Not so long ago, I was admonished by a loyal reader for regurgitating a former post. The admonishment was spot on. Still, from time to time, it is worthwhile to re-examine past thoughts and, perhaps, re-evaluate, or, confirm the past thoughts.
Many people throughout the world and even on this blog seemed to assume China would overtake the US, not only economically, but, also in total power. I have consistently rejected that notion for several reasons, not the least of which being their population problem.
From a post I wrote a couple of years ago, quoting another article which I mocked ….
Government debts are “not very high” at 11 trillion yuan ($1.7 trillion) or the equivalent of 40 percent of GDP, Lou said. That compares with over 230 percent of GDP for Japan, which is struggling to restore balance as its population swiftly ages, driving costs for health and elder care higher.
Here was my response …..
Yeh, China’s population, (with their generation of a “one child policy”) will never age like Japan’s, amirite?
The dumbasses are like a Western nation on steroids! ……. And, they’ve passed their peak.
As noted in the article, the local governments are the ones who carried the debts, but, now, their central government is taking on more debt at an increasing rate. In spite of the deficit spending, the GDP growth rate is still declining. At this rate, and probably will happen, in five years we’ll be discussion China’s 3% growth rate ….. and then, they’re done. It will remain to be seen if they see an import of a foreign population as the answer to their dire economic future, or not.
Let’s fast forward to today ………
Mosher: China’s Two-Child Policy Fails to Produce Baby Boom
…. In 2016, the Chinese Communist Party abandoned its decades-long one-child policy and allowed all couples to have two children. China’s National Commission of Health and Family Planning confidently predicted that the new two-child policy would result in at least 20 million new births.
The state’s birth planners were wrong.
The National Bureau of Statistics reported on January 19th that there were only 17.2 million births in 2017, down from 17.9 million births the year before. The numbers not only fell millions short of the projected number, they suggest that the birth rate in China is set to dramatically decline in the future years.
Making matters worse, tens of millions of women have been eliminated from the population by sex-selection abortions and female infanticide. The result is fewer women of childbearing age in China and a further dip in the birthrate. Even the Chinese government, proven to be over-optimistic in its projections of future births, says that the number of newborns will drop to 16 million after 2020. …..
…Already, with 158 million people older than 65, China has the world’s largest population of elderly. And their ranks are growing by roughly 8 million each year. From underfunded — or non-existent — pension funds to the lack of elderly care facilities, China is obviously woefully underprepared for an aging society. ….
You can read more at the link.
Well, China has some choices, but, none of them are very good choices. Indeed, their eminent decline has me much more worried than any fanciful surpassing of US supremacy.
It is true, even today, that their debt to GDP ratio is good compared to the rest of the developed world, but, then, they never really got altogether “developed”.
Being the totalitarian system that they are, I suppose the option of simply killing off the elderly is on the table. Also, as I mentioned a couple of years ago, they could also attempt to import more labor. They should ask Europe and the US about how that’s working out. Another, and perhaps their last solution to their problem would be to respond how many other societies responded in the past …….. go get women from other societies ……. typically done through warfare.
The problem is that the Chinese, in their rush for economic maturity, never understood what it was that caused the economic success of the Western Civilization. They tried to emulate, in many ways, our society, but failed to understand the dynamics which caused Western Civilization’s success. In other words, they tried to force things to happen rather than allow the impetus to happen. I suppose we could go on for quite some time as to what allowed for and caused the Industrial Revolution, but, that’s for a series of posts rather than just one. (Would love a discussion on that!!!!) However, suffice it to say, none of those conditions or changes actually ever occurred in China. So, very soon, they will go along the path of all the many other nations who attempted to create an economy based on cheap labor. <———– Note the contrast to the Industrial Revolution where the base laborers continued to increase their wealth in spite of a reduction of necessary skills!!!
I’ll leave you with this …… being fruitful holds a couple of different connatations. And, as any naturalist can tell you, you don’t need to attempt to control populations, they will control themselves.
