Author Topic: Are you concerned with American decline?  (Read 7336 times)

blue_green_sparks

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #100 on: September 11, 2021, 09:11:13 AM »
Birth rate is important to an economy for sure. It is only part of the impetus for change. As the financial class gains more and more concentration wealth and isolation from the declining quality of American life in general.....a revolution of some sort has to be brewing. Much of this discontent is perfectly misguided by that billionaire class and several restarts have been averted already (the mortgage scandal/occupy WS). The mocking of the billionaire space race has been enjoyable in my opinion.

MustacheAndaHalf

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #101 on: September 11, 2021, 09:29:12 AM »
I work in international education, and we've definitely seen a decline in interest in coming to the US to study.
Yep. It's so shortsighted. If you get a degree in the US your diploma should come with a green card stapled to it so you can work toward improving the US economy if that's what you want to do. Instead we send them back where they came from, whether they want to go or not, and they end up using their expertise there.
People can apply for H-1B visas to work in the U.S., which for 2021 had all been spoken for by February - for all of 2021.  The U.S. might have too low a quota, but certainly there isn't a decline in demand for work visas.

"USCIS has received a sufficient number of petitions needed to reach the congressionally mandated 65,000 H-1B visa regular cap and the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the masterís cap, for fiscal year (FY) 2021."
https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-reaches-fiscal-year-2021-h-1b-cap

maizefolk

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #102 on: September 11, 2021, 09:51:03 AM »
I work in international education, and we've definitely seen a decline in interest in coming to the US to study.
Yep. It's so shortsighted. If you get a degree in the US your diploma should come with a green card stapled to it so you can work toward improving the US economy if that's what you want to do. Instead we send them back where they came from, whether they want to go or not, and they end up using their expertise there.
People can apply for H-1B visas to work in the U.S., which for 2021 had all been spoken for by February - for all of 2021.  The U.S. might have too low a quota, but certainly there isn't a decline in demand for work visas.

You're replying to a poster stating there is a decline in interest in coming to the united states to study. The total of international students at US colleges peaked around 2018 and has been gradually declining since.

I don't have global numbers for applications but at the one university where I have direct knowledge applications from international students have declined much more substantially than international enrollment. We're accepting a larger proportion of the remaining pool because of how much tuition international students pay vs in-state students (public school).

jmecklenborg

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #103 on: September 11, 2021, 10:53:34 AM »
As the financial class gains more and more concentration wealth and isolation from the declining quality of American life in general.....a revolution of some sort has to be brewing.

The problem is that life is too easy in the United States, which causes people to flip out over nothing.  Almost nobody has to farm or do any hard and dangerous physical work.  Most people have easy-as-hell jobs.  There is no draft. You can spend your free time doing just about anything you want.  We are living in the future that people grunting in the fields could only dream of, and people still aren't happy.  You could give these unhappy people everything they think they want and they'd still be unhappy. 

Update: the wildly overweight 20 year-old father of 3 w/the ankle bracelet who I described earlier in this thread who was out-of-breath after climbing an 8-rung ladder has been fired.  In the United States today, Twitter, etc., swarm on the person who calls out pathetic people, not the pathetic people.  It's worse to call out someone who is lazy and self-entitled than to be lazy and self-entitled. 
 

Ron Scott

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #104 on: September 11, 2021, 01:39:38 PM »
I would say I am ďfrustratedĒ at the trend in America that looks likely to continue for some time.

The social fabric (income inequality, political) is troublesome. There seems to be a greater imbalance between labor and capital. Anti-intellectualism is running hot. And ďleadersĒ seem too interested in power over achievement. All this is typically Americanónot really newóbut I feel itís trending to the worse these days.

This is a era in which America needs to be at the top of its game, and itís not. In the 20th century and before America could afford wasteful social and political infighting and still come out on top. Those days are over.

Bottom lineóIíve felt for awhile that the times are aíchanging enough that we cannot trust historic investment returns in US markets to behave in a way that we can predict SWRs for long periods of time, like 30-40 years. That should give us pause.

BicycleB

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #105 on: September 11, 2021, 02:32:37 PM »
times are aíchanging enough that we cannot trust historic investment returns in US markets to behave in a way that we can predict SWRs for long periods of time, like 30-40 years. That should give us pause.

You might be right.

It could also happen that the changes cause dramatic or serious negative impacts for many, while still producing profits for stockholders (or property owners, or bondholders, or 2 of the 3 investor groups). Hard to know.

Makes me value skill development, community building, and health as well as financial metrics. On the financial side, lean towards diversification.

Still, I think there's room to FIRE. FIRE-like chances are probably worth taking.


ender

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #106 on: September 11, 2021, 05:42:37 PM »
I think people forget just how low is CAGR you need for successful FIRE.

2% real CAGR --> success for almost all FIRE scenarios.

Much higher than 2% real and your ending with more money than you will know what to do with.

MustacheAndaHalf

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #107 on: September 12, 2021, 09:07:57 AM »
I work in international education, and we've definitely seen a decline in interest in coming to the US to study.
Yep. It's so shortsighted. If you get a degree in the US your diploma should come with a green card stapled to it so you can work toward improving the US economy if that's what you want to do. Instead we send them back where they came from, whether they want to go or not, and they end up using their expertise there.
People can apply for H-1B visas to work in the U.S., which for 2021 had all been spoken for by February - for all of 2021.  The U.S. might have too low a quota, but certainly there isn't a decline in demand for work visas.
You're replying to a poster stating there is a decline in interest in coming to the united states to study. The total of international students at US colleges peaked around 2018 and has been gradually declining since.
So American decline is defined by the number of international students who apply to American universities?  Two years of fewer applicants means an American decline?

