Saturday, March 31, 2018

Too many people...too many scare stories

"We are burdensome to the world; the resources are scarcely adequate for us." Tertullian, 200AD

We often hear from population doom-sayers that the the world is facing a catastrophic apocalypse because of a global population increase. We hear it all the time, that  overpopulation is the primary cause of the world's environmental ills.  Many respected thinkers such as Stephen Hawking and David Attenborough, argue that our efforts to fight climate change and other environmental perils will all fail unless we “do something” about population growth. Attenborough gave a speech to the Royal Society of Arts in which he urged leaders to combat the problem of overpopulation. His main point was that we need greater awareness about all the problems it causes when people have too many kids. Hawking declared that, “in the last 200 years, population growth has become exponential… The world population doubles every forty years.”
But this is nonsense. For a start, there is no exponential growth. In fact, population growth is slowing. For more than three decades now, the average number of babies being born to women in most of the world has been in decline. Globally, women today have half as many babies as their mothers did, mostly out of choice. They are doing it for their own good, the good of their families, and, if it helps the planet too, then so much the better. Nothing the priests say can stop it.
Overpopulation is one of those issues that many people think might lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it.  It seems to make commonsense in simple logical terms: The more people there are consuming natural resources, the greater a threat humanity poses to exhausting them if we have too many people, we will exhaust our resources, leading to famine, war, and many other devastations. Socialists may share the doomsters devotion to environmentalism but we also respect reason. Matt Ridley, the author of The Rational Optimist, pointed out, the world's population is not "exploding" but growing at 1 per cent a year, and the actual number of people added to the figure each year has been dropping for more than 20 years. Despite the warnings of doomsayers, there is no modern example of famine caused by “overpopulation” per se.  Today, the population has been multiplied and instead of collapsing, the standards of life have significantly increased.  The concern about a population explosion has itself been exploded.


Why does the overpopulation myth persist worldwide, even though it’s typically demonstrably false. Countries with a fertility rate (FR) below replacement level (2.1 children per woman) now number more than 80 worldwide — and the number is rising. The overpopulation disaster story is peddled in the media yet is not true.  We cannot blame the world’s poor for the environmental damaged caused capitalism. 

According to the United Nations Population Information Network, if current population rates hold steady the population of the world will stop growing between 2050 and 2075. At that point, the world population will begin to decline. Yet, we are already witnessing a declining population. Europe is actually losing more than one million people per year, and will lose nearly half of its population by the year 2100. Radical “deep green” environmentalists are pushing to completely de-industrialise the world, reversing  a trend that naturally lowers family sizes people have. As industrialisation swept through what is now the developed world, fertility fell sharply. When people became more economically secure, families got smaller; and as families got smaller, people got more prosperous. A  similar event is happening in today's developing countries. Fertility is falling and families are shrinking in places that people think of as teeming with children. The planet’s carrying capacity for prehistoric human hunter-gatherers was probably no more than 100 million. But without their Paleolithic technologies and ways of life, the number would be far less — perhaps a few tens of millions. The rise of agriculture enabled even greater population growth requiring ever more intensive land-use practices to gain more sustenance from the same old land.  The idea that humans must live within the natural environmental limits of our planet denies the realities of our entire history. Humanity has not only survived but thrived. Each time a prediction is made, the one making the prediction calculates using future projections of population growth against present food production capabilities. The only problem is this: The rate of food production isn't static, because the human mind develops newer and more efficient ways to increase production.   

Humans are special. Each baby born is not just another mouth to feed, he or she is also a potential inventor, scientist, innovator that will help the rest of humanity to adapt, survive and grow. There is no environmental reason for people to go hungry now or in the future. There is no need to use any more land to sustain humanity — increasing land productivity using existing technologies can boost global supplies and even leave more land for nature — a goal that is both more popular and more possible than ever. The only limits to creating a planet that future generations will be proud of are our imaginations and our social systems. The cry “there are too many of us” is a tragic shortcut that dodges the real issue: that we are not efficient at sharing our resources. That we get into wars that disrupt the food supply and that no good at allocating the food surplus to those that are hungry, be it at home or overseas.  But by trying to pin the blame for world hunger on overpopulation, we take the easy way out. The fact is that humans are very good at producing food. There is enough of it.


