species, including non-target species, air, water and soil. Pesticides cause of water pollution and some pesticides contribute to soil contamination. In addition, pesticide use reduces biodiversity, reduces nitrogen fixation, contributes to pollinator decline, destroys habitat (especially for birds), and threatens endangered species. Pests can develop a resistance to the pesticide, necessitating a new pesticide [+].
There are two major types of fertilisers: organic and inorganic. For inorganic fertilisers potassium and phosphorus are needed [+]. Supplies are limited so their use is not sustainable in the long run. Organic fertilisers have been known to improve biodiversity and long-term productivity of soil. Inorganic fertilisers are used because it is more cost efficient. The use of fertilisers, both organic and inorganic, can have negative effects on water quality, soil and atmosphere [+].
Fertilisers are also used when the soil is degraded by producing crops for factory farming. Often there is a large distance between the location where the crop is produced and the location of the factory farm. This deprives the soil from nutrients because the manure is produced at another location than the food crops for the animals. In regions with many factory farms there is a manure surplus while at the same time there is a fertiliser shortage in regions producing crops for factory farms. More local production and consumption of crops and meat will solve this problem.
Reducing the use of pesticides and fertilisers will reduce crop yields. This is needed to make agriculture sustainable. Measures should be taken, such as environmentally safe pest control methods, ending monocultures and using local resources as fertilisers. Natural Money and local currencies can help to realise these goals. A reduction in meat consumption can make it possible to cope with lower crop yields without causing famine.
Unsustainable land use
Some 40% of the world's agricultural land is seriously degraded by flooding or poor irrigation [+]. Climate change and an increasing population could trigger a global food crisis in the next half century [+]. According to the FAO the scarcity and degradation of land and water is a growing threat to food security.
Land degradation is a global problem largely related to agricultural use. Some of the major causes of land degradation are [+]:
- land clearance, such as clearcutting and deforestation;
- agricultural depletion of soil nutrients through poor farming practises [+];
- livestock including overgrazing and overdrafting;
- inappropriate irrigation and overdrafting;
- increase in field size due to economies of scale, reducing shelter for wildlife, as hedgerows and copses disappear;
- exposure of naked soil after harvesting by heavy equipment;
- monocultures destabilising the local ecosystems.
The State of the World's Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture (SOLAW) noted in 2011 that while the last 50 years witnessed a notable increase in food production, achievements have often been associated with management practises that have degraded the land and water systems upon which food production depends. Currently a number of those systems face the risk of a breakdown of their productive capacity under a combination of population growth and unsustainable agricultural use and practises [+]. If farming was done on a smaller scale, this would not be such a problem [+]. The introduction of local Natural Money currencies will facilitate smaller scale farming because it stimulates local production.
Fishing and hunting
Overfishing has become a serious problem in recent decades. Industrial fishing methods such as bottom trawling destroy sea life [+]. With present and forecast world population levels it is not possible to solve the overfishing issue. Proposed solutions include fishing quotas, no-go zones where fishing is illegal, property rights and fish farming [+]. Overfishing reduces yields from fishing so ending overfishing will benefit fishermen.
The following types of overfishing exist [+]:
- Growth overfishing occurs when fish are caught at a smaller average size than the size that would produce the maximum yield.
- Recruitment overfishing occurs when there are not enough adults to produce sufficient offspring.
- Ecosystem overfishing occurs when the balance of the ecosystem is altered by overfishing.
Hunting is a method of obtaining food that is in harmony with nature, but only if it is done in a sustainable way. Animals in nature have a better life than animals in factory farms so substituting meat produced in factory farms for meat obtained from animals in their natural habitat will improve the life of animals on average. In some urbanised countries like the Netherlands where the inhabitants have become disconnected from nature, many people have moral objections against hunting. It is a good idea to improve the lives of animals but banning hunting does not contribute to that.
Harvesting animals before they die of old age or shortage of food can improve the food situation of humans. A reduction of the number of animals kept in farms can reduce the consumption of food supplies by farm animals that could otherwise be used to feed humans. Some animals cause damage to crops, and if they are abundant in numbers, reducing their numbers can improve the food situation by reducing damage to crops and providing meat for human consumption. If hunting and fishing are done in a sustainable way, then those activities are aimed at achieving maximum long term yields, which means that there must large healthy populations of the animal species involved.
There is an ongoing debate about the necessity for using alternative energy sources, such as solar power and wind energy. The perceived need for alternative energy is based on the following assumptions:
- the supplies of fossil fuels are limited, but the question is when energy shortages will emerge;
- the existence of climate change caused by humans burning fossil fuels.
Higher oil prices and new techniques make new oilfields available for production [+] but the production of cheap oil will decline [+]. There are large reserves of shale gas but extracting them can pollute water and air [+]. The climate is changing because and the most likely cause is humans burning fossil fuels. There is still time to prepare for the future and to give the coming generations a reasonable living standard. For this a more humble way of life is needed as well as the use of renewable energy sources.
Climate science has become politically charged because of the disastrous potential of climate change and the financial interests involved. Carbon emissions trading may generate profits for some at the expense of the general public. In the past a number of climate scientists have exaggerated their findings [+] but there are no indications of a large fraud. Business interests have tried to influence the debate by funding climate change sceptic groups that spread misleading and inaccurate information [+].
The consequence was a propaganda war. Climategate revealed emails suggesting that some climate scientists may have manipulated data. They also discussed tactics to avoid responding to Freedom of Information requests from climate change sceptics [+]. It appears that Climategate has been planned by climate sceptics to derail the climate conference at Copenhagen. Climategate has similarities with a smear campaign as words are taken out of context to create the impression that climate scientists were doing something nefarious [+].
The scientific consensus is that climate change is caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide but there is no absolute proof. Carbon dioxide levels are only one of many variables determining climate. For this reason most climate scientists are cautious in their assertions and predictions. Climate is also delicate, so even small changes in carbon dioxide levels can have significant effects. What will happen if no action is taken remains a matter of speculation.
Natural disasters drove 42 million people from their homes in the Asia-Pacific in 2010 and 2011, though it is unclear how many of those were caused by climate change. One-third of Southeast Asia's population lives in at-risk areas [+]. In Australia rivers are drying up, reefs are dying and fires and floods are ravaging the continent [+]. The melting of the arctic shelf causes the release of methane stored in the seabed, which is a greenhouse gas thirty times more potent than carbon dioxide [+]. The failure of the climate conference in Durban demonstrates the dismal capability of the current political and economic system to handle the issue. According to Der Spiegel:
If action is taken on greenhouse gas emissions and the climate does not change, this does not mean that the action was unneeded. This is like saying that spending billions on solving the Millennium Bug was a mistake because nothing happened [+]. The Millennium Bug did not cause much damage because action was taken. This is a warning for the future. The climate debate may continue and there may be no absolute certainty about the causes and extent of climate change in the foreseeable future, but taking a chance on this issue is like playing Russian Roulette.
Regarding the truth and falseness of climate change and fossil fuel shortages there are four possible situations:
Only in situation 1 the investments in sustainable energy resources will be a waste of money. In situation 2, 3 and 4 investments in sustainable energy resources are useful. The risk of investing in sustainable energy sources is wasting money but the risk of not investing is mass starvation when climate change or energy shortages take their toll. Therefore it is wise to pursue sustainable energy resources. The question is whether governments should promote investments in sustainable energy with legislation, emission restrictions and government subsidies.
Emission restrictions create opportunities for fraud [+] and people are driven of their land because of carbon emissions trading [+]. Government subsidies for sustainable energy developments did not produce the desired results as a number of government subsidised renewable energy companies have failed [+]. This could be expected as the government funds did not go to the most efficient companies, but to the politically connected [+]. Carbon taxes to fund projects in renewable energy will create similar results. Blocking the building of new coal fired energy plants outright may cause energy shortages.
It is often argued that taxes on energy will increase poverty as fuel will become more expensive [+]. Also the needed investments in alternative energy will make energy more expensive. In reality cheap energy is an important cause of poverty as it results in labour being substituted by energy use, causing people to become unemployed or being employed in unproductive energy consuming jobs in bureaucracy, management, communication, consultancy, trade and technology. Nations can survive with far less energy if the unproductive parts of the economy are eliminated.
Energy consumption produces negative trade balances for Western nations and a perceived need for wars in the Middle East to control oil resources, causing unsustainable government deficits and debts in the warring nations. Higher fossil fuel costs can reduce poverty when they are combined with lower taxes on labour. This will create more incentives for saving energy. If the money spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had been spent on alternative energy resources and energy preservation, this could have significantly reduced fuel poverty in the United States and Great Britain. On the national level any replacement of natural resource use with labour will be positive for the nation as a whole, provided that labour is not in short supply.
When taxes are transferred from labour to fossil fuels, labour will become more competitive relative to machines that consume energy. If renewable energy sources are not taxed, this will also stimulate development of alternative energy resources while leaving the choice of which projects to invest in to the markets. It creates an incentive for people to instal their own solar panels and windmills and become less dependent on utility companies. The introduction of the Natural Financial System with local currencies can help to reduce energy consumption because more items will be produced and consumed locally [+].
Natural Money will also contribute to making investments in sustainable energy resources more attractive [+]. It is likely that the price of solar power will decrease significantly in the coming years and it is feasible that the world's energy demand for all purposes can be completely met with renewable energy sources within a few decades [+]. The government energy policy can best be limited to taxing fossil fuels and banning harmful power sources like nuclear power and biofuels.
The production of cheap oil is peaking or has peaked [+]. Higher oil prices will make more expensive oil fields profitable but oil will be less abundantly available in the future. It is likely that there will be less attractive energy sources available in the future [+]. There are large reserves of shale gas but extracting them can pollute water and air [+]. It is possible to make drilling cleaner [+]. Despite that it is better to curb the use of energy for non essential purposes. High taxes on fossil fuels and low taxes on labour have the following effects:
- the substitution of energy consuming machines by human labour;
- the saving of energy by travelling less and making houses more energy efficient;
- ending of energy intensive industries and services that are not essential;
- localising of production that can be done efficiently on a small scale;
- recycling of products.
