• We are not going to hell in a handcart

    One of the most, if not the most, common arguments I seem to be having online in various places is about the notion that the world is morally bankrupt, that we are in the end days. And this is not just from theists – it is commonplace with theists and nontheists alike. It annoys me because it is so blatantly wrong and exemplifies the rose-tinted fallacy completely.

    Let me explain what context I see this argument in before showing why it is incorrect. This claim, from a non-believer’s perspective, is often with regard to the ‘youth of today’ – morality, family and crime. From a believer’s perspective, it is invariably the same notions which inspire the claim, but this is not unusual. They at least have 2000 years of form for this approach. The epistles of the New Testament started this trend. The “we are in the Last Days” trend of apocalyptic language and proclamations. Of course, the End Days cannot be 2000 years long. Especially for the Creationists who think the world is only a small number of thousand years old anyway.

    Environmentally speaking, some may be able to more solidly claim that we are in a period of great worry. But this isn’t as a result of us suddenly becoming morally bankrupt. Not at all. This is a period of massive population growth – an explosion of numbers. We have over 7 billion people on this earth vying for limited resources. Overcrowding is an issue in urban areas that has a side-effect of causing a lot of issues, some appearing to be moral and criminal. It is easy to fault the moral degradation of society, but in reality the situation is more nuanced and certainly more complex. But let us look more empirically at the claim that society, morality and criminality is worse now than at any other time in history.

    What one must bear in mind when arguing about this is that claimants of hell in a handcart appear to conflate

    things aren’t perfect

    with

    THINGS ARE THE WORST THAT THEY HAVE EVER BEEN!

    This is fundamentally the issue with such arguments. One way to easily undercut people who argue like this is to ask two questions:

    Would you prefer to live now, or at another time in history?

    What period would you most like to have lived in?

    If they answered now, then they have lost the argument. If they don’t, then you can supply them with the list of points and arguments below.

    So how do we measure where we are in society? There are all sorts of problems when dealing with statistics – how were they gathered? What were the laws upon which the collection was predicated? Are we talking per capita results or total results?

    Rather than give some massive spiel about how life is great, let me just list ways in which society has improved, with implications that they are better now than at previous times. Here goes.

    Human rights are at a better state now than at any other time in history.

    We have more equality now than at any other time in history (think women, race, disabled, sexuality etc).

    There is legal aid available in most developed societies for all.

    There are less human deaths per armed conflict now than at any other time. For this, see Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined for an assessment of this.

    Healthcare provision is better than…

    Racially motivated crimes are decreasing.  Figures from the latest British Crime Survey, which is considered to be the most reliable study in the UK, indicate that the number of racially motivated incidents in the UK has fallen from 390,000 incidents in 1995 to 184,000 in 2006/07; In 2010/11, 51,187 racist incidents were recorded by the police – a decrease of almost 18% in the number of racist incidents reported across England and Wales over the five-year period (2006/07 to 2010/11). Remember, minorities populations are growing, so this should be expected to increase.

    Rape statistics show a decrease as well. Rape is a tough one because rape is now reported far more than it ever was. Things like rape in marriage used not to be illegal. Thus a sharp increase in rape stats at points over the last 50 years doesn’t necessarily reflect rising numbers of rapes, but rising numbers of reportings and types of rapes that became classifiable as rape. This wiki quote sums up some difficulties:

    According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the adjusted per-capita victimization rate of rape has declined from about 2.4 per 1000 people (age 12 and above) in 1980 (that is, 2.4 persons from each 1000 people 12 and older were raped during that year) to about 0.4 per 1000 people, a decline of about 85%. There are several possible explanations for this, including stricter laws, education on security for women, and a correlation with the rise in Internet pornography.[11] But other government surveys, such as the Sexual Victimization of College Women study, critique the NCVS on the basis it includes only those acts perceived as crimes by the victim, and report a much higher victimization rate.[12]

    Imagine rape in the Middle Ages. It was not even really illegal! As we become more and more progressive, so do our legal systems reflect our moral progression.

    And so on and so forth. The point is, on what basis can people claim that the world is at its worse point in history NOW? That is an empirically-based claim so there must be some evidence for it.

    Crime Rates in the US

    I thought I would include this conversation that I had with a Christian woman on facebook:

    The OP: If you were God, how ungodly would things have to become before you decided it was time to end this world, and begin the next?

    Christian Woman (CW): … it is probable that things will get much worse. But, my hope is in that God does not lie. Please note, my dear friend, that Revelation 21:4 says, “And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” I believe that. Can you? Men lie, God does not.