Japan is struggling with an aging population - because it means a lower percentage of workers.  It's an example of why workers are significant both to an economy, and can impact quality of life.  That is why I pointed out that foreign workers are maxing out the quota for those allowed to work in the U.S.

maizefolk

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #108 on: September 12, 2021, 10:41:05 AM »
I work in international education, and we've definitely seen a decline in interest in coming to the US to study.
Yep. It's so shortsighted. If you get a degree in the US your diploma should come with a green card stapled to it so you can work toward improving the US economy if that's what you want to do. Instead we send them back where they came from, whether they want to go or not, and they end up using their expertise there.
People can apply for H-1B visas to work in the U.S., which for 2021 had all been spoken for by February - for all of 2021.  The U.S. might have too low a quota, but certainly there isn't a decline in demand for work visas.
You're replying to a poster stating there is a decline in interest in coming to the united states to study. The total of international students at US colleges peaked around 2018 and has been gradually declining since.
So American decline is defined by the number of international students who apply to American universities?  Two years of fewer applicants means an American decline?

Japan is struggling with an aging population - because it means a lower percentage of workers.  It's an example of why workers are significant both to an economy, and can impact quality of life.  That is why I pointed out that foreign workers are maxing out the quota for those allowed to work in the U.S.

The H1-B quota is 85,000/year (65,000 normal slots plus 20,000 for advanced degrees). It's a rounding error in terms of either our total workforce (165M people) or even total legal immigration (>1M people/year) so, while I agree that if we couldn't even fill that it would be a giant red flag, that fact that we are still able to fill it each year doesn't provide a lot of information content one way or other about how interested people are in coming to the USA.

Since international student enrollment isn't capped, we can actually see changes in how interested folks are in coming to the USA. So no it isn't conclusive evidence one way or another, but it has more information content than the stats you were using to try to dismiss it.

caleb

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #109 on: September 14, 2021, 02:08:00 PM »


Very interesting graph. What I take out of the upswing on the right side is that a lot of people would like to have more than one child if they believe they have the space to do so successfully. As you increase educational attainment you also tend to increase income. Those who have higher incomes are able to pay for more discretionary goals. Kids are largely discretionary at this point, and can be very expensive for those on medium to higher incomes who don't qualify for as much in the way of government assistance with food, housing, medical care, child care, etc. This ties back into @ChpBstrd's post a while back about increasing middle-class access to these things at a lower cost. If you gave the median college graduate more funds to help support children, they'd probably have more of them on the margins, just like their counterparts with higher degrees have done.

You and @maizefolk might find this piece summarizing results of cash incentives for fertility around the world interesting: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/17/upshot/americans-fertility-babies.html

The summary is that cash incentives do have a small marginal effect in the short term, especially among lower income people and less educated people, but the increase in fertility is small and often short lived.

I suspect that @maizefolk is right that for a cash incentive to be effective for higher earners it would have to be so enormous that it would be politically impossible.

One aspect to affluent people's aversion to large families that nobody has touched on is that they perceive greater downside risk to having children who, for whatever reason, do not become financially independent early in adulthood.  Whereas poorer families may be more likely to let a child live in borderline poverty on the social safety net, affluent families are much more likely to subsidize that child in adulthood.  They're not just committing to getting a kid through high school, they're committing to making sure the child has a more or less middle class lifestyle, no matter what, for an indefinite period.  The financial risk is huge.

jmecklenborg

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #110 on: September 14, 2021, 03:07:14 PM »
One aspect to affluent people's aversion to large families that nobody has touched on is that they perceive greater downside risk to having children who, for whatever reason, do not become financially independent early in adulthood.  Whereas poorer families may be more likely to let a child live in borderline poverty on the social safety net, affluent families are much more likely to subsidize that child in adulthood.  They're not just committing to getting a kid through high school, they're committing to making sure the child has a more or less middle class lifestyle, no matter what, for an indefinite period.  The financial risk is huge.

Sure.  If you have five or more kids, odds are that one or more of them is going to be a bit of a clown.  It's also possible that the parents will earn much more money by the time the youngest reaches college, meaning the younger kids are raised in a much more affluent situation than the older kids.

What's really crazy is to look up the stats on abortion by race/income.  The poor are having the most kids and, by orders of magnitude, the most abortions.  Meanwhile, the crowd marching for abortion rights is mostly the professional class. 

Letj

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #111 on: September 14, 2021, 03:57:24 PM »
Well I for one am not prepared to let go the assumption that someone who thinks a woman should have the right to control what happens to her body probably thinks it's OK for anyone to kill people who are sick or old.  I think your prejudices are showing when you try to make that equivalence.

I never hear of the "pro-life" crowd being similarly fanatic about opposing the death penalty.  That's a death cult if ever there was one.

Nor similarly fanatic about caring for the born. There are tons of suffering children around the world and right here in America. The same people that oppose a womanís right to choose also oppose any program to support caring for those children. They donít want their tax dollars touched for head start programs, healthcare, etc that would benefit all the children who are born into poverty.

