Category Archives: demographics

Doug Casey on Virtual Girlfriends

There’s nothing like true love with a humanoid. Sex and you don’t need to lie the next morning. From Doug Casey at caseyresearch.com:

Justin: Doug, I recently read an article about a U.S. company that’s offering a digital “girlfriend experience.”

3D Hologroup has created an app that allows you to download virtual girlfriends. And you can interact with these girls if you own an augmented reality device.

So, I visited the company’s website. I discovered that you can choose which model of girl you’d like, just like you would a pair of shoes.

It reminded me of the hologram girlfriend that Ryan Gosling’s character had in Blade Runner 2049, which came out last year.

What do you make of this? Are you surprised that you can now buy a digital girlfriend with just a few clicks of a mouse?

Doug: It’s a vision of things to come. I don’t think most people know that this is happening. But it’s an inevitable implication of Moore’s Law, the observation made in 1965 by Gordon Moore that computer power would double about every two years. But it’s not just computers; technology is advancing at that rate in a number of areas. Augmented reality is just one example. Artificial intelligence, robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech are also advancing extremely rapidly.

It seems to me that we’re likely to see the Singularity within the next generation, just as Ray Kurzweil predicted. Among many other strange things, we’ll have humanoids and androids that will be increasingly hard to distinguish from actual people.

You’ll also be able to have your own Mr. (or Miss) Data, the android from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Albeit a relatively low-functioning version. This will have immense societal implications on how society will function, and how people relate to each other.

Of course, that’s 20 or 25 years from now, and there will be many steps along the way. But one thing you won’t have to wait long for is artificial reality suits. You’ll be able to step into one and experience an alternate reality: sight, smell, touch, hearing, and even taste I suppose. It will be vastly more involving than watching a movie…

To continue reading: Doug Casey on Virtual Girlfriends

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Is Social Security Worth Its Cost? by Kevin Dayaratna, Rachel Greszler and Patrick Tyrrell

In sometimes excrutiating detail this Heritage Foundation report demonstrates why, for many Americans, Social Security will be worth nowhere near what it costs them. From Kevin Dayaratna, Rachel Greszler and Patrick Tyrrell at heritage.org:

SUMMARY

Americans would be better off keeping their payroll tax contributions and saving them in private retirement accounts than having to contribute to the government’s broken Social Security system. Social Security’s design has, over the decades, presumed that many Americans are too incompetent to make informed decisions for themselves, but few Americans believe that the government knows better than they do what is best for them and their families. Moreover, Social Security’s financial structure effectively guarantees that workers will receive extremely low—or even negative returns—on their payroll taxes.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

This report compares what Social Security can provide and what workers could receive if they had ownership of their Social Security payroll taxes.

This information can help individuals of all ages understand what they can expect to receive from Social Security or from private savings.

Virtually all Americans would be better off keeping their payroll taxes and saving them in private retirement accounts.

Select a Section 1/0

Social Security began as an anti-poverty insurance program, aimed at preventing workers from outliving their savings when they were no longer physically able to work. As such, Social Security was limited in nature, beginning as only a 2 percent payroll tax—and promising to never take more than 6 percent of workers’ pay. Today, Social Security’s Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) retirement program takes 10.6 percent of workers’ pay, and its Disability Insurance (DI) program takes another 1.8 percent, for a combined total of 12.4 percent. This is more than most Americans pay in income taxes.

As Social Security has grown in size and scope, it has become more than just an insurance and poverty prevention program—and with millions of seniors living below the federal poverty line, it is not doing a great job even at that. Having reduced the incentive to save for retirement, Social Security now represents a significant portion of most workers’ retirement savings. Despite the fact that Social Security was intended to be an insurance program, providing a secure retirement income, individuals have no legal claim to their scheduled Social Security benefits, as the program can only pay out as much money as it has on hand and Congress can change benefit levels if it wants. Not surprisingly, more than 60 percent of workers under the age of 50 do not think Social Security will be able to pay them a benefit when they retire.

To continue reading: Is Social Security Worth Its Cost?

Will History Record Illinois As A Failure Of Democracy? by Mark Glennon

Illinois will soon be a failed state.From Mark Glennon at wirepoints.com:

As America celebrates its Independence this week, it’s right to consider the most far-reaching questions raised by Illinois’ crisis.

Did the Founding Fathers miss something? Did we miss something the Founders stood for? Is our form of democracy fundamentally flawed?

The importance of those questions is part of why Wirepoints exists, and why we hope other states follow Illinois’ story.

Illinois inherited assets most states and nations envy. Its GDP remains larger than all but fifteen countries of the world. More importantly, it inherited constitutional self-government.

But it’s failing.

Illinois is bankrupt. The state and many of its towns and cities sink further into insolvency each day — the facts and numbers are irrefutable. Its moral insolvency is less quantifiable but no less apparent. Graft, both legal and illegal, is exposed incessantly, usually to no end. Scandal fatigue overtook the state long ago. Numbed voters left politicians free to do little good and plenty wrong.Not a single major reform, fiscal or otherwise, is currently under serious consideration in Illinois.

