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Argus

Are we headed for hard times?

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I came upon this the other day and it struck me as something with a lot of truth to it, particularly given I can't see a single western country with a strong leader and stable government. Given the rising unrest and rising extremism in Europe, and the rise of the authoritarianism, while the West is focused on such issues as transgenderism and Islamophbia, I can't help thinking we're in the tail end of the third panel. I'm not sure I agree with all of this. I don't think hard time necessarily produce strong men as opposed to strongmen, but I can certainly see how good times produce weak men, and that this can in turn lead to hard times.

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We are heading for the hardest of times.  There is no strength of leadership that can save us this time.  No Churchill to replace a Chamberlain.  The choices that needed to be made were too brutal for our most recent crop of lily livereds.  And of course, now that it's too late, we get people like Trump. 

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52 minutes ago, bcsapper said:

We are heading for the hardest of times.  There is no strength of leadership that can save us this time.  No Churchill to replace a Chamberlain.  The choices that needed to be made were too brutal for our most recent crop of lily livereds.  And of course, now that it's too late, we get people like Trump. 

Agree with this.

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4 hours ago, bcsapper said:

We are heading for the hardest of times.  There is no strength of leadership that can save us this time.  No Churchill to replace a Chamberlain.  The choices that needed to be made were too brutal for our most recent crop of lily livereds.  And of course, now that it's too late, we get people like Trump. 

It seems like our choice of leaders in most respect is "Who is the most agreeable and inoffensive?" Strength doesn't enter into it. I don't know anyone who considers Trudeau strong, but then, the alternatives are Scheer and Singh. Who is the alternative to Trump? There are a number of strong men int he US simply because they've had so many wars. But I doubt the Democrats are going to choose some ex four star general  as opposed to some desperately politically correct member of this or that identity group. The UK might have a few alternatives in the Tory party once May resigns, but Labour has gone straight Marxist. Most of Europe is about cobbling together coalition governments made up of half a dozen parties, and the EU itself is then a 'government' made up of dozens of coalition governments. Finding a strong leader who can lead a massive collection of differently minded nations and parties like that is impossible. Mind you, I think the EU is going to fall apart in the next decade anyway.

It seems too much of our elections are about who is offering up the most stuff. Not who has the vision, intelligence, strength of will, honour and integrity, but who is offering up the most stuff. Who will give us programs and handouts and cheaper taxes and other stuff - which someone else will pay for, of course, or which we'll borrow and never pay back. Strong men of character aren't what voters are looking for, because too many voters are self-indulgent and entitled.

Edited by Argus

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It seems too much of our elections are about who is offering up the most stuff. Not who has the vision, intelligence, strength of will, honour and integrity, but who is offering up the most stuff

You hit the nail right on the head..., most voters are looking for what is in it for them, Justin tasty treat was making pot legal, and to top it off the Campaign of anything but Harper..... .Most political parties liberal, Cons at the very least , do not do anything unless it has been studied and polled, if it is unpopular then it is not the path of the party.....Often what is in the best interest of the country is not popular, Does that mean most Canadians are selfish or shallow ? There are very few political parties that who have vision, and will do what is in the best interest of the country....

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So the hard man in Russia just showed off his new hyper missile. The Chinese hard man is building a 'silk road' to control trade across Europe and Asia. The hard man in Turkey is crushing the kurds and imprisoning his enemies. The hard men in Iran are spreading their religion by money and guns and fighters wherever they can.

The soft man in the US says he wants to cut the military budget, and in the meantime is in a sulk that he can't get his cinderblock wall built. The soft people of the EU are wringing their hands about what to do about unwanted migrants crossing their borders, and sending out pamphlets to EU MPs to explain to them the variety of personal pronouns they need to use with transgendered people. The soft man of Canada is taking admiring selfies of himself in colourful socks.

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On 12/22/2018 at 7:24 AM, Argus said:

I came upon this the other day and it struck me as something with a lot of truth to it, particularly given I can't see a single western country with a strong leader and stable government...

By "came upon" you mean I posted it :)

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 while the West is focused on such issues as transgenderism and Islamophbia, I can't help thinking we're in the tail end of the third panel.

The cycle is about 80 years, which used to be 4 generations. US examples: American independence in 1775 followed by about 70 years of prosperity until the Civil War, American civil war in 1861 followed by 65 years of prosperity until the great depression, Great Depression - WWII, followed by prosperity until the present day, which has now been 73 years. Nowadays 4 generations is closer to 100 years so we conceivably have another decade or two before the next period of really hard times.

