Will Global Sustainability Ever Be Possible?

by John Brian Shannon

If you haven’t seen these two short videos on demographics and sustainability from Professor Hans Rosling take the time to do it now. Hans at his best!

If you prefer to watch video 1 at www.ted.com click here>> “Hans Rosling Shows the Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen”

If you prefer to watch video 2 at http://www.ted.com here>> “Hans Rosling on Global Population Growth”

Bonus video from The Economist: “VideoGraphic: Global Fertility”

Bonus article from The Economist: “Go Forth and Multiply a Lot Less”

John Brian Shannon

John Brian Shannon

ABOUT JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

I write about green energy, sustainable development and economics. My blogs appear in the Arabian Gazette, EcoPoint, EnergyBoom, Huffington Post, United Nations Development Programme, WACSI — and other quality publications.

“It is important to assist all levels of government and the business community to find sustainable ways forward for industry and consumers.”

Green Energy blog: http://johnbrianshannon.com
Economics blog: https://jbsnews.wordpress.com
Twitter: @JBSCanada

 

United Nations Development Programme Report Due in September

by John Brian Shannon

I have recently had the honour of being asked to submit one of my articles to the United Nations Development Programme – which is preparing a 60-page report summarizing the implementation of sustainable energy world-wide.

This report will be made available to the public in September and mine is one of the featured articles. Many thanks to Danielle Crittenden my Managing Editor at Huffington Post Canada who was the first editor to approve and publish the first version of this article which was titled As China Goes Green What Is Canada Waiting For?

I also owe thanks to Emma Ellwood-Russell, my editor at EcoPoint™ who published a later version of this article titled China Goes Green and to EnergyBoom.com which also published the last variant of this article.

Specifically, the UNDP has decided to publish the energyboom.com version which was titled China Motivated to Adopt Sustainable Energy Solutions crediting me as the authour and generously providing a link to the energyboom.com website in the UNDP report.

Congratulations to my Managing Editor at EnergyBoom – Nathanael Baker, who has researched and reported on the issues of renewable energy, sustainability, and climate change for over two years. He has provided research to the New York Times and The Economist, as well as being published on different media outlets including, The Energy Collective.

To read the article, as it appears at the energyboom.com website, please click on this link: China Motivated to Adopt Sustainable Energy Solutions

John Brian Shannon writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics from British Columbia, Canada. His articles appear in the Arabian Gazette, EcoPoint Asia, EnergyBoom, Huffington Post, the United Nations Development Programme – and other quality publications.

John believes it is important to assist all levels of government and the business community to find sustainable ways forward for industry and consumers.

Check out his personal blog at: http://johnbrianshannon.com

Check out his economics blog at: https://jbsnews.wordpress.com

Follow John on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/#!/JBSCanada

 

 

JOBS: The Key to Capitalism’s Success

by John Brian Shannon

As we all know, several political/economic models are in use in the early 21st century. A little refresher for you first, if your high-school political science classes didn’t especially thrill you.

The capitalist system employed by the Western nations and some other nations, is often referred to as the Free Enterprise system, the Free Market system, Wealth Accumulation, Capital Accumulation or the Open Economic model – depending on the context of a conversation. Politics can vary within capitalist systems – which are often a variant of democracy (civil rights enshrined in a constitution, the right to vote, rights to property and person and freedom of expression) form part of this model. Socialist parties represent the “left wing” and conservative “right-wing” parties are represented along with independent candidates as elected by the registered voters.

In the capitalist system, greed is the primary agent of economic change. If you want to eat, you work for money to buy your food. If you would rather drive to work than walk, you work for money to buy a car and insurance. An individual “works” to earn “profit” to purchase goods or services. The underlying premise being, that if an individual has a decent education and works “smart” and “hard” you will accumulate wealth over time. Western corporations and governments operate in a similar fashion.

So, why isn’t it working?

“It IS working!” wealthy Western individuals emphatically state.

“It IS working!” Western corporations emphatically state.

“It IS working!” Western governments emphatically state.

And in those cases, it most emphatically IS working!

But the rest of us are not. Working, that is. You know… jobs, working, making a living, paying the bills, making the rent… and all the rest of it.

You will recall my words from a previous paragraph; “An individual “works” to earn “profit” to purchase goods or services. The underlying premise being, that if an individual has a decent education and works “smart” and “hard” you will accumulate wealth over time.”

