Bryden Allen's Website

How Our Problems Evolve and get Worse



If look down a little, you will see my diagram of the principal processes, which cause these five major problems to get worse. Even this diagram is quite complicated. But this complexity is what you must expect. You cannot expect that the causes of our current major woes will be simple. If it was easy, then we would have solved these problems years ago.
            In this diagram, the items are the processes, which I think are the causes that our problems are getting worse. The major problems are in red.

 

In this long webpage, I will discuss all these processes and how they react with other processes and the problems. In this following text, I highlight the first time a process is referred to by putting this item in bold. This means that you, my reader, can easily go through the text and find out which process that you might be particularly interested in.

 

Everything I will be writing now is very much open to doubt. But you must remember that all the items in red are definite because they can be accurately measured. Therefore there must be some reasons for these problems to occur. This text simply gives my personal understanding of these reasons. If you have a better understanding of the situation, then you should E-mail me your understanding of your reasons as well. I, at least, will read your reasons – and ponder over their veracity. We all need to start thinking more carefully about these problems and their various causes.

 

 

Both my processes of “We always Choose the Easiest Option” and “Forgetting the Distant Future” have been discussed in We always accept the Easiest Path. So I will say no more about these processes here. My items on the right hand side of the diagram are of a more individual nature. It is better to deal with all these problems together, when I have to talk about the horrible subject of “control”. It is clearly best for us to leave this ghastly subject till as late as is possible.

 

Thus the first process I wish to discuss is “Staying in the Same Job”. This process has also been covered a little in my We always accept the Easiest Path webpage. Briefly then - when a person does a task for a long period of time: they become very good at their job; they become proud of their ability; their job becomes easier for them; they usually earn more money; and they usually have more job security. So no wonder most people prefer to stay in the same job for as long as possible. This situation applies particularly to the people who hold the most senior and important jobs.
            And then these people naturally want to protect their “Job Security”. So these people form powerful: unions, guilds, teacher federations, institutions (lawyers and doctors) and various employer federations. These associations will protect their members: jobs, incomes, conditions and wealth (this wealth case of course mainly applies to the various owners of industry). This is a sensible precaution for all such people to take.
            This is fine for those people who do have secure jobs or are in charge. But this situation is not so good for the people who don’t have a job. And this situation particularly applies to the young people, when they start into the work force. Thus people, who have been doing these jobs for years, have taken all good normal jobs. And their various associations protect their jobs. Furthermore in times of recession, it is usually the new people in employment who get the push. So, when times are bad, the people without employment (or short employment) can have a very tough time indeed.
            In my utopian time, no one had any real problem about getting a job. At that time, many soldiers had just returned into the workforce after fighting in the war. All people respected these people and they made sure these people could be fitted in the workforce. And afterwards, I think we young people were included with them. So all people could get jobs and people didn’t worry too much about getting a job. But this is definitely not the case now.
            So I claim that giving older people job security supported by powerful wealthy associations is bad for our young people. So this is the beginning of a series of measures all of which result in Inequality between the Young and Old.

 