How can a democracy have done this to itself?

The reasons are myriad. Many are debatable. Some are particular to Illinois. Most of the 20,000 articles we’ve linked to or written on this site are about those reasons.

But on the overarching question of universal importance — whether Illinois has exposed some fundamental flaw of democracy — the story hasn’t ended. Nobody knows how Illinois’ crisis ultimately will sort out, but there is reason for qualified, partial optimism, albeit over a long time with much pain in the interim.

That optimism derives from the likelihood that much of our crisis will be resolved in courts — federal courts exercising their place in the federal system we inherited — and the hope that those courts will honor the foundational principles of American government. The Founders’ foresight, not their failure, perhaps may yet shape Illinois’ history. Perhaps.

The initial questions that might end up in the federal courts have already gotten some attention. If Illinois amended its constitution to delete its pension protection clause, would the United States Constitution’s Contract Clause still prohibit pension reform? Could the federal Bankruptcy Code be amended to allow bankruptcy for states? Could some other form of federal legislation authorize adjustment of pension obligations? And if Illinois eventually authorizes bankruptcy for municipalities, which is probably unavoidable at some point, many questions about that process remain unanswered by courts.

More fundamentally, it’s only a matter of time before a federal court faces a situation somewhere in Illinois where essential, basic government services fail. A court will face a “police power” question, as it’s called.

To continue reading: Will History Record Illinois As A Failure Of Democracy?

The Global Economy Is Running Out Of Its Most Valuable Resource, by Gefira

People are an economic resource, who knew? From Gefira at gefira.org:

The current state of the financial markets and the global economy depends on one single resource that nobody, even such renowned economists as Paul Krugman or Robert J. Shiller and dissenters like Max Keiser and Jim Rickards, dares to talk about. In private discussions central bank managers told us that they were aware that none of the existing economic theories and models fit this new situation. Yet, they do not broach it in their public speeches and lectures, preferring to deal with such topics as balance sheets and business cycles. All of which reminds one of a family visiting a terminally sick relative: everybody knows that he will never recover, and nobody whispers as much as a word about it.

All productive nations whether in East Asia or the West, have reached the peak of their 250-year-long development. Even the most devastating wars could not prevent their populations from growing in the long run. It is only now, during the many decades of peace and affluence, that the numbers of the inhabitants of the developed countries have been decreasing and the trend continues. The phenomenon has not been brought about by any famine or natural disaster but by the sheer fact that people do not want to have children.

Japan is an economic bellwether. The country refrained from mass migration and during the 2006-2016 period its population shrank by 0.5%, oil consumption dropped by 22%, car sales by 7% and GDP by 4%.

Japan is the first country to cope with the new reality and investors need to change their mindset to understand what this new reality stands for. In the past, every business cycle, recession or recovery, ended with a higher GDP and larger economy than before. In the future we will see the opposite: every business cycle will conclude with a lower GDP and a smaller economy than the previous one. A shrinking population entails economic consequences. Oil consumption will decline, car sales will go down, and national GDP will be lower and lower. The paradox of it all is that the total economy may be shrinking, and yet people in the US, Europe and Japan will be doing better than before. Why? Because a less crowded country means less dependence on (foreign) oil, lower pollution and CO2 emissions, fewer traffic jams, more space and food abundance. It is the financial sector that will be afflicted by the new reality, not the people. Without the support of central banks the Western financial industry will not survive a continued depopulation, a situation in which people save and spend less and less money. A buoyant economy invests in win-win deals, a stable economy is a zero-sum game, and in a depressed economy all investors lose. That is why central bankers are considering the imposition of negative interest rates. These are flashing warning signals.

To continue reading: The Global Economy Is Running Out Of Its Most Valuable Resource

No Party for Old White Men, by Patrick J. Buchanan

It may not be the party for younger white men, either. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

For Nancy Pelosi, 78, Steny Hoyer, 79, and Joe Biden, 75, the primary results from New York’s 14th congressional district are a fire bell in the night.

All may be swept away in the coming revolution. That is the message of the crushing defeat of 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley, who had aspired to succeed Pelosi and become speaker of the House.

The No. 4 House Democrat, Crowley, 56, had not faced primary opposition since 2004. He outspent his opponent, 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was tending bar a year ago, by 10 to one.

The son of an Irish immigrant, Crowley was leader of the Queens Democratic Club. He had the unions’ support. So confident was he that he skipped a debate and sent a Latina politician to stand in for him.

First comes Hubris, the god of arrogance. Then comes Nemesis, the goddess of retribution.

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Tossing Crowley’s credentials back in his face, Ocasio-Cortez ran as a Latina, a person of color, a millennial and militant socialist who lived in her district, and painted Crowley as a white male with lots of PAC money who had moved to D.C. and sent his kids to school in Virginia.

“The Democratic Party takes working-class communities for granted; they take people of color for granted,” railed Ocasio-Cortez. The party assumes “that we’re going to turn out no matter how bland or half-stepping (their) proposals are.”

“Bland or half-stepping” are not words her agenda calls to mind.