All good there. Except what happens in the capitalist system when there aren’t enough jobs?

The short answer is; A failed economic system. Ever more wealth becomes concentrated in a ever smaller percentage of the general population. You guessed it — 1% of the Western population will always agree that the Open Economic system works well for them.

For Western nations it is death by a thousand cuts and only in the interests of economic survival will our present system evolve into something very unlike the present model and it may take as long as 50 years to do so.

Let me back up a bit.

I promised you a political science refresher and here is the other half of it. The Communist system, sometimes called the Statist model, the Centralized Economic model, or the Closed Economic model, does not employ greed as the primary driver of human activity. Profit, either at the individual or corporate level is unknown and all economic activity is considered the property of the state. The only things that really matter to a communist is the national GDP and the sovereignty of the country. Of course, civil rights and personal freedoms are enshrined in the constitutions of communist countries – although at the end of the day personal rights can be and often are subjugated in the best interests of the state.

For one example of this, in the former USSR alcoholism rates were astonishingly high. But this was never reported in the Soviet media as it was thought that publicizing this knowledge would emotionally depress workers across the nation – and thereby suppress economic output. Therefore and officially, in the former USSR there was no alcoholism – and hence, the government-owned hospitals failed to devise a treatment for a disease which only occurred in the decadent West! If a citizen of the former USSR arrived at a hospital or doctor’s office for treatment of his alcoholism, he was told that he suffered from “an imaginary disease” and was counseled to stop “trying to get attention” by emulating Western behaviors. And no doubt put on some sort of watch list for good measure.

Eventually the former USSR collapsed mainly due to internal forces. However, some communist nations remain and are thriving. China has surpassed India, France, the UK, Germany, Japan and every other country except for the United States in GDP and accumulated wealth – and has done so by employing the statist economic model. According to most economics Professors, China will surpass the United States GDP by 2040. That’s 28 years from now in case you are a Chinese economist counting the days.

The main reason for the dramatic growth-driven economic performance in China is that many Western corporations have chosen to do business in China rather than the West – due to lower land and construction costs, lower labour rates, the lower costs associated with a relaxed or non-existent regulatory environment (depending on the industry and region of the country) and other cost-lowering factors associated with operating a business in China.

Beginning about 1999, U.S. corporations especially, have embraced the opportunity to lower their costs by closing their North American factories and building brand-new factories in China – sometimes with significant communist Chinese government assistance! Other western corporations too, have been closing our factories by the thousands in America and Europe and relocating their manufacturing operations to China – and on account of this economic activity, the Western economies combined are at present, 150 million jobs short of full employment. This trend of creating jobs in communist China whilst simultaneously creating higher unemployment in the Western democracies will continue as long as Western voters don’t complain too much.

By 2030, the Western democracies will be much-weakened in comparison to a still-booming China and the other Asian nations. At that time, Asia will be supplying almost all the manufactured goods for the Western economies which will by then, have lost 300 million jobs to Asia.

Also by 2030, perhaps as many as 700 million Westerners will be retired persons receiving some form of Social Security – while millions of younger people won’t be old enough to join the workforce. It will be a time when less than half of the West’s population will be employed and able to support the Western economies. From the Western point of view, this trend gets worse until 2060 when economic performance is expected to plateau in Asia.

A paradigm-shift has been taking place right under our Western noses for three decades now and we have just now begun to notice. China will soon be the dominant world power – and we handed it to them in exchange for higher profits for Western corporations.

It’s said; “He who has the gold makes the rules” – and it is shaping up to be a very different world indeed.

Follow John Brian Shannon on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/JBSCanada

The Economist Asks: Does Britain need a fiscal boost? — MY COMMENT

Just as a matter of principle, the UK should not be running deficits. It is  unconscionable for any 1st world nation, especially one with so many gifts, to NOT spend within it’s means.

Running deficits year in and year out, is the kind of undisciplined behavior we expect from the most primitive undeveloped economies, not the UK, for goodness sakes!

Legislation should be passed in the UK (and independently in all other 1st world nations) banning deficit spending by the federal government except during wartime, or other significant emergencies.

Whether it is affordable or not, is irrelevant as it is simply morally wrong to mismanage, when sound management would suffice.

Mismanage how?