What might that next period be? It could be that major effects of climate change lead to planetary upheaval (mass migration, starvation, etc), it could be that rising non-democratic powers like China challenge American primacy eventually leading to devastating global warfare (i.e. WWIII), it could be internal Western civil wars as "social justice" groups conclude that it is their moral imperative to exterminate the white race (the evil oppressors of their narrative), it could be a massive pandemic which wipes out a huge part of the human population brought about by the overuse of antibiotics, it could be the creation of a strong AI that is hostile to humankind, or it could be something entirely unforeseen. Whatever it is, we are extremely unlikely to experience the current period of post-WWII prosperity continue past 2050 at the latest. More likely it will be over by 2030.

Or it could even be that this cycle of hard times was pretty soft as these things go: the 2008 global recession; and the next crop of strong leaders are now maturing, and we're entering the next 80-100 years of prosperity. Unfortunately, this theory isn't great for predicting the future, since it is hard to definitely say what times are sufficiently "hard" until they are well behind you, and events of the day always loom larger in people's minds than events from decades ago. 

Edited by Bonam

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35 minutes ago, Bonam said:

By "came upon" you mean I posted it :)

Not unless you posted it on reddit. Did you post it here somewhere?

35 minutes ago, Bonam said:

The cycle is about 80 years, which used to be 4 generations. US examples: American independence in 1775 followed by about 70 years of prosperity until the Civil War, American civil war in 1861 followed by 65 years of prosperity until the great depression, Great Depression - WWII, followed by prosperity until the present day, which has now been 73 years. Nowadays 4 generations is closer to 100 years so we conceivably have another decade or two before the next period of really hard times.

I donl't think you can say it has a time scale other than how long it takes for a society to grow so comfortable and relaxed the people forget what hard times were and how to cope with them, and their leaders are those who would be unfit to lead in hard times because they can't make tough decisions and aren't very strong of will. I don't think you can say the US civil war was caused by the soft men who had years of prosperity because I don't think the US was very 'soft' during this time due to western expansion and Indian wars. Not to mention it was still a society marked by little support for the poor or sick. You made your own way in life and your own success or died and no one cared which.

But I do think we're now in very soft times and have been for the last thirty years or so. Real poverty and hardship is gone, and stability and security ensure almost no one ever knows real fear of violence. When universities have to offer therapy counseling for students because a speaker will be coming on campus to say things which are politically incorrect, you know these are soft people. Can't find a job? Don't like the jobs available? No problem. The state will give you some money!  Our ancestors came to Canada in wooden boats in hopes of the hard work of a farmer, where they had to clear the ground by hand first Now we have to bring in temporary foreign workers for fish plants because people think the work is unpleasant and would rather stay home and collect pogey. If there were fighting in the streets in Canada the first people who would be overwhelmed would be the therapists.

Which would be okay if no challenges lay ahead, and other nations were similar, but we know there are, and we know they aren't.

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46 minutes ago, Argus said:

Not unless you posted it on reddit. Did you post it here somewhere?

Yes, here, you replied to it afterwards , and then started this thread 2 days after :)

 

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I donl't think you can say it has a time scale other than how long it takes for a society to grow so comfortable and relaxed the people forget what hard times were and how to cope with them, and their leaders are those who would be unfit to lead in hard times because they can't make tough decisions and aren't very strong of will.

I think it makes sense for it to be 3-4 generations. That's the time it takes to forget hard learned lessons. The children of parents that grew up in hard times usually carry on some of that mentality, having been raised that way. But the grand-children are twice removed and grow soft. 3 generations is also the time that wealth tends to last in families. I think 3-4 generations is a good rule of thumb for how long it takes society to forget things on a societal level. 

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Which would be okay if no challenges lay ahead, and other nations were similar, but we know there are, and we know they aren't.

I don't know if it would be ok even then. Nations can rot away even if they aren't threatened from the outside. 

Edited by Bonam

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48 minutes ago, Argus said:

I don't think you can say the US civil war was caused by the soft men who had years of prosperity because I don't think the US was very 'soft' during this time due to western expansion and Indian wars. Not to mention it was still a society marked by little support for the poor or sick. You made your own way in life and your own success or died and no one cared which.

All previous periods in human history were "hard" compared to the modern day. Access to modern medicine, for one, makes the working class of today richer in the way that matters most than any king a century ago or before. But set within the context of the era, the period of US western expansion was soft. Limitless almost free land and resources. Just enough resistance to make people feel adventurous and bold for fighting the natives. Everyone could think of themselves as a brave frontiersman and mighty warrior, while in fact they were just farmers picking off the last remnants of a people that had been devastated by waves of disease. The natives were hopelessly outmatched in terms of population, organization, technology, etc. As soon as the limitless free land started to hit the boundaries, the country disintegrated into civil war based on ideological differences. 

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4 hours ago, Bonam said:

Yes, here, you replied to it afterwards , and then started this thread 2 days after :)

LOL. I'm getting old! I thought I saw it on reddit, and then I couldn't find it again! I had to google it until I found the graphic! :rolleyes:

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I think it makes sense for it to be 3-4 generations. That's the time it takes to forget hard learned lessons.

