Keeping in mind that knowledge that minimizes surprise can be more reliable than knowledge that tries to predict the future, let’s look at the world economy:
The “developing” countries are generally sticking with the old paradigm: that development is the process of turning blue and that Fordist industrialization can and will yield mass prosperity.
But they are likely to discover that this isn’t true. China will not be able to build a western style welfare state as its GDP grows. The South African labor unions won’t be able to turn the country into Detroit at its peak, with lifetime employment at high wages for a unionized work force.
Manufacturing employment in these countries will not indefinitely rise, and neither will pay. Competition from other, poorer, job-hungry countries will push wages down; automation will reduce the number of workers worldwide required to produce a given level of output and by reducing the supply of manufacturing jobs automation will also depress global wages, especially for the unskilled.
Developing countries (along with the Davoisie and most commentators and “modernization theorists”) have also assumed that because development meant the establishment of a stable middle class society, to become more economically developed was to become more politically stable.
…We, the Europeans and the Japanese can probably handle a generation of wandering. Life would be poorer and nastier than it needs to be, politics would get pretty poisonous and Europe’s problems with some of its immigrants might get deeply ugly, but this might just mean the degradation of social life and the impoverishment of democracy rather than chaos, violence and the rise of new ideologies and movements based on fanaticism and hate.
I’m not nearly as sure that the rest of the world would be as calm or as stable if the blue model continues to rot but we don’t make the move to the next step.
The fight for the reforms and changes in the United States that can facilitate and speed up the birth of a prosperous post-industrial society here is deeply connected to the fight for a peaceful and prosperous world in the 21st century. It is not just that these changes will keep the US rich and strong enough to play a role in supporting world peace. It is that the example of a successful transformation here will do more to promote democracy, peace and human rights worldwide than all the foreign aid, all the diplomats and even all the ships and tanks and drones in the world could ever do.
And it is raving lunacy to expect that there is some master plan that can reveal the shape of the new society and show us how to achieve it. That isn’t what life at the cutting edge of history is ever like. The challenge of our time is invention, not implementation. The future doesn’t exist yet; we have to make it up. Link
A simple wikipedia article brings so many interesting tidbits of information about the world economy. Dated 2003 unless otherwise noted.
Roughly 50% of the world’s population, 3.25 billion people, make less than $2 a day.
Military Expenditure compared to GPD is only 2% of the global economy, with about half of that coming from the United States military (375 billion).
The median income (1993) is about $1,041
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 4%; industry: 32%; services: 64% (2004)
Interesting, now for the CIA factbook
Mandarin Chinese 12.44%, Spanish 4.85%, English 4.83%, Arabic 3.25%, Hindi 2.68%, Bengali 2.66%, Portuguese 2.62%, Russian 2.12%, Japanese 1.8%, Standard German 1.33%, Javanese 1.25% (2009 est.)
note: percents are for “first language” speakers only; the six UN languages – Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Russian, and Spanish (Castilian) – are the mother tongue or second language of about half of the world’s population, and are the official languages in more than half the states in the world
4.4% of GDP (2007)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.7%
note: over two-thirds of the world’s 793 million illiterate adults are found in only eight countries (Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan); of all the illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds are women; extremely low literacy rates are concentrated in three regions, the Arab states, South and West Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, where around one-third of the men and half of all women are illiterate (2005-09 est.)
Labor Force by Occupation
services: 42.4% (2007)
top ten – share of world trade: electrical machinery, including computers 14.8%; mineral fuels, including oil, coal, gas, and refined products 14.4%; nuclear reactors, boilers, and parts 14.2%; cars, trucks, and buses 8.9%; scientific and precision instruments 3.5%; plastics 3.4%; iron and steel 2.7%; organic chemicals 2.6%; pharmaceutical products 2.6%; diamonds, pearls, and precious stones 1.9%
19.09 trillion kWh (2008 est.)
- Interestingly enough, the expenditure for education is more than double the expenditure for the military. Of course there is quite a bit of corruption and padded budgets in both sectors, but it is interesting all the same.
- The electricity consumption is quite curious. Here is electricity consumption ranked by country, with China, US and the EU in the top three. The EU is 3rd place, in spite of having roughly 190 million more people than the US inside of it’s borders. A lot of that is because of the energy austerity program the EU has undertaken, which raises prices significantly higher. This has caused much turmoil in industries that rely on a cheap, steady supply of power as the European dependence of renewable energy open’s them to rolling blackouts and higher than market average prices. The aging of Europeans has created problems with their welfare systems as fewer young people are able to sustain it. The countries that form the backbone of the EU economy, like Germany, are baring most of the brunt of the aging.
- The US has plenty of it’s own problems, which have generally been well documented and discussed elsewhere on the internet. The infrastructure is aging, it recently received a rating of D by the ASC and would cost an estimated 2.2 trillion to fix it. Roughly 50.4% of the births last year were to minorities, while the white births feel by about 10.1%.
- Technology like artificial wombs offer some hope to combat the problem of falling birthrates that accompany increases in the standard of living and education. I also believe that getting rid of corruption, nihilism, and apathy will raise the birthrates. When people see regular examples of their culture’s decay and corruption, or are indoctrinated to believe that they are responsible for the majority of the worlds problems, they will not want to bring children into such a world. With the changes in the logic of economics, traditional gender roles have become irrelevant in some ways, societies that want to thrive must create new ones that accommodation the changing technological situation while still being true to human nature.