OT: Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"

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Submitted by sdgrrl on January 28, 2009 - 1:42am

So off topic, but anyone ever read "Atlas Shrugged"? I'm a little more than halfway done with it and I just think so many elements within the novel correspond with today.

I know on this site we are bonded by a mutual interest in real estate, but aside from that most of us couldn't be more different, so I look forward to hearing both sides on the benefits and disadvantages of capitalism.

Today's economy have many saying that the recession proves that capitalism does not work, but my question is: Can we look back on any one society that was a true capitalist/laissez faire economy/society? And if we can't, then isn't capitalism just an unproven philosophy?

Is this too deep?

Submitted by alarmclock on January 28, 2009 - 9:00am.

Ayn Rand and objectivism are something like a crazy loner uncle (or aunt, I guess). The ideas are frankly very interesting, but it's almost impossible to get past her complete inability to write about interpersonal relationships.

Neglecting the many stupid things I've written here, I "won" the brain raffle, as did everyone who places into the top quartile (probably everyone on this site, who uses a computer, etc). The key thing to understand is that I did not do a single thing to earn this brain; granted, I have honed my skills over the years, but I didn't do anything to earn my brain, just as Shaq/%%WELL_KNOWN_ATHLETE%% didn't do anything to earn his height, or his fast twitch to slow twitch muscle ratio [although he has obviously honed his physical skills].

In my personal "tribal" view of humanity, if you receive a windfall that you did nothing to earn, you are obligated to share it with your tribe. Period. That's the rules of the game, for me. For this reason, I can't really support Ayn Rand's ideas.

Submitted by sdduuuude on January 28, 2009 - 10:07am.

The recession proves that systems which are called "free market economies," but really aren't free-market economies really don't work.

Submitted by surflust on January 28, 2009 - 10:14am.

I don't think its fair to compare today's economy with a true capitalist/laissez faire economy/society. Having said that, I don't think Mr Galt would be leading the captains of industry if he knew what greedy scoundrels they turned out to be. To have free market society you have to have integrity.

An engineer by trade, Galt's actions include withdrawing his talents, "stopping the motor of the world," and leading the "strikers" (in this case the captains of industry) against the "looters" (in this case the mob rule of strikers and the common man). The

Submitted by blahblahblah on January 28, 2009 - 10:57am.

The Chicago Boys tried to set up some free market utopias down in South America in the 70s based on the teachings of Milton Friedman (a big fan of "Atlas Shrugged"). Ask any person from Chile or Argentina how well that worked out for them and you'll get an earful.

Submitted by Butleroftwo on January 28, 2009 - 2:31pm.

Obama said in his inaugural speech, "the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours." This is a primer for taxing the productive and rewarding the inefficient. In other words a bailout for everyone paid for by the hard workers. This administration looks like it is a live play based on Atlas Shrugged. This first week has been a doosey;
- Stopping the war on terror
- Exporting abortion around the world
- Tax cuts to people that don't pay taxes
- $4,000,000,000 to neighborhood stabilization
- Tax scofflaw appointed to lead IRS
- Apologizing to Arabs
- Bombing Pakistan
- Fake Yo Yo Ma
- Lobbyist for Deputy Defense Secretary
- Controlling dissenters

It may become a crime to work hard and keep your money.

Submitted by Allan from Fallbrook on January 28, 2009 - 3:23pm.

CONCHO: Fascinating stuff. In terms of monetary policy and fiscal strategy, the next few months (and years) are going to be real interesting here in the good old U.S. of A.

Submitted by kismetsdad on January 28, 2009 - 5:45pm.

Wall Street Journal revisited Atlas Shrugged January 9, 09. The article mentioned how America is starting to resemble to looters of the book. It also noted that of people who have actually read the book, it is considered the second most influential book they have read after the bible. (Library of Congress survey 1991).

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123146363567166677.html

Submitted by davelj on January 28, 2009 - 9:52pm.

I was a pseudo-socialist in college then became an ardent libertarian (helped along by Ayn Rand and others) and I've slowly moved toward the center over the last decade. I think Ayn Rand made some brilliant, counter-intuitive observations, but over time I found two major flaws in her philosophy.

