Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Tom Rexton

The bleak future

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Over the next thirty years (beginning around 2005), the baby-boom generation will start retiring in huge numbers, the rate of which will not decrease until around 2035. At this time (2004), around 12% of the population is 65 yrs old or older; by 2035, that percentage will have risen to 21%. This will have been the most dramatic rise of in the senior (and retired) population in US history. To support them through the current social security system, we the current and future workers will be taxed so heavily that many of us will be driven into poverty, and the general living standards will plummet.

At the same time, our national debt is soaring (currently $37 trillion, 65% of which was added in the 1990's), creating a temporary, artifical prosperity that threatens our future just as the enormous credit expansion of 1920's brought about the Great Depression. We are likely to face a more severe and prolonged depression in the near future, at around the same time the baby-boom generation will retire.

Government size has steadily grown much faster than the economy. Now, nearly half (43%) of all spending is by government, not even including the cost of regulatory compliance (14%). Government spending on national security and defense has shrunk by a more than half from 1990 to 2000, and had been on a general decline since the 1950's. Meanwhile, government spending on social programs have soared (59% of government budget). All this has been accompanied by a tremendous increase in the power of the government, and more violations of individual rights.

From 1970's to the present there has been general trend of decreasing labor productivity growth and economic growth, a stagnation if not decline in real wages and living standards, (not to mention education standards). Energy consumption has grown and continuous to grow while environmental regulations prevent Americans from producing more energy to consume from oil reserves and nuclear power plants.

Terrorism is threatening our security while the government commits little to national security; It is hardly succeeding in its global war on terror and its war in Iraq, no thanks to the inconsistent, unprincipled, apologetic and appeasing foreign policy of our President (which tragically may be the best we can expect). Furthermore, our ability to adapt economically to face challanges such as those met by the US in WWII has declined significantly with growth the government, the immense size of which has actually weakened our ability to defend ourselves from external threats.

Very soon we will meet a series of major crises (depression, terrorism, tyranny and poverty)--some of which we are already going through the first stages; and there hasn't been any substatial action taken to alleviate their effects if not avoid them altogether. There is no sign that the general trends of decline will reverse themselves anytime soon.

I know that reason and capitalism are making a comeback in academia; but will it be fast enough to avoid the coming crisis? Will the American people take action before it is too late? It seems almost too late, now. The task of the New Intellectuals in the face of all this is almost impossible.

Atlas may shrug soon, after all. :confused:

-------

You can verify all these bleak stastics in greater detail here http://mwhodges.home.att.net/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Over the next thirty years [bad stuff will happen in the culture.]

I know that reason and capitalism are making a comeback in academia; but will it be fast enough to avoid the coming crisis?  Will the American people take action before it is too late?  It seems almost too late, now.  The task of the New Intellectuals in the face of all this is almost impossible.

Atlas may shrug soon, after all.  :(

Funny, but Objectivists were saying exactly the same thing forty years ago. I wasn't one of them. I saw man's ability to rise from ignorance to Aristotle, from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance, from Old World tyrannies to the American Enlightenment. I knew the power of consistent ideas and the overwhelming power of true ideas. As a result, I was solidly, confidently optimistic -- and everyone thought I was crazy.

I was not crazy, but I was wrong. I was not optimistic enough.

I never thought Margaret Thatcher could turn socialist England around. Less than two decades after Goldwater failed miserably, I never expected someone like Reagan to win ... in a landslide ... twice. I never expected the Iron Curtain to come down and Communism to collapse from its own evil. I couldn't begin to image the power of talk radio and the internet to spread ideas.

Sure there will be problems in the next thirty years and right now my accountant, my lawyer, and my insurance agent are hard at work minimizing the effect of those problems on me. But there are also enormous opportunities for happiness and success to those of us guided by true ideas. As for the rest of the culture, they will just have to muddle through until they can catch up with us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
From 1970's to the present there has been general trend of decreasing labor productivity growth and economic growth . . .

Hasn't the productivity of labor been soaring for some time now? And wasn't the economy soaring through the '90's?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not quite, Kitty Hawk. Newly revised measurements reveal that the rise in labor productivity in the late 90's was actually lower than was previously thought and confined mainly to the computer industry. The rest of the economy still lagged far behind and continued to decline.

The recent astonishing growth in labor productivity (an astounding 5.4% for about a year now) is not something to look forward too that much, as recession are often followed by high growth such as this during a recovery--only to decline again just a year or two later.

And yes, Betsy, I realize that my post was somewhat overly pessimistic, but when I consider the recent history of the US and the current situation now, it always seems to be heading towards a disaster.

I suppose it's always better to be optimistic. There is certainly a lot to be hopeful about (I don't deny that). It's not man's ability to rise that I doubt, it's whether the coming disaster can be avoided soon enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In private correspondence with Harry Binswanger, when I related some of the same thoughts to him, he expressed to me that things were indeed much worse in the sixties. It's hard for us younger people to imagine that, not having lived through it, but I think it's true. It seems pretty bad now, but things have actually gotten better and will only continue to do so.