Off topic – but my wife told me about the Allen County sheriff department putting out a 30 day notice that they were going to shut down all social media in the county after feb 28 til march 1st.
Comments – are hilarious.. unfortunately a lot of them have been deleted..
Rod, sorry about taking so long to approve your comment. I don’t check nearly enough. You are now approved to comment freely on any post. I had saw that on FB …… it is hilarious!!!!
Who comes out on top, probably comes down to more what we do, than what they do. Do we continue/increase our rejection of the principles Western civilization/Capitalism. While they continue to at least attempt to emulate them.
Well, China won’t ….. they’ll win the race to the bottom. But, that doesn’t mean another won’t step up and end up on top ….. as I suppose is natural.
You are quite correct James. The Chinese Communist Party thinks it can emulate western economic success by dressing up in capitalist clothes while continuing its undemocratic politics.
This will prove to be impossible because democracy is what underpins our economies. The freedom of choice in politics and markets is the strength we have. The Chinese will have to chose democracy or slump back into the feudal misery that communism always brings. Socialism is arrant nonsense.
Thanks for pointing this out.
Thank you! I would, however, choose a different word other than “democracy”. I believe “freedom” suffices towards what I believe you’re stating. And, yes, one of the points I was trying to make is that socialism cannot father success, and as you point out, it only fathers misery!
This is a point I have tried to emphasize on several other sites. Our success as a society has been due to our liberty and historically unparalleled freedoms. We are not and never have been a democracy, or even a capitalist society, we are a free people who have made fantastic advancements in wealth, science and technology, art and literature. Not because of how we govern ourselves, but because of how we have governed our “leaders”.
A large family is the way the poor plan for retirement (they are not then a burden on one or two children). China shut that retirement plan down, then they sought to emulate the west and bring the rest of the population into the middle class.
But with no plans for retirement. No family to support them, and no children to pay for the retirement. In essence, the worst of both worlds.
The 2 child policy will not work now because people are doing better. And a mature society forgoes children for self gratification thinking that their retirement is taken care of through either savings or state mandated plans. Again, the former requires savings, and the latter requires a growing population to support them. Which again does not appear to be a Chinese trait.
China is Japan. Just a generation behind them.
But I don’t believe China has the retirement culture that we have. Or even that Japan has. I bet many keep producing in some form. If by necessity, so be it. Any poor planning on an individuals part may have little effect on their economy. It’s on you. Good luck. We’ll be over here, cranking along.
Our retirement mindset has been as much a damaging entitlement as any.
Leftin -that is pretty much what I said in my inelegant way. However a “retirement culture” is critical to the establishment of a middle class, which is critical to any country escaping the 3rd world. China did not realize that. Or having realized it, did not understand the dynamics of how it is created.
So they have an aging population that will burden their younger folks, but not with a one to many relationship (that sustains the 3rd world), but with an advanced geriatric relationship of a dying culture (Japan). And no savings incentives (which Japan has).
But how much of a burden on their young. I don’t know all their specifics, but I doubt they have the same social programs requiring the young workers to support the aging, or that the aging even expect them to.
I agree. I think they skipped over that part. But as a “Communist” country, they will have minimal subsistence. For someone with nothing, that is something. For those who have enjoyed middle class, I doubt it will suffice.
Hm… I am not sure the analysis is right.
I am no specialist in economy and also no China fan, but I like to look at numbers and compare trends.
If we look at the same indicator I was mentioning two years ago (countries by PPP GDP) things have changed, the difference got significantly bigger (I put in brackets the numbers from two years ago) – all according to wikipedia:
1. China 23,122,027 (19,510)
2. European Union 20,852,702 (19,180)
3 United States 19,362,129 (17,970)
4 India 9,446,789 (8,027)
5 Japan 5,405,072 (4,658)
6 Germany 4,149,573 (3,842)
7 Russia 4,000,096 (3,471)
Even if you take the nominal values from 2016 China is much closer then it was:
1 United States 18,624,450
2 European Union 16,408,364
3 China 11,232,108
Personally I think ppp is the value closer to reality contrary to what James said (“probably isn’t appropriate for comparing sizes of the respective economy. This is because for most things, the prices in the US are significantly higher than what they are in China.”)