One, her philosophy discounts the influence of sheer luck. The heroes of her stories reach the heights of success by sheer force of will. While this is inspirational, it's also not particularly realistic. Luck - or good fortune or whatever you want to call it - plays an enormous role in determining various human outcomes. Nassim Taleb does an excellent job discussing this issue in "Fooled by Randomness." Don't get me wrong, I still believe in Ronald Reagan's observation that "The harder I worked, the luckier I got," but when you observe the careers of the super successful, there were an awful lot of lucky breaks (that is, "helpful randomness") along the way.

Two, Rand's philosophy doesn't take into account what I call the "Revolution Factor." In a purely capitalistic system, wealth is going to get enormously concentrated at the top (yeah, even more than we see now because our taxes are somewhat progressive). This income inequality, at some point, is going to cause social strife that will bring on revolution. I just don't see how it's avoidable. And that brings the whole system down such that the "uber capitalists" lose everything they have. And what's the point in that? So, in my view, progressive taxes and other socialistic institutions that we see here in the U.S. - to use one example - are just the price the more successful and lucky among us pay in order to keep the peace, so to speak, with the less successful and less fortunate. I'd rather pay high income taxes and benefit from a system that allows me to compound wealth (albeit at a lower rate due to the taxes) than live in poverty resulting from anarchy.

I'm sure Rand's writings have other flaws, but those are two of the most glaring. But I still think her books are full of many spot-on observations that many folks don't like to think about.

Submitted by blahblahblah on January 28, 2009 - 10:09pm.

Dave, you missed the third flaw. Some people are sociopathic cheaters, and many of them never get caught or punished. Also, the personalities that cheat gravitate towards positions of power and, over time, the levers of power become concentrated in the hands of sociopathic cheaters. This is the big failing of communism, too. The fact that Bernie Madoff and Ken Lay bilked people out of billions isn't a fault of capitalism, it's a fault of certain sociopathic humans. Laws and enforcement are unfortunate necessities to ensure that as many of the cheaters as possible get caught. Laissez-Faire systems could only work if people were angels, but then of course communism would work great if everyone were angels too.

Why does anyone think that *any* system thought up by flawed human beings could ever be perfect? Didn't they pay attention in Sunday school?

Submitted by jficquette on January 28, 2009 - 10:23pm.

davelj,

What she doesn't take into account is the simple truth that not all humans were created equal in abilities.

While a relatively high IQ doesn't guarantee success, IQ is largest correlating factor to how much people make. Its also the largest correlator for those who commit crime. The average IQ of those in prison is between 70-75.

The Human animal is defined by its intelligence. Whatever defines a species and how the individual members fit relative to that determines how the spoils are divided.

John

Submitted by davelj on January 28, 2009 - 10:48pm.

jficquette wrote:
davelj,

What she doesn't take into account is the simple truth that not all humans were created equal in abilities.

While a relatively high IQ doesn't guarantee success, IQ is largest correlating factor to how much people make. Its also the largest correlator for those who commit crime. The average IQ of those in prison is between 70-75.

The Human animal is defined by its intelligence. Whatever defines a species and how the individual members fit relative to that determines how the spoils are divided.

John

Really? The Journal of Intelligence found absolutely no correlation between IQ and net worth, which is highly correlated with "how much people make." Here's the scatterplot:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pkedrosky/4...

IQ is merely one form of intelligence - albeit a very valuable one. But the most successful folks I've ever met had a very high Social IQ. I'd guess that their traditional IQs were all over the map.

But to your point, I think that Ayn Rand allowed for such differences in genetic attributes. I think she just thought that those less fortunate should be happy to live in a world where they could benefit from those with greater inherent abilities. So I think you're incorrect on this point.

Which of her writings gave you this impression?

Submitted by davelj on January 28, 2009 - 10:53pm.

CONCHO wrote:
Dave, you missed the third flaw. Some people are sociopathic cheaters, and many of them never get caught or punished. Also, the personalities that cheat gravitate towards positions of power and, over time, the levers of power become concentrated in the hands of sociopathic cheaters. This is the big failing of communism, too. The fact that Bernie Madoff and Ken Lay bilked people out of billions isn't a fault of capitalism, it's a fault of certain sociopathic humans. Laws and enforcement are unfortunate necessities to ensure that as many of the cheaters as possible get caught. Laissez-Faire systems could only work if people were angels, but then of course communism would work great if everyone were angels too.