When Natural Money is introduced local trade will be strengthened and the economy will reorganise itself in such a way that the average distance between production and consumption and the average distance between living and working will be reduced [+]. Cars tend to become more energy efficient when fuel prices are higher. High fuel prices in Europe have made European cars more fuel efficient on average than American cars. Therefore it is better to tax fossil fuels than to subsidise the development and production of renewable energy sources.
Solar and wind energy create challenges for utility companies to operate at a profit [+]. With smart metres it may become possible to make the price of electricity for consumers dependent on the available renewable power, inducing people to use energy when renewable energy sources are available. Local initiatives to achieve energy independence may reduce the importance of the power grid [+]. Power grids are vulnerable to a massive break down so additional investments and a reduced dependency on power grids are needed, otherwise a large sustained power grid breakdown may kill tens of millions of people.
The only options for the storage of energy available now are batteries, fuel cells and water reservoirs. In the future new technologies may come available such as new types of batteries that can charge and discharge energy faster [+]. Batteries use toxic materials but recently introduced lithium-ion batteries are made from less toxic materials than previous battery types [+]. A complete switchover to sustainable energy sources may be troublesome. The energy output of windmills and solar panels is not stable. As long as produced energy cannot be stored, there must be backup power plants.
According to the DERSETEC Foundation, the Earth's deserts receive more energy from the sun in six hours than mankind consumes in year. This offers huge potential if this energy can be turned cost-effectively into electricity and transported to the consumer. Solar thermal power plants first collect sunlight and then turn it into heat. Hot steam then drives turbines in a conventional power station to generate electricity. Since heat is both technically simple and economical to store, and output can be boosted to meet peaks in demand, solar thermal power plants can deliver electricity constantly [+]. The DERSETEC solution requires international cooperation and political stability in the desert regions.
The car is an intensely emotional object. Human rational thinking is often switched off completely as soon as the car enters the picture. In the Netherlands the car is sometimes called the Sacred Cow. In India people had to step aside for the cows in the streets and paid tribute to them by accepting that they demolished things. Now people have to step aside for cars and pay tribute to them by maintaining an extensive road system and accepting that cars are killing more people than murderers, terrorists and wars combined.
Sacrificing humans to gods is deemed reprehensible but more than a million people are killed worldwide each year in road accidents. Many more are injured. People think they need cars. Cars can turn men into beasts, and not only on the roads. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been fought because people want to drive cars. Car driving depletes natural resources and contributes to global warming so car driving may kill billions of humans more in the future. Despite that there is no serious effort underway to curb car driving.
The extra time needed for the use of public transport is often less than the time needed to work for the car. This will become even more true when fuel prices rise. If less people drive cars then less roads are needed so taxes can be lowered. If public transport becomes profitable then taxes can be lowered even more because governments do not have to subsidise public transport. Fuel prices may rise further in the coming decades and it is better to be prepared for this.
Some governments subsidise the development of electric cars and hybrids because electric cars are considered to be more environmentally friendly. Electricity is often generated at coal fired power plants so there may be less reduction in greenhouse gas output by introducing electric cars than most people think. Furthermore the production of cars consumes energy and the batteries of electric cars must be deposed of. People driving electric cars and hybrids are still destroying the planet, albeit in a slower pace.
Biofuels and nuclear power
To produce biofuels rainforests are burned down. Also land is used for the production of biofuels that could otherwise be used for the production of food supplies. Food prices are rising because of this, leaving the poorest people without food [+]. The production of biofuels should therefore be stopped.
The cultivation of algae does not have the disadvantages other biofuels have [+]. Many strains of algae grow in sites that are otherwise uninhabited, such as salt-water marshlands and deserts. They can grow 20 to 30 times faster than food crops. Algae may reduce climate change by binding CO2 [+]. The algae can also be used to fertilise depleted soils and deserts, restoring nature and farmland.
Nuclear power does not produce greenhouse gases that supposedly contribute to climate change, but nuclear power has other disadvantages. First there is the risk of nuclear accidents happening, such has been the case in the Three Mile Island accident, the Chernobyl disaster and the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant meltdown. It is certain that new accidents will happen in the future if the use of nuclear power by fission is continued [+].
There is a the risk of radio active contamination of the environment. For example, radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of US commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded buried piping. The number and severity of the leaks has been escalating as regulators extend the licences of more and more reactors across the nation [+]. The nuclear waste material will be dangerous for more than 10,000 years.
Research into nuclear fusion may at some point in the future result in a clean energy source. Fusion produces less problematic waste. Any radioactive waste generated through fusion will be small in volume, with radioactive decay occurring over several decades. Like fission, fusion does not emit greenhouse gases.
The fabric of most Western societies is slowly unravelling. This process is going on for decades but the problem may become acute when the economic system disintegrates. Most people do not have the survival skills needed to cope with this situation. The United States and a number of societies in Europe may cease to function in a normal way, so it is wise to consider measures to cope with a potential social breakdown and the introduction of Natural Money to counter this trend.
The following types of measures should be considered:
- measures to cope with the social consequences of Natural Money;
- measures to handle cultural differences;
- measures to reduce poverty and extreme wealth;
- measures to reduce migration;
- measures to curb population growth.
Certain countries already have found good solutions for specific problems so the reform process itself can be executed using the principle of adopting best practises. In this way errors that have been made in the past can be avoided as much as possible while at the same time considerable progress can be made in a relatively short timeframe.
Because the political debate is often not concentrated on essential issues [+], the political system has been unable to realise essential social reforms. It may be a good idea to implement social reform based on existing best practises. In many cases there already is a country that has a good educational system, a good public health care system, a good police force, a good political system, a good method to treat drugs addicts or a good method to integrate immigrants into society.
It is a waste of time and resources to reinvent good principles that already have been discovered. It is far more effective to copy laws, information systems, procedures and practises of countries that have found a good solution for a specific problem. It is often not wise to pick parts of a solution only because solutions are integrated within a complex of laws, software systems, procedures and attitudes. Copying best practises can become part of aid to developing nations.
The following topics are discussed here:
- health care reform;
- political system;
- police and law;
- police and law.
After World War II the leaders of a number of countries in Europe decided to end wars and to cooperate. The European Union should be seen as a valuable experiment, which can offer a framework for future cooperation between nations. In 2012 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union for six decades of work in advancing peace in Europe [+]. The European Union succeeded in joining up people from many different cultures.
Synchronising laws between nations can be helpful in reducing cost an promoting trade. If countries have synchronised their laws, there is no competition between those countries to accommodate large corporations and oligarchs, hence those countries can have open borders for people and corporations, provided those countries have similar cultures. There are optimal solutions for many issues so it is a good idea when countries copy each others solutions. In the future the differences in laws between nations will reduce in the way it has happened within Europe.
The model of cooperation of the European Union has been successful, but its limits have also become clearly visible. The current economic crisis in the eurozone and the revival of nationalist sentiments point at the constraints of the European experiment. The European Union undermines the sovereignty of the member states, the open borders between member states have helped criminals to expand their activities, and the single currency prevents economic imbalances from being corrected via currency exchange rates.
In the past constitutions have been written to safeguard the citizens against abuse of power by the government. An important element is the separation of powers that breaks up the government into a legislative, an executive, and a judiciary branch. It has become clear that the separation of powers offers no protection against the corruptive influence of money. Often the government has become an oppressive force that is not working in the interest of the people. Therefore a country can only be democratic when there is an option for a referendum like there is in Switzerland, in which the citizens can overrule any decision made by politicians.
In a referendum the citizens of Iceland voted against taxpayers paying for debts incurred by banks [+]. In another referendum the citizens of Switzerland voted for proposals to impose strict controls on executive pay [+].
If sufficient people support a referendum proposal then the referendum should be held. The government is obliged to act according to outcome of the referendum. In general referendums will not make countries less stable or less governable. Switzerland has a long history of fiscal prudence. In most cases a referendum will lead to the best possible outcome as it makes use of the wisdom of crowds [+]. It may be a good idea to build in safeguards against small minorities starting a referendum about insignificant issues or issues being decided by insignificant turnouts. This may be done by combining referendums, which increases turnout, and introducing a minimum turnout to make the referendum decisive.
Switzerland has no head of state. This may be a good idea for other nations as the role of a monarch or a president is either ceremonial or a position of power that can easily turn into a dictatorship.
Referendums may lead to outcomes that are undesirable to the political, intellectual and business elite. It has been proven in the past that the political, intellectual and business elite have misguided citizens. The following examples demonstrate this:
- The Euro was a project of the business and political elite of Europe. The euro would never have been introduced in many European countries if the citizens of those countries had a choice. Now the citizens of Europe realise that they have lost a part of their freedom because of the Euro.
- In the United States the Neoconservatives used the relativist philosophies of Leo Strauss to deceive the nation for their own political ends. As a consequence the United States are fighting wars that are impoverishing the citizens and accelerating the nation's decline.
Only with a binding referendum the citizens of a country can be sure that they are master of their own destiny and that they are not ruled by an elite. A referendum may even make a country more stable as there is no perceived need for strong men to correct an elite gone out of control. Referendums should also be introduced at the state and local level because on those levels politicians tend to spend taxpayer's money on pet projects. Some scientists have suggested that most citizens are too stupid for democracy [+], but if society is less complex, citizens have a better understanding of society.
Many countries offer basic government healthcare insurance and governments interfere with prices of healthcare and medication. In the United States there is strong resistance to public healthcare. Federal health care programmes like Medicare and Medicaid are riddled with fraud and politicians have done little about it [+]. It does not have to be this way. In the United States healthcare costs amount for 15% of GDP while this is around 9% of GDP in most European countries. In countries like the Netherlands that have experience with public health care as well as market forces, it is observed that market forces in health care often lead to waste [+].
Healthcare service in Western European countries is considered to be equal to the US, while in Western Europe everybody is insured. The documentary film Sicko of filmmaker Michael Moore investigates health care in the United States, focusing on its health insurance and the pharmaceutical industry. The film compares the for-profit, non-universal US system with the non-profit universal health care systems of Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Cuba. In the film Michael Moore claims that health care in the United States is not adequate for large groups of people [+]. Life expectancy in the United States is lower than that of Cuba, while the United States spends more per capita on health care than any other country. Cuba spends only a fraction of the money the US is spending but achieves a better result in life expectancy. This is even more remarkable because Cuba is a poor socialist dictatorship. US healthcare may be top quality but it is not effective.