Letj

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #112 on: September 14, 2021, 04:06:11 PM »
  I'm not Catholic so do not understand the perspective.

The Catholic Church approves of abortions that are necessary to protect the health of the mother.

Oh so the motherís life is more important?

maizefolk

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #113 on: September 14, 2021, 04:07:02 PM »
What's really crazy is to look up the stats on abortion by race/income.  The poor are having the most kids and, by orders of magnitude, the most abortions.  Meanwhile, the crowd marching for abortion rights is mostly the professional class.

I don't know that this is particularly crazy in that it is different from what one would expect.

The professional class has better access to birth control and successfully entering/staying the the professional class requires a high level of self discipline/deferred gratification, so they're going to have fewer unplanned pregnancies both fewer leading to births (as we saw in that chart posted above) and fewer leading to abortions. The poorest folks have many more total pregnancies, resulting in both more births and more abortions.*

People who are educated and have more money and free time tend to be much more politically active than people who are living hand to mouth and working two jobs. That's not unique to the abortion debate, you see the same thing in almost any political movement or political campaign.

What would you expectation be that you find this pattern unexpected?

*Hence the argument that improving sex ed and access to birth control would be the single most effective way to reduce the actual number of abortions which occur in the USA.

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #114 on: September 14, 2021, 04:38:04 PM »
Well I for one am not prepared to let go the assumption that someone who thinks a woman should have the right to control what happens to her body probably thinks it's OK for anyone to kill people who are sick or old.  I think your prejudices are showing when you try to make that equivalence.

I never hear of the "pro-life" crowd being similarly fanatic about opposing the death penalty.  That's a death cult if ever there was one.

Nor similarly fanatic about caring for the born. There are tons of suffering children around the world and right here in America. The same people that oppose a womanís right to choose also oppose any program to support caring for those children. They donít want their tax dollars touched for head start programs, healthcare, etc that would benefit all the children who are born into poverty.

You are conflating the right to life with the right to social welfare. You can want to help mothers and children without thinking that forced redistribution thought a government program is the best way to do so. Somewhere close to most abortion clinics is a pro-life pregnancy center that will provide help to mothers in need. The one here in Albuquerque - Project Defending Life - was next door to a Planned Parenthood clinic but had to relocate after it was firebombed several years ago - https://www.abqjournal.com/895163/fbi-investigating-suspected-arson-at-pro-life-ministry.html

Also, the Catholic Church is not the Republican party. Both hold pro-life views, but differ in many other areas. The Church provides charity for children and the poor throughout the world. I am not a Republican, though I do generally vote for them since I won't vote for a political candidate that thinks killing unborn humans is acceptable.

PDXTabs

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #115 on: September 14, 2021, 08:55:32 PM »
Nor similarly fanatic about caring for the born. There are tons of suffering children around the world and right here in America. The same people that oppose a womanís right to choose also oppose any program to support caring for those children. They donít want their tax dollars touched for head start programs, healthcare, etc that would benefit all the children who are born into poverty.

I am neither pro-life nor Catholic, but when it comes to Pope Francis I'm not at all convinced that this is true. https://www.npr.org/2020/10/04/920053203/pope-francis-laments-failures-of-market-capitalism-in-blueprint-for-post-covid-w

jmecklenborg

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #116 on: September 14, 2021, 10:47:47 PM »
  I'm not Catholic so do not understand the perspective.

The Catholic Church approves of abortions that are necessary to protect the health of the mother.

Oh so the motherís life is more important?


It's a lesser-of-two-evils argument.  The situations where the Catholic Church approves of abortions are those where both the mother and child will die without medical intervention.  I went to Catholic schools but don't know offhand if this argument has evolved over the past 100 years to reflect the advances in medicine that have significantly reduced deaths from childbirth, and I don't dare do a google search, since the results would no doubt lead to some crazy rabbit hole. 

ExitViaTheCashRamp

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #117 on: September 16, 2021, 02:14:55 PM »
As an Englishman, I'm not worried at all. Yes, my pensions and investments are heavily tied up with US companies - I don't need to tell you which. The whole point of index funds is that this doesn't matter though.

 Say in 50 years the long, long promise of South America becoming the centre of the worlds innovation, freedom and military (my parents were told this when they were young in the early 50's) - then as their companies rose Vanguard would start weighting towards them instead. In short, you don't need to diversify and prepare for it as the original post asks - Vanguard will do it for you !

GuitarStv

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #118 on: September 16, 2021, 03:04:32 PM »
You can want to help mothers and children without thinking that forced redistribution thought a government program is the best way to do so.

Seems like an odd argument if you're supporting the current freeloader/tax exempt status of the highly profitable private religious clubs we call "churches".  Every person needs to pay taxes to provide things that we all need (roads, water, police and fire services, public education, etc) through 'forced redistribution'.  By exempting them from paying their fair share, we are redistributing wealth through a government program to churches.