 Attenborough said that there is a “strange silence” in general society about the population problem. The Socialist Party says that the silence is about the cause of the planet's problems and the solution – socialism. 

John Lennon on overpopulation (vieo)

Over-Population Myth (video)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Lee Harvey Osvaldovich


Lee Harvey Oswald is frequently thought of in the context of a patsy.

Oswald was a self-styled Marxist since adolescence.  Lee’s brother Robert Oswald has confirmed that Lee was a communist from the age of fifteen. Oswald took an early interest in socialism after picking up a leaflet about the coming execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who had been convicted of spying for Russia. “I was looking for a key to my environment, and then I discovered socialist literature,” Oswald wrote in his diary. “I had to dig for my books in the back of dusty shelves of libraries.”  When he was 16, he wrote the Socialist Party of America:
Dear Sirs;
I am sixteen years of age and would like more information about your youth League, I would like to know if there is a branch in my area, how to join, ect., [sicI am a Marxist, and have been studying socialist principles for well over fifteen months[.] I am very interested in your Y.P.S.L.
Sincerely
Lee Oswald


Later in life he made membership inquiries to such organizations as the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Labor Party, The Gus Hall-Benjamin Davis Defense Committee, the Daily Worker, The Fair Play for Cuba Committee and the Communist Party, USA


 He went into the Marines not because he was patriotic—but to get away from his mother, following in the footsteps of both his elder brothers.  Fellow Marine, Owen Dejanovich, explained: “If you complained about, “Oh, we’ve got to go on a march this morning” or “We’ve got to do this this morning,” scrub barracks or whatever we had to do, if you were complaining about it, he would — he would say that that was the capitalist form of government making us do these things. Karl Marx and his form of government would alleviate that.”


 Priscilla Johnson McMillan interviewed him and he informed her that he was a follower of Karl Marx. “I saw,” he said, explaining why he left the U.S., “that I would become either a worker exploited for capitalist profit or an exploiter or, since there are many in this category, I’d be one of the unemployed.” 


Oswald's ideal of a Soviet Union utopia was soured by bureaucratic indifference he encontered when he defecte dto Russia, causing Oswald to adopt revolutionary Marxism as opposed to institutionalized Leninism, an was perhaps inspired by some Cuban students he befriended while living in Minsk. By the time Oswald left the USSR in June 1962, Oswald sees in the Castro revolution a truer form of socialism — one not corrupted by Soviet Communist Party apparatchiks and nomenklatura and their perks.

Agent Hosty's testimony explained to the Warren Commission what they understood to be Oswald's politics
Mr. HOSTY. Agent Gary S. Wilson. Agent Wilson was a brand new agent out of training school. And it is the custom to assign a new agent to work with an older agent for a period of 6 weeks. They work with different agents every day to observe what they are doing. This is the only reason he was with me, the only reason I had another man.
We went to the front porch. I rang the bell, talked to Mrs. Paine, at which time she advised me that Lee Oswald had been out to visit her, visit his wife, at her house over the Weekend, but she had still not determined where he was living in Dallas, and she also made the remark that she (Mrs, Paine) considered him to be a very illogical person, that he (Oswald) had told her that weekend that he was a Trotskyite Communist. Since she did not have his address, I thanked her and left.
Representative FORD. Was this comment by Mrs. Paine that Oswald had said he was a Trotskyite----
Mr. HOSTY. Trotskyite Communist was the word she used; yes, sir,
Representative FORD. Was that new as far as your knowledge of your file was concerned?
Mr. HOSTY. Well, he was a self-admitted Marxist. He had stated that earlier. The New Orleans office had reported that. He had been on television and made that statement in New Orleans, so this appeared to be in keeping with his character.
Representative FORD. The use of the word Trotskyite didn't add anything to the previous Marxist identification?
Mr. HOSTY. Well, of course, that is a particular type of Marxism, Trotskyite, the followers of Leon Trotsky's particular deviation, but this did show that he was not a member of the Communist Party USA, follower of the Leninist-Stalinist-Khrushchev movement, but would be an independent Marxist would be what it would show me, not tied in with the regular Communist Party USA.
Mr. HOSTY. Well, yes. The Socialist Workers Party is the Trotskyite Party in the United States, and they are supposedly the key element in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, or were the key element in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. So this would tie in with the fact that he was a member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and, therefore, he claimed to be a Trotskyite this would follow.
In his Dallas police interrogation Oswald explains his religious beliefs.
What religion am I? I have no faith, I suppose you mean, in the Bible. I have read the Bible. It is fair reading, but not very interesting. As a matter of fact, I am a student of philosophy and I don't consider the Bible as even a reasonable or intelligent philosophy. I don't think of it...”