The above process results in some people finding it hard to get a job. And our governments have sensibly reacted in two different ways to this problem. The first way is to encourage “Economic Growth.
           This growth means that new jobs will be created all the time. Thus any unemployed person can hopefully get one of these new jobs. On the whole this technique has been reasonably successful in keeping most people in employment for the past 50 years.
            The second way is to provide “More High Education” for the young people (or retraining schemes for the older people). This further education is necessary because these newly created jobs are usually of a more sophisticated nature e.g. IT jobs, advertising, therapists (for people with various medical problems), etc. This process has also been reasonably successful in getting some young people into employment.
            These two different processes lead to two of the measurable problems I spoke of in the last webpage. Thus economic growth leads directly to “Less Spare Time. This result follows by the very definition of spare-time - because spare-time does not contribute to economic growth. So, if people forego their spare time, then they will work instead - and their resulting income will contribute to the GDP. Conversely, if people do less work (to give them more spare-time), then a nation’s GDP will be diminished. This may seem a strange result. But we humans have always had a love/hate relationship with both spare-time and work. When we have spare-time, we feel we should be like everyone else and be working. And, when we are working, we long to finish and go home and enjoy our leisure. This is what I am like. I think it is always the very nature of life.
            Both these processes (economic growth and more education) also strongly contribute to the hardships of some of our young people. Now I know some clever young people love this further education and these more sophisticated jobs. But many young people can’t cope with this further education and its related jobs. And I have a lot of sympathy with such people. Now I have a PhD in mathematics and computing. But I simply hate having to work in these fields too much. Often I just long to be able to work in a normal manual job as I did when I was young. So no wonder many young people, who are not academically oriented, hate these sophisticated jobs, which they can’t do. And then these people become unemployed, become depressed and then indulge too much in caffeine and alcohol (or worse drugs). Other young people accept these more sophisticated jobs – and then some of these people indulge in self-infliction to deal with the consequent stress. And it is well known that the suicide rate among our young people is increasing at an alarming rate.
           But in my day such people could get normal sensible manual jobs. We ought to be able to give people the option of doing some of the practical jobs, which will just produce the food and accommodation we all clearly need to live. This is mostly what people have done in past ages. So why can’t we do this now?
           This process contributes to the worsening situation between the old and young I spoke of previously. And of course economic growth is the main cause of our loss of spare time.
{I myself entered the work force in the 1960s. All people then could get jobs reasonably easily - and no one worried about employment too much at all. However, in the latter half of the 1970s this situation changed quite dramatically. I was lecturing at Macquarie University at this time. When I arrived there the students were having a great time. So there were student riots and student sit-ins in the administrative buildings. All good fun - and academic success was a minor issue.
           But then just a few years later – jobs became harder to get. Employers could then pick and choose as to whom they would hire. The students then started to get serious about getting good results to get a job. Their fun life was over. The pendulum swung to conservatism - and the past fun times were forgotten. Unfortunately this seems to be the very nature of life in a capitalist society.}

 

 

Wealth Inequalitywas the first of my measurable problems of the last webpage. The reason I have left this problem till later is because the causes of the growth of this problem are a little more complex than the others.
            The basic reason is that capitalism suffers from a quite logical “Wealth Growth Instability”. The truth of life is that all normal people need roughly the same amount of money to support themselves. Let us suppose then that all people are equal to begin with and all people live in a similar manner. But some people are lucky at one point to get a little more money. And these lucky people use half this extra money to have a good time - but the other half they sensibly invest in the various assets of the country. So these people now have an extra income. Then the following year these people do the same thing again: they retain their investments and add to this - half their extra income derived from their investments (the other half of their extra income is used to have better life.) So these become richer still. And these lucky people continue this good cycle. But the other people must pay extra for these goods and services, which the richer people now own, and they become poorer. And then this whole cycle will continue on many times with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
            This whole situation forms what a mathematician calls an unstable system. The capitalistic system can be represented by a differential equation. A mathematician then can apply a slight perturbation to the people variable and the mathematician investigates to see if this slight perturbation grows in an exponential manner over time. And they will find that this differential equation is in fact unstable. (The system could be more easily modelled as a set of differential equations.) But even most mathematicians would find this to be an awkward problem. So you can forget this form of mathematical problem.
           In more practical terms, this situation is like a ball sitting near the edge of a ravine. A slight wind causes this ball to move slightly. The ball then moves over onto a very slight slope. Very slowly the ball moves down the slight gradient at the top. Then the ball gets faster and faster as it goes down the steeper slope. Then finally the ball crashes onto the rocks at the bottom with an almighty bang. The fragments of the ball are scattered over the surrounding area. 
            If you bother to study the long-term history of many countries and civilizations, then you will see that this instability does happen very often. And the final consequences of this sequence are equally disastrous.