Privatised health care does not work well because optimal health care is based on a bureaucratic procedure. A physician makes an assessment, which is a procedure with decision points. Then the doctor prescribes a treatment, which is also procedure with decision points. The optimal solution is devoid of commercial interests. As soon as the profit motive enters the picture the solution tends to become less optimal. It may lead to unnecessary treatments for people with money to spend, while poor people may not be treated at all. Overtreatment can reduce life expectancy as prescription drugs may kill 200,000 Americans every year. Doctors may raise prices until there is an economic equilibrium, which most likely is not a social optimum. Some people stop seeing the physician when it is too expensive. Affordability of health care has a higher impact on life expectancy than the quality of health care above a certain level.
In many cases certain countries already have found a good model to organise health care [+]. If the United States wants an overhaul of its health care system, it may be better to copy a health care system of another country completely and propose it to the citizens in a referendum, instead of going through a political bargaining process that results in public money being directed to the corporations represented by interest groups [+]. As a consequence of lobbying and political bargaining Americans may end up paying even more for their health care after the proposals of the Obama Administration have been implemented. The United States may be too large for a federal public health care system, and it may be better to organise public health care within the individual states of the federation.
Public health care systems are not perfect. Public health care tends to be bureaucratic. When resources are limited people have to wait for treatments. In public health care systems doctors can be less motivated to provide a good service to patients. A French study suggests that half of all medicines being prescribed by doctors in France are either useless or potentially dangerous for patients [+] and in the Netherlands health care lobbyists spend large amounts of money [+]. If a good model is chosen then the effort can be concentrated on determining the items covered and finding ways to eliminate shortcomings. Health care reform in the United States cannot be considered without reform of the legal system because the high cost of health care in the United States is partly caused by legal issues [+].
Prescription drugs in the United States are more expensive than in European countries and Canada because the government of the United States has been reluctant to interfere with the markets for drugs. Another reason for the high cost of American health care is the attitude of Americans towards death [+]. The American way is never giving up and hoping for a miracle while it may be better to accept death as an inevitable part of life. Most health care costs are made in the final months before death but in many cases treatment does not help and makes people suffer unnecessarily.
Canadians and Western Europeans live longer than Americans and life expectancy in the United States is even less than in Cuba. Pharmaceuticals have improved the lives of many people but pharmaceutical companies are also pushing pharmaceuticals and treatments that are not helpful and even harmful. Prescription drugs may kill some 200,000 Americans every year while the FDA, the federal agency charged with oversight of the food and drugs that Americans consume, has conflicts of interest within its approval process [+]. Deaths caused by FDA-approved prescription drugs vastly outstrip the number of people killed by street drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Development of new pharmaceuticals is costly and risky. To bring a new drug to the market often costs hundreds of millions of euros. Drugs that are successful can bring in billions. It appears that the development of new pharmaceuticals is now killing more people than it is saving so the law of diminishing marginal usefulness of innovation may apply here [+]. A research of the Dutch television network RTL has shown that much of the research into new drugs is faulty because researchers are under pressure to produce successes [+]. The profit motive of pharmaceutical companies is a driver for innovation, but as long as health care research is done with a profit motive and patents are protected, it will be difficult to combat abuse.
If research is done in the public interest and financed via charities while patents are not protected then pharmaceuticals will become cheaper and harmful treatments will stop. If research is done in the public interest then money will be directed to the research people prefer to pay for, regardless of profitability. There will also be less interest in selling pharmaceuticals that do not work as there is little profit in it. Consequently the bureaucracy that is needed to approve new treatments could be reduced. In this way new helpful treatments can be introduced faster.
The essence of democracy is that the citizens are in control of their government. This is only possible if there is an option to organise a referendum on every possible item. In this way the citizens can introduce legislation or reject legislation or remove officials from their position. A referendum can solve issues far more efficiently than the political debate. For example, the health care debate in the United States became heated while opponents of the reform claimed to have a majority [+]. A referendum may take the issue of the table so the country can move on.
A two party system has serious disadvantages. It is better to have proportional representation where the number of seats a party fetches reflects the number of votes the party did get. This has the following advantages:
- It will be more easy to start a new political party.
- All votes count, which is an incentive to vote.
- Political parties will need to cooperate because no party has an absolute majority.
- It can help to reduce the influence of money in politics because a winner takes all concept maximises the effect of spending on campaigns.
In recent decades there has been less cooperation between the political parties in the United States in the face of emerging ideological extremism and brinkmanship within the Republican Party. As a consequence many issues remained unsolved. Smear, allegations of elections fraud, voter suppression and resentment have poisoned the political landscape. The difference between the United States and the Netherlands can hardly be greater. In the aftermath of the collapse the coalition in 2012, former opposition parties rushed to cooperate with former coalition parties to produce a new budget before the elections. After winning the elections, the right-wing liberal VVD and the left-wing social democratic PvdA formed a new government in a matter of weeks, but it turned out that they had been too expeditious, so the coalition agreement had to be amended. The Dutch have a long history of cooperation and this is often called the Polder Model [+].
Proportional representation may increase voter turnout as citizens feel better represented in parliament. Currently the United States has one of the lowest turnout rates in the Western world, which is less than 50%. In Western Europe voter turnout rates are often in the 70-90% range. This indicates that people in the United States feel less represented by politicians than people in Europe. Remarkably Swiss voter turnout rates are slightly below 70% but this may be caused by the fact that Switzerland has binding referendums so voters can always assert their power regardless of who is in office.
In the United States the citizens elect individuals for seats in Parliament. This requires those individuals to raise campaign funds, making them susceptible for corruption. Once they are in office they often start to represent the special interest groups and corporations that funded their campaigns. In Europe the members of political parties determine who will be on the ballot. This reduces the influence of voters, but it also reduces the influence of money on politics. It is better that money does not play an important role in political campaigns. Political parties can better be funded by fixed membership contributions as the only source of income.
Elections can only be democratic when the voting process is verifiable. Some types of voting machines can be fraudulently manipulated [+]. Elections should be done without the use of voting machines or using voting machines that are verifiable by leaving a paper trail. Every case of elections fraud should be investigated. In many countries there is a population register that is used to send eligible voters a card in the mail. This method is far less prone to fraud than registering voters before every election. If ID's are required then ID's must be cheap or mandatory so there is no cost on voting.
Often a small group of politically active people and lobbyists have a large influence on political decisions. A referendum can be helpful in reducing the influence of activists and lobbyists. Corporations should have a possibility to influence politicians because politicians do not have inside knowledge of an industry and may otherwise impose regulation that is not practical. Lobbying should be done openly using public media. Meetings of politicians with representatives of industries should be open to the public and they should be recorded on tapes that are available to the public. When corporations do not fund political campaigns, politicians are more likely to work in the public interest, and lobbying will be less harmful.
The United States is dependent on a high tech army which is costly to maintain. A high tech army is vulnerable because of human error [+] but also because of hackers or moles [+]. The United States has military bases all over the world. Like Great Britain in the past, the United States will not be able to sustain the current military presence in the future [+].
Investments in high tech are rendered ineffective because a potential enemy only has to copy the technology [+] or look for a weak spot in order to make the investments in high tech worthless [+]. High tech armies have proven to be ineffective against motivated low tech armies of people that defend their home country. Countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam are difficult to control by a foreign power. It is better to be less dependent on high tech solutions and give the citizens a greater role in the defence of their country.
Military expenses can be cut back as many of them do not improve security. When the United States does not have the most advanced military, the nation can still be able to defend itself. It is cheaper to spy on others and to copy newly developed weapons than to make investments in research and development. If other countries do the same then this would stop the development of new weapons and improve security
The United States can remodel its defences in the way the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire did after it lost its rich provinces to the Arabs in the 7th century. As the traditional units fell back from the collapsing frontiers, they were settled in the homeland and became local militia to be paid directly from local revenues instead of from the treasury. The military districts remained the bedrock of the Byzantine Empire until the end of the 11th century. In case of a conflict the armies of the themes and the small central army of the empire were assembled to create a large army [+].
Police and law
In the United States judges are often elected and in many European countries they are appointed for life. In Europe it is often difficult to replace incompetent judges. In the United States many judges are elected but they raise campaign funds and this opens the door for corruption [+]. It may be a good idea to combine the better part of both methods, by appointing judges for a limited time or for life with the option of dismissing them in a referendum. Those referendums should be about competence and integrity only but this requires a mature approach. Florida has the option to dismiss judges in a referendum, but in recent years political activism troubled the referendum [+].
Law enforcement has difficulty in handling nuisances such as intimidation and small crimes. The offences are often insignificant but they contribute to a feeling of unsafety. In many cases it is difficult to send the perpetrators to prison. In rural communities the locals often deal with nuisances themselves and this is one of the reasons why most rural communities need relatively small police forces. Peer pressure and local vigilance can better deal with smaller problems than police and judges.
Drug related crime is taking up much of the resources of law enforcement in many countries. There is essentially no difference between the mechanics behind prohibition of alcohol and the prohibition of drugs. Prohibition of alcohol did not work because prices rose and markets kept functioning. The War on Drugs is unwinnable and became extremely violent in recent years. In Mexico alone the death toll is more than 40,000 people since 2006 [+]. Undermining the market for drugs may prove to be more effective.
The government of the Netherlands does not prosecute drug users and sees drug use as a medical problem. The reported number of deaths linked to drugs use in the Netherlands, as a proportion of the entire population is one of the lowest of the EU. The Dutch government supports approximately 90% of help-seeking addicts with detoxification programmes [+]. In 2001 Portugal decriminalised all drugs and chose to treat the addicts. The resulting effect was a drastic reduction in the number of drug addicts [+].
Many Dutch think that their police force is ineffective in serving the citizens. Bureaucracy and procedures are often named as causes. The priorities of the police are not always in line with the priorities of the citizens. Much of the Dutch police force is busy fining people for traffic offences while small crimes like swindle, threats, vandalism, stealing bikes and burglary are seldom investigated. As a consequence much crime in the Netherlands remains unreported because people think that reporting crime does not help [+].