Why does anyone think that *any* system thought up by flawed human beings could ever be perfect? Didn't they pay attention in Sunday school?

Actually I think that Ayn Rand recognized that there were sociopathic cheaters - as you call them - among us. And she recognized, as you do, that such folks seek out positions of power. I think she believed that such folks would have a much harder time lording over the masses under capitalism than under communism, which I think is largely, although not completely, correct. Certainly many of the socialistic characters in Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead were sociopathic power seekers. So, I don't think the presence of this human trait was completely lost on her.

Submitted by jficquette on January 28, 2009 - 11:12pm.

Davelj,

That chart shows the correlaton. Notice the denser dots on the lower IQ end and lower income.

I am no expert on her so I really have nothing to say. I would like to suggest though that she had no way of knowing what moving from a labor based economy to an information based economy would do to those born with lesser abilities.

John

Submitted by davelj on January 28, 2009 - 11:50pm.

jficquette wrote:
Davelj,

That chart shows the correlaton. Notice the denser dots on the lower IQ end and lower income.

I am no expert on her so I really have nothing to say. I would like to suggest though that she had no way of knowing what moving from a labor based economy to an information based economy would do to those born with lesser abilities.

John

Read the article:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/...

As the author explains and as the scattergraph suggests, the correlation is statistically insignificant. (My use of the word "absolutely" may have overstated the case.) If you don't know much about her writings then on what do you base your comments?

Submitted by sdgrrl on January 29, 2009 - 1:01am.

One thing I noticed Ayn Rand having a respect for is the Industrialist; John Rockefeller, JP Morgan, Henry Ford etc. It seems the downfall to a business occurs when it leaves the hands of the pull yourself up by your bootstraps owner/creator and into the impersonal hands of greedy CEO's who are more plugged into the DC circle than the actual hands on operations of the company.

Its not the business owner most of us despise, it's the corporate guy who breezes into a business, looting as much as he can get and going on with his life elsewhere richer and fatter. Many of these CEO's have no personal stake other than loss of reputation to make them want to create the best product, but who cares if your unpopular when you have your own island in the South Pacific. Their mentality often seems to me "I better get as much as I can before I get booted outta here".

-Concho, thank you for your input regarding the Chicago Boys, I'll have a lot of fun researching it and discovering how it all went wrong.

-Surflust, I agree with your post completely how its a bit unfair to demonize capitalism/free market when we haven't really seen it happen in the US; though it seems the lending/mortgage industries had a laissez faire existence for awhile and we saw how it ended up. I also agree that in order to have a free market society one must have integrity if only for the sake of doing good business to make more profit.

Butleroftwo, I don't have too many words. I'm actually happy that Obama put the smack down on Pelosi and told her to take out the Family Panning Pork. Also, I don't remember Obama apologizing to Arabs, but I do remember him saying something to the extent that we will not apologize for the way we live as Americans, but hey, I admit I'm a supporter so I'm definitely one sided.

-kismetdad, thank you for referencing that article I can't wait to read it and enjoyed the trivia you threw in there about the level of influence "Atlas Shrugged" has played in lives.

-davelj, I agree luck can play a fortunate role in our lives, but we can't depend on it. Traditional Chinese culture understands the importance of luck and that it why it is so mystically desired in babies, newlyweds and pretty much every aspect of life. I think Ayn Rand would see luck as a form of mysticism and therefore she would reject it and tell people to plod on regardless of good or bad luck.

-jf, your sounding a little liberal in your wanting to recognize the sadness of the human plight because of dumb people...lol. Nice to see you again.

Submitted by jficquette on January 29, 2009 - 1:55pm.

Anyone with common sense knows that higher iq people make more money then lower income people as a rule.

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

People with low IQ are 10-15 times more likely to be in poverty then those with high,very high iq's.

John

Submitted by jficquette on January 29, 2009 - 1:59pm.

Hi Gurrrl,

Nice to see you too.

John

Submitted by sdduuuude on January 29, 2009 - 2:42pm.

CONCHO wrote:
Laissez-Faire systems could only work if people were angels, but then of course communism would work great if everyone were angels too.

I have to jump in and dispell a common myth about free-market systems. Many people think that free-market systems are complete anarchy, with no controls on anything.