They called the people who fought in WW2 'the greatest generation', the people who lived through the great depression and then WW2. They produced the Baby Boomers, which I think you'll agree is not one of the toughest groups in history. And they produced Generation X, who produced Millennial. I would say there's a steady downward spiral here in toughness and ability to cope with difficult situations but to my mind Boomers were pretty soft and that was just 1 generation, and Gen X is considerably worse.

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The children of parents that grew up in hard times usually carry on some of that mentality, having been raised that way. But the grand-children are twice removed and grow soft. 3 generations is also the time that wealth tends to last in families. I think 3-4 generations is a good rule of thumb for how long it takes society to forget things on a societal level. 

I don't know if it would be ok even then. Nations can rot away even if they aren't threatened from the outside. 

Yes. That's why this... fixation on minutia, on comparatively unimportant stuff like pronouns and identity politics, and earnest efforts to outlaw anything that gives offense cause me concern. You know, if a kid so much as says anything unflattering to another kid in school these days it's a really big deal, and parents get contacted for the slightest hint of violence. Everything they do is intensely supervised to protect them from any harm and eliminate bullying, and kids are rarely away from adult supervision until they're in their teens. All of this is, in many ways good. Kids are safer, and it's good to teach them to be polite and to combat bullying. But it also produces young adults who are utterly unable to cope with many of life's routine challenges because they never have had to before. Extraordinary challenges would, I think, completely overcome them. And this is likely to get worse, not better. Kids are raised to always know there's some authority figure to take care of things. And once they grow up they continue to rely on some authority figure, ie, the government, to take care of everything. Well what happens if that doesn't happen?

Edited by Argus

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19 hours ago, Argus said:

 I donl't think you can say it has a time scale other than how long it takes for a society to grow so comfortable and relaxed the people forget what hard times were and how to cope with them, and their leaders are those who would be unfit to lead in hard times because they can't make tough decisions and aren't very strong of will. 

Close... but no.  There is no 'cycle' to predicting the chaos of human progress, technology, international conflict and so on.

There are some things that are constant - improvement of standard of living, increasing GDP, cultural convergence.

Nations are becoming a thing of the past more quickly than we thought, also.

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11 minutes ago, Michael Hardner said:

Close... but no.  There is no 'cycle' to predicting the chaos of human progress, technology, international conflict and so on.

How do you arrive at a formula for predicting chaos?

11 minutes ago, Michael Hardner said:

There are some things that are constant - improvement of standard of living, increasing GDP, cultural convergence.

Is that really a constant? It has been over the past century, but we've gone long periods, centuries, with little or no improvements in the past.

11 minutes ago, Michael Hardner said:

Nations are becoming a thing of the past more quickly than we thought, also.

I'm confused about that last part. I can't think of any nations which have disappeared in my lifetime other than the unnatural amalgamation of people caused by war and conquest (ie, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, USSR).

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7 hours ago, Michael Hardner said:

Close... but no.  There is no 'cycle' to predicting the chaos of human progress, technology, international conflict and so on.

There are some things that are constant - improvement of standard of living, increasing GDP, cultural convergence.

Nations are becoming a thing of the past more quickly than we thought, also.

I wonder about the constant improvement thing.  Are we talking about the number of houses where Alexa has taken over? 

I know it's a real struggle now to make sure one eats real food.  Obesity is endemic in the western world and Type 2 Diabetes is being diagnosed in ever younger children. 

Stress and mental illness seem to be on the rise.  In some places crime is so bad it creates refugees.  Some areas of the planet are almost unliveable due to pollution.  No stats, just observations.

As for nations, they are going to do their level best to stick around and that is not going to do anything to improve the standard of living for those who would see otherwise.

Edited by bcsapper

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2 hours ago, Michael Hardner said:

Close... but no.  There is no 'cycle' to predicting the chaos of human progress, technology, international conflict and so on.

There are some things that are constant - improvement of standard of living, increasing GDP, cultural convergence.

Nations are becoming a thing of the past more quickly than we thought, also.

The lines of improvement of standard of living and increasing GDP can be drawn right through the great depression and WWII, which in the long run were only minor blips, quickly recovered from. And yet, the people who lived through that period were definitely in "hard times". If you view everything from the thousand mile view, you could argue that all of human history has been steady and accelerating progress, and that even the Bronze Age collapse, the Fall of Rome, and the Black Death were just minor blips along the road. And indeed I have made that argument in the relevant context, pointing out that the present day is the most prosperous in history and the best time to be alive and that the future is likely to be even more so. But if you zoom in a bit and look on the scale of human generations you can definitely see that history consists of some generations that live in relative peace and prosperity and others that live in times of terrible war, famine, and desperation, and that these alternate on a not-too-inconsistent "cycle". Not consistent enough to be useful as a predictor of the future, but enough to be insightful when looking backward. 

