Monday, March 3, 2014

Democracy at its worst?

Andrew D Atkin:

The forces of democracy have driven resources away from the fertile population, and to the point where we, as a society, are struggling to breed - well. This situation needs to be reviewed.

Young people in New Zealand have three major burdens that older generations never had to face:

1. Exaggerated educational demands before working.

2. A massive welfare state, expanded in size from increased life expectancy coupled with relatively early retirements.

3. Chronic housing unaffordability.

The result of this being: Child rearing is delayed to ages that are well removed from the biological optimum. People now tend to have children in their mid to late 30's when they should really be having them in their late teens to late 20's. And they have smaller families or often no family at all, and this especially applies to more intelligent young people who tend to attend higher education for longer. Leaving us, dare I say it, with a probable biological dumbing-down of our society over the long term. Some researchers have suggested that we're already well on our way down this path.

How can we call ourselves a rich and civilised country when we cannot even afford to have kids at biologically competent ages, or at least not without significant stress? And why is this happening?

Destructive democracy is part of the problem. For the sake of explanation, I will say that democracy at its worst is a 60% majority voting to turn the other 40% into their personal slaves - a perfectly legitimate position in a pure democracy. Democracy is just democracy, and whether or not it facilitates justice is of course another story. With too many people voting on the back of self-interest as opposed to principle, problems can and will occur, as they have.

With the centre of political gravity migrating to an ever older age group, it's to be expected that the younger generations will be (and have in fact been) progressively ripped-off by the older generations. We see this in New Zealand today with politicians refusing to raise the retirement age (meaning, eligibility to a government pension) even as the pressure on young people becomes serious, and as life expectancy (duration of retirement) has increased so much.

Young people have also been ripped-off by house price inflation. House prices have been artificially inflated to about twice the price of what they should be, and politicians are scared of letting these prices correct because the older generations--that great political majority--naturally don't want to see that happen. The latter group are the sellers - not the buyers.

The other great burden is Education. We used to have an education system that quickly sent the non-academic on their way, out to work and produce, which in turn avoided the waste that comes with over-education. Now we have a system that drives as many people as possible into tertiary education which puts a huge tax on the nation and the individual, and forces the more capable youth to spend even longer in study and only to differentiate themselves from others. This just means less time working and earning and more time accumulating debt, in what can be best described as an "educational arms race" of which in principle should never have happened. [Bryan Caplan provides a good talk on this, here].


This is probably the biggest social issue of our time, second only to the problem of mass child abuse (here). We can't do what we need to do because in a pure democracy the vote rules - not justice or a respect for long-term outcomes.

We are suffocating the healthy human family through what is ultimately democratic greed and short-sightedness, and it obviously must be stopped - somehow.


The solutions are clear enough.

-Engineer an education system that links education to real professional relevance, to avoid unnecessary waste and late fertility (here).

-Stop brainwashing women into the idea that they should have careers before babies. Plenty of time to start a career once your youngest child is, say, seven years of age. Give young people more time and freedom to follow their instinct and socialise (find a mate), and support them to have children young with the help of their parents and the state, and de-stigmatise dependency (we are a tribal animal at the end of the day, naturally co-dependant). Sure girls and guys can functionally do it on their own, but if you're over-burdened and stressed-out you'll find that no time will be "quality time" with your children. And what you give to your children in those earliest years and months (here) they take with them for the rest of their lives.

-Increase the retirement age from 65 to 75, or even better get rid of the pension altogether and replace it with a standard benefit akin to a sickness benefit for those who can no longer work.

-Eliminate the Metropolitan Urban Limits that choke off land supply that make housing absurdly expensive (here).

-Ration healthcare away from people in their last 1 or 2 years of life, and re-prioritise investment to the young. This basically means letting nature take its course, and letting people with serious conditions that are incredibly expensive to manage die naturally. [Note the included image on New Zealand's healthcare costs].

