Twilight of the Malthusians

Thomas Malthus was an English cleric and scholar living in the early 19th century who developed the theory that global population increases exponentially, while global production increases arithmetically. His theory—and the eventual collapse of civilization that it implies—enjoys influence to this day. In California, it found early expression in a 1976 speech by Governor Jerry Brown, who announced that we had entered an “era of limits.” For more than 40 years now, influential politicians such as Brown, supported by like-minded environmentalists, have embraced the Malthusian vision. But an alternative exists.

First, global population growth was only increasing “exponentially” for a few decades in the middle of the 20th century. As the chart below indicates, using data from the United Nations, the annual rate of global population growth peaked in 1980 at just over 2 percent. Since then, it has already dropped to half that rate, estimated at around 1 percent per year in 2020. By the end of this century, global population is projected to be growing at a decidedly “arithmetic” rate of under 0.2 percent per year.

At the same time that the rate of global population growth is slowing significantly, global productivity continues to increase. Virtually all recent estimates—World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations—forecast global GDP growth to exceed 3 percent per year into the foreseeable future. This rate of growth is low by historical standards and, notwithstanding temporary disruptions caused by future recessions, is likely to be much higher over […] Read More

The Future’s So Bright, Gavin Newsom’s Got to Wear Shades

Jerry Brown was governor of California for 16 years. His four terms, two that ran from 1975 through 1982, then two more that ran for the past eight years, bookended California’s transition from a sprawling and remote, sun-splashed coastal paradise, defined by Hollywood, the counterculture, and a rising technology industry, to an economic leviathan, the global epicenter of technological innovation, and cultural evolution.

So much has changed. California now boasts the fifth-largest economy on earth. California’s high-tech companies—Apple, Facebook, Google, and countless others—are defining how we will live in the coming decades. In nearly every significant area of politics, culture, and technology, Californians are global leaders.

California’s politics are also unique, insofar as no other state in the union is so absolutely under the control of Democrats. Every major state officeholder is a Democrat. Both houses of California’s state legislature are controlled by Democratic supermajorities. California’s congressional delegation, which at 53 is by far the largest in the U.S. House of Representatives, consists of 46 Democrats and only seven Republicans. California’s senators, the venerable Dianne Feinstein, and the ascendant Kamala Harris, are both staunch Democrats. And all of these Democrats proudly consider California to be ground zero for the anti-Trump “#Resistance.”

And so, on January 7, the Brown era came to an end, and a new governor took office: Gavin Newsom. Elected easily, the former lieutenant governor (and before that, mayor of San Francisco) ran on the slogan “courage for change.” Newsom’s inauguration speech didn’t disappoint. Change […] Read More

Economic Headwinds Came Long Before Trump’s Presidency

After the unexpected election of President Donald Trump, something else unexpected happened. The stock market soared.

In the final week before the 2016 election, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17,888, an unimpressive level, since it had reached that same point nearly two years earlier in December 2014. But following Trump’s victory, the Dow went wild. By the time he took office in January 2017, it had already jumped over 12 percent, to 20,094. By January 2018, it peaked at 26,616, then edged upwards to 26,828 on October 3, 2018. In less than two years, the Dow Jones Index grew by an astounding 50 percent.

Since then, however, the Dow, along with the other major U.S. indexes, have been tumbling. By Christmas Eve, the Dow was 19 percent off its high, down to 21,792. What had been called the “Trump Bump” is now being called the “Trump Slump.”

While President Trump has been criticized for taking credit for the stock market rise, Barack Obama also got into that action, claiming in October 2018 that “the booming started on his watch.” But today’s economy, and especially the stock market, are reacting to longer-term trends for which neither president deserves full credit or blame.

Depicted on the chart below is the performance of the Dow from 1995, when the markets began first showing signs of “irrational exuberance,” to the extremely exuberant present day. On clear display are the past two bubbles, the internet bubble of 2000, […] Read More

New Cable Series “Mars” Lays Leftist Fearmongering Onto a Whole New World

If you haven’t watched, you would think the National Geographic Channel’s cable series “Mars,” would be a straightforward dramatization of human colonization of the Red Planet in the near future. You would be half right.

The show is indeed a well-imagined portrayal of the first colonies on Mars, but rather than being a straightforward dramatization of this exciting next chapter in human civilization, the “Mars” series is saturated with leftist propaganda.

By the end of the second mini-season, which concluded December 17, the messages were clear: humans have brought planet Earth to the brink of apocalyptic ruin—capitalist, climate-denier humans in particular—and they’re going to do the same thing to Mars. They will, that is, unless an underfunded, heroic and beleaguered, transnational band of multicultural warriors with seductive accents manages to stop them.

The contrast down on the Martian surface couldn’t be more obvious. On one side the aforementioned “good” colony of scientists and environmental justice zealots. On the other, the “bad” colony, lavishly funded by the “Lukrum Corporation,” populated by remorseless shills, bent on destroying the fragile ecosystems of Mars for fun and profit.

Just in case this cartoon caricature of ideological struggle extending itself into the solar system isn’t obvious enough, the Martian drama is frequently interrupted with documentary interludes. These segments alternate between sober commentary by climate scientists, warning us of imminent disaster, and the usual images—mountain-sized formations of ice calving into a warming ocean, raging wildfire infernos, and, of course, oil-soaked waterfowl in their final death […] Read More