And it will never be "too late." Unless this whole country goes up in a mushroom cloud (which I doubt could happen even today), no matter how bad it gets, the right ideas are out there and the people with those ideas will overcome it all in the long run.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And it will never be "too late." Unless this whole country goes up in a mushroom cloud (which I doubt could happen even today), no matter how bad it gets, the right ideas are out there and the people with those ideas will overcome it all in the long run.

Very true. I entered my school having no knowledge of Objectivism. I was introduced to it and suddenly the way I thought and acted in life. People noticed and got into Ayn Rand themselves. So far the feedback as been mostly and overwhelming positive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The backward countries of the world are becoming more free. Most of Eastern Europe, China and India are good examples. I do not like the term "labor productivity" because it seems to imply that people are being smarter or cleverer, but I cannot think of a better term. Anyway, this per-capita output will rise much faster in places which are moving toward freedom, because they have been held back for so long.

Thatcher and Reagan were the beginning of the move toward a more capitalistic world. That does not mean this trend will continue. The left lost its idealogical tempo, handing it to the right. Now, they both seem to be coasting along.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thatcher and Reagan were the beginning of the move toward a more capitalistic world. That does not mean this trend will continue. The left lost its idealogical tempo, handing it to the right. Now, they both seem to be coasting along.

They are and we're not.

Objectivism is the only active philosophical force in the culture and nothing can stop us.

Stand back! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I know that reason and capitalism are making a comeback in academia; but will it be fast enough to avoid the coming crisis?"

They are? You could have fooled me. If anything, academia is getting even more socialist/communist. A faculty member who admits to being a capitalist will never get tenure, if he or she gets hired at all, especially in the social sciences.

My greatest fear is what will happen as my generation (Generation X) and those that follow us will do as they move in to positions of power in our society. Many of us, especially those likely to seek public office, have been taught that America is wicked and deserving of punishment. Many of us can't debate issues without resorting to insults and threats, and see destruction of property and mayhem as legitimate forms of protest.

Also, look at the public reaction to people like Martha Stewart. I never hear any of my friends and coworkers say anything positive about rich people. They're all criminals or corrupt heirs, as far as they're concerned.

"Terrorism is threatening our security while the government commits little to national security; It is hardly succeeding in its global war on terror and its war in Iraq, no thanks to the inconsistent, unprincipled, apologetic and appeasing foreign policy of our President (which tragically may be the best we can expect)."

I couldn't agree with you more. Most Americans can't even admit to themselves that Iraq and Afghanistan are two different parts of a war between civilizations. Furthermore, who thought up this absurd June 30th deadline to transfer power back to the Iraqis? They're not ready! It took several years before we could transfer power back to the Japanese and Germans after World War II.

I try to be optimistic, but it's hard when you look at what is happening today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"I know that reason and capitalism are making a comeback in academia; but will it be fast enough to avoid the coming crisis?"

They are?  You could have fooled me.  If anything, academia is getting even more socialist/communist.  A faculty member who admits to being a capitalist will never get tenure, if he or she gets hired at all, especially in the social sciences.

Not true.

There are dozens of tenured Objectivists teaching on the college level and I feature them in the "Back to School" issue of the CyberNet every fall. Actually, there are so many now that it spills over to several issues these days.

In addition, wealthy businessmen are underwriting fellowships for the teaching of Objectivism at many leading universities. See http://www.utexas.edu/opa/news/01newsrelea...ship011016.html and http://www.discover.pitt.edu/media/pcc0402...efly_noted.html (halfway down the page).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not true.

There are dozens of tenured Objectivists teaching on the college level and I feature them in the "Bank to School" issue of the CyberNet every fall.  Actually, there are so many now that it spills over to several issues these days.

In addition, wealthy businessmen are underwriting fellowships for the teaching of Objectivism at many leading universities.  See http://www.utexas.edu/opa/news/01newsrelea...ship011016.html and http://www.discover.pitt.edu/media/pcc0402...efly_noted.html (halfway down the page).

You might want to take a look at www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org and www.noindoctrination.org. The students strongly disagree.

It's great that you know of other Objectivist faculty, but I have a question. Were you open about your support of Objectivism from the beginning of your career or were you discrete about it? Many convervative professors seem to be those nearing retirement or those who successfully hid their values until they received tenure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thatcher and Reagan were the beginning of the move toward a more capitalistic world.

If so, it appeared to be in spite of them, not because of them.

Reagan's infamous bromide "Freedom of Religion, not from religion" is as anti-capitalistic a declaration as I've heard from any president. And his nomination, and the selection, of such faith-based right-wing judges to the Supreme court as Antonin Scalia speaks worlds of Reagan's true convictions.

It's as if the start-ups in the 80's and 90's just figured "Screw government policy, I'm going to start-up my business and succeed anyhow." Gates and Jobs, for example, both figured that America was free enough that it still allowed for corporations with ideas and progressive mindsets as their backbones to flourish.

I cannot help but be baffled at the neo-objectivist's embrace of Ronald Reagan- especially considering Ayn Rand's disdain for him, labeling him a "demagogue of the religious right."