Can't have your cake and eat it too.

aceyou

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #119 on: September 16, 2021, 04:54:27 PM »
Friendly encouragement to start an abortion conversation in a different thread if thatís what you want to discuss on our wonderful finance blog.  Or even better, consider the happiness benefits of just not discussing abortion with random internet strangers.  Cheers.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #120 on: September 17, 2021, 06:21:47 AM »
Or even better, consider the happiness benefits of just not discussing abortion with random internet strangers. 
But I'm changing minds here.

chemistk

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #121 on: September 17, 2021, 07:18:27 AM »
Friendly encouragement to start an abortion conversation in a different thread if thatís what you want to discuss on our wonderful finance blog.  Or even better, consider the happiness benefits of just not discussing abortion with random internet strangers.  Cheers.

I agree with you, and there are plenty of off-topic threads that have within them hearty debates about abortion.

The problem is, that it seems on the forum in general, the endpoint of many topics of conversation that don't explicitly deal with objective financial strategies, hobbies, or personal journals often accelerates quickly to some of the most frustrating and contentious socioeconomic topics of debate.

Given the title alone, birthrate and immigration are two reasonable topics to discuss. When birthrate is brought up, education, welfare, and abortion are logical next steps. Immigration easily ushers in discussions of race/racism, xenophobia, and welfare. Kind of hard to avoid the armchair debate when the initial question is firmly big picture.

ETA- I do understand the OP was specifically looking at hedging strategies, but the fundamental question is far too vague to avoid weekend philosophers.

former player

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #122 on: September 17, 2021, 07:38:51 AM »
Friendly encouragement to start an abortion conversation in a different thread if thatís what you want to discuss on our wonderful finance blog.  Or even better, consider the happiness benefits of just not discussing abortion with random internet strangers.  Cheers.

I agree with you, and there are plenty of off-topic threads that have within them hearty debates about abortion.

The problem is, that it seems on the forum in general, the endpoint of many topics of conversation that don't explicitly deal with objective financial strategies, hobbies, or personal journals often accelerates quickly to some of the most frustrating and contentious socioeconomic topics of debate.

Given the title alone, birthrate and immigration are two reasonable topics to discuss. When birthrate is brought up, education, welfare, and abortion are logical next steps. Immigration easily ushers in discussions of race/racism, xenophobia, and welfare. Kind of hard to avoid the armchair debate when the initial question is firmly big picture.

ETA- I do understand the OP was specifically looking at hedging strategies, but the fundamental question is far too vague to avoid weekend philosophers.
Agreed, but it is also interesting that the discussion started with a question about decline specifically in relation to innovation but subsequent posts have avoided the issue of climate change, which is both a significant engine of potential decline and a potential catalyst for innovation.  Too big an issue for people to get a hold of?  Too much an issue where individuals are concerned about being held to account for their own failings rather than being able to pontificate on the failings of others?

GuitarStv

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #123 on: September 17, 2021, 08:05:25 AM »
Climate change isn't an American decline.  It's unstoppable, will be world wide, and will impact everyone (although unequally, with the poorest being worse hit).  It may actually reduce the impacts of any existing American decline at least initially.

chemistk

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #124 on: September 17, 2021, 08:12:59 AM »
Friendly encouragement to start an abortion conversation in a different thread if thatís what you want to discuss on our wonderful finance blog.  Or even better, consider the happiness benefits of just not discussing abortion with random internet strangers.  Cheers.

I agree with you, and there are plenty of off-topic threads that have within them hearty debates about abortion.

The problem is, that it seems on the forum in general, the endpoint of many topics of conversation that don't explicitly deal with objective financial strategies, hobbies, or personal journals often accelerates quickly to some of the most frustrating and contentious socioeconomic topics of debate.

Given the title alone, birthrate and immigration are two reasonable topics to discuss. When birthrate is brought up, education, welfare, and abortion are logical next steps. Immigration easily ushers in discussions of race/racism, xenophobia, and welfare. Kind of hard to avoid the armchair debate when the initial question is firmly big picture.

ETA- I do understand the OP was specifically looking at hedging strategies, but the fundamental question is far too vague to avoid weekend philosophers.
Agreed, but it is also interesting that the discussion started with a question about decline specifically in relation to innovation but subsequent posts have avoided the issue of climate change, which is both a significant engine of potential decline and a potential catalyst for innovation.  Too big an issue for people to get a hold of?  Too much an issue where individuals are concerned about being held to account for their own failings rather than being able to pontificate on the failings of others?

Although it's certainly an issue so enormous we won't ever understand the big picture until it's too late, I think your second point is more accurate.

To be optimistic though, I try to at least skim through many of the more 'general' topics around the forum and I don't see too many explicit climate deniers here. I suspect Pete himself being an advocate for mitigating climate change helps keep a lot of the would-be vocal deniers off the forum or at least in the shadows.

To be pessimistic and probably realistic, many of us don't want to confront our own failings. It's easy to talk about policy and alternative energy from a 10,000 foot view but when each of us is faced with the fact that we make suboptimal decisions on a near-daily basis, it becomes much more difficult to talk about strategies that actually work when we know we're not actively participating.

It may sound like I paint with a broad brush, but I am in no means trying to suggest that there aren't plenty of folks around here who are much, much more diligent about affecting positive change on a personal level. There are plenty, and I sincerely applaud and appreciate their effort.