As for cultural convergence, I'm not sure about that, I see the world polarizing into mutually exclusive ideological camps rather than converging towards something universal. 

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I am glad to have this conversation, which is free of politics for the most part.

 

Yes, I am talking about the thousand mile view.  As Argus points out, there is still a possibility that progress can stall for a long time.

Chaos is unpredictable, but you can plan for it.

International cohesion is most definitely a thing.  Even NK is in play these days.

I am on the go, so I don't have time to write more.

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I think we need to get our banks and financial institutions to fund an effort to improve information dissemination.  There's too much bad information out there, and it threatens our political economy.

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16 minutes ago, Michael Hardner said:

I think we need to get our banks and financial institutions to fund an effort to improve information dissemination.  There's too much bad information out there, and it threatens our political economy.

The threat comes from people seeking and finding DIFFERENT sources of information which are feeding them DIFFERENT stories. Note not all these stories are 'false'. They are often simply different versions of the truth, with select pieces emphasized and others simply left out. The CBC is not immune to this as they have a narrative they push which is the product of a largely progressive liberal mentality. This is not entirely a new thing. About oh, forty years ago I brought in a Sun newspaper and  the Star into an English class. They both covered the same story. The impression the reader would have gleaned from those stories was entirely different.

The internet makes it all worse though, and I think even the mainstream sources have become more given to pushing agendas and slanting news, or at least, what they choose to cover, which is turning readers away and sending them into looking for other sources.

Edited by Argus

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15 hours ago, Argus said:

1.  Note not all these stories are 'false'. They are often simply different versions of the truth, with select pieces emphasized and others simply left out. The CBC is not immune to this as they have a narrative they push which is the product of a largely progressive liberal mentality. This is not entirely a new thing. About oh, forty years ago I brought in a Sun newspaper and  the Star into an English class. They both covered the same story. The impression the reader would have gleaned from those stories was entirely different.

2. The internet makes it all worse though, and I think even the mainstream sources have become more given to pushing agendas and slanting news, or at least, what they choose to cover, which is turning readers away and sending them into looking for other sources.

1. No - in fact we need more perspective than the mushy liberal take on things.  I feel that the chickens are coming home to roost for 60 years of homogenized news.

2. There are things that must be covered, though.  Partisan news was phased out in the early 20th century and good things came of that.  Time to try again.

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5 hours ago, Michael Hardner said:

1. No - in fact we need more perspective than the mushy liberal take on things.  I feel that the chickens are coming home to roost for 60 years of homogenized news.

Do we? Years ago there were three US news programs and they all told pretty much the same stories. The same for the two in Canada. All Americans/Canadians got pretty much the same information if they watched the news. I would argue the advent of organizations like FOX and the wide variation of internet sources has actually served to divide people because they are getting entirely different news feeds from entirely different biased organizations.

5 hours ago, Michael Hardner said:

2. There are things that must be covered, though.  Partisan news was phased out in the early 20th century and good things came of that.  Time to try again.

When was partisan news phased out? Which country did this happen in? 
As I watch the news I've come to realize that very little of it is actually news of any importance. It doesn't matter if it's on BBC, FOX, ABC, CNN or CBC. Most of it is crap of no real importance: human interest and infotainment stuff. The newspapers are generally better than that, but fewer and fewer read them.

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9 hours ago, Argus said:

1. I would argue the advent of organizations like FOX and the wide variation of internet sources has actually served to divide people because they are getting entirely different news feeds from entirely different biased organizations.

2. When was partisan news phased out? Which country did this happen in?  

1. Yes, but the question is how was the audience served before FOX ?

2. 19th and 20th century.  North America.

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False on both counts....U.S. news media included far more than just three television networks (e.g. syndicated radio, print media, AP/UPI wire services, etc.).   Canada had smaller versions of the same.   Partisanship was never phased out.

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On 12/22/2018 at 10:24 AM, Argus said:

 the West is focused on such issues as transgenderism and Islamophbia,

Horseshit.

I think the west is focussed on demonizing foreigners to win elections so that the politicians can get money.  Oh, and the money comes from foreign countries who game domestic politics to distract from their international chess moves.

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On 12/22/2018 at 11:48 AM, bcsapper said:

We are heading for the hardest of times.  There is no strength of leadership that can save us this time.  No Churchill to replace a Chamberlain.  The choices that needed to be made were too brutal for our most recent crop of lily livereds.  And of course, now that it's too late, we get people like Trump. 

As I said elsewhere, Trump represents the best choice, and the only choice for the future based on one feature: his independence.  A Trump with a different moral and strategic core could make some amazing changes and win bipartisan approval.

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