This simply isn't the case. For a free market to work, contract law and property rights both have to be enforced. Some may say "then it is a regulated environment and not really a free market" to which I reply - you don't really understand what "free" means.

It doesn't mean free to do whatever the hell you want at any time without repercussion. It means being free from people infringing on your rights. Once you understand this, I hope it changes your perception of a free market.

Any system would work well if everyone were angels. The question is - given they aren't do you want a system that protects you from people infringing on your rights or do you want a system that allows government officials (also not angels) to infringe upon your right at any time without your consent? (A simple example would be emminent domain.) I'll take door #1, thank you very much.

In a free market society, guys like Madoff would be as much a criminal as in any society and possibly punished more severly and swiftly than any.

You don't need people to be angels, you just have to put systems into place that punish fraud, theft and violet crimes.

I agree that the top-loading of power is a result of human nature and not a reason to prefer one system to the other.

I don't understand how the fact that luck plays a part in people's success means free markets are or are not preferable to those with significant central control.

Submitted by equalizer on January 29, 2009 - 10:25pm.

davelj wrote:
I was a pseudo-socialist in college then became an ardent libertarian (helped along by Ayn Rand and others) and I've slowly moved toward the center over the last decade. I think Ayn Rand made some brilliant, counter-intuitive observations, but over time I found two major flaws in her philosophy.

One, her philosophy discounts the influence of sheer luck. The heroes of her stories reach the heights of success by sheer force of will. While this is inspirational, it's also not particularly realistic. Luck - or good fortune or whatever you want to call it - plays an enormous role in determining various human outcomes. Nassim Taleb does an excellent job discussing this issue in "Fooled by Randomness." Don't get me wrong, I still believe in Ronald Reagan's observation that "The harder I worked, the luckier I got," but when you observe the careers of the super successful, there were an awful lot of lucky breaks (that is, "helpful randomness") along the way.

Two, Rand's philosophy doesn't take into account what I call the "Revolution Factor." In a purely capitalistic system, wealth is going to get enormously concentrated at the top (yeah, even more than we see now because our taxes are somewhat progressive). This income inequality, at some point, is going to cause social strife that will bring on revolution. I just don't see how it's avoidable. And that brings the whole system down such that the "uber capitalists" lose everything they have. And what's the point in that? So, in my view, progressive taxes and other socialistic institutions that we see here in the U.S. - to use one example - are just the price the more successful and lucky among us pay in order to keep the peace, so to speak, with the less successful and less fortunate. I'd rather pay high income taxes and benefit from a system that allows me to compound wealth (albeit at a lower rate due to the taxes) than live in poverty resulting from anarchy.

I'm sure Rand's writings have other flaws, but those are two of the most glaring. But I still think her books are full of many spot-on observations that many folks don't like to think about.


Excellent observations davelj.

Regarding sheer luck, it reminds me of Ronald Dworkin's Theory of Equality, or equality of resources. Since all the freshman beer wiped out my recollection, I'll just quote WIKI here:
"human beings are responsible for the life choices they make. The second is that natural endowments of intelligence and talent are morally arbitrary and ought not to affect the distribution of resources in society. Like the rest of Dworkin's work, his theory of equality is underpinned by the core principle that every person is entitled to equal concern and respect in the design of the structure of society. Dworkin's theory of equality is one variety of so-called luck egalitarianism."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Dworkin

My Chicago boys (I really miss shoveling the alley) forgot an important element in their utopia - extreme law and order, practiced by Pinochet, and more subtlety by Singapore and China. Pinochet was respected by a surprising many people in Chile because economy improved under the regime, with a little help from the Chicago boys. Singapore also prospered with this mix. From "The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China", the reader will find that China studied the Singapore model in early 80's and now they too have prospered.

So we have many choices as sdude pointed out.
Right here, right now that is where I wanna be.
Did you guys know that Duran Duran were Rand fans??
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=Yjg...

Submitted by sdduuuude on January 30, 2009 - 12:04am.

sdgrrl wrote:
... it seems the lending/mortgage industries had a laissez faire existence for awhile and we saw how it ended up.

The mortgage securities industry is an example of a market that is not a free market - not because it was over regulated, but because the fraudulent behavior of the ratings agencies was unpunished.