All that said, a country's current and future performance is a wildly complex machine so ignoring birthrate, healthcare, immigration, education, etc. would be disingenuous to the topic even if climate is the shadow looming over all of them.

maizefolk

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #125 on: September 17, 2021, 08:22:47 AM »
To be optimistic though, I try to at least skim through many of the more 'general' topics around the forum and I don't see too many explicit climate deniers here. I suspect Pete himself being an advocate for mitigating climate change helps keep a lot of the would-be vocal deniers off the forum or at least in the shadows.

I think you're right but I would add that I work in a part of the economy where there used to be lots of people who denied global warming, and in the last 1-4 years it seems to have largely vanished. Do you still run into many folks "in the real world" who claim the climate isn't changing?

Note: I still run into plenty of people who think we cannot do anything to slow or stop it, or think it's not worth doing anything to slow or stop it. So it's not all sunshine and roses. But at least plans for local/regional level resilience and the planning challenges of knowing we're designing stuff today for a climate in 2030 or 2040 that we don't yet have access to don't seem to run into objections of "it's all a hoax!" in my particular pocket of the world anymore.

caleb

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #126 on: September 17, 2021, 10:01:30 AM »

Note: I still run into plenty of people who think we cannot do anything to slow or stop it, or think it's not worth doing anything to slow or stop it. So it's not all sunshine and roses. But at least plans for local/regional level resilience and the planning challenges of knowing we're designing stuff today for a climate in 2030 or 2040 that we don't yet have access to don't seem to run into objections of "it's all a hoax!" in my particular pocket of the world anymore.

Yes, and I think it's a more honest and forthright version of the discussion we've always been having.

The general public was never able to use evidence to dispute climate change.

Denialism was a crude version of hiding under the covers to avoid going to work: if I can't see the sun rise, it's not rising.

Now they've cut to the chase and basically said they don't care if climate change is happening or not, either way they don't want to do anything about it.

chemistk

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #127 on: September 17, 2021, 10:11:34 AM »
To be optimistic though, I try to at least skim through many of the more 'general' topics around the forum and I don't see too many explicit climate deniers here. I suspect Pete himself being an advocate for mitigating climate change helps keep a lot of the would-be vocal deniers off the forum or at least in the shadows.

I think you're right but I would add that I work in a part of the economy where there used to be lots of people who denied global warming, and in the last 1-4 years it seems to have largely vanished. Do you still run into many folks "in the real world" who claim the climate isn't changing?

Note: I still run into plenty of people who think we cannot do anything to slow or stop it, or think it's not worth doing anything to slow or stop it. So it's not all sunshine and roses. But at least plans for local/regional level resilience and the planning challenges of knowing we're designing stuff today for a climate in 2030 or 2040 that we don't yet have access to don't seem to run into objections of "it's all a hoax!" in my particular pocket of the world anymore.

I definitely encounter fewer overt deniers. A handful of people shifted from outright deniers to having some level of actual concern, which was both surprising and encouraging.

Still, the groans and eyerolls and generalized skepticism is still there. Among those I know who have the means to take steps in their daily life, inertia drives their denialism. As it's been mentioned before, most people really don't want to willingly reduce their standard of living in the present to preserve that same standard in the future - let alone the fact that it could actually lead to a better standard of living in the future. Some are just plain selfish, and don't see the need to change knowing that they'll die childless (and thus no vested interest in what happens to the planet) before the worst climate effects occur.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #128 on: September 17, 2021, 12:37:01 PM »
Denialism was a crude version of hiding under the covers to avoid going to work: if I can't see the sun rise, it's not rising.

Now they've cut to the chase and basically said they don't care if climate change is happening or not, either way they don't want to do anything about it.

Perhaps this cuts to the core of why people are pessimistic about their society. We are so spoiled that we don't care whether our opinions and information sources are factually accurate or not. We're not motivated to live in alignment with reality and discover inconvenient truths because that's harder than finding a social media tribe and trolling the opponents. When proven wrong beyond all reasonable doubt, people can just question the sources, invent a conspiracy theory, or fall back to a position they don't have to defend - such as dispensing with the social norm that we should care about all the millions of people who will starve due to climate change. That's what it means to be unaccountable on the internet.

COVID causing you anxiety? Just decide it's blown out of proportion by the dishonest media, and the anxiety is relieved!

Our world is much different than the one where believing the wrong things about seeds could result in starving to death, where believing the wrong thing about people could get you killed or imprisoned, where epidemics kill entire villages, or where social cooperation was the alternative to poverty or death. People would have to get more pragmatic and intellectually disciplined quick if those conditions ever returned. Thus decline would be required to relieve the conditions that led to decline, and it would be hard for us to keep getting more stupid while still thriving and coasting along on the depreciating systems of the past.

chemistk

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #129 on: September 17, 2021, 01:03:08 PM »
Denialism was a crude version of hiding under the covers to avoid going to work: if I can't see the sun rise, it's not rising.

Now they've cut to the chase and basically said they don't care if climate change is happening or not, either way they don't want to do anything about it.

Perhaps this cuts to the core of why people are pessimistic about their society. We are so spoiled that we don't care whether our opinions and information sources are factually accurate or not. We're not motivated to live in alignment with reality and discover inconvenient truths because that's harder than finding a social media tribe and trolling the opponents. When proven wrong beyond all reasonable doubt, people can just question the sources, invent a conspiracy theory, or fall back to a position they don't have to defend - such as dispensing with the social norm that we should care about all the millions of people who will starve due to climate change. That's what it means to be unaccountable on the internet.