That’s exactly the reason James, if in US a piece of bread costs 8 times more then in China I do not think that it creates 8 times more ‘economy’, but ok, this is not my point.
My point would be that China has made and is still making tremendous progress. It does not serve a good analysis to skip this. Even if we keep the comparison with Japan, lets not forget that, Japan is about three times smaller (in population) then the US and many times more in surface. China has about the same surface but three-four times the US population.
Due to this, even if China is ‘like Japan a generation later’, the result will be different.
The population is still growing but slower. In one or two generations the trend can change again if people will feel ok and the wish to have more children.
I think the Chinese economy has already surpassed the US. On top of my head, one point I remember was that China had 25 million new cars last year whilst US 15.
Retail market overall I think China just surpassed the US market (in US dollar value). I think this is an important point as China tries now more to focus on internal consumption not on increasing exports.
I am not sure they need to import more labor especially now with the next revolution in robotics.
Yes. Thinking they even need to do it exactly the same way we did, (the Industrial Revolution, brick and mortar economies, etc) is not necessarily valid thinking. The economy model that lifted us into domination is long gone. The coming robotics and automation are a great example.
Immigration soon won’t be an answer to support any aging society. Labor as the driver was last century.
There are other examples more recent and after the industrial revolution. South Korea comes readily to mind. Others have started on the path, only to be sidetracked by the daemon of socialism. Brazil for one.
Yes, belief in the ‘s’- word usually blows it all to crap before things even really get going.
But I don’t know if China will fall prey to that. Yes, they’re Communist, but they’ve had a huge population for much longer. They want government domination, but I’m not sure that will equate to massive welfare/social/entitlement programs supported by their economy.
Having so many people, for so long, may make certain realities obvious. That the government as social safety net is out of the question.
Uhmm, fellows, I’d like to point out that automation has always resulted in higher employment. Indeed, the industrial revolution was based upon automating processes. ….. the cotton gin, punch-card loom, the mine pumps, the precision lathe ……. all the way to computerized machining and drafting such as CNC/CAD/CAM …… the reason being, necessity is the mother of invention and there is demand for whatever advancement is being made. ….. for instance, the cotton gin, sure, it required less labor to pick the seeds from the cotton, but, the demand for the cotton required more laborers to process the cotton to meet the demands. Same can be stated for all the other advancements mention and ones not mentioned.
Sure, it can create different types of work. But remember, that was ‘Phase one automation.’ All the technology will become more advanced and efficient over time. First a cotton gin, then comes a cotton ‘processor.’
And that demand for cotton was based on a time of growing population. Counter to the trends we’ve been talking about.
There will still be need for labor. But I don’t see it ever equalling what we needed in our past. Or just about anyone’s.
not necessarily….these days we’re not talking a one off….like the cotton gin
modern AI is able to remove the seed…make the cloth…make the finished item…deliver it…and ring it up on the cash register
So, the advent of the hammer didn’t give people less to do, it gave them more to do. And!, it gave them more time to do it! The cotton gin wasn’t phase one, it was phase 3 or 4 or ….
True, the world’s population isn’t growing as fast as it used to, and, by about 2050 it will stop growing (save something drastic), but, there will always be a demand for more and better. Thus, there will always be a demand for more labor. It may not be in the typical sense in which we conceive it, but, it will always be there. But, that’s just me, I’m an empiricist..
Human nature dictates, even at a static population count, that an economy will expand. ….. assuming all the other things.
We’ll see….some things maybe…..but it looks to me like the same argument that illegals don’t take jobs away from Americans
Yes, some labor will always be needed. But more? I dunno. I think we’ll see the inevitability of machines doing the ‘more and better.’