A Democratic Socialist, endorsed by MoveOn, Black Lives Matter and People for Bernie, Ocasio-Cortez favors Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage, 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, free tuition at public colleges, federal jobs for all who want them, and abolishing an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that runs “black sites” on the Mexican border where “human rights abuses are happening.”

When tear gas was used in Puerto Rico, whence her family came, Ocasio-Cortez laid it at Crowley’s feet: “You are responsible for this.”

Crowley tried gamely to keep up, declaring that ICE, for which thousands of Americans work to protect our borders, is a “fascist” organization, presumably something like Ernst Rohm’s Brown Shirts.

While the victory of Ocasio-Cortez is bad news for Pelosi and Hoyer, it may also be a harbinger of what is to come. For the Democratic Party appears about to unleash its radical left, its Maxine Waters wing, and give its ideology another run in the yard.

To continue reading: No Party for Old White Men

Has the West the Will to Survive? by Patrick Buchanan

There is a difference between civilization and savagery, whatever civilization’s flaws and savagery’s virtues. There is nothing virtuous about a civilization that will not defend itself, and that includes defending itself from overrun by people who either despise or have no appreciation of the that civilization. From Patrick Buchanan at buchanan.org:

“If you’re … pathetically weak, the country is going to be overrun with millions of people, and if you’re strong, then you don’t have any heart, that’s a tough dilemma. … I’d rather be strong.”

So said President Donald Trump, on issuing his order halting the separation of children from parents caught breaking into the country. Trump’s enemies are celebrating a victory. Yet the issue remains.

Under U.S. law, teenagers and tots cannot be detained for more than 20 days and must be held in the least-restrictive facilities. But if the children cannot be separated from the parents as they await trial, both will have to be released to keep families together.

We are back to “catch and release.”

When that welcome news hits Central America, the migrant stream moving north will become a river that never ceases to flow.

The questions America and the West face might thus be framed:

Is there a liberal, progressive, Christian way to seal a 2,000-mile border, halt millions of migrants from crossing it illegally, and send intruders back whence they came? Or does the preservation of Western nations and peoples require measures from which liberal societies today reflexively recoil?

Does the survival of the West as a civilization require a ruthlessness the West no longer possess?

Consider what our fathers did to build this country.

The English settlers brought in 600,000 slaves, ethnically cleansed the Indians, joined their cousins in a war to expel the French, then revolted and threw out those cousins to claim all the land to the Mississippi for ourselves.

Jefferson grabbed the vast Louisiana Territory for $15 million from Napoleon, who had no right to sell it. Andrew Jackson drove the Spanish out of Florida, sent the Cherokee packing on the Trail of Tears, and told a dissenting Chief Justice John Marshall where he could go.

Sam Houston tore Texas away from Mexico. “Jimmy” Polk took the Southwest and California in a war Ulysses Grant called “the most unjust ever fought.” When the South declared independence, Lincoln sent a million-man army to march them back in a war that cost 600,000 lives.

William McKinley sent armies and warships to seize Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines. The indigenous peoples were not consulted. “God told me to take the Philippines,” said McKinley.

To continue reading: Has the West the Will to Survive?

Italy challenges the Western order, by Frank Sellers

Italy doesn’t like its debt, its immigrants, or the EU, and thinks perhaps Europe’s ought to loosen up towards Russia. This is all contrary to the EU playbook. From Frank Sellers at theduran.com:

With a massive influx of immigrants from across Africa and the Middle East, and growing poverty, Italy voted in a populist government representing policies which would seem to virtually overturn the postwar European order.

The austerity measures which have been imposed upon the Italian people have pushed more and more of them down into poverty, with the poverty rate doubling over the course of the past decade.

Relative to migration, Italy is one of the Southern European countries taking the brunt of the migrants who are flooding into Europe by the thousands, helped along by various NGOs which seek to alter the demographic makeup and economic and political order of Europe under the guise of humanitarianism.

The present economic metrics tend to perceive the profits of multinational corporations as a gauge of the health of the economy, rather than the economic situation on the ground level, faced by the Italian citizen. All of these and more are things which this new government has a view towards radically changing.

To combat Austerity, which may be tossed out the window, the option on the table is to review treaties to which Italy is partied which impose or advise them. Rather than gutting the population for the money which the government needs in order to cover obligations to multinational financial interests, a proposal was broached of launching a universal basic income, reduction in the pension age, as well as a flat tax system.

And while the migrant policy is still evolving, it has had a view towards repatriating the migrants which are already within Italy’s borders. Italy has already flexed its will on the migrants issue over refusing a ship full of migrants port in Italy, forcing it to set sail for Spain.

Foreign policy aims at softening the approach towards Russia by eliminating sanctions and by putting the focus on improving relations, benefitting Italy both by allowing a resumption of trade, and the perspective of Russia’s will and capacity to help get a handle on the situation in the Middle East, which is part of what prompts the migration issue, due to the region’s instability.

What this could mean is that an already strained relationship between Italy and the EU could be put to the test, or altered in a significant manner if these proposals are put into play after the fashion in which they were introduced during the elections cycle.

To continue reading: Italy challenges the Western order