    Me:  I think the situation is much more complex. Actually, we are living in the best generation since time began for human rights. Wars now cause less deaths than ever. There is less torture. More accountability. Less secrets. And so on. It is easy to say it’s all going to hell in a handcart, but when would be the ‘best’ time this world has seen. Because I can tell you now, I would prefer to live now than at any other time. Yes, there is much room for improvement. Yes, much of it sucks. But 20 years ago you could still legally rape your wife. We are no more selfish now than we ever were, perhaps. The difference is, there are 7 billion of us.

    7 billlion doing the same sort of things with technology which demands more resources. I don;t think we have become morally worse. I think the context has changed such that our decisions have greater impact than ever before. In some ways we improve, in others we don’t. Our family values may have decreased, but our global awareness and care for others may have. It is simply much more complex, I think, than we often give it credit for. Stats seem to suggest the many crimes are going down, say, since they peaked 40 years ago. etc. I never believe in black and white, but various shades of grey!

    CW: We have 6 month old babies being shot dead on the streets of Chicago. Things are not getting better.

    Me: And you know that, say, the Middle Ages had people living in Edenic happiness? There wasn’t even a legal definition of rape. Let alone defence of women in this context. Human rights did not even exist.

    CW: Johno, you live in England. My family lives in Manchester, England RIGHT NOW. Life is not good for them, and this is 2013. You are not black or mixed race in England, and I don’t think that you want to be. The world is not getting better. It is getting worse.

    Me: So it was better to be a mixed race family living in England when? Because I can tell you for a fact, race relations are better now than at any time in the history of England. In my life, I am seeing racial diversity at football grounds now where there was non. I see racial diversity and acceptance in the schools I teach at, where there was none. This is the rose-tinted fallacy. Do not confuse “things could be better” (they clearly can) with “things are worse now”. These are two very different concepts. Tell me when human rights were better than they are now.

    Hint, they were not ever better than they are now.

    We have a racial equality foundations and commissions where there were none. Figures from the latest British Crime Survey, which is considered to be the most reliable study, indicate that the number of racially motivated incidents in the UK has fallen from 390,000 incidents in 1995 to 184,000 in 2006/07; In 2010/11, 51,187 racist incidents were recorded by the police – a decrease of almost 18% in the number of racist incidents reported across England and Wales over the five-year period (2006/07 to 2010/11). Remember, minorities populations are growing, so this should be expected to increase. Evidence, actual empirical evidence, supports the idea that in many ways, but not all, society is getting better. Our one and main problem, in my opinion, is world population. There are simply too many of us. And with this issue comes all of our other main issues. Do not confuse context changing with worse morality. Indeed, this appears to be the correlation fallacy. Don’t forget, your God countenanced slavery. For 2000 years, slavery was justified using the bible (Christians say incorrectly). God knew this would happen, and allowed it. Even gave incomplete revelation to allow this. Do we allow it now? Not even close. When would you rather have lived?

    CW: My last comment to Johno: I have spent time in England. I am a person of mixed race. You are white in England. You clearly cannot know our true situation. Thanks for your comments, Johno.

    Me: CW, that is a massive fallacy, and is not logically sound. I can know whether crime is better wrt to racial groups now than before. I have spoken to and seen much evidence to suggest living as a minority is better now than at any time previously in the UK. You must give me evidence, otherwise your assertions are invalid. I am not saying things are perfect – far, far from. I am saying they are better than before. I know this, as I live in this society, growing up with racial slurs and concepts which are simply not accepted now. In 2010/11, the police recorded 31,486 racially or religiously aggravated offences – explain how this represents things getting worse for minorities? Across England and Wales. This represents a 26% decrease in the number of such offences recorded by the police over the last five years. As the Independent says “Nearly two decades after the murder of Stephen Lawrence, has anything changed? And what is life really like for young black and ethnic minority people in Britain today?

    In the high-visibility worlds of the establishment, entertainment and sport, there are signs of progress: there are more than four times as many black and ethnic minority MPs in Parliament as there were in 1993. A Muslim woman takes her seat at the cabinet table every Tuesday. An African-born man is in charge of a FTSE 100 company. Black and Asian actors regularly take leading roles in prime-time TV series.

    The population has changed since 1993: then ethnic minorities accounted for 5.1 per cent in England and Wales; the latest figure is 8.7 per cent.