I think we’re entering uncharted territory with how technology influences labor. Yes, the past, with those hammers and cotton gins, still required human input to operate. Where to swing that hammer. How to operate that cotton gin. Now we’re removing nearly all human input. We’re seeing machines that not only perform their tasks, but even maintain and repair
themselves. This is a greater influence than the change a hammer brought. The machines now aren’t just increased brawn, but increased brains.
My hope is, that we learn to expand economies, whether a ‘what’ or a ‘who’ do the work.
And yes, there will still be jobs where a human is the best machine. But I think those decrease, not increase.
Lars, et al. …. Well, yes, Hegal did come up with the “from quantity to quality”. You sent me on a wonderful reading journey!
It is true, there are many other factors which could possibly come in to being which would alter the outcomes I foresee, which is why I ended my last comment with “assuming all the other things”. ….. I don’t believe a cooler earth (within normal limits) would lead to food shortages anymore than I believe a warmer earth would. Now, an Ice Age …. that would, of course, dramatically change things.
As to AI, and the trepidation of it, it strikes me as very Luddite. It is true, advancements made decreases the necessity for human labor…… assuming nothing else changes, but, we know everything always changes. We’ve nothing to go on, but, history and experience. Still, it serves us well.
Consider the lives of our forefathers. Sure, prior to the industrial revolution, automation, and the assembly line, nearly everyone had jobs ……. sun up to sun down. Their lives were horrible by our standards today. Generations from now, they will consider our lives a horrible experience. History, in its totality, simply documents the improvement of our lives through innovation, invention, and discovery. Sure, there are fits and starts and backward motions. The LIA is a great example of such. But, it isn’t the rule, it’s the exception. Always from such steps back, man achieves much more immediately afterwards.
We shouldn’t fear automation, we should embrace it. It allows us to pursue other endeavors, which, in turn, increases demand for labor. The resources available to us are infinite! Because, our ability to learn is infinite! So, allow me to sum up what I’ve so inarticulately tried to say with a quote from Fredrick ….. “We are made for action, and activity is the sovereign remedy for all physical ills.” – Frederick the Great. “
Human activity is what generates wealth and prosperity. Even if our population becomes static or decreases, as it should, humans will always seek to expand and do, which creates wealth.
Exactly right, James. Stuff is *not* wealth. Wealth is something that exists in minds. Free minds = free men = more stuff. On the other hand, labor is not wealth, either. Wealth is the conditions that people have available to make life, more life and more fruitful life. Not having stuff does not make a man be poor. Having stuff does not make a man be rich.
“Uhmm, fellows, I’d like to point out that automation has always resulted in higher employment. Indeed, the industrial revolution was based upon automating processes. ….. the cotton gin, punch-card loom, the mine pumps, the precision lathe ……. all the way to computerized machining and drafting such as CNC/CAD/CAM …… the reason being, necessity is the mother of invention and there is demand for whatever advancement is being made. “
Assuming this industrial revolution is comparable to previous ones. Maybe.
Even if it would be so, will the new jobs not be for highly skilled personal? Usually the highly skilled workers are not easy to convince to emigrate unless there is significant improvement in their life standard. Then is the question of integration. Is it not more efficient to train your own population?
I am not sure how the future AI will be embedded in the workforce, how complex or simple the interaction will be. This is a very new, challenging and interesting time.Wondering how much specific will the respective AI environment be for the respective countries that work on it.
(“May you live in interesting times” – was this not a chinese curse?)
On the other side, as Japan is the ‘bad’ example. What is so wrong with Japan? Are they worse on then lets say Europe or US?
“True, the world’s population isn’t growing as fast as it used to, and, by about 2050 it will stop growing ”
Well yes, but these are projections, a little like the warmists scenarios if the trends stay that way. Trends may change.
