Op-Ed. US Trade War with China: Desperate Move to Save Western Empire

money bills dollar RMB US Chinaby Andre Vltchek, International Daily News in China.  November 26th, 2018

Most of those who have had a chance to witness Chinese internationalist mega-projects, clearly understand that the West is near to collapsing; it will never be able to compete with tremendous enthusiasm and progressive spirit of the most populous country on earth, which on top of it, is built on socialist principles (with Chinese characteristics).

Comments invited here, with copies to both eric.britton@ecoplan.org and  robert.ayres@insead.edu please.

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The Universal Basic Income: It’s time

henry George

The most widely read book on economics in history (with the possible exception of “Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith) was a book by a self-taught political economist named Henry George. His formal education ended at age 14. He made his living as a journalist and later became a politician. Yet, his magnum opus, entitled “Progress and Poverty” was taken very seriously by economists, and justifiably so.  The book sold 3 million copies in English, in the first years after publication, 6 million copies in thirteen languages, by 1936, and many more since then. It is justifiably included as one of the ten all-time economics classics {George, 1879 [1946] #2004}. See Figure  1.

In 1879 Henry George advocated a single tax on land values. At the time he wrote, land values were a reasonable proxy for total societal wealth. Today that is less true, and I will focus on the alternatives later. Very briefly, it argued that people should own the products of their work, but that the gifts of nature, including the fertility of the land and the mineral wealth beneath, should be shared equally among all the inhabitants of the earth or the territory..

Henry George also proposed a universal basic income, or UBI, to be financed by his tax on land.  His proposal was not the first.

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OP-ED. The World Economy Is A Pyramid Scheme, Steven Chu Says

Steven Chu, former U.S. Secretary of Energy, 1997 Nobel Prize winner in physics, and the new president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)

Steven Chu, former U.S. Secretary of Energy, 1997 Nobel Prize winner in physics, and the new president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)

 

The world economy is based on ever-increasing population, said Nobel laureate Steven Chu, a scheme that economists don’t talk about and that governments won’t face, a scheme that makes sustainability impossible and that is likely to eventually fail.

“The world needs a new model of how to generate a rising standard of living that’s not dependent on a pyramid scheme,” Chu said at the University of Chicago.

Chu didn’t specify what that new model would look like, but he offered a solution to the population growth the current one relies on.

“Increased economic prosperity and all economic models supported by governments and global competitors are based on having more young people, workers, than older people,” Chu said. “Two schemes come to mind. One is the pyramid scheme. The other is the Ponzi scheme. I’m not going to explain them both to you, you can look it up. But it’s based on growth, in various forms.”

For example, healthy young workers pay the health care costs for aging workers and retirees, the former energy secretary said, a scheme that requires increasing numbers of young workers. And economic growth requires more and more people to buy more and more stuff, with dire environmental  consequences.

There are at least two problems with that:

  1. “Depending on a pyramid scheme or a Ponzi scheme, there’s no such thing as sustainability,” Chu said.
  2. As standards of living increase, population growth declines. So if the economy succeeds in raising standards of living, it undermines itself.

“The economists know this, but they don’t really talk about it in the open, and there’s no real discussion in government,” Chu said. “Every government says you have to have an increase in population, whether you do it through immigrants or the home population. So, this is a problem.”

China has replaced its one-child policy with incentives for parents to have two children, Chu noted as an example, and France offers a prize, the Médaille de la Famille Française, to mothers of large families. Incentives like these will not help the world achieve sustainability, he said.

Chu, the man who solved the Gulf Oil spill with a doodle on a napkin, then offered two painless solutions to population growth:

“Education of women and wealth creation. Across all cultures. You go negative. You go negative birth.

“In many countries around the world, developed countries, Japan, Spain Italy, we’re talking about 1.3 (children per couple), 1.2 going below 1, where 2 is steady state.”

So Chu expects these effects of rising living standards to eventually offset the growth of human population. That will help the environment, he said, but it will also require a new kind of economy.

Chu’s visit to the University of Chicago was sponsored by the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago (for whom I sometimes host podcasts) and the Institute of Molecular Engineering.

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