Probably the Dutch police can work more efficiently if the police and justice system are reorganised in a comprehensive way. If the Germans are more pleased with their police force and justice system then it may be a good idea to set national pride aside and to reorganise the Dutch police force and justice system to German standards. The reorganisation should include copying procedures, software, police ethics and rules of engagement. It may be good idea to ask the Germans to implement their model and to train the Dutch police as a kind of development aid.
Handling the social consequences of Natural Money
The introduction of the Natural Financial System with local currencies will help to localise production, trade and consumption [+]. This will reorder social and economic structures. As a consequence centralised structures like large cities, the federal government of the United States, the European Union and multinational corporations cannot survive in their current form.
Local governments are more in direct contact with their communities than central governments and therefore they are better equipped to service their citizens. Small municipalities often provide a better service to their citizens than larger municipalities. Therefore civil services can better be localised as much as possible while it may also be a good idea to split up larger municipalities. Small municipalities can cooperate where economies of scale bring them cost advantages.
In the following areas measures may be needed:
- basic income;
- relocation of people;
- land reform;
- government regulation;
- corporations and labour.
Many people desire income security and often it is argued that there should be a basic income guarantee or citizen's income [+]. Any basic income will depend on the income from production, so it is not possible to have a fixed basic income as an undeniable right. The basic income will be dependent on tax income or the income from a wealth fund so less tax income or wealth fund profits will reduce the basic income. A lower basic income will create an incentive to work. A basic income can include food stamps and free health care, which means that poor people have fewer options to spend money on frivolous items.
Basic income can reduce the supply of labour but the price of labour will rise when it is in short supply. This will increase the income difference between people that work and those who do not, which then produces a greater incentive to work. If there is a basic income then there will be less need for benefits. Because people do not lose their basic income like they lose their benefits when working, working is more attractive with a basic income compared to benefits. A realistic proposal for basic income should include cancelling all government programmes to assist people and leaving it up to local communities to identify the people that need additional assistance.
A basic income will reduce the exploitation of workers as unattractive low paying job vacancies will not be filled. The pay for those jobs will need to rise. A high basic income can make a country less competitive, but when there is a demurrage on the national currency, the national currency will drop in value so this will not result in a negative trade balance. Consequently the country will become more competitive and the demand for labour will rise, which then will increase the income difference between people that work and those who do not.
A basic income combined with a lower minimum wage can help to bring people with a lower productivity into the workforce. This can reduce the cost of disability benefits. A basic income will also help to make people with different work ethics live in harmony. People who do not like to work may choose to live of the basic income. It is sometimes argued that a basic income will attract illegal immigrants but illegal immigrants are not eligible for basic income. Immigrants are attracted by wealth differences and job opportunities. Those wealth differences and job opportunities probably will not change much because of the basic income.
If production is mechanised and automated or if we refrain from unnecessary economic activities that harm the planet, there will not be enough work for all unless people work less on average. Ending unnecessary economic activities does not reduce prosperity, but increases prosperity, as less irreplaceable resources are wasted on frivolous activities. Economic activities keep people occupied, and people engaged in those activities think they are contributing to society, and that people who do not are lazy, but the real problem is that there are many hard working people while there is too little useful work to do. Instead of too many useless eaters there are too many useless destroyers.
Basic income is a market solution to reduce average working hours with a minimal need for regulation. The alternatives are heavy competition between labourers and useless economic activities that destroy the planet to employ more people. It is therefore in the interest of everyone to have a basic income.
Relocation of people
The introduction of the Natural Financial System with local currencies will make the relocation of people from the cities to the countryside unavoidable. Therefore it is better to have a plan to handle the development. City people may not like to be relocated to the countryside but this is what happens when civilisations die [+]. People in cities have little or no survival skills and may starve when society disintegrates [+]. There will be a tendency towards a subsistence level agrarian society with reduced long-distance trade. An example in England has shown that it is possible to reeducate people in a short time to become more self dependent [+].
Cities will have a less meaningful economic purpose in the future. Less people can make a living there and cities will become smaller. Businesses like financial services, lawyers, IT services, restaurants and shopping malls will be needed less. Some cities in the United States like Detroit are already falling apart because sources of income have disappeared [+]. It may be a good idea to dissolve large pockets of underprivileged people and distribute them evenly over the country. It may create more opportunities for those people to get ahead but it may also produce adaptation problems.
Relocating people to the countryside will turn out to be a wise move in the long term. At first it will cause stress and displacement but conditions will improve over time. Humans are designed to live in small groups and therefore the living conditions in small villages are more natural for humans. Crime is higher in cities than on the countryside. Studies suggest that living in a city increases the risk of psychological disorders like depression and anxiety, and that schizophrenia rates are higher for people born and brought up in cities [+]. One in five American adults is on prescription drugs for conditions like anxiety and depression [+]. Humans are social animals but there is little social cohesion in cities.
Life on the countryside is not perfect. Within villages there is less consideration for people that deviate from the norm. The idealistic image of village life does not correspond with reality. The relocation of people to the countryside is a bare necessity and it will not be perceived as an improvement by everyone involved.
The relocation of people to the countryside makes the distribution of land an important issue. Currently much of the land is in the hands of agricultural corporations and large scale farmers. Over time this land should become available to small scale farmers. Land must be redistributed and corporate ownership of land must be abolished. When the United States was founded and the Constitution was written, the land was divided between a large number of small landowners. The widely distributed land ownership in the United States produced a class of independent citizens and this was important for the economic success of the nation. The American Dream originally was liberty provided by land ownership for everyone.
Like a basic income, a claim on a piece of land could become a basic right. Free trade of land creates problems like the need for personal debt to buy land and people acquiring large stakes of land, which deprives others of a means of living. It is not a problem to lease land, provided that the land lease contract is for a limited time. In this way more efficient farmers can lease the land of less efficient farmers. The land could be split up into small patches of private farmlands and community farmlands.
Research has shown that land reform can work. Success stories of land reform include Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and China. Their agricultural sectors are all predominantly based on owner-operated small-scale family farms. In the cases of Taiwan and China, the small holder-based agrarian structures were created by land reform, transforming tenants into owners. In the case of Thailand, 19th Century legislation set a four-hectare limit on freely acquirable agricultural land and constrained the emergence of large estates. Japan had very successful comprehensive land reform that also included strict ceilings on land ownership [+].
A number of land reforms such as in the former Soviet Union have been a failure. A situation where a few large scale farmers provide sufficient food is preferable to land reform if land reform results in a food shortage. In South Africa transfer of land as part of land reform has created government sponsored pockets of poverty in the countryside due to a lack of expertise and skills [+]. In Zimbabwe, the implementation of fast-track land reforms since 2000 resulted in a tremendous drop in total farm output. Before 2000 the gradual transfer of land in Zimbabwe had been a success [+].
The most important problem with many land reforms in the past was that political factors drove land reform while economics were ignored. Natural Money and local currencies favour small scale farming. The future energy constraint will make energy intensive farming more costly relative to labour intensive farming. Large scale farming and farming for exports will be needed less. The transfer of land should be gradual, so errors in the process can be corrected, otherwise a catastrophic failure can be the outcome. Land may need be subjected to a tax to finance land redistribution. Community farmlands may be leased to generate tax income for public works, such as roads and irrigation systems.
In Zimbabwe white farmers have been killed and expelled from their farms. In South Africa more than 3,000 white farmers have been killed. Poverty is the most important cause, but many killings also had racist motives. Middle class people in South Africa live in gated communities because of the street violence and farmers do not have the protection of a gated community so they are easy targets [+]. As a consequence farm output has dropped in areas where white farmers have been murdered and expelled. White farmers own most of the land in South Africa and this deprives many black people from a source of income. On the other hand white farmers are more productive and the results of land reform have been dismal.
If the land is distributed more evenly and leased back by white farmers, black people have a source of income. The black people can be employed by the white farmers and work on the land they own instead of being employed as a wage labourer. There must be freedom on both sides to engage in a contract. If the white farmer thinks that he or she cannot make a profit because the demanded lease is too high, he or she should not be forced to lease the land. On the other hand if black villagers think that the lease is too low, and that they can make more money by cultivating the land themselves, they should be free to do so. Freedom on both sides is essential in this process. A similar solution can be employed in Israel and Palestine where Jewish farmers achieve higher yields than Palestinian farmers, but this requires peaceful conditions.
Many people do not want the government to interfere with their lives but they also do not like the consequences of a government not interfering. This applies for all kinds of consumer protection laws and safety regulations like food safety, safety at work and safety of buildings. The service a government provides is often taken for granted or ignored. In most cases government regulations are there for good reasons. If government regulations and oversight are reduced, health risks will increase as will the risk of accidents.
For example, in the Netherlands many playgrounds have disappeared because of safety regulations. Those regulations have been introduced because in a playground accident a child has died. Other playgrounds have been downsized or have become less attractive for children. Reducing safety regulations on playgrounds in order to make it economically feasible to keep them, will increase the risks of accidents. The question is: "How far should governments go?" Regulations may have become too strict if the consequence of playground regulation is that children do not play outside any more.
The same applies for government regulation on food safety. If people accept less regulation on food safety, the production and consumption of locally produced foods can be facilitated. Some towns and states in the United States are considering abolishing federal laws on food safety [+]. Banning genetic engineering will improve food safety, thus offsetting the effects of reduced legislation in other fields. There is no problem with reducing regulations as long as the risk increases are small and people accept the increased risk. When local currencies are introduced and more affairs are settled locally, government regulation is less needed.
The Natural Economy will arrange many affairs automatically. This will reduce the need for regulation in many areas, especially in the fields of contracts, employment, environment and finance. Because there will be more employment and less competition in the Natural Economy there will be less need to protect labour from exploitation by employers. Because there is no interest on money, the Natural Economy will be sustainable and people cannot go into too much debt. Finance will be more straightforward and there are less opportunities for fraud. Local currencies can strengthen local communities. All these developments reduce the need for a central government.