That setup is a travesty, and often gets lablelled "Laissez Faire" or "Free Market" or "Capitalism" when in fact it is a foolish concoction of central government.

There is a big difference between Laissez Faire and government turning a blind eye to, or condoning fraud. They are, in fact, the opposite.

Submitted by fredo4 on January 31, 2009 - 10:05pm.

I'm reading The Fountainhead right now and Ayn Rand's concept of architectual integrity is annoying to me. I'm sure that it was applicable to the time, but it's gotten way past the point now where the opposite happens. Traditionally beautiful art is scoffed at in favor of "shocking", "non-conformist" art.
I went to an exhibit a few weeks ago where a guy had video taped himself eating an entire American flag and then throwing it up. The irony is, the statement he was making was the farthest thing from non-conformity. Give me a exhibit where someone has the guts and the honesty to show art that is really objectively beautiful or politically incorrect in the face of potential scorn and ridicule of his colleagues.
That's integrity.

Submitted by davelj on January 30, 2009 - 4:03pm.

jficquette wrote:
Anyone with common sense knows that higher iq people make more money then lower income people as a rule.

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

People with low IQ are 10-15 times more likely to be in poverty then those with high,very high iq's.

John

I agree that common sense dictates that higher IQs should lead to higher income as a rule. And I used to believe this until I read a few studies that contradicted this notion. The evidence at the bottom of that Wiki entry on siblings is persuasive, I'll give you that. The problem is that there's a lot of evidence both supporting and debunking the positive correlation between IQ and "success." And, frankly, I'm not sure who's right on this issue. So I'll give this to you: you may be right that IQ and success are correlated. But I don't know if we'll ever have completely conclusive evidence.

Submitted by davelj on April 11, 2011 - 7:59pm.

davelj wrote:
I was a pseudo-socialist in college then became an ardent libertarian (helped along by Ayn Rand and others) and I've slowly moved toward the center over the last decade. I think Ayn Rand made some brilliant, counter-intuitive observations, but over time I found two major flaws in her philosophy.

One, her philosophy discounts the influence of sheer luck. The heroes of her stories reach the heights of success by sheer force of will. While this is inspirational, it's also not particularly realistic. Luck - or good fortune or whatever you want to call it - plays an enormous role in determining various human outcomes. Nassim Taleb does an excellent job discussing this issue in "Fooled by Randomness." Don't get me wrong, I still believe in Ronald Reagan's observation that "The harder I worked, the luckier I got," but when you observe the careers of the super successful, there were an awful lot of lucky breaks (that is, "helpful randomness") along the way.

Two, Rand's philosophy doesn't take into account what I call the "Revolution Factor." In a purely capitalistic system, wealth is going to get enormously concentrated at the top (yeah, even more than we see now because our taxes are somewhat progressive). This income inequality, at some point, is going to cause social strife that will bring on revolution. I just don't see how it's avoidable. And that brings the whole system down such that the "uber capitalists" lose everything they have. And what's the point in that? So, in my view, progressive taxes and other socialistic institutions that we see here in the U.S. - to use one example - are just the price the more successful and lucky among us pay in order to keep the peace, so to speak, with the less successful and less fortunate. I'd rather pay high income taxes and benefit from a system that allows me to compound wealth (albeit at a lower rate due to the taxes) than live in poverty resulting from anarchy.

I'm sure Rand's writings have other flaws, but those are two of the most glaring. But I still think her books are full of many spot-on observations that many folks don't like to think about.

Very good recent article by Joe Stiglitz on income inequality, in which he's basically addressing what I refer to as the "Revolution Factor" (above).

The punch line:

"Alexis de Tocqueville once described what he saw as a chief part of the peculiar genius of American society—something he called “self-interest properly understood.” The last two words were the key. Everyone possesses self-interest in a narrow sense: I want what’s good for me right now! Self-interest “properly understood” is different. It means appreciating that paying attention to everyone else’s self-interest—in other words, the common welfare—is in fact a precondition for one’s own ultimate well-being. Tocqueville was not suggesting that there was anything noble or idealistic about this outlook—in fact, he was suggesting the opposite. It was a mark of American pragmatism. Those canny Americans understood a basic fact: looking out for the other guy isn’t just good for the soul—it’s good for business.