 

But there is a simple solution to stop this growing inequality problem. A nation should simply tax its rich people a lot more heavily. But this solution is much harder than you might think. I will go over this whole problem again at the end of the chapter - when I have covered the further reasons that effect this situation. But for the time being, I will just deal with the main reason, which is associated with taxing the wealthy.
            The rich are usually not stupid – so they invest some of their money in the various mass media companies. And so the rich obtain a large amount of “Media Ownership”. And through this ownership, the rich people can be assured that their own message will always be heard many times and by different people. And their message will be – “if you tax the rich, then the entrepreneurs will lose their incentive to create wealth - there will be no new jobs and our country will go into recession.” And unfortunately there is a certain amount of truth in this statement. As I have said before, I will deal with this problem later. But this is the main reason that the rich, via the media, can persuade most voters to be very wary about taxing the rich too much. So this is the reason why wealth inequality mostly increases.

 

 

 

Finally we can no longer avoid dealing with that most horrible of all subjects “The Difficulty of Control”.
            Now the easiest of all subjects to control should be “Our Own Personal Lives”. After all, we know ourselves very well – and we ought to know what we want to do with ourselves. But we know, from past bitter experience, that this personal control certainly isn’t very easy.
            In our early lives, our parents, if they were sensible, controlled our lives and made sure we didn’t get involved in destructive practices. Then later on, our schools helped in this process. But at some point in our lives, we mostly became free of this restraining external control. And so we could indulge to a much larger extent in “Food, Drink, TV, Shopping and No Exercise”. But then we soon found out the consequences of such a life. We could become weak, fat, slothful and of not much use in doing anything in life. (For me personally my particularly “off” year occurred when I was of age 20.) So we soon realised that a personal easy life goes nowhere. So we had to change our ways. (I personally found that I needed to have fairly strict rules on the amount of food I ate (particularly chocolate). Similarly I had to limit the amount of TV I watched. And finally I had to accept a daily exercise regime. Controlling one’s own life is not real easy.)
            Now the good thing about personal control is that the consequences of poor control start to show up within about a year. So, with luck, we recognise our various problems, we do change our ways and we recover and prosper for the rest of our lives. Our year of going off the rails didn’t matter too much (at least that is what happened for me).
            But there is another way of solving this problem. Many people are forced to accept getting a job fairly early in life. And having a job largely keeps a person from going off-the-rails. A job forces people to get up at a sensible hour and their work fills in their day. There is just less time to go-off-the-rails. So what a large number of people do is to keep working - even when there is no strict monetary reason why they should do so. This extra work also increases a nation’s GDP – which is supposed to be a “good thing”. But this work (usually by an older person) also means that younger people will find it harder to get jobs. So this why in my diagram there an important two-way-arrow between “Economic Growth” and “The Difficulty of Control”.

 

So we have seen it is hard to control ourselves. But it is much, much harder to control a larger human entity in a just and fair manner. (By a human entity I mean either: a club, society, community, state, nation, company, firm etc.) This, of course, is a huge subject. But two important reasons immediately spring to mind. As opposed to a single human, there will be many different views as to what the entity should be trying to do. And choosing which view to follow will be very difficult indeed. Also, as opposed to a human being, rarely will all the people in charge know the true, relevant facts about what is going on in the entity. So proper control of a large human entity must always be very difficult.
            In a democratic society, both these above effects are partially reflected in a term I call the “Lack of Incentive to Vote Well”. (In the literature on this subject, this effect is sometimes referred to as “Apathy Problem”.) This is a difficult problem and all people simply hate to think about and recognise that this is a problem. But this effect is important and it ought to be acknowledged.
The effect can be estimated in terms of:
                             The value (i.e. importance) of the decision to the voter
                                                               divided by
                          the number of people voting on the subject.
This little calculation gives an estimate of the value, which a voter will derive from voting in the correct manner. The important item to note is that, when the number of people voting is large, then this value will be negligible. So then a voter will have no personal financial incentive to vote well. So - why should people bother – particularly when it is hard to understand all the basic facts about the decision.
            I don’t wish to discuss this matter in too much detail here. But the total effect, which this measure sums up, is unfortunately very important.