If decision making is to be localised and laws are to be simplified then people must accept the consequences. They should weigh the risks against the legislation and bureaucracy needed to prevent those risks from happening. A practical solution to localise decision making is making transactions in local currencies exempt from many national laws or to treat them as a legal equivalent of neighbours helping each other.
Corporations and labour
In the Natural Economy with local currencies multinational corporations cease to exist. Multinational corporations undermine democracy as they bribe politicians to change the laws to their advantage, while they evade national laws and taxes [+]. Multinational corporations often pay little taxes or no taxes at all [+]. Small businesses have less opportunities to evade taxes, while multinational corporations benefit from education and infrastructure paid for by taxes. Multinational corporations are often parasiting on societies.
Labour unions have been important in organising labour against exploitation but in recent decades labour union membership numbers have steadily declined. Sometimes labour unions succeeded in arranging lofty salaries and benefits for employees. This undermined the profitability of their employers, and in the case of government employees, this has angered taxpayers [+]. A referendum can be helpful in keeping government salaries in check. In the Natural Economy, keeping government salaries too low will lead to people leaving the ranks of the government, because there is less competition for jobs. A referendum combined with market forces can provide reasonable salaries for government employees.
In the Natural Economy the relationship between employers and employees will change. The power will be more equally divided and there will be less need for labour unions to defend the interests of employees. As there is more employment and less competition in the Natural Economy, while corporations are smaller, labour markets can do their work better. Employment should be a shared responsibility of employers and employees. Both should invest in the education of employees. When there is no employment, employers should help employees with finding new jobs. Governments, employers organisations and labour unions can work together to improve employment and to distribute jobs.
It would be wonderful if such initiatives attracted millions of people all over the world but reality is different. People from different cultures have difficulty with living together. The world has become a global village so it is unavoidable that people from different cultural backgrounds will be living close to each other more often in the future. The multicultural societies of Western Europe and the United States may turn out to be valuable experiments for the future. The problems that surfaced in those societies will have to be solved in order to achieve a peaceful world order. In general, mixing large groups of people from different cultures causes trouble, and it should be avoided where possible.
There is no clear distinction between racism, xenophobia and cultural tensions. People that deviate from the average suffer from discriminatory practises and group violence. This does not only apply to minorities but also to people that behave differently and people that look differently in general. Discrimination keeps doors shut, it limits the freedom of movement and it makes the life of many people miserable [+]. The world will be a better place without discrimination, but ending it is not easy as the causes are often misidentified, while the issue is burdened with emotions.
Racism is a natural inclination because there is a competition between species. If different species compete for the same resources then tensions can arise. The multicultural societies of the west are one of the least racist, but it does not mean that racism does not exist there. The current interest based economic system has been the primary driver of international competition as well as migration. Racism is often not expressed openly but it manifests itself in discrimination. On the other hand, discrimination does not always come from racism. It can be the consequence of cultural differences. Discrimination can be reduced if culture instead of race defines identity, while culture is based on region instead of ethnicity.
Misidentifying cultural tensions as racism is dangerous as the underlying causes for discrimination will not be addressed in this way. In the Netherlands anti-Islamic feelings rose strongly in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. As the Netherlands has been one of the most open societies in the world, this development cannot be blamed on the Dutch. Liberal and Islamic values conflict and this conflict is not easy to resolve. Labelling discrimination as racism can cause racial tensions and in this way cultural conflicts can become racial conflicts.
Many people do not like people from specific other cultures, not only because they are different, but also because cultural differences can be problematic, especially when the behaviour of people with a specific cultural background harms others. A group as a whole can become a nuisance or a threat even when the majority of the group is harmless. Another issue is allegiance as minorities can become a fifth column that undermines a nation. Nations are tribes and migrating to another nation means changing tribal allegiance and adapting one's behaviour to the new environment. Disloyalty is a more serious threat to peaceful coexistence than being different. Loyalty issues can lead to civil war and genocide. Many mass killings of minorities have been committed because they were considered to be disloyal.
Malboro Red and defamation
They can be found on the street pavements in the Netherlands and possibly they can also be found in other countries: empty boxes of Malboro Red. There are many other brands of cigarettes, but hardly ever you will find empty boxes of those brands on the pavement. People smoking Malboro Red seem not to care. They throw away the boxes whenever they are empty. They must be disrespectful people that care little for the environment. The world will be a better place without people smoking Malboro Red.
Malboro is an icon of Western consumerism. Western consumers seem not to care about the future and throw their garbage away whenever it is not needed any more. The world would be a better place without those people. There is no problem in saying this, because people smoking Malboro Red or people living in the West do not have a specific religion or culture. It is also not a problem to call bankers scum, thieves and fraudsters.
Naming the Dutch rude does not raise an eyebrow either. The Dutch do not care. Part of the Dutch tradition is the festival of Sinterklaas, who is a white old man with black servants similar to Santa Claus. The tradition is seen as racist in other nations, but for the Dutch it is just a tradition. Most Dutch are not aware of the racist history behind the black servants, and see criticism on this festival as politically correct whining. There are groups of people with a high level of sensitivity whose feelings are easily hurt. Calling those people, their culture or their religion something nasty is often labelled defamation. But is there a real difference between a group defined by culture or a religion or a group defined by a profession or a habit?
It is no problem to say negative things about Western culture or white culture. Western culture may be superior in material wealth, democracy and scientific achievements, but this is of no use with a suicidal economic system. Resources are wasted as people are convinced that they should buy products and services they do not need. If the rest of the world adopts the same way of living then the resources of the planet will not be sufficient. Western culture allows self criticism while most other cultures do not, but this is of no use if the self criticism remains without consequences. Fundamental changes in the economy and society are needed, otherwise there will be a few decades left to the utmost, before a mass die off of humans will ensue.
If one assumes that there are good and bad elements in cultures and assumes that differences in behaviour are often cultural, it is possible to discuss those issues. For example, it is no problem to say that black people are relaxed but to say that they are lazy is seen as a racist remark. When taking into account that hard working people are destroying our planet it becomes possible to see that there is a good point in being lazy. Culture and upbringing only make people more inclined to certain behaviour. There are many hard working black people and many lazy white people and the differences probably will reduce over time when they live together.
Discussing the trouble caused by cultural differences will make the bigots come out into the open. This cannot be avoided as blocking an open discussion on cultural differences will cause those tensions to build. Racists may see an opportunity to push their agenda, but race has little to do with potential. IQ tests can differ per cultural background. Average IQ scores are related to upbringing and culture. IQ tests do not only measure intelligence, but they also measure education.
Problematic behaviour that is typical for a specific group of people can cause cultural conflicts. Ignoring those conflicts out of a sense of political correctness or naming it racism may backfire as those tensions are not resolved in this way. The underlying problems can cause a further buildup of tensions. No culture is good or bad, but most cultures have problematic issues. Sometimes the behaviour occurs in a specific social context and may not occur in other situations.
The cultural scorecard can be used to detect cultural tensions and their causes. Discussing cultural tensions also means discussing stereotypes because most stereotypes have a basis in reality. It is also important to note that a culture is a predisposition that makes certain behaviour more likely, but it does not mean that a person behaves like the stereotype. Some cultures do not mix well, most notably when both seek dominance. The following types of conduct cause trouble:
- hard work and enterprise that destroy the planet;
- inactivity and living of the work of others;
- exploiting and deceiving others;
- violence and crime;
- honour issues and not accepting other points of view.
Hard work and enterprise that destroy the planet
Hard work and enterprise are destroying the planet. Natural resources are wasted on unnecessary items and activities. Fierce competition leaves more and more people out of the workforce. Hard work and enterprise have been typical for Western European and American white culture. In recent decades many others caught on to this lifestyle, most notably the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese. The exponential growth of human activities is about to hit the limits of the planet so humans need to switch to another lifestyle in order to survive in a civilised manner.
Inactivity and living of the work of others
Blacks and Muslims on average have a different work ethic than Western European and American whites. If they have enough to live on, many of them stop working. Historically their cultures prevented them from wasting natural resources on unnecessary items and activities. In an economic system based on white culture, many of them face problems competing in it, and they have difficulties finding work. If they end up in welfare, and have enough to live on, they often have no strong incentive to work.
Exploiting and deceiving others
Historically Jews have been in the business of trade and finance, which are both rife with schemes to exploit and to deceive other people. The difference between trading and stealing is often obscure [+]. It is not a coincidence that many people in the top 1% are Jewish. Because money plays a dominant role in the politics of the United States, Jewish interests have a strong grip on US politics and the unconditional support for Israel has become a cornerstone of US foreign policy [+].
Violence and crime
In many places where Muslims live together with others there is repression or violence. The violence appears to have emerged in recent decades with the advent of Islamism or political Islam. The main areas of conflict are Egypt, Nigeria and Iraq. In other places there have been violent Islamic insurgencies, for example in the Philippines and Thailand. The reasons for the violence differ from place to place, but presently there is an correlation between Islam and repression and violence, often labelled Islamofascism [+].
In Western Europe homicide rates are around 1 per 100,000 population. In the United States they are around five times as high. If the number of homicides were to be reduced to Western European levels, 10,000 less people would be killed each year, a number many times higher than the death toll of terrorism. Unlike Western Europe, the United States also has a history of assassinations and assassination attempts on presidents. American culture appears to be more violent than Western European culture. Restricting gun ownership probably will not solve this without addressing the culture of violence in the United States [+].
In multicultural societies certain ethnic groups often dominate crime statistics. Lack of opportunities to get ahead is one of the causes. Some cultures have difficulties with accepting the rule of law or a government. In some cases the ethnic groups consider certain conduct as normal, while other cultures consider them as criminal. Examples are honour killings or resolving differences with violence. In other cases cultures do not mix well and some minorities have difficulty with adapting to the predominant culture. Integrating cultures that are completely different, is an important cause of the troubles [+].
Honour issues and not accepting other points of view
Not accepting other points of view has been an essential part of totalitarian systems and religions in the past. In Western European and American culture different viewpoints have become less suppressed over time. This did not always lead to favourable outcomes as the concepts of Capitalism, Communism and Nazism emerged in Western culture because it accepted more freedom of thought. Islam means surrender to God and this leaves little room for free thought [+]. Islamic and Western values do not mix well and the existence of large numbers of Muslims in Western countries poses a risk for the future, unless this conflict is resolved.