The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late."

http://www.vanityfair.com/society/featur...

Submitted by equalizer on April 11, 2011 - 9:21pm.

davelj wrote:

Very good recent article by Joe Stiglitz on income inequality, in which he's basically addressing what I refer to as the "Revolution Factor" (above).

The punch line:

"Alexis de Tocqueville once described what he saw as a chief part of the peculiar genius of American society—something he called “self-interest properly understood.” The last two words were the key. Everyone possesses self-interest in a narrow sense: I want what’s good for me right now! Self-interest “properly understood” is different. It means appreciating that paying attention to everyone else’s self-interest—in other words, the common welfare—is in fact a precondition for one’s own ultimate well-being. Tocqueville was not suggesting that there was anything noble or idealistic about this outlook—in fact, he was suggesting the opposite. It was a mark of American pragmatism. Those canny Americans understood a basic fact: looking out for the other guy isn’t just good for the soul—it’s good for business.

The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late."

http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105?currentPage=1

Sure, his Maserati does 185 but he should still worry about the budget since he still faces the huge potholes opening up all over town.

Submitted by gandalf on April 11, 2011 - 9:50pm.

Thanks for posting, davelj. Excellent comments.

Submitted by Aecetia on April 11, 2011 - 10:47pm.

Very well said and excellent quotes.

Submitted by CA renter on April 12, 2011 - 3:04am.

I second (third) that, Davelj. Believe it or not, I agree very much with all of your posts on this thread.

Thanks to Concho for his posts, too.

Great thread.

Submitted by njtosd on April 12, 2011 - 4:44am.

One thing that the Vanity Fair article ignores is the fact that income is inversely proportional to child bearing.

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, in 2000, the fertility rate was highest (86.8 births per 1,000 women age 15 to 44 years) for women with annual family incomes below $10,000, second highest for women with family incomes between $25,000 and $30,000, and lowest in families with incomes of $75,000 and over (60.1 births per 1,000 women age 15 to 44 years).

If you assume a starting point with equal income distribution, the only variable being the number of children a family has, the result is pretty easy to see. Those who have fewer kids will be able to invest more per child, expend more attention and guidance per child (therefore maximizing the likelihood that the child will do better in school, etc.) and potentially leave a higher portion of an estate to each of them. Those kids who grow up with more would once again be expected to have a higher income and the cycle would continue. In a very few cycles, you would end up with huge wealth disparities, without any of the complicated reasons that are bandied about.

The question is, what would cause the disparity in child bearing in the first place? And by the way, I'm not saying this as a justification for unequal income distribution. At all. I like population genetics (a field that has much in common with economics) and I wonder sometimes why these basic factors are ignored.

Submitted by Arraya on April 12, 2011 - 6:14am.

njtosd wrote:

The question is, what would cause the disparity in child bearing in the first place?

This is simple. The most powerful predictor of birth rates is education level of women. This is true around the world, irrespective of culture. This goes hand and hand with going from an agricultural setting to an urban one. In an agricultural environment more children were almost like "profit". Just a 80 years ago most of the first world was living in an agricultural setting.

Observational studies have shown that this usually takes 1-2 generation removed from the countryside to set in. By the time you get to the second urban generation , family sizes decrease dramatically. You can see a perfect example of this in Western Europe, where native populations are now shrinking and have to be replaced with immigrant populations. As technology improved after WW2, less people were needed for farming and there was a mass migration to the cities. Now, two generations later, they have a negative growth rate.

This trend will increase across the planet. We are living in the first time in history where more people live in cities than in countries and the exodus to the cities is accelerating. As this continues, birth rates will continue to decline and ultimately , the population will level off and decline. Most estimates are at around 9 billion.

Submitted by briansd1 on April 12, 2011 - 8:38am.

Arraya wrote:

This trend will increase across the planet. We are living in the first time in history where more people live in cities than in countries and the exodus to the cities is accelerating. As this continues, birth rates will continue to decline and ultimately , the population will level off and decline. Most estimates are at around 9 billion.

Does that mean that we are actually living is a sustainable world or perhaps that with population decreases, we can achieve sustainability?

I believe, in the future, as the populations in developed countries shrink, there will be competition to attract immigrants to drive economic growth.

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