COVID causing you anxiety? Just decide it's blown out of proportion by the dishonest media, and the anxiety is relieved!

Our world is much different than the one where believing the wrong things about seeds could result in starving to death, where believing the wrong thing about people could get you killed or imprisoned, where epidemics kill entire villages, or where social cooperation was the alternative to poverty or death. People would have to get more pragmatic and intellectually disciplined quick if those conditions ever returned. Thus decline would be required to relieve the conditions that led to decline, and it would be hard for us to keep getting more stupid while still thriving and coasting along on the depreciating systems of the past.

I'd argue it's loss aversion, but scaled up to a societal proportion. Why give up what you already have when you can play the odds and hope that you don't end up with the short straw.

Dovetails right into our (human behavior) inability to process information on a large scale. Better to be ignorant and maintain the status quo than to give up something we already have that we will likely never see come to fruition.

caleb

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #130 on: September 17, 2021, 02:27:22 PM »
Perhaps this cuts to the core of why people are pessimistic about their society. We are so spoiled that we don't care whether our opinions and information sources are factually accurate or not.

Yes, and while I do think the anti-empiricism is especially evident on the American right at the moment, it's also differently present on the political left.

On the left, there are all manner of social questions where the conclusions are unassailable, and any empirics to the contrary are marginalized.  The correlations of race to standardized test scores are good examples.  The criticisms of these tests aren't directed at making the instruments more accurate so that we can better identify high and low performance, they're condemnations of the very practice of measuring.

Whether it's coming from vulgar forms of libertarianism or anti-racism, our collective unwillingness to begin our discussions by establishing a shared set of facts may very well be our undoing.

JGS1980

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #131 on: September 17, 2021, 02:46:01 PM »
I strongly resent the implication that not having 6 kids is the same thing as embracing a "culture of death".

You have just lost a fuck ton of respect from me with that comment.

I was reading along and just suddenly was - what the hell does that even mean?

What is a "culture of death"? I don't get it. Is it a reference to birth control? abortion? Living a child free life by choice and then you die? I've not a clue.
Maybe he thinks anyone who hasn't had 6 kids must have had 6 abortions instead?

I'm glad you've given me the benefit of the doubt here. But to answer your original question when I refer to a "culture of death" I refer to abortion and the general idea that life is disposable if it's not wanted. This applies to assisted suicide as well. I realize that has nothing to do with demographics and population growth but it's the same side of the coin. If someone think it's ok to end a life in the womb they probably think it's ok to end the life of someone who is sick or old - or allow a third-party to do so. I am Catholic and so I believe that all life should be protected from conception to natural death. My wife and I embrace life which naturally leads to having children every few years. I realize that is a fringe view in society today, and even more so on this forum which tends to lean left. However, I'll leave it at that. This isn't in the off topic forum so I see no need to rehash those debates here. I have my beliefs, you have yours, and we can continue discussing if the US is in a long-term decline that will affect investment prospects going forward. As the saying goes: "demographics is destiny". I think the US has a better destiny in this regard than most of the world so I am not as concerned about long-term decline - at least not within my lifetime and investing timeframe.

Maybe my memory is failing me, but don't you work for the U.S. Military?

Hahahahaha. This made me laugh awkwardly loud in my office.

In all seriousness, I appreciate and respect @Michael in ABQ 's religious beliefs and approach to raising a large and happy family. To each his or her own. I have a few myself.

I would gently disagree with his viewpoints on birth control and what he considers to be the merits of a "natural death".  In regards to birth control, this wonderful creation in the 60's has led to improved quality of life and has brought billions of people out of poverty worldwide (including hundreds of millions of Catholics).  As for death and dying, trust me when I say that there ain't nothing natural about how we end our days in modern American society.  Go walk through any ICU dealing with Covid19 and tell me what you see that's natural.  If I'm on my last legs, I'll be the first to get in line for a "little assistance" to prevent months of abject misery prior to an ignoble death.

JGS

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #132 on: September 17, 2021, 08:27:13 PM »
I think if 2020 has taught us anything it is that we don't know anything about how the future will play out.  I worry a lot less about American decline than I do about my own decline.  At least one of those I can partially control. 

jmecklenborg

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #133 on: September 21, 2021, 08:34:38 PM »
When birthrate is brought up, education, welfare, and abortion are logical next steps. Immigration easily ushers in discussions of race/racism, xenophobia, and welfare. Kind of hard to avoid the armchair debate when the initial question is firmly big picture.

...and my original comment was the dilemma surrounding professionals - who can financially afford to raise large families without government aid - only very rarely doing so.  A noteworthy recent example is Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose husband is also a high income earner, and who are raising seven children.  I recall reading an article written during her 2020 nomination by a zero-child feminist that was pretty nasty, but I'm not sure that I could easily find the link to post here so I'm not going to. The gist was that she can only afford to raise 7 kids because she and her husband both have professional wages...which is my point. This same writer didn't dare to to knock all of the guys out there working in low-wage warehouses or not working at all who have 10+. Yes, I know some of these guys.  One has two sons with the same name (his) because two different women named their kids after him (he's quite the minimum wage charmer, apparently). 

Another anecdote - I have a relative who was fired by the owner of his company from a professional job for having a child before he was married.  This was back in 1978, so really not that long ago, but now YOU'RE the one with the problem (like, you're going to lose your job) if you criticize someone who has a kid out of wedlock or before they are able to provide for them without government help.