Related to the issue of free thought is the issue of honour and loss of face. In cultures where honour is important, people are less inclined to admit that they have been mistaken. In some religions and cultures honour is important, and people that strictly adhere to honour rules can turn violent if those rules are compromised. The most problematic issue surrounding honour are honour killings [+].
Ethics and cultural differences
The behaviour of one group of people can harm the interests other groups of the people of a country. People from different cultures differ in their morality, behaviour and vices. In nations where groups of different cultural backgrounds live together, people with certain cultural backgrounds dominate the crime and welfare statistics. It is even true that specific ethnic groups dominate specific types of crimes. For example, most sex tourists in Thailand and Morocco are whites. This will unavoidably lead to finger pointing. In the groups that have a bad name, often a minority behaves badly, which has negative consequences for all people of the group.
A welfare state can be sustained by the work ethic within a population. If immigrants with another work ethic help to make a welfare state unsustainable, the immigrants will be blamed for this. For example, if blacks live in a white dominated society, they often end up receiving benefits as their culture makes them less fit to live in a white dominated society. In Africa there are no benefits and people manage themselves. The availability of benefits is a result of a decision made within the white dominated culture that it is better to have benefits than to let poor people manage themselves. There are good reasons for having benefits as modern societies are more demanding than traditional societies.
Who is to blame? Does this question really matter? History cannot be undone. Playing on guilt complexes like blaming the whites for the slave trade centuries ago does not solve anything. The cultural tensions in our time can be solved by analysing cultures in relation to specific goals for the future and relating cultural qualities to those goals. A balanced society offers fair opportunities for everybody to make a living. This means that the multicultural societies of the future should become less based on traditionally white values, in order to become sustainable and to provide a fair living standard for as many people as possible without them becoming dependent on hand outs.
Stereotypes and prejudices can be helpful in identifying cultural tensions and resolving them. Insofar they are based on real experiences, stereotypes and prejudices are a form of crowd wisdom [+]. They are the consolidated experience of large groups of people and therefore stereotypes and prejudices can be helpful for groups to reflect on their own culture.
Discrimination and racism are not the same. Racism is having the opinion that a specific race is genetically superior to other races. In many respects cultural superiority thinking resembles racism and has become the theoretical foundation for right wing populism in recent years. As Western culture is suicidal, it is a mistake to consider it to be superior. Some people may not like people from other cultures because they have had negative experiences, or they may be afraid of the unknown, but this is not racism and it is not cultural superiority thinking either.
Discrimination is often a mutual exclusion. In many cases the people who feel discriminated do not accept the people that discriminate them. It is often a consequence of cultural differences that result in misunderstandings and distrust. Distrust towards Islam is one of the reasons why right wing populists in Europe try to suppress the rights of Muslims. As long as such feelings are the consequence of cultural conflicts, and there are compelling arguments supporting the feelings, it is difficult to end them. Such feelings can recede by living together in harmony for generations. Roman Catholics and Protestants have demonstrated that this is possible.
Anti-discrimination laws may be helpful against institutionalised discrimination but they do not solve the issue of preferences caused by cultural differences. Most people tend to favour people of their own race, religion or political viewpoints. Most people will find excuses to exclude a person of another religion, race or political conviction. Anti-discrimination laws can foster hypocrisy and have the potential of creating a police state if they are enforced too strictly [+].
In the United States poor people, and especially poor black men are over-represented in the prison system. In the Netherlands people from specific ethnic groups are over-represented in prisons. There is a racial gap in sentencing as prison sentences of black men were nearly 20% longer than those of white men for similar crimes [+]. Anti-discrimination laws did not prevent this from happening, so their effect on the fate of minorities is limited. Anti-discrimination laws also do not solve social disadvantages caused by cultural values and upbringing.
Culture of violence
The United States have seven to ten times as many prisoners relative to their population as other developed nations. Imprisoning people has reduced crime rates but violent crime rates in the United States are still higher than those of similar countries in Western Europe where prison rates are lower. A solution for this issue is not straightforward but it is worth trying to reduce crime rates and prison populations to Western European levels. Apart from stopping the lobby of prison corporations, this requires an investigation of the culture of competition and violence in the United States, including the dog eat dog economic system that has no place for losers, police brutality [+], gang culture, gun ownership and excessive violence in movies.
The cowboy heritage still has an influence on the subconscious of many Americans. The Wild West was rude and violent. Black style icons like Gangstra rappers are also part of the American culture of violence, and blacks are disproportionately represented among homicide victims as well as offenders. In Hollywood movies killings are displayed in gruesome detail. American movies tend to make a strong distinction between good and evil, justifying the use of violence as a way of combating evil. European movies on average are less violent, and the clear distinction between good and evil is mostly absent.
American television series like the A-Team teach young children that solutions can be found in violence and military tactics. Vulgar series like South Park seem to have been made by sick minds. Even though it may be difficult to prove that a display of violence engenders violence, it probably does [+]. The example set by American culture is problematic for the rest of the world. For example, gun massacres that were once only happening in the United States have spread into Europe in recent decades.
The culture of violence may explain why the United States see terrorism as a war, while European countries tend to see it as a security issue. Starting two wars that killed at least 200,000 (possibly over 1,000,000) and have cost at least 1 trillion dollars [+] (possibly 4 trillion [+]) because 3,000 people were killed in a terrorist attack that could have been prevented by better intelligence is irrational. The culture of violence also affects the police in the United States and it is a cause of police brutality. As many people carry guns, police officers in the United States are on the edge. Their lives are more at risk compared to their counterparts in Europe, which leads to accidents and violent deaths [+].
In the United States gun ownership is more widespread than in Western Europe. Around 50% of Americans live in a household with guns. In 2004 there were approximately 44 million gun owners in the United States. Gun ownership advocates think guns are needed for self defence or for protection against a government becoming oppressive. The lobby of the National Rifle Association has contributed to the spread of gun ownership in the United States and members of Congress have ranked the NRA as the most powerful lobbying organisation in the country several years in a row. The citizens of the United States are divided about the issue of gun ownership and for many Americans feel that owning a gun is essential.
Sometimes people can save their life because they own a gun [+]. On the other hand terrible accidents happen because of gun ownership [+]. Over all widespread gun ownership does not make the lives of Americans safer. Some 30,000 people are killed by guns each year in the United States. 17,352 (55.6%) of the total 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007 are due to suicide while 12,632 (40.5%) were homicide deaths [+].
In Western Europe where gun ownership on average is more restricted, homicide rates are mostly around 1 per 100,000 population. In the United States they are around 5 per 100,000 population. If the number of homicides were to be reduced to European levels this would mean 10,000 less people killed each year. There are no easy solutions. In Switzerland where gun ownership is widespread, homicide rates are below 1 per 100,000 population, which indicates that gun ownership does not have to be restricted to have low homicide rates. Restricting gun ownership will not help without addressing the culture of violence in the United States. Because gun ownership is important to many Americans, there may be much to learn from the example of Switzerland.
Closed groups pose problems
Minorities are often closed groups. It is difficult for outsiders to differentiate between the good guys and the bad guys within those groups. Members of closed groups are loyal to each other. They often do not inform the police or the authorities about criminal and illegal activities they are aware of. They often provide false alibis for group members when the police are investigating their crimes. In many cases there is an atmosphere of intimidation in which it is difficult to bring criminals to justice. Closed groups of people can be difficult to handle for the societies they live in.
An example may illustrate this. From time to time there is a crackdown on criminal activities in trailer camps of nomadic people in the Netherlands like the one in Eindhoven on March 29, 2011 [+]. Those crackdowns often involve a large police force and sometimes military vehicles have to be used, because police and other officials are often intimidated and harassed when they enter those camps. In this specific raid participated more than one hundred police officers and staff of the Royal Military Police, while the trailer camp had only nine addresses.
The Dutch government is not planning to create a special policy for the Roma, which is the largest tribe of nomadic people in Europe. The emphasis of the Dutch policy lies on combating crime and the enforcement of school attendance. This made the Roma angry as they expected the government to take into account their culture and background [+]. The Roma and some other minorities seem to think that the Dutch should accommodate their culture that is a source of trouble. The Roma have been in Europe for centuries and still have not integrated well. Consequently they are unpopular among the native population [+].
There is no legal basis for expelling citizens of a country. There is no moral basis for expelling people that live for many years in a country, even if they do not have the proper legal titles. There is also no legal or moral basis for punishing people for the deeds of others. Still these things have happened and do still happen. The flip side of the coin is that there is also no legal or moral basis for criminal and illegal activities or keeping authorities uninformed about criminal and illegal activities.
The individualistic morality of Western culture makes it difficult to hold people responsible for the actions of other people and group responsibility is often not recognised. Whether the group is cultural, professional or occasional does not really matter. Society as a whole has been made responsible for dealing with criminals. Minorities should realise that the actions of other people in their group can have consequences for themselves as other people may perceive the minority as a burden to society. If the problem grows out of control then democratic nations may elect leaders that will strip the minorities of their rights.
Minorities have a significant influence on their own future. Peers have a stronger influence on people in closed groups than outsiders, so peer pressure from people within the group itself is often more effective than policing. A failure of the multicultural society will harm the minorities the most and minorities will gain the most from a success.
Many activities that give minorities a bad name are difficult to prosecute by the authorities. Those activities can harm the minorities if they do not oppose them more openly. An example are the activities of the extremist group Sharia4Belgium. On December 17, 2011, the radical Muslim group Sharia4Belgium made a web video in which it threatened to demolish the Atomium, which is a Belgian hallmark. In the video the helmsman of Sharia4Belgium called Muslims to free themselves from idols such as the Atomium while he was dressed in military attire. Even though Sharia4Belgium is a fringe group, Sharia4Belgium gives Muslims in Belgium a bad name.
Copying best practises
Copying best practises is a smart way of improving social conditions. Not only nations can improve social conditions by copying best practises from other nations, but cultures can do this too. History and cultures provide a wide array of examples to deal with social issues. They can be made to good use to solve the issues we are facing at the moment. If cultures copy each others best practises, living conditions will improve world wide and cultural tensions will reduce. This requires that people from different cultures open up and acknowledge that much can be learned from others.