    Some would argue that the major dividing line in Britain today is not race but class, and that Stephen’s killing captured the nation’s interest only because he was from a “nice” middle-class family and had aspirations to be an architect.” – things are still unequal and unfair. But that is not the point. Are they more unfair now than before? You have yet to provide any evidence that we are going downhill. Statistics show we are not. The Counselling Directory claims that wrt discrimination and minority groups, “negative attitudes have declined”. Again, where is your evidence?

    CW. Since you are not old, you do not have the right to make any moral, political or social comment about old people. Or men. Or non-mixed race. Or disabled. etc etc. It is a really problematic approach.

    I was stunned at the idea that because I am not mixed race or black, that I have no epistemic right to comment on the situation of racial minorities in Britain! I am not disabled, old etc. Surely I can cast an educated opinion on these factions of society! Only disabled people can make disability policy?!

    Also interesting to see was the tactic when losing a debate of “this will be my last post” and then running away…

    But hopefully, my points remain salient. Things are not the worse they have ever been. Yes certain things are bad, and some things really bad. But these issues are complex – multidimensional and multilevel. We desperately need to improve certain things. Perfection is miles away. But just to place a one comment-covers-all onto the whole of humanity is nothing short of naive. And wrong.

    Category: Morality

    Tags:

    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce

    One Pingback/Trackback

    • sounds like the person you were arguing with is an SJW. They are a very bizarre bunch

    • Daydreamer1

      I have been debating a JW for the last few days and ended concluding that no common ground could be found.

      The base of the argument was – We are all morally bankrupt. Non belief is the worst type. Moral bankruptcy is destroying the world. Non belief is destroying the world. Moral bankruptcy is measured, and fixed, by belief in Jesus. Nothing but belief in Jesus fixes moral bankruptcy. Morally bankrupt people cannot rationalise moral situations. We cannot understand the full picture of Gods morality (when He allows/kills children with cancer etc) because we are morally bankrupt and do not have infinite knowledge/wisdom to see the full picture (in which Gods actions are fully moral by definition). I, as a morally bankrupt non believer, had not spent my life studying scripture and God so obviously did not understand as much as someone who had. Therefore nothing I said meant anything for the reasons above.

      I gave up.

      Has anyone found a way into this mindset when the entire thing is designed to put the other person on a non-equal footing that they can never get off?

      • They must supply empirical evidence of moral bankruptcy. If they define immorality as non-belief, that is tricky, but just an assertion. If you provide evidence of atheist kindness, how do they respond?

        Thus it seems that morality is irrespective of actions, so you can go down the track that only belief secures heaven / moral goodness, and actions are irrelevant. Therefore, if Hitler confessed total belief on his deathbed, does that get him into heaven over a really ‘good’ atheist?

    • JohnM

      Allow me to recap the world situation :)

      WW3 is on the horizon with the Red dragon.

      United states have been weakened as an economical power, and is in debt to the Dragon.

      We are in the worst economical crisis the world have seen, since the 1930ish. And it has hit very hard, here in Europe.

      The nasty suicide rogue states are getting closer to WMD and some have them already. Containment have failed. Most notable, North Korea and Iran.

      The project of “building democratic societies” in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed. Warlords run the show in Afghanistan. Iran / Saudi Arabia is fighting a proxy war in Iraq.

      We know that our oil won’t last forever. What do we do?

      Talks about climate change and what to do, fails epic, every single meeting.

      Japan had a nuclear accident some time ago. We don’t like being reminded about Chernobyl.

      In the middle-east, what was first a spring of democracy, now shows the ugly face of Sharia and suicide bombers.

      Free speech is threatened in many countries. In some places by Fundamentalist, who attack and attempt to murder, anyone who draws pictures of their religious figures. In other places, people who speak their opinion about homosexuality for example, are being harassed, arrested and even jailed under the banner of “hate speech”. Furthermore in some countries, journalist are getting assassinated for writing negative reports.

      We have seen a new rise in nationalism I many European counties. Nazi-like parties are springing up everywhere, most noticeable the Golden Dawn in Greece.

      Jews in certain countries can no longer walk on their streets without fear of being assaulted by angry Muslims. ( This was unheard of in Denmark and Sweden, just a few years ago ).

      Gang violence and hard drug on the rise in Scandinavia. Drive by shootings unheard of when I grew up in Denmark. Every day news, today.

      Random school killings on TV, by maniac with assault rifle.. How often?

      Epic Natural disaster on TV, how often?

      Youth unemployment have reached epic proportions in Europe. Politicians and commentators now often talk about “a lost generation”.

