Decline of the west

The last man on the moon left in 1972

The tallest building in the united states was finished in 1974.

Cars are becoming humbler.

US electricity production was growing exponentially until 1972.  After 1972 it grew more slowly.  Per capita electricity consumption  seems likely to have peaked around 2007 or so.

Supposedly GDP is still growing rapidly, just as supposedly inflation is zero, but it seems improbable that GDP is growing when per capita electricity consumption is not.

One could present all sorts of rationalizations for the decline in manned space exploration – for example that manned space exploration was a polite way of demonstrating superior capability to nuke the other side, and supposedly we are so much more civilized and mature now that the need for such chest beating has diminished.

However, by 2000, we have more compelling evidence of decline.  The buildings damaged or destroyed in 9/11 have not been repaired or replaced.

The west is the past. America sinks into Eurosocialism, while Europe becomes the western satrapies of the new Persian empire. Every rising civilization was a lender, innovator, and investor, every declining civilization a borrower.  California used to be the place where the future was invented, but no longer.

The west’s lead was California’s lead.  And California is no more.

Where, for example, was the netbook commercialized?  Who invented and built the “Amazon” Kindle?  Who is today creating the blue light lasers that are the core of every DVD reader and writer?

The Kindle was developed in Taiwan, by Eink.   It is some standard computing parts wrapped around a new display technology invented, developed and manufactured by Eink.

Indians looking to study abroad rate Melior in Singapore higher than Stanford in the USA.

Today, our universities turn out people trained in political correctness and “diversity”.  Every male CS graduate can parse a boolean expression, but most female CS graduates cannot, indicating that a male needs to be able to parse a boolean expression to get a CS degree, and a female does not. The end stage of this process is that no one needs to be able to parse a boolean expression, but everyone needs to be able to hate dead white males.

China leads the world in coal to liquids technology.

China leads the world in internet based transactions.

The simplest explanation for the fact that western research seems to have fallen off a cliff is that we are now reaching the point where hating dead white males is a more important academic qualification than anything else.  Doubtless it is in reality more complicated than that, but the simplest explanation works quite well:  Consider, for example, the recent demonization of Chagnon.  The most striking factor was the ignorance and stupidity of the academic associations condemning him.  They just did not know stuff.  It was as if they don’t read books by dead white males, as if they feared that reading such stuff might contaminate their minds with dangerous thoughts.

What we have had for some time in academia is theocracy, not meritocracy, and theocracy tends to promote those whose faith is most zealous and reliable.  It is easier to have zealous and reliable faith if you are dumb as two planks glued together.

Who is at the top of Academia:  I suppose the tip top crust are the people who condemned Chagnon, and people like the leading scientists of global warming, Mann and Phil Jones, who are demonstrably not nearly as smart as I am.  Mann, for example, keeps making ludicrous and amateurish mistakes in his statistics, and any time Phil Jones wants something scientific done, he summons a post grad, and tells the postgrad to produce a chart that proves such and such, suggesting that Phil Jones cannot produce such charts, nor tell if the chart actually does prove such and such.

Mann’s work demonstrates he is simply stupid.  Mann’s power over other scientists demonstrates that simply stupid people are on top.  Stupid people on top provide a simple explanation of why science does not get done.

How did Mann get to the top?  By telling the state what it wants to hear, by political correctness.

Demonstrably, the people in charge of science and research are not the tip top crust.  They got where they are by hating dead white males more than anyone.

The fact that undergraduates are marked on the basis of race, gender, and political correctness is fairly harmless.  That academics get power over other academics on the basis of political correctness has not been so harmless, and we are today paying the price, in that western research is failing.

Singapore has sustained its rate of growth.  Taiwan has sustained its rate of growth.  Therefore China is likely to sustain its rate of growth.

Assuming China grows like Singapore from now on, and the US grows like Europe (counting European growth as real, even though such growth as occurs is government employees, whose product is valued at cost, which cost grows at astonishing rate) then China should surpass the US in total GDP by 2019 or so.

China should surpass the US in GDP per head, as Singapore already has, by around 2045 or so.  Taiwan should surpass the US in GDP per head in 2018 or so.

The financial system of the west is collapsing because the fed and its bureaucrats have the mission to replace financial panics with wise regulatory authority – which might work if wise regulatory authority had the will to punish elite wrongdoing the way financial panics did, and resist the desire of politicians to use the financial system as a piggy bank for vote buying the way bankers threatened by financial panics did.  Since brave regulators are not to be found, the replacement is not working.

The last time the west stalled, it stalled for four hundred years under intellectual stagnation induced by theocracy, from 1277 to 1648.

We are seeing multiple simultaneous crises.  Academia is a thousand loudspeakers controlled by one microphone, and that microphone in the hands of an idiot.