Without a doubt, we live in a society where many attitudes have flipped 180 degrees in the last 10-15 years.  The religious right lorded over national affairs from WWII until quite recently.  But since 2010 or so, helped along by the outrage algorithm, the secular left has ascended to judge & jury of our society's morals. 

Abe

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #134 on: September 21, 2021, 09:11:04 PM »
As someone who's not strongly attached to this country, I'm pretty much sure it will decline to some extent. Or at least putter along in non-greatness. Inequality and the associated social divisions will remain high and easily exploited. This will be exacerbated by climate change. Everything else are relatively minor issues on a societal level (except maybe abortion - see any country with severe restrictions or lack of birth control options. Take it from me, you do not want to live in one of those places regardless of how much you love children).

My main concern about American decline is how much mental energy people of whatever political affiliation spend trying to convince the others they are right about one thing or other on the internet. The left is spending too much effort convincing individualists to care about the collective. The right is spending too much time worrying about moral purity. No one is going to change their mind at this point, so it's a zero-sum game for control.

The courts and legislatures are where it counts! More financing campaigns and less yapping, people! (only somewhat sarcastic).

Anyway, we will be fine. By we I mean rich people. I assume everyone on this forum is working to becoming rich, correct? If you care about non-rich, bad news: the rich control this country and don't care about your concerns. Thus the hard slog on that front. Again, more financing non-profits and less yapping! They're the sore losers' consolation prize because they can only help and not control people.

My overall (simplistic) assessment is that this country will never be a socialist society. Large portions of the population will actively dislike one another forever. However, things that make people snap at each other less are: 1) wealth and 2) energy. We've decided on how to distribute wealth already, we just need to increase it overall in less harmful ways. If we can increase our total energy in less harmful ways then the cost for many subsistence-level things will drop significantly. Maybe then people can focus more on solutions to priority #1. It's a trickle-up economic theory: fix the basic flaws in one's economic system and then we can fix other flaws built on them.

This is all coming from a place of economic (but not ethnic) privilege, so feel free to poke holes in the above theory to fix the problems. It's probably too pollyanna.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2021, 09:12:35 PM by Abe »

chemistk

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #135 on: September 22, 2021, 06:39:37 AM »
When birthrate is brought up, education, welfare, and abortion are logical next steps. Immigration easily ushers in discussions of race/racism, xenophobia, and welfare. Kind of hard to avoid the armchair debate when the initial question is firmly big picture.

...and my original comment was the dilemma surrounding professionals - who can financially afford to raise large families without government aid - only very rarely doing so.  A noteworthy recent example is Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose husband is also a high income earner, and who are raising seven children.  I recall reading an article written during her 2020 nomination by a zero-child feminist that was pretty nasty, but I'm not sure that I could easily find the link to post here so I'm not going to. The gist was that she can only afford to raise 7 kids because she and her husband both have professional wages...which is my point. This same writer didn't dare to to knock all of the guys out there working in low-wage warehouses or not working at all who have 10+. Yes, I know some of these guys.  One has two sons with the same name (his) because two different women named their kids after him (he's quite the minimum wage charmer, apparently). 

Another anecdote - I have a relative who was fired by the owner of his company from a professional job for having a child before he was married.  This was back in 1978, so really not that long ago, but now YOU'RE the one with the problem (like, you're going to lose your job) if you criticize someone who has a kid out of wedlock or before they are able to provide for them without government help.

Without a doubt, we live in a society where many attitudes have flipped 180 degrees in the last 10-15 years.  The religious right lorded over national affairs from WWII until quite recently.  But since 2010 or so, helped along by the outrage algorithm, the secular left has ascended to judge & jury of our society's morals.

I agree with your original assertion - I'd rather see people with means, regardless of background, want to have children. I'd also like to see comprehensive sex ed be mandatory, and to enable easy access to contraception for teens and young adults.

If the last point of your comment above is to suggest that we've become wayward because the moral arbiters are no longer rooted in faith, I have to heartily disagree. I was raised Lutheran, married into a Catholic family, and still attend Mass with my wife - there are a few wonderful souls from each of the churches I've attended who would be thoughtful leaders   but by-and-large the presumption that Christians (or any religious group, really) are entitled to evangelize their interpretation of their sacred text in order to guide the morals of society is just plain unpalatable. I'd rather see collectivist morality, advised by the better teachings from each religion, but tempered in such a way that no one religion or group has control over others as so many are eager and apt to do. And before anyone jumps down my throat, I do understand that many religions are built on the presumption that salvation (or whatever equivalent they work toward) is only possible when the entire world has been converted to your own point of view.

Back on the topic of the thread and to an earlier point you made - while life may be 'easy' for a lot of people in this country, we still have too many living in poverty - especially children and the elderly. If we can't, as a society, even take care of those people because we look at poverty as a moral failing, then yeah we're riding the train of American Decline.

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #136 on: September 22, 2021, 08:40:57 AM »

Another anecdote - I have a relative who was fired by the owner of his company from a professional job for having a child before he was married.  This was back in 1978, so really not that long ago, but now YOU'RE the one with the problem (like, you're going to lose your job) if you criticize someone who has a kid out of wedlock or before they are able to provide for them without government help.