Every pound that is borrowed when in deficit, and then later tacked onto the federal debt of a nation, takes food out of the mouths of the citizens – as each individual pound borrowed carries with it a borrowing cost (compound interest) which, any banker can tell you will end up costing you very many pounds in compound interest.

Which would be almost fine, I suppose, if that interest was staying in the country. But it’s not.

International lenders carry shiploads of money out of the UK and other Western economies every single year in the form of interest paid on government deficits and accumulated deficits (debt) from years and decades gone by.

It is a travesty and it’s immoral to give away the wealth of a nation in slow motion. That money is gone forever.

For now, to solve the immediate problem, the UK as it is sovereign in it’s own currency, should print more than enough money to pay the deficit — PLUS 20% — and that 20% could be used as a stimulus fund on “shovel ready” infrastructure money in the highest unemployment regions of the country.

Instantly, that money would begin working to return the economy to a better place and through taxation (employed people spend more and pay more income-tax) lift the government’s revenues.

Not only would the government save the cost of the compound interest for this year’s deficit, they would receive much of it back through various taxation, further removing stress from the government’s accounts. Let alone continuing to pay interest on it for a decade or two, before finally getting this year’s deficit paid off.

And while they are at it, they should invoke a slight devaluation of the pound, to enhance exports, to further stimulate the economy, adding jobs in the process, which means adding more taxpayers to the government revenue stream.

To read the original article and to vote in the poll, visit:

http://www.economist.com/economist-asks/does-britain-need-fiscal-boost

Follow John Brian Shannon on Twitter: https://twitter.com/@JBSCanada

The Debt of Democracy!

Democracy is, by definition, always a work in progress. That’s not a knock against democracy, for every other system so far, has turned out to be worse. But it is a realistic appraisal of our system.

One of the things about the democratic system which is in drastic need of improvement is the present election cycle which rewards politicians with more terms in office for tossing unaffordable goodies at taxpayers, usually just before each election.

We keep falling for it! Is is “their” fault, or is it “our” fault?

Well, we keep re-hiring them! So, it’s our fault!

Not only that, it’s worse than that! Remember former Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his Finance Minister Paul Martin?

Weren’t those the two that took Canada from near ‘junk-bond’ status – well on-track to be in worse shape than Greece (!) is now, and within 6 years returned Canada to a zero-deficit condition AND… AND(!) with significant government debt pay-downs?

Well, yes they were.

For that stellar accomplishment Jean Chretien and then Paul Martin were booted out of office!

I say we get the governments we hire, the governments we deserve, and the governments that spend more than we can afford, because that is who we as a people are – rotten little children. And then we compound that by being profoundly ungrateful towards those who actually do something to restore our fiscal balance.

Until we grow up as a society and learn enough to know better than to hire over-spending politicians we will ever be in a state of near-economic peril.

In the meantime, I’m a big fan of balanced-budget legislation for all levels of government. Not only that, Canada’s total accumulated debt is obscene for a first-world nation with uncountable resources and a small population, we must do better than merely balancing our budgets every year, we must pay down our debt to reasonable levels.

My goodness, little Leichtenstien with next to no resources nor territory runs zero deficits and has no debt at all!! Many other well-run countries do well with tiny deficits for convenience-sake, not for the sake of crisis management and barely noticeable government debt. None of them has Canada’s advantages – for crisis’ sakes!

Wikipedia has some good but basic information on this, check Wikipedia “Economy of Sweden” “Economy of Norway” Economy of Australia” – same goes for Leichtenstien, Oman, Qatar, Argentina (yes, Argentina), South Korea and many others.

Apart from having 40% debt-to-GDP ratios, or less, and low government debt, all of the following countries are otherwise “normal” having excellent growth, low inflation and unemployment figures, they score well on the global competitiveness index and their citizens enjoy good-to-excellent living standards . They also have low per capita crime rates and fine health care systems. Two, effectively have 0% debt-to-GDP.

For example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Australia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Liechtenstein

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Qatar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Oman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Kuwait

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Sweden

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Switzerland

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_South_Korea

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Argentina

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_South_Africa

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_New_Zealand

Finally, the best link on global debt belongs to The Economist:
http://www.economist.com/content/global_debt_clock

For plenty of links on these topics visit my blog:
http://www.scoop.it/t/politics-in-the-21st-century