All the massive financial crime that the financial crisis exposed <http://blog.jim.com/economics/mortgage-fraud-predatory-borrowing.html> continues unpunished and unabated, foreshadowing another, even bigger financial crisis coming up fast.

The graffiti on the buildings that are now owned by the Federal Reserve foretells our future.

We are also seeing an explosive gold rush in government as rent seeking monopolies multiply.  Thus it used to be, for example, that the local council gave itself a monopoly of water and sewage, though there is in practice no rationale for the sewage monopoly – septic tanks and highly localized sewage farms are more economical.  Large centralized sewage facilities beloved of councils and council unions suffer severe diseconomies of scale due to the high cost of  piping sludge any reasonable distance. Seeing the lucrative flow of money, every other level of government gets into the act.  Just as to get anything done, a private individual needs multiple permits from the council, each requiring him to hire numerous “consultants” at $400 per hour, the council needs multiple permits from state and federal governments, requiring the council to hire numerous “consultants” at $100 000 per hour.  The tip is emitting methane!  Oh the horror.  Someone official comes to officially look at the methane, charges  $100,000 for looking, and issues an enforceable “recommendation” for an open ended and indefinite series of remediation measures, each of which will require another look.

Oh what did we do before there were people to officially and highly scientifically investigate the fact that tips are apt to pong?  What would we do without government to supervise government?  And surely any problems that might occur can be easily remedied by providing yet another layer of regulatory authority to regulate the regulators that are regulating the regulators that are regulating the local council.

This, like the housing boom is unsustainable.  A single monopoly will charge inefficiently high prices and produce inefficiently low product, which is indefinitely sustainable. Multiple layered monopolies suffer a coordination problem that results in them charging infinite prices and producing zero product, as each attempts to get the majority of the squeeze.

This problem is remediable only through collapse or foreign conquest.  As I have remarked several times, the reason that Dubai can build high towers and we no longer can, is that in Dubai, you only need the approval of one theocrat and one holy religion.

I hope for collapse, since foreign conquest is likely to be unpleasant.  Last time around, however we had stagnation for four hundred years.   Collapse would be preferable.

Democracy is self destructing, as it inexorably moves further and further to the left – the fate of the past democracies of Athens and Rome.

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3 Responses to “Decline of the west”

  1. Bill says:

    I largely agree with the post. At this point, it is obvious that science in America is in deep trouble, as it has been in Europe for some time. It”s also pretty clear that this has a lot to do with the capture of universities by the government and by the subsequent pollution of university culture.

    I don’t see what theocracy has to do with it, though. Some theocracies have led to the disturbing extremism you mention: Cromwell’s and Hitler’s, for example. But, there are many examples of theocracies which did not: the early caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, the Zoroastrian version of the Persian Empire, the Roman Empire, China, etc. Even the Soviet theocracy did not have the properties you are talking about. The (early generation) true believers were replaced by disbelieving technocrats like Gorbachev. And you mention Dubai yourself . . .

    Our current elite does not believe its dogmatic pronouncements. It’s much more like the link to Gonzalo Lira you gave before (thanks for that, by the way: he is great). They are largely hypocritical sycophants with a few insufferably stupid but totally unethical true believers thrown in. Mann is a stupid true believer (true believer in Gaea-worship, not in his own work). Jones and Hanson are reasonably smart, marginally competent, amoral administrators. Their types just shine through to anyone with significant experience with academics and gvt bureaucrats. With high probability, the Associate Provost of X is a guy like Jones at pretty much any university. At good places, the Provost and the President are much smarter, smoother versions of Jones. The reaction to the Climategate affair by academics is the one unfaked thing about the affair—they genuinely think “What’s the big deal? This is how things work.” That this reaction exists in considerable tension with their pretensions to moral and epistemic authority is kept carefully out of mind. It’s just like all those Harvard professors not getting fired for plagiarism.

    This is all to the good. PC could pop like a soap bubble, just the way the Soviet Union popped like a soap bubble. It’s hard to say when it will happen, just like it was hard to say when the Soviet Union would pop. All revolutions look impossible in prospect and inevitable in retrospect.

  2. jim says:

    Bill says:

    Some theocracies have led to the disturbing extremism you mention: Cromwell’s and Hitler’s, for example. But, there are many examples of theocracies which did not: the early caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, the Zoroastrian version of the Persian Empire, the Roman Empire, China, etc.

    Theocracy in Dubai is mellowed by monarchy, aristocracy, and considerable quantities of fine wine.

    If, however, one has meritocratic theocracy, then they make an effort to select for high faith – which in practice leads to cynicism, but cynicism better concealed than in Dubai.

  3. […] The last man on the moon left in 1972 […]

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