BTW, speaking of the warmist’s scenarios, If we are lucky and there will be no cooling trend then we should have enough food for all, if however there will be a cooling trend then we might have real big problems – but this is another subject…
You seem to consider there is need of continuous growth in numbers. Why so?
Speaking of growth in numbers, was there not something in dialectics (Hegel ?) where growth in numbers leads to a qualitative leap? Let’s see where this growth in numbers leads 😉
Questions, questions & just some random rant…
I have to chuckle some here. I’m a software engineer. My job wasn’t even known a hundred years ago. The computer industry employs lots of people. There are things being done with computers today that weren’t even thought of a few years ago. I don’t think self-programming machines are there yet.
It’s interesting how programming has changed over the years. When I started learning how to code, it was all about control. We were supposed to draw up flow charts before we started writing code. I could never do that. I’d write the code first and do the flow chart from the code.
Then came structured programming/structured analysis. The emphasis switched from flow of control to flow of data. Data-flow diagrams–bubble diagrams–became all the rage. As for structure programing–subroutines and go-to-less code ruled the day. I’m not sure this improved code all that much. I’ve seen really convoluted code trying to keep from using a go-to statement, where a single go-to statement would make the code easier to follow and maintain.
The current rage is OOP–object oriented programming. Now it’s all about objects–objects are responsible for both the data maintenance and the code that access that data. This is carrying the subroutine isolation concept to an extreme. Objects make pathological access of data nearly impossible–which is a good thing. FORTRAN’s common statements were notorious for making code impossible to maintain.
Even so, all of these techniques don’t get rid of bugs. There just doesn’t seem to be any way to eradicate code of all the bugs–they just keep popping up. A heavily maintained and complex system probably has more bugs added in for every one found. A well designed OOP system can reduce that problem.
I find it interesting that they are still looking for COBOL programmers. There’s a lot of legacy code out there written in COBOL.
It’s a good point Jim and making an analogy there might come a lot of new jobs in the future as AI trainers, logic analysers and so on.
You know analysing a situation where the AI took a wrong decision and come out with solutions. Then many other areas around AI that we do not even think about…
Almost 100% of republicans liked the SOTU…..75% of independents…and almost 50% of democrats
..and what do the democrats do?….double down, act like spoiled children
…who in their right mind would want them running the country
…who in their right mind would want them running the country
Liberals/leftards–as I said before, liberalism is a form of brain damage.
On a lighter note–no lunar eclipse here in Seattle–too cloudy. That’s the trouble with the weather up here–it ruins it for us amateur astronomers. I got my telescope out so its computer would tell me where to look–nothing there but clouds.
At least you had a shot at it….I woke up early…nada
All libs talk about is how we have to respect other people…and they have absolutely no respect for us
I still only see us finally having to hurt our traitors. Physically. Then we’ll see how fast our government becomes our government again. And wonder why the hell, did we wait so long.
I thought Repubs were good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!!! Dims nailed it on the SOTU!!!
An interesting post at WUWT:
Another explanation of the Younger Dryas cooling, this time with massive documentation:
Fires rushed across the landscape, and dust clogged the sky, cutting off the sunlight. As the climate rapidly cooled, plants died, food sources were snuffed out, and the glaciers advanced again. Ocean currents shifted, setting the climate into a colder, almost “ice age” state that lasted an additional thousand years.
Finally, the climate began to warm again, and people again emerged into a world with fewer large animals and a human culture in North America that left behind completely different kinds of spear points.
This is the story supported by a massive study of geochemical and isotopic markers just published in the Journal of Geology.
The results are so massive that the study had to be split into two papers.
“Extraordinary Biomass-Burning Episode and Impact Winter Triggered by the Younger Dryas Cosmic Cosmic Impact ~12,800 Years Ago” is divided into “Part I: Ice Cores and Glaciers” and “Part 2: Lake, Marine, and Terrestrial Sediments.”
We need a memo post!!!
Going to …… but, stuff is still coming out! But, hang on…..