 

 

The other control effect we must also bear in mind is that all people have a very huge incentive to always “Agree with Their Boss”. (This action is often called “Sucking up to the Boss” or “Being a Yes Man”.) I think we all understand the situation – and at least sometimes we are all forced to not disagree with what our boss wants to be done. This effect means that, even when a problem is supposed to be studied in depth by a large number of people, often it is just the wish of the person in charge, which will be taken. And this person in charge may only be thinking about their own personal interests. So decisions made in this circumstance can be highly suspect.
           Also this situation leads to people supporting the current boss staying in their position. And there is an increased tendency for the current leaders to become entrenched in their positions. So all these important effects add up to the situation that - the decisions made by large institutions may not always be very good.
            But there is an even worse accumulative effect of this process which I call “Sucking up to the System”. In practice most of us work in large hierarchical systems, which control what we do at work. And, if a person wants to progress in work, then it is usually best for them to always agree with the way their system works and support the people who run it. So the people who work in a hospital support the way the hospital is run; the teachers who work in the education system support their education system; and the people who work in a particular company support the way their company is run. And the people, who suck up to the system, are rewarded by the system and, in general, these people are regarded as being the successful people of this world.
            Then on the larger scale, all people support the system they live in. So people in general who live in capitalistic systems support capitalism; and people who live in communist states support communism. So all the different systems are self-supportive. And no one thinks about organising ourselves in different ways – apart from stupid old me. So it is very hard for political systems to develop and get better.

 

 

This “difficulty of control” (given above) tends to result in “The Formation of Power Cliques”. This is a natural process and there are benefits in the formation of such groups. As is well known, the two principal cliques will be – the wealthy people, together with their media stations and political leaders, and – the worker unions, together with their associated media people and political leaders. These cliques tend to only really support their own people with their particular vested interests. And thus this situation is bad for all the other people whose interests are not being represented (and these people are usually the young and unemployed people). But, on the other hand, these two groups are very good at criticizing each other via the various public media outlets. And then this competition, between these two parties to gain votes for their own particular interests, can often give rise to a reasonable form of government. So the total effect is usually not too bad.
            The current situation is gradually getting worse as our wealthy people are slowly buying up more and more of our country’s infrastructure. And so the power of the rich becomes more universal. So this is not so good.
            Rupert Murdoch and his media empire illustrate the problems associated with this changing situation. Now just at the moment we are all enjoying ourselves - gloating over Murdoch’s spectacular fall from grace. But as the facts come out, we are also learning exactly how powerful Rupert Murdoch really was - and how all the various politicians were so keen to court his favour. And this “sucking up to Rupert” wasn’t just done by the Conservative Party – the Labour Party was doing the same thing as well. In many countries now, both the major opposing parties’ policies are more right-wing than either of the parties was twenty years ago. And I think this situation simply results from the fact that the wealthy people now mostly own the media. In a democracy it is essential that the electorate can learn the basic facts about what is going on. And I am not sure that people are now being properly informed. This is a dangerous situation for us to be in.