      Did I miss something? Well yeah, I haven’t even talked about the moral decay and the selfishness of this generation. But I guess that’s more subjective.

      • Why is the US getting weaker as an economic power worse for the whole world? Because for them to get weaker it means other countries are getting stronger.

        I seem to remember that on 1970s figures, if the whole world was to consume at US rates, the world’s output would not have to double, triple or quadruple, but would have to increase at a order of magnitude 200 times what it was. In other words, just for the survival of the planet, the US NEEDS to become weaker.

        Look, if it is so bad, when was best? Would you prefer to live at another time?

        • JohnM

          The US has a gigantic debt, that they keep raising. Who do you think have been acting bank for the consumption of the United States? The ones who they keep importing goods from.

          Imagine this.. A crack dealer gives you a loan. You buy crack from him. Now you need a new loan, to buy more crack, from him. That’s essentially the relationship between China and United States at the moment. They import Chinese goods, and Chinese investors is lending money to them, so that they can raise the debt sealing and buy more goods.

          If they keep going like this, China’s economy will have overtaken the United states as the biggest economy, somewhere around 2016-2020. Do you really want Chinese Human rights, or lack of, to run the world?

          • You have a really naive view of world economics. It is a false analogy. Buying Chinese goods is not like buying crack and should not have a moral dimension. Stop seeing things from a Judeo-Christian-Western-Capitalist-middle class dimension.

            Why is buying Chinese goods as opposed to American goods bad for the world? There are more people in China than the US, thus raising the average standard, and thus hopefully quality of life on average for China affects the entire world more positively than fueling the biggest economy with even more per capita income.

            John, you are being really dense here.

            • o compete with world economies, and to sit at the table, China is having to and will continue to have to adjust its poor record of human rights. In other words, the growth of the Chinese economy has had a continued positive effect on world human rights.

              Yes its bad, but they are becoming more accountable with every year.

            • JohnM

              I don’t see much progress in terms of Human rights. On top of that comes their support for regimes such as North Korea, Syria, Iran.. So I find it hard to be optimistic. But maybe that’s just me :)

              Jonathan said : You have a really naive view of world economics. It is a false analogy. Buying Chinese goods is not like buying crack…

              I’m just saying what many economists have said. The phenomenon is so well know, that it has been nicked-named Chimerica.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimerica
              First coined by historian Niall Ferguson and economist Moritz Schularick in late 2006, they argue that saving by the Chinese and overspending by Americans led to an incredible period of wealth creation that contributed to the global financial crisis of 2008–2009.[7] For years, China accumulated large currency reserves and channeled them into U.S. government securities, which kept nominal and real long-term interest rates artificially low in the United States. Ferguson describes Chimerica as one economy which “accounts for around 13 percent of the world’s land surface, a quarter of its population, about a third of its gross domestic product, and somewhere over half of the global economic growth of the past six years.”[8] He suggests Chimerica could end if China were to decouple from the United States bringing with it a shift in global power and allowing China “to explore other spheres of global influence, from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of which Russia is also a member, to its own informal nascent empire in commodity-rich Africa.”[9]
              The accumulation of American debt which has been estimated at over $800 billion suggests the two nations are intrinsically linked; the economic symbiosis prevalent between the two suggests the separation would harm both countries and be disastrous for the global economy.[citation needed] Another way to measure this integration is the trade deficit. The U.S. trade deficit with China was $295 billion in 2011, meaning the U.S. imported that much more goods and services from China than it exported to China. The Economic Policy Institute estimated that from 2001-2011, 2.7 million U.S. jobs were lost to China.

              You can watch it here, if you like. It gives a really solid insight into understanding the phenomenon : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Xx_5PuLIzc

              Needless to say, having a trade deficit with China around $295 billion, when you are already deeply in debt to them, is a recipe for disaster. Remember what the collapse of Goldman Sachs did to our global economy? Then imagine what would happen, if inventors lost their faith in the United States ability to pay back the money, and stopped lending their money to them, thereby forcing the US to default on their debt.

              The majority of US households, relies on being able to buy cheap Chinese goods at Wall-mart. If the United States stopped importing these Chinese goods, and started producing it themselves, then wall-mart would have to at least tipple the prices, to pay the wages. And that would completely devastate the income / buying-power of American households.

              I’m comparing it with crack, because now that the system and the low-income wages have adapted themselves to the import of Chinese goods, there’s no way for them to stop going down that road, without completely devastating the economy. Furthermore, China certainly have been acting as dope-dealer, to drive it as far as it has.

