Friday, February 17, 2017

Let President Trump Do Whatever He Wants

Let's face it: There are nearly 7.4B people on Earth at this time. The question of how many this planet can support is essentially unanswerable, but current widely-accepted estimates stand at around 10B, which we're expected to reach between 2050 and 2100. Of course, the accuracy of these estimates depends in large part upon levels and types of consumption and rates of procreation, but without diving into all the variables explored so well and thoroughly in each of the two articles linked above (such as the need for a majority of people to stop consuming animal products, for instance), we'll just go with the stated numbers for the purposes of this post. You get the gist.

More important in any case than whether the world is overpopulated or quickly on its way toward being is the question of with whom it is currently populated. Depending upon your source, President Trump's recent approval ratings lie between 39 and 55% in the US. Current statistics for his approval rating worldwide are hard to come by, but he's angered many of our allies and is cozying up to some countries with which relations have been historically cool or cold. So a third to half of Americans along with countries with large populations like Russia and in an odd way China are happy with our new president, and who are the rest of us to discount their opinions?

So what does he want to do, and what does it have to do with population limits?

Well, we know he wants to build a $21.6B wall on our border with Mexico. That figure does account for the estimated cost of buying a bunch of private land (some of which may be mitigated by invoking eminent domain), but doesn't account for costs associated with building in areas that require new roads to be built or in which it's impossible to build roads, nor for certain legal issues that would have to be dealt with in regard to various standing agreements with our neighbors to the south. (This figure also doesn't include costs associated with newly ordered detention centers or the hiring of 15,000 new agents and officers.) President Trump says Mexico will pay for the wall. President Nieto says it will not.

MIT says no matter who pays for it, the figure just for the proposed wall will be somewhere between $27B and 40B. Interestingly, they also say,
However, because of several factors, including improvements in the Mexican economy and increases in Border Patrol staffing, fewer people are making the attempt [to immigrate illegally]. Officers caught 331,000 people crossing the Mexican border in fiscal 2015, less than one-fifth the number in 2000.
At this time, there's no clear plan for extracting the cost of this wall from Mexico. The one plan that was advanced and subsequently walked back was a tax that economists agree would ultimately end up being paid by US consumers. The current language is that 'all available resources' are to be diverted toward the costs associated with the effectively impossible goal of preventing all illegal immigration from Mexico. Whether President Trump is aware or not that resources from other agencies can't simply be moved into Department of Homeland Security coffers is also unclear. Whether he is or not, two things remain true under that stipulation, the first being that if 'all available resources' are used to prevent immigration from the south there won't be any left for combating terrorism - according to the former Acting Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, Alan Bersin, Canada's border poses a far larger threat in terms of terrorists entering our country than does Mexico's - and the second being that those resources are derived from US taxpayer dollars, many of which come from undocumented immigrants.

Ironically, the more immigrants we deport, the fewer US citizens we'll be able to support through Social Security programs like old age and disability insurance, worker's comp, food assistance, and Medicare/Medicaid, and the more expensive many goods and services will become, affecting most harshly those in need of such programs.

Looking at another of President Trump's agendas, he'd like to limit the reach of or eliminate altogether the EPA, as its regulations are too restrictive to businesses, as well as reduce or eliminate NASA's research into climate change and its potential effects. He's keeping an open mind as to whether climate change is a fact, but feels the human factor is overstated. The problem with the whole debate around whose fault it is, on both sides, is that it no longer matters. To whatever degree humans have played a part or if it's an entirely natural phenomenon as part of a normal cycle, or even if one chooses to disregard it altogether, right now climate-driven weather is causing issues that are affecting agricultural production across the board. Even if we're looking at a short-term cycle, global food supplies are being affected.

In recorded human history, spanning only about 5,000-6,000 years, most famines have been constrained to a region or nation, sometimes a continent, although the famine from 1876-79 affected several continents. Current conditions seem poised to bring about starvation on a global scale, in part due to climate-related weather events, and in part due to a population that doubled in size in the forty short years between 1960 and 2000 from 3B to 6B people, and which currently covers every habitable part of the planet, with only a small part of that population living in situations in which self-sustenance is possible, and an even smaller part of it actually equipped and prepared to self-sustain. The US is the world's largest exporter of food by a wide margin, so even if current weather events only affect us it's effects on the global food supply are noticeable, and the fact is that we're by no means the only country whose agricultural production has been and is being adversely affected thereby.

Famine, often brought about by drought, subsequent flooding (this link contains images that may be difficult to look at), and/or unpredictable temperature fluctuations, is inevitably followed by disease, which then brings about pestilence ('pests' are largely nature's cleanup crew) and more disease, and so forth and so on, until things settle out and whatever humans are left are able to move forward again. President Trump's plans bring in both mitigating and accelerating factors, and given that large-scale disasters along these lines also tend to usher in adjustments in attitude that are currently sorely needed in much of the developed world, it's not a bad idea to let him have his way.

Here's why: The effects noted earlier of reducing the southern-immigrant labor force, in particular rising costs and a reduced ability to offer aid to the vulnerable and poverty-stricken, will encourage many members of the global populace to explore and implement measures toward self-sufficiency. Then, when the effects of weather are compounded by the effects of the lack of arable land, potable water, breathable air, and resources produced through large-scale agricultural operations brought about by our reduction in environmental protections, more people will be able to self-sustain on a small scale and maintain at least some measure of health in the face of widespread shortages, reducing the death toll and shortening the duration of subsequent cycles of disease and pestilence, allowing humanity to recover more quickly and with fewer setbacks in terms of loss of the skilled and knowledgeable among us.

So let's let President Trump do what he wants to do. It's a matter of ripping off the Band-Aid and getting the painful part over with. In an age in which we cry over articles about children starving while we watch people on cooking competitions throw away dumpstersful of food, and in which people who can't afford shoes can tune in any day of the week and see shoe closets bigger than their entire homes, and in which it's more important to maintain illusions of importance than to be of any real value, why not? Why drag out the inevitable when the longer we put it off, the more likely it is that human 'history' will have to start all over again?

That's a subject for another post, the probability that we've been here before - technologically advanced and complacent, arguing over every petty thing while major issues go effectively unaddressed - but have been decimated, whether by ourselves or by forces of nature outside our control, or both, to a degree that we had to do a hard reboot. (Disregard that we didn't even mention here that President Trump's apparent desire to start a nuclear World War III would accelerate the process to an even greater degree.) Here and now we're simply advocating for each of us to get on about our own business, to deal with our own issues in whatever ways are possible and effective, to let our duly-elected leader - who must in fact by dint of his being in that position reflect us - get on about his, and to let the chips fall where they may.

Have an excellent day, and all the best to everyone.
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