Thursday, December 28, 2017

Three faces of a labour fakir

The Three Different Faces of Ben Tillet. Labour “Leader” and Friend of the Poor.

1st Face.Writing in “Justice,” June 15th, 1912:
    “The governing classes . . . have the habit of thinking of the worker as a slave and are prepared to kill him with bludgeon and soldiery if he dares to struggle with his chains . . . 300,000 children are wanting food and protection; 100,000 women are wanting support; 100,000 men are fighting for dear life and principle. Our fight is against the capitalists, who not only want to destroy our liberties, making slaves of us, but they would destroy our home and home life as they have done and are doing to the vicious beat of their malignant hate.”

2nd Face — Writing in “Daily Herald,” Sept. 5th, 1914:
  “Every able-bodied man must either fight or be ready to defend his country . . . The objection taken by very many intelligent workers is that . . . there are at least 5 to 10 millions of working-class folk in slum and starvation who could not be worse off by a German invasion or the Government of the most brutal savages  . . . These contentions are true, but nevertheless there is need now to protect the United Kingdom against invasion."

3rd Face — Writing in "John Bull," October 10th, 1914:
   “We must fight because the British worker has more of constitutional and democratic freedom together with social opportunity to guard than the enemies enjoy.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pharma's Price Hikes

US drug manufacturer has increased the price of a bottle of vitamins - a generic version of which can be bought for around $5 - by more than 800 per cent.
In the latest example of eye-dropping price-gouging in the US’s lightly regulated pharmaceutical industry, records show Avondale Pharmaceuticals, a mysterious company registered in Alabama, raised the price of Niacor from $32.46 to $295.
Niacor is a prescription version of niacin, a type of vitamin B3 that is frequently used to treat high blood cholesterol. A wide range of generic versions of the vitamin are available; Walmart sells a jar of 100 tablets for $14.99 while other brands are available online for even less.
Avondale Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to Niacor from Upsher Smith, a division of Japan’s Sawai Pharmaceutical, earlier this year. The company also bought the rights to a drug used to treat respiratory ailments, known as SSKI, and increased the price by 2,469 per cent, raising the cost of a 30ml bottle from $11.48 to $295.
 Doctors will be unaware the price of Niacor, for which 19,000 prescriptions were written last year, has so drastically increased because such announcements are not always made public or announced to the medical profession. This is the latest example of an inefficient US market where the consumer, payer and doctor don’t have all of the information available to make a financially sound choice. They are caught in a web of inefficiency and are being taken advantage of.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Helping poor farmers

Globally, there are about 460 to 500 million smallholder farmers, with limited resources in terms of labour, education, training and finance. Many are reliant on rain-fed agriculture, the study said.
They cultivate plots from less than one hectare to 10 hectares, producing up to 80 percent of the food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, according to the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization.
Cash handouts are the best way to support smallholder farmers struggling due to drought. Cash is critical in the short-term for farmers suffering from dry weather because "if your farm is lacking rainfall, it doesn't matter if you have a variety of agricultural inputs or practices," said Meredith Niles of the University of Vermont, a lead author of the study.  "For instance, when drought strikes in the Horn of Africa, many poor families have a very limited period before they lose all their assets and are plunged into destitution," so cash support could buy them vital time, he said.
 For farmers experiencing wetter weather, agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides help most. When rainfall is abundant, however, providing pesticides, fertiliser, veterinary medicines and livestock are the best ways to ensure farmers can salvage their harvests.