 

As we all know, our world is becoming a “Global Village”. And in general, this progress is being hailed as a “good thing”. And so it is in many ways. So via the Internet, people are learning the wicked things dictators are doing in their various countries. And because of this, there is a wonderful worldwide move to more democracy in many countries. This is terrific. And in general this high degree of connectedness promotes and supports peace. So this is also good.
            This same movement also supports “World Trade”. This trade is often beneficial. But it is also dangerous as I pointed out in my section on Global Dependence. This is not so good. The other feature associated with this movement is the “Evolvement of Larger Political Entities”. And this is what I want to discuss now.
            It is the very nature of civilization to keep on making larger political entities. So we must expect this - and many people consider this to be a wonderful thing. The people who particularly enjoy this development are the rich because they can go on overseas holidays. And on these exotic holidays, the rich will be looked after by the poor people of the third world nations very cheaply. Media people also like this global situation because they can report on the more dramatic activities that often occur more in these poorer counties. And our political leaders like this situation because then they can dream up many more excuses to go abroad. And besides this, all these groups of people might also be able to obtain more exalted jobs in one of the larger new entities (i.e. the E.U. or the U.N.)
            You might note these people who have a lot to gain are the same people who form the cliques, which effectively run our countries. So no wonder this more global idea is well promoted.
But whether this “evolvement of larger political entities” is good for the rest of the people of the nation is more open to doubt. I have already discussed the problem of global dependence so I won’t say anything more on this matter now.
            The next item to notice is that these larger entities are much harder to control in a just and fair manner. I have covered this subject in the paragraph on “the difficulty of control” and how this control becomes harder the large the entity becomes. And to illustrate this situation we should just remember what is happening in E.U. now.

 

However there are three specific problems that this global growth tends to create.
            The first is of course “Global Debt”. Debt in all its many forms is a
terribly destructive practice. In the old days it resulted in people becoming slaves (and this still partially happens in India). Fortunately no one is thinking of turning Greece into a “slave” state. I will talk about this problem further in the following section - where I can give a solution to the problem.
            But we must remember that, by its very definition, “debt” must be balanced by “credit”. And then usually the debtor pays interest to the creditor. But strangely, although the media tell us a lot about the “debt”, the media never mentions where the corresponding “credit” resides. And I assume the media supports their clique partners, and so they do not point the finger at the rich who own all this credit. So this clique cleverly works hand-in-hand.
             But besides this clique effect, there is a process, which I call - the “Hiding of Wealth”. The Global nature of our banking system allows this to happen very easily. The wealth of rich people can be held in accounts in dubious nations where it is hard to find. So then the governments of our nations cannot gather the tax on the wealth of the nation that they ought to receive. And besides this, our governments wish to be able to find and confiscate any wealth, which has been gained illegally. So the globalisation process allows these criminal activities to occur more easily. This hiding of wealth by the rich is very bad for the normal people of the world who are doing the work but yet are often falling into further debt.
            The final global activity, I need to mention, is the use of “Foreign Workers”. This activity is good for our rich because they can hire these workers at much lower rates (and also give these workers much worse conditions). So the rich people can make a lot more money. But it is not so good for us normal people of our country whose jobs these foreign workers are taking.
            So, for these various reasons, the creation of larger political entities is very much a mixed blessing.

 

My webpage called  “The Four Fundamental Problems – that Civilization Must Face”. Then the webpages detail the four problems, which are: Pollution”, Wealth Accumulation, Autonomy and the Support Problem and Ownership and Sovereignty of Land.
            Now these four problems have been written in the order of how hard I think these problems are to solve. So I rated “pollution” as the easiest problem to solve. And we all know how hard this problem is going to be to solve. The “Wealth Accumulation” problem is largely involved with all the problems I have been discussing so far in this section here. And clearly these problems aren’t easy to solve at all as well. So the final two problems must be even harder to solve. And so they are. But, because these two problems are so hard, I cannot afford to spend too much on their nature and their possible solution.
            On the bottom right-hand of my diagram page you will see the headings “Autonomy” and “Control of Welfare, Drugs and Crime”. Now these two headings essentially refer to the same third fundamental problem listed above. So its solution must be very hard indeed. And it is – and even the explanation of its meaning is not easy. So I won’t try too hard. Also if you are interested then you can read my webpage called “A safe governmental element – should disaster strike” where the problem, and its solution, is partially explained. But I will also say just a few words here.
            “Autonomy” is basically concerned with those horrible decisions about which level of government should be in charge of which of activities of life. For example – should the National, State, municipal governments, or the woman herself decide whether a woman can have an abortion or not? Now the general tendency (as I have just been explaining) is for autonomy to move upwards to the higher levels of government. And sometimes this is the correct thing to do. So for example the U.N. should be in charge of the world’s atmosphere because this is definitely a global issue. But, as I explain in my other works, the control of welfare, drugs and crime is best done at lower levels (because the people involved can then see precisely what needs to be done and who should do it). So this subject is about how lower communities can be empowered to control certain support activities, which they could do better than the higher levels of government. But this is a complex subject.