Edited to correct a factual faux pas. Shame on me!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If so, it appeared to be in spite of them, not because of them.

Reagan's infamous bromide "Freedom of Religion, not from religion" is as anti-capitalistic a declaration as I've heard from any president.  And his nomination, and the selection, of such faith-based right-wing judges to the Supreme court as Clarence Thomas speaks worlds of Reagan's true convictions.

I cannot help but be baffled at the neo-objectivist's embrace of Ronald Reagan- especially considering Ayn Rand's disdain for him, labeling him a "demagogue of the religious right."

I'm not aware of any Objectivists "embracing" Ronald Reagan. Mentioning that the US started becoming more capitalist under Reagan, after four years of the clown Jimmy Carter, is hardly embracing Reagan.

And your facts are wrong, also. Reagan did not nominate Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. The first George Bush did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You might want to take a look at www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org and www.noindoctrination.org.  The students strongly disagree.

That's a GOOD sign. Indoctrination in schools was going on forty years ago when I was in college, but now, thanks to the internet and talk radio, we are fighting back and getting heard.

It's great that you know of other Objectivist faculty, but I have a question.  Were you open about your support of Objectivism from the beginning of your career or were you discrete about it?  Many convervative professors seem to be those nearing retirement or those who successfully hid their values until they received tenure.

Oh, I'm not an academic, but many of my friends are.

About ten years ago, when people like Tara Smith were going for their PhDs and tenure, they were very careful about mentioning the "O word," but no more. Now colleges, due to demand from students and offers of fellowships from wealthy Objectivist businessmen, are actively seeking and recruiting Objectivist scholars. ARI's Objectivist Academic Center is trying to meet the demand with trained, knowledgeable Objectivists, but right now the demand is greater than the supply.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Reagan's infamous bromide "Freedom of Religion, not from religion" is as anti-capitalistic a declaration as I've heard from any president.

It wasn't all that famous or that consequential in terms of actual public policy. His branding of the USSR as an "Evil Empire" and his demand that Gorbachev "tear down this (Berlin) wall, " on the other hand, was a courageous and effective public stance which ended the Cold War.

And his nomination, and the selection, of such faith-based right-wing judges to the Supreme court as Clarence Thomas speaks worlds of Reagan's true convictions.

Whoa!

Clarence Thomas may be religious, but he is also an Objectivist sympathizer. He makes all this law clerks watch The Fountainhead film, he quotes Ayn Rand liberally in his speeches, and he supports individual rights in his decisions more than any other Supreme Court Justice.

Personally, it is much more important to me that a public official is pro-rights and pro-American than if he is pro-religion. The former leads to proper government action and the latter, even when proposed by the President, generally doesn't get through Congress.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And your facts are wrong, also.  Reagan did not nominate Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.  The first George Bush did.

I stand corrected

Sorry.

My bad! :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Clarence Thomas may be religious, but he is also an Objectivist sympathizer.  He makes all this law clerks watch The Fountainhead film, he quotes Ayn Rand liberally in his speeches, and he supports individual rights in his decisions more than any other Supreme Court Justice.

If that's the case, then Clarence Thomas ought to be given a real Objectivist drilling, because his anti-abortion stand is reproachful as hell.

It's quite a shame, because I actually have some respect for Thomas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If that's the case, then Clarence Thomas ought to be given a real Objectivist drilling, because his anti-abortion stand is reproachful as hell.

It's quite a shame, because I actually have some respect for Thomas.

Yeah, but JC you have to keep context. The fact that a Supreme Court justice even knows of Ayn Rand let alone referrence her the way he does is pretty amazing. You seem to have an anitpathy for conservatives based on their religious senitments all the while ignoring the context of the present culture and the worse alternative; ie the left. Look, I hate religion too but it seems to me at least that the right holds some remnant of a respect for rights and values whereas the left knows absolutely nothing about the requirements of a free republic. As bad as the neo-cons are, I feel that there are enough safeguards for the rights they threaten (ie abortion, free speech, etc.) built into the legal/political systems to buy us some time. However, I can't say the same when I think of national defense. Bush is timid but at least he gives us something. I fear a Kery presidency.

And Betsy; I dont know if you agree with this, but I believe that Thomas may actually be the best judge on the bench. He defends the Second Amendment better than anyone, he actully has opined for a return to the Lochner Era, a period in constitutional history where the freedom of contract was constitutionally protected, he usually limits the eminent domain cases to that which is really necessary (not bogus land grabs like the Ikea and Trump manipulations), and he exudes a genuine love for America. I agree when it comes to abortion or the "war on drugs" he's a typical conservative, but for being in all probability a politically correct apointee, he is probably the biggest defender of rights on the bench. Better than Scalia who is philsophically far more repulsive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Truth be told, the neo-cons aren't really all bad.

When they say they defend rights, America, liberty, and capitalism, I see it as an opportunity. :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Objectivism is winning.

Objective measure is funding of ARI.

Millions.

No neighbourhood church comes near.

Except that Objectivism has to be considered in a broader scope than your attempt to localize it in the realm of a neighborhood church.

After all, the Roman Catholic Church gets billions in funds. <_<

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...