              Jonathan said : Why is buying Chinese goods as opposed to American goods bad for the world? There are more people in China than the US, thus raising the average standard, and thus hopefully quality of life on average for China affects the entire world more positively than fuelling the biggest economy with even more per capita income.

              If one has no problem buying things produced at slave-wages under horrible conditions, then there’s nothing wrong with buying Chinese goods. And we are not talking about fuelling Americas economy and consumption. That’s what the Chinese have been doing so far. We’re talking about the collapse of the biggest economy in the world, due to debt. I mean, when people starts talking about “the fiscal cliff”, it should be pretty clear to everyone, that something is very very wrong over there.

            • JohnM

              This is also a very good documentary about the financial meltdown, that shows how unstable our system is.

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3CDGh4cXU0

            • Andy_Schueler

              That documentary is indeed well done.
              Seeing how you tend to casually dismiss any source that does not align with your christian fundamentalist views, I would have never thought that you would trust anything that comes from Al Jazeera.

            • JohnM

              As far as I’m aware, it was produced by the canadian broadcasting corporation.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Then imagine what would happen, if inventors lost their faith in the United States ability to pay back the money, and stopped lending their money to them, thereby forcing the US to default on their debt.

              Fascinating how you can be so consistently wrong about everything. The USA have a central bank which means that they cannot default on their debts – the central bank has to recapitalize the nation if it would have to default otherwise. The price of the Dollar would go down, but investors cannot loose all their money.

              I’m comparing it with crack, because now that the system and the low-income wages have adapted themselves to the import of Chinese goods, there’s no way for them to stop going down that road, without completely devastating the economy.

              And Germany manages to have an even higher trade surplus globally than china globally and is roughly balanced with china, with comparatively crappy wages (compared to Switzerland, Finland etc.) but very high wages compared to the USA and China (not to mention that workers rights in Germany are far superiour to those in the USA and China). This is possible because Germany has oriented it´s economy towards exporting goods and because they can produce more efficiently with the same workload due to being technology more advanced and having a better infrastructure.
              “There´s no way for them to stop going down that road” – there certainly is, one easy (and humane) way would be to increase the minimal wage and thus stimulate domestic trade. Another way would be to keep wages low (or only raise them a little) but improve infrastructure with a stimulus bill and focus much more on export (what Germany does).

              We’re talking about the collapse of the biggest economy in the world, due to debt. I mean, when people starts talking about “the fiscal cliff”, it should be pretty clear to everyone, that something is very very wrong over there.

              The american economy is and will further be hurt by idiotic austerity politics, but they could easily reduce their debts (by raising their ridiculously low tax rates) and they can never default on their debts because they have the federal reserve.

            • JohnM

              Germany’s trade surplus, has very little to do with reforms, and everything to do with the Euro. Furthermore, Germany has what has become know as “working poor”. That’s not something to be proud of. I would be worried if I were you, especially if countries such as United kingdom, give you guys the finger, and devalues their currency.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Germany’s trade surplus, has very little to do with reforms, and everything to do with the Euro.

              Look up the Agenda 2010 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agenda_2010 ). Germany did a lot to reduce unit labor costs to an incredibly low level (esp. reducing taxes for corporations and strongly expanding the low-pay sector) – and add to that a single-minded focus on export. That´s why Germany is outcompeting every other European economy and since it exports more than half of it´s goods to other european countries, the trade surplus directly translates to debts in the rest of europe (esp. the south). The Euro is a bonus because it makes export easier and it helps keeping german products cheap because the price of the Euro is not coupled to the performance of Germany alone (otherwise it would have been dramatically risen in price by now).

              Furthermore, Germany has what has become know as “working poor”. That’s not something to be proud of.

              No, it indeed is a very bad thing. Have you even read the comment you reply to ? (I explicitly said that german wages are crappy compared to Switzerland and Norway for example (even France by now..), but they are still much better than US or chinese wages )

            • JohnM

              The German export is thanks to the Euro. Every country is prevented from devaluing their currency, and Germany is the main benefactor of that. In the good old days, France would have devalued, which would have given the German car-manufacturers a major headache, and sold a lot more French cars.

            • Andy_Schueler

              The German export is thanks to the Euro.

              Try reading my comment.

          • Andy_Schueler

            The US has a gigantic debt, that they keep raising. Who do you think have been acting bank for the consumption of the United States? The ones who they keep importing goods from.

            Bzzt, wrong.
            China owns 1.2 trillion Dollars of US debt ( http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/moneymatters/ss/How-Much-US-