I know that sounds heartless, but respect that when people are close to death with a seriously weak body they are not generally experiencing a high quality of life, and the far-reaching value of prioritising healthcare/resources to the young will have a long-range social value far in excess of keeping old people alive just that little bit past their expiry time.

-Make child-rearing easier. Look at building new property developments to be more family-friendly, so that bringing up children can be more fun and less expensive and strenuous (here). Also inform parents that what really matters is what happens in utero, birth and infancy (here), and that "hot housing" kids with extra-scholastic programmes has virtually no (measurable) long-term impact on the child. Ie. Just get it right where it really counts - you don't have to waste your time and money with the other stuff.

Real solutions:

The problem with some of those solutions is that you will struggle to find the political will to deploy them. You'll simply get a giant vote going to people like Winston Peters' who, as a professional politician, specifically targets (bribes) old people for votes as though the needs of the young don't matter. Where the political gravity is, is where the policy will ultimately follow.

One idea is to give young people the vote, but as a "family vote". Let parents vote on behalf of their children until their children reach the age of 18. This will redirect the centre of political gravity much closer to where it belongs. It's not ultimately ideal that children don't vote for themselves, but it's ideal that their interests are more fairly represented. A family vote is better than no vote.

At the least, it will help to end this "war" on the healthy human family. I can appreciate the we need to control populations, and it's good that people cannot comfortably have more than 2 or 3 kids to that end, but damaging the human family is not the way to do it. Population control, as required, needs to be achieved with direct measures as I have spoken about before (here).


Addition: 20-04-14:

Housing affordability:

The included video below provides us with the most penetrating look into the current government's thinking on housing affordability I have seen. Interestingly the national housing minister, Dr Nick Smith, has declared that the target for "affordable" housing will be 4 to 5 times the median household annual income, instead of the generally accepted measure of 3 times (Housing is considered affordable if the median cost of a home is, say, $150,000, when the median household income is $50,000 ie. 3 to 1 ratio). The incumbent National government has also declared that we can forget about achieving housing affordability (even by their measure) for another 20 years.

I salute the National party's honesty, but this declaration is nonetheless profound. They have and intend to wipe out housing affordability for an entire generation. And note this problem has nothing to do with the natural cost of housing construction and everything to do with artificial cost inflations. This is by design. Governments do not give us housing affordability, they take it away, and as it certainly seems they're not going to give it back, at least not for a very long time.

So what will the demographic impact be? Well, we can see that with costly housing we're creating hardship for people between the ages of about 20-45 (the fertile years) and this particularly applies for people who insist on buying a home during this time, as opposed to just renting.

Now, from a long-term social engineering perspective, the fertile years are the only years that really count as it's that time that defines the status of the following generations. So although expensive housing will suppress breeding in total, the fertility-impact will nonetheless favour people who rent and not buy - which will mean poorer people, in practice. May I be blunt? We should see an even greater bias for poorer and less intelligent/educated people dominating the breeding populations. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, I'm just describing the demographic trend we seem to be creating. The reader can decide for themselves if they're ok with it or not.


  1. Andrew,

    I think one of the things that is truly missed is how extending childhood and education severely damage the earning potential of upcoming youth by keeping them out of the employment loop. But people in both their 20's and 60's seem OK with this arrangement.

    Much like our disagreement regarding population control laws, what is needed is a more rational voter, one that possesses the future time orientation to see that being selfless today will be in their rational self interest 20-30 years from now. But I freely admit, I have no idea how to accomplish such a feat.

    1. Yes - they lose 3-9 more years of earning and experience, and in large part only to differentiate themselves from others. And I can't see that 'selfless' voter coming along soon either. The modern sentiment is that you're a fool if you don't make a vote in your self interest - the "why wouldn't you?" attitude. The ironic thing about the collectivised youth is that though they are so much all alike, they don't actually care about the collective.

      To say, I think the reason why it's so easy to con the young is because they have no perspective. In NZ we sell housing for disguising amounts of money, but the young don't complain because they just think that that's how much houses cost. It's all natural to them. The same can be said for just about everything else. They just can't get their heads out of their bubble.