Without a doubt, we live in a society where many attitudes have flipped 180 degrees in the last 10-15 years.  The religious right lorded over national affairs from WWII until quite recently.  But since 2010 or so, helped along by the outrage algorithm, the secular left has ascended to judge & jury of our society's morals.

Interesting anecdote and comment. I agree there has been a shift. Moral high ground is something that a lot of people care about, and agreement as to what that is and who defines it remains elusive.

Both "sides" are fervent. No one's conceding anything yet. At most people losing a particular fight are grumbling to their friends and looking for a way to win next time.

Will the new modes of moral censure prove more or less effective economically than the old? (I'm guessing about the same, or slightly lower.) But should I be concerned about morality itself and measure "decline" accordingly, or just focus on economics?

I do think morality as shown in the conditions of society experienced by each person is important. In the morality realm though I'm less concerned about which side in the culture debate holds the high ground and more concerned about government being trustworthy, efficient, effective. To me there is a real question as to whether our divided politics will lead to govt that becomes increasingly untrustworthy. That's the mechanism for decline that I worry about.

jmecklenborg

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #137 on: September 22, 2021, 09:19:17 AM »
Will the new modes of moral censure prove more or less effective economically than the old? (I'm guessing about the same, or slightly lower.) But should I be concerned about morality itself and measure "decline" accordingly, or just focus on economics?


Without a doubt, a sort-of moral code brings people together to post on this site.  The people here, overwhelmingly, lead pretty conservative lives.  Minimal/zero alcohol, drugs, philandering, gambling, orchestrating scams, etc.  I trust that people here are somewhat healthier than the general population due to less restaurant food and more hiking/bicycling.  People here are quietly "winning" in the realm of personal finance in large part because they are in control of their emotions.  Most of this overlaps pretty neatly with traditional Christian and Jewish values (and probably others that I have no detailed knowledge of). 

Popular culture will never celebrate such behavior because they can't sell anything to this demographic.  I think it's hard for those of us born in the pop culture era - even for those of us who watched minimal TV and movies - to understand how much of a challenge it presented to the order maintained by religious and ethnic customs. This corresponded with the move off the farm, and later out of factories, and into the super-easy office work that at least half of Americans perform. 

index

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #138 on: September 22, 2021, 02:18:37 PM »
The treasury has been printing the USD for over a decade now and other countries with major currency have followed. We have been seeing hard asset inflation for years as there are more and more dollars. Look at the S&P denominated in gold instead of USD:



or longer term:



Here is a really interesting chart showing inflation in the housing market:



And what does this mean for us? You want to own hard assets and not USD. Own shares of VTI, real estate, gold, etc. Use USD as a means of exchanging hard assets for hard assets. People feel rich because they can buy more disposable items at Walmart and Amazon, but home (hard asset) affordability is a problem:



All this is to say - be careful in how you are valuing your investments and measuring economic decline.


 

jmecklenborg

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #139 on: September 22, 2021, 02:41:02 PM »
Look at the S&P denominated in gold instead of USD:

This chart does not appear to include dividend income or dividends reinvested.  Gold doesn't pay dividends, and in fact costs money to store.  A house can pay dividends if you collect rent on a spare bedroom.  It also pays indirect dividends to the larger family when a relative or adult child moves back in for a period of time. 

Quote
All this is to say - be careful in how you are valuing your investments and measuring economic decline.
 

The printing of money, and the need for that money to go somewhere, is without a doubt causing people to "feel" rich, and therefore spend more freely, and therefore create real economic activity. 


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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #140 on: September 22, 2021, 08:22:18 PM »
Look at the S&P denominated in gold instead of USD:

This chart does not appear to include dividend income or dividends reinvested.  Gold doesn't pay dividends, and in fact costs money to store.  A house can pay dividends if you collect rent on a spare bedroom.  It also pays indirect dividends to the larger family when a relative or adult child moves back in for a period of time. 

Quote
All this is to say - be careful in how you are valuing your investments and measuring economic decline.
 

The printing of money, and the need for that money to go somewhere, is without a doubt causing people to "feel" rich, and therefore spend more freely, and therefore create real economic activity.

I'm not arguing to invest in gold by any means. VOO/VTI is a superior asset.  I am just making the case the returns on the price index in terms of gold is up 12% versus 350% in usd since 2006. Meanwhile, another hard asset, housing,  has performed very similarly to gold. You feel rich because there are more usd and goods that are easily moved around the world are increasing in price relatively slowly because of foreign demand for dollars. A house costs roughly the same number of vti shares as it did in 2006.

FLBiker

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Re: Are you concerned with American decline?
« Reply #141 on: September 23, 2021, 05:37:07 AM »
I'm not arguing to invest in gold by any means. VOO/VTI is a superior asset.  I am just making the case the returns on the price index in terms of gold is up 12% versus 350% in usd since 2006. Meanwhile, another hard asset, housing,  has performed very similarly to gold. You feel rich because there are more usd and goods that are easily moved around the world are increasing in price relatively slowly because of foreign demand for dollars. A house costs roughly the same number of vti shares as it did in 2006.

That's an interesting way of looking at things that I hadn't considered before.  Thanks!  I suspect the same (or similar) is true here in Canada, where houses have increased in price (in terms of Canadian dollars) very dramatically.