 

 

 

The problems of control, which I have just been discussing, are horrible. But at least these problems are actually soluble. (For example I give solutions to these problems in the various books I have written.) But now we should just glance some terribly problems, which in a way are insoluble – at least within the context of our accepted civilised thought. This general subject is “Population Growth”.
            The sensible accepted solution to this problem is that all families should aim to have approximately two children (or slightly more). And then this process should stabilise the world population at its present level. If everyone did this and, if we stopped all forms of human pollution (including any further human expansion into “wild life areas”), then our future life on Earth should be quite reasonable.
            But unfortunately, the evidence (at least as I see it) is that “Population Growth is Unstable”. And furthermore this instability occurs in a very perverse manner. Thus the highly educated wealthy people tend to have less than two children per family. But the uneducated and poor people often have many more. This fact can be measured in the various nations. So rich well-developed nations like Germany and Japan have unsustainably low birth rates. Whereas poor nations like Afghanistan, Kenya and Ethiopia have insanely high birth rates. And even within nations themselves, the same situation seems to apply to individuals. So the highly educated people have low birth rates and the uneducated people have high birth rates.
            The accepted solution to this problem is that we should educate all people much better. Then we should be able reduce the world’s birth rate to an acceptable level. But unfortunately some people in this world don’t want to be educated as we think they ought. So we still have an insoluble problem. (I, myself, in my Green Living book give a different solution to this problem. But no one will read anything I write.)
            This perverse instability means that the Inequality of Land Ownership (which already exists in our world) gets worse and worse. And likewise the “Foot-Print Inequality” (which also exists between individual people) becomes worse and worse. This whole problem seems to be insoluble. I just happen to be rereading the novel “Great Gatsby” for my book-club at the moment. The following quote sums up the whole situation perfectly:
                                   “One thing’s sure and nothing’s surer
                                   The rich get richer and the poor get – children.”
 
All these different aspects of this problem add to the Pollution problem, which is what this book is all about.
            Before I leave this pollution problem, there is one item I haven’t mentioned. I have told you that “economic growth” leads to “less spare time”. Now if we did have plenty of spare time, then we could use this time to solve all our pollution problems. But now we don’t have any spare time (as opposed to that time many years ago after the war when we did have plenty of spare time). So this why there is a strong arrow in my diagram leading from “less spare time” to “pollution”.

 

Finally the people, who will suffer most from all these various problems, are our young people. So our pollution is gradually destroying their land. These young people will be expected to pay off the “Global Debts”, which are proliferating the world over. Much of the work, which our young people should expect to do, is been given to “Foreign Workers” (who will work for almost nothing). And our young people (as well as other people) are suffering from the loss of control over their own welfare.
So “Our Young People will have a Much Tougher Future”. (But in fact I cover this particular subject much more thoroughly in chapter 2 of my A Special Period to stop Climate Change - book” (pdf).)

 

 

In this whole webpage I have tried to be as brief as possible. This webpage all sounds so negative and insoluble. I want to get onto the next webpage where I can start to be positive again.

 

So please click on my next webpage called Solving All Problems in One Go.

 

 

You might now also like to look back at:

my "Home Page" (which introduces this whole website lists all my webpages).

 

Updated on 14/11/2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can click on any of the following pictures and this will send you to the relevant webpage.