At first it seems that Western and Islamic culture are irreconcilable, but closer inspection reveals that Western and Islamic culture are complimentary. They need each other to survive. Islamic culture lacks essential elements that Western culture can bring. On the other hand Western culture lacks essential elements that Islamic culture can bring. Islam condemns usury, while interest on money is the main reason why Western nations are declining. Western culture has democracy and freedom of expression. There are other issues in which both cultures can help to improve each other.
The cultural melting pot
Discrimination can be combated more effectively when there is less reason to discriminate. The behavioural characteristics of people from different cultural backgrounds may be different but if they do not conflict there is little reason for discrimination. This does not mean that discrimination will vanish but the cultural issues sustaining discrimination can be eliminated. As minorities are often closed groups it is better for them to deal with the people that give them a bad name themselves. This is not because they are responsible for the behaviour of others in a legal sense, but accepting a group responsibility will solve the problem more effectively.
Not only the cultures of minorities are to blame. The appreciation of money and achievement in Western culture, and most notably in the United States where losers are blamed for their situation, adds to the difficulties. Asians on average are good achievers and do not cause much trouble, while blacks and Muslims on average are less good achievers. They have the most problems with adapting to the achievement society. As achievement and wealth often result in the consumption of energy and natural resources there is much to gain if achievement and wealth were valued less.
The fierce competition for money in the interest based financial system helps to foster crime as some people have no access to money otherwise. It does not help that the rich plunder the nation by bribing politicians. Real unemployment figures in the United States are around 20%, while welfare is not sufficient to live on. Furthermore, perceived poverty is related to the wealth of other people, so poor people tend to think that they need items others have. A reduction in wealth inequality will reduce perceived poverty, even when the general level of prosperity reduces. This can help to reduce crime rates.
Poverty and extreme wealth
In many countries progress has been made in reducing poverty. Whether or not development aid has been effective is a matter of debate. There has been much misuse of funds but there also have been many successful projects. Most likely development aid overall has been helpful to improve living conditions in developing nations. Interest on money and globalisation have been blocking economic development in a number of developing nations. Poor Because of Money describes the struggle of poor people in South America to free themselves from the interest based financial system and the globalised economy.
The lessons learned of Strohalm in South America can be of good use for people all over the world as some Western economies have been hollowed out by usury and globalisation, including the exploitation of near slave labour in poor countries. The near slaves can barely live of their wages while many Western consumers went into debt to buy the products they make. Large profits ended up in the hands of a few oligarchs. The introduction of Natural Money and local currencies will end usury and counter the effects of globalisation. Land reform is also essential as creating a large class of small land owners can help to reduce poverty.
The extreme wealth of some individuals, families and groups conflicts with democratic principles as oligarchs tend to use their money to buy influence. Therefore it is a good idea to confiscate the assets controlled by extremely wealthy people, including their foundations that are used for political activities. This money can be used to reduce public debts and to reduce tax levels for ordinary citizens. To avoid the accumulation of too much wealth in the future, estate tax laws should be revised.
Giving money to governments in developing nations is often not effective and it fosters corruption. Non governmental organisations often do a better job. Reducing corruption by reducing government assistance can help to create a better investment climate in developing nations. The people living in developing nations can best be assisted by investments in their businesses using micro finance without interest. Other causes of poverty are lack of education and attitudes towards work and achievement. People in developing nations must learn to see and use opportunities to improve their own conditions.
Showing off wealth
Until a few decades ago rich people in the Netherlands did not show off their wealth as this was considered to be ostentatious. This Dutch value had a good reason as poverty is often a relative phenomenon. People feel more poor when others are richer, even if they have enough themselves. They will try to keep up with others and buy things they do not need or cannot afford. Envy may also drive up crime rates. It is an eternal law already observed by the writer of the Tao [+]:
An anonymous writer on The Burning Platform observed that [+]:
Showing off wealth has a biological origin as it enhances the chance of producing offspring [+]. The planet Earth cannot support billions of humans with designer clothes, sports cars, luxury yachts, swimming pools and big houses. The biological need for producing offspring has evaporated and overpopulation brings the need for ending population growth [+]. The Chinese Communist leader Mao already had a good solution for this issue: everybody had to wear the same type of suit. More recently the Chinese Communist Party ordered a crackdown on advertisements for luxury items most people cannot afford to buy.
A rise in the general level of prosperity can be problematic when wealth is distributed unevenly. The problematic nature of unevenly distributed wealth has a biological origin as the less wealthy see their chances of producing offspring reduced. This may be one of the reasons why crime rates have risen, while at the same time the average level of prosperity rose. If the general level of prosperity drops then this can be a blessing if at the same time the differences in wealth are reduced. This can improve well being and drive down crime rates.
Interest on money
Money in its present form is anonymous, which has destructive consequences for people, communities and entire countries. The victims of anonymous money exist among the homeless in the big cities and the child soldiers in Africa. This is a choice. The monetary system we have selected determines the outcome. When money can move through time and space without obstruction, everybody ends up competing on a global scale [+].
Interest on money creates a flow of money from the poor to the rich. Historically the rich had money to lend and the poor needed money to make a living. Therefore the poor had to pay interest to the rich. In this way the rich become richer because they already were rich and the poor became poorer because they already were poor. Currently the situation is more complicated but interest is still an important cause of poverty.
Ending the interest based financial system and assisting communities to introduce Natural Money currencies is an important step to end poverty. Poverty is partly a systemic problem caused by interest on money. Without interest on money some people will remain poor because of their personal situation, own choices or attitudes, but poverty will not be the result of a financial system working against them.
Using current industrialised production methods less than 5% of the workforce produces all the needed food and products. The inevitable result of this development is wage competition. Jobs are shipped to the places with the lowest wages. Factory workers in those countries work under poor conditions reminiscent of those in the nineteenth century, thus annulling one century of struggle of organised labour to achieve better working conditions. If outsourcing is not possible then machines can replace labour. Because of this people in the West could enjoy higher living standards for some time, but many industrial jobs were eliminated or shipped to low wage countries. Exports decreased while imports increased and people in the West went into debt to sustain their standard of living.
Because money can be transmitted over the globe instantly at low cost, globalisation leads to a competition of everybody against everybody. It would be better that people could work under good working conditions while at the same time being competitive. It would also be better that labour of the working people in poor countries would be redirected at local improvements instead of producing needless items for spoiled Western consumers. With Natural Money and local currencies this will be possible. There will be no world wide competition for local currencies. Natural Money and local currencies will create stronger communities. Those currencies will stimulate cooperation in stead of competition. This can improve the economic conditions in local communities of developing nations.
It may be a good idea to give transactions in local currencies the legal status of neighbours helping each other just like the transactions in a LETS system. Current legislation favours large scale centralised production because of the risk of litigation and the large investments that are needed to comply with legislation. The community issuing the currency may be able to determine which regulation applies on transactions in the local currency. The central government may only need to set minimum legal requirements.
People make choices based on their culture and upbringing. The following types of attitudes affect prosperity:
- Work attitudes: Some people want to work harder to get a higher standard of living than others. In some countries people accept a lower standard of living and stop working as soon as they have enough money to live on. This is not bad in itself because living in this way does take less of the Earth's resources. On the other hand people with an indolent attitude often do nothing about poverty, corruption and pollution and tend to blame others for those problems.
- Criminal attitudes: In some countries businesses are looted on a regular basis and this increases the cost of doing business, which lowers the living standard. For example, in Venezuela shop owners often need to defend their business with semi-automatic rifles. In such a situation it will be difficult for a middle class to improve their living conditions and the majority of people will remain poor.
- Financial attitudes: Some people go into debt for unnecessary expenses. Those people may find out after some time that they have become poor. It is also naive to remain uninformed about financial issues and to rely on advisors for financial affairs.
Citizens should take more interest in their own affairs and take matters in their own hands because governments can not offer good solutions for many problems. Workers should become actively engaged in planning the future of the companies they work for. In Europe workers often try to influence the decision making of their employers. An example is the strike at the Dutch auto factory NedCar in Born, the Netherlands in 2006 [+]. The involvement of the workers resulted in a new car model being produced at NedCar and the continuation of the plant.
Most likely development aid overall has been helpful to improve living conditions in developing nations but large amounts of money have been wasted. Most notably projects subsidised by governments have often been a failure as political motives or business interests determined the selection of projects. Natural Money and local currencies will stimulate local development and this can give developing nations more opportunities to develop themselves without the need for producing goods for international markets. Developing nations will also be better off when agricultural subsidies are ended and tax havens are eliminated [+].
Microfinance can improve local development but the possibilities of microfinance have been overestimated [+]. Often microfinance did not fulfil its promise and many borrowers remained poor. High interest rates and overcrediting are the most common causes of failure. Some politicians were eager to exploit the situation and blamed the microcredit institutions. This does not help and banks have become reluctant to loan money to microfinance institutions. Banning interest can solve the problem of high interest rates and overcrediting and this can make microfinance more effective.
In many countries poverty is the consequence of local customs with respect to education, work ethics and corruption. Abolishing interest on money, agricultural subsidies and tax havens will not help in those cases. It may be difficult for those countries to reorganise themselves in a short timeframe. Haiti is often seen as an example of a country that is unable to solve its own problems. Recolonisation may be an option but this also has downsides. It could lead to exploitation of the people and the natural resources. Wikileaks cables show that the United States interfered in Haitian politics on behalf of corporate interests [+].
In the past Africa has been seen as a hopeless continent but many countries in Africa are doing well [+]. In recent years the development of Africa have been spurred by Chinese investments. Previous development by Western nations has often been patronising but Chinese businesses treat African nations and their people like business partners. Whether or not Chinese development of Africa will be beneficial in the long term remains to be seen, as the Chinese mostly invest in the exploitation of natural resources and build the infrastructure to make this possible. Most natural resources are in limited supply, and exploiting them may increase future poverty [+]. But at least the Chinese investments contribute to the strong economic growth in Africa for now.
Education gives opportunities to people. People lacking education may remain in poverty. Education is one of the main areas in which help can be given. Making information freely available on the Internet is a great step forward in making education available for everyone. Success in education is also a cultural phenomenon. People from different cultural backgrounds differ in their school results, even when they go to school in the same country and use the same facilities. Not acknowledging culture as important in educational success, deprives many talented children from success in education.
Education can become much cheaper with the Internet. It may be possible to set up Internet Universities with a minimum of staff similar to the Dutch Open University. Currently the Harvard University has teamed up with Massachusetts Institution of Technology to provide low cost university courses via the Internet [+]. Students would then be able to study at home and work at the same time so they can pay for their studies without going into debt. A downside of the Internet University is that this model will reduce the funds available for research.
Financial crimes such as fraud and corruption are difficult to combat because the profits can be huge while legal systems are ineffective in bringing white collar criminals to justice. As is the case with interest on money, there is no direct link between the crimes themselves and the destruction and killing caused by them. Therefore many people are inclined to be lenient towards white collar criminals who have killed thousands and even millions by their actions. Because of their insidious nature and far reaching consequences, financial crimes are crimes against humanity.
Corruption and fraud break down the fabric of a society. At the individual level the harm done is often not large, but on a larger scale fraud and corruption are destructive. Once corruption takes hold in a society, it pervades the political and the legal system, undermining democracy and justice. Corruption impoverishes developing nations as well as the West. Several leaders of developing nations have amassed personal fortunes even as the governments they head have incurred large debts. Corruption has also pervaded societies in the West [+] and most politicians in the United States have been bribed [+]. The US Dollar based financial system is intertwined with the financial oligarchy, which has also penetrated United States government agencies, the IMF and the World Bank.
The IMF and World Bank have been used by US security agencies to look after the interests of the financial oligarchy. The security agencies are accused of performing operations that include collusion, kidnapping and murder for the benefit of the financial and business oligarchy. These espionage accusations are documented in the book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man written by John Perkins in 2004. In his book he provides an account of his career that included his hire by an alleged NSA liaison to become a self-described economic hit man [+].
Financial criminals tend to corrupt politicians and judges and this may explain why their crimes mostly remain unpunished [+]. Financial crimes are crimes against humanity and severe punishment is the only solution to combat corruption and fraud effectively. In China financial criminals are sometimes executed. A popular Indian yoga guru has been on hunger strike demanding a death penalty for corrupt officials [+].
There is an area of shady practises that are more or less corrupt but they are difficult to avoid. For example, contractors often do business with officials and there must be a level of trust between them. Officials and contractors meet in clubs or restaurants and sometimes gifts are exchanged. In many cases this can lead to lower costs as the job does not have to be formalised. If contracts were distributed in a public tender then price becomes the main determinant, and this can result in inferior jobs done. A solution may be the following:
- Small projects should be executed by the local community hiring local contractors. Local businesspeople will less likely let their own community down. Should a contractor abuse the trust of the local community, social control can correct the issue. Citizens are expected to actively oversee the affairs of the local community.
- Larger projects should be offered in public tenders and comprise the complete life cycle of the project outcome, which may be a road or a building. A good product will result in lower maintenance costs, so there will be an incentive for contractors to do a good job for the best price.
Migration can be an enrichment for societies and bring in skills. Societies that took in large numbers of immigrants have often benefited from the immigrants. On the other hand migration can lead to stress and adaptation problems for both the immigrants and the indigenous people. Harsh immigration laws do have effect but also lead to unintended consequences such as losses to businesses [+]. In the current economic system based on the neo liberal principles like freedom of movement for capital and people, there is a world wide competition of everybody against everybody. Many people feel insecure about their job and income so immigrants are often perceived as a threat.
The differences in behaviour and ethics of different groups of people can also lead to conflicts. Immigrants can become alienated from the society they live in, while indigenous people can become alienated from their neighbourhood if there are too many immigrants. Large numbers of immigrants can cause anxiety [+]. If mass migration ends then most problems will disappear over time because people living together will adapt to each other. Reducing migration requires a more even distribution of wealth across the globe. Also the economic rat race, where everybody competes against everybody, must be ended. This may require less freedom of movement of people and money and consequently more closed borders and more national and local currencies.
A nation is defined by the people currently living in it. To define a culture as the heritage of indigenous inhabitants will lead to cultural tensions when large numbers of immigrants have entered the country. This also requires that the immigrants mingle with the rest of the population, adapt and accept the country they are living in as their own and its laws as their laws, and become an integral part of the nation. A nation often has a predominant culture, which means that the majority of the people have a similar cultural heritage or have adapted to each others culture in a way that people from those cultures mix easily. In such a situation minorities have to adapt to the predominant culture. Cultural differences can be respected unless they cause trouble. Those differences have to be resolved otherwise cultural conflicts can cause civil war.
Mass migration can destabilise countries because the influx of people from different backgrounds brings problems of adaptation for both the migrants and the inhabitants already living in the country. Migration issues combined with economic uncertainty revive right-wing and nationalist feelings. Some people are afraid that Western Europe will be overrun with Muslims due to demographic factors such as a low birth rate of the existing population and the higher birthrate of Islamic immigrants. A large number of immigrants have ended up unemployed and are living in ghettos.
Switzerland is seen as a model state in some right-wing circles because of its prosperity combined with strong stance against immigration. Recently the Swiss banned the building of new minarets on mosques after a referendum on the issue. People in those right-wing circles often argue that the example of Switzerland demonstrates that a country is better off with less immigrants. Switzerland became rich, at least partially, by banking at the expense of others. For years the country has been a popular safe haven for tax evaders and dictators because of its bank secrecy and neutrality. Switzerland is parasiting on other nations and not dealing with one of the consequences of this parasiting, which is mass migration.
Poverty and lack of prospects in the home countries of the immigrants force many of them to look for a future elsewhere. Many immigrants live in a desperate situation. Their families have saved all the money they could spare to enable them to go to Europe or the United States. Sending immigrants back and other harsh measures will not solve this issue in the long run. Some fundamental changes are needed. If the differences in wealth remain the way they are, the European Union and the United States can become overwhelmed by immigrants in the coming century.
Economic inefficiencies in the European Union and the United States cause a demand for immigrants. Many inhabitants in the European Union and the United States do not desire dirty and dangerous jobs for a low pay. Rich countries feel a need for economic growth, hence there is a need for additional labour. Some industries have difficulty with finding labourers and often immigrants fill in those gaps. A large number of jobs in government, financial services, law and consultancy do not contribute to economic output so it is possible to redeploy labour to the jobs immigrants do without losing prosperity [+].
Natural Money can improve the economic conditions in developing nations so less people will feel the need to seek a future elsewhere [+]. Natural Money can help to reduce the demand for immigrants in the European Union and the United States. With Natural Money there is no need for economic growth to pay interest on debts. Because trade has to be balanced, international competition reduces, and more labour can be directed at local development. Unattractive jobs will fetch a higher pay so local people will be more willing to do them. Because less people will be working in unproductive sectors such as government, financial services, law and consultancy, sufficient labour will become available for those jobs and this will reduce the need for immigrants.
Overpopulation and population growth
There are seven billion people living on this planet and the number is still rising [+]. In some Western nations population growth is low or negative but in most other countries populations are still growing rapidly. The limits on energy, raw materials and food supply will ultimately put a limit on the human population on Earth. The choice is whether it will be voluntary or enforced by the limits of the planet. To achieve a reasonable standard of living for all humans, population growth must end, and possibly the number of humans on the planet should decline.
- inadequate fresh water for drinking as well as sewage treatment and effluent discharge;
- depletion of natural resources, especially fossil fuels;
- increased levels of air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination and noise pollution;
- deforestation and loss of ecosystems that sustain global atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide balance;
- changes in atmospheric composition and consequent global warming;
- irreversible loss of arable land and increases in desertification;
- mass species extinctions from reduced habitat in tropical forests;
- high infant and child mortality;
- intensive factory farming to support large populations;
- increased chance of the emergence of new epidemics and pandemics;
- starvation, malnutrition or poor diet with ill health and diet-deficiency diseases;
- poverty coupled with inflation in some regions and a resulting low level of capital formation;
- low life expectancy in countries with fastest growing populations;
- unhygienic living conditions for many based upon water resource depletion, discharge of raw sewage and solid waste disposal;
- elevated crime rate due to increased theft by people stealing resources to survive;
- conflict over scarce resources and crowding, leading to increased warfare;
- less personal freedom and more restrictive laws.
To prevent overpopulation, governments must stop stimulating population growth and policies should be introduced to reduce population. The population reduction can better be done with care. Many cultures prefer boys to girls, which can result in an unbalanced population composition and social dislocations. Equal rights for women and men would help to solve this as well matrilineal family lines and inheritances. The one child policy in China is enforced in a brutal way, which leads to unnecessary suffering [+]. Population reduction can best be realised by convincing people that population reduction is necessary, combined with a good pension system and ending financial rewards for having children.
The number of humans the planet can support primarily depends on the resource consumption per human [+] so if people accept a lower standard of living then it is possible to sustain more humans on Earth. Population growth is sometimes stimulated by governments because of the supposed need for economic growth. Some religious leaders reject birth control. In developing nations children are often seen as retirement providers.
People that cause trouble and people that are not able to provide for themselves should be refrained from breeding. Problematic behaviour such as dependency and crime are often transferred from parents to children. If there was no advanced technological civilisation then nature would have taken care of this issue as those people would either starve or be killed by others. It is humane to prevent more of those people from being born.
Criminals that have accumulated a specific amount of prison time should be sterilised as well as drug addicts and people that are not capable of raising children because of mental disabilities. The aim of those measures is to keep the human race fit and to produce able human beings that can provide for themselves. Natural Money and the basic income will ensure that most people can provide for themselves, while crime rates will drop because there is less wealth disparity. Only a small minority of people will be unfit for having children.
Population growth is the most problematic in underdeveloped countries that cannot provide food for their own people. A humanitarian disaster is waiting to happen. It is possible to feed all humans so food security can be given in exchange for sterilisation. Not doing this is a crime against humanity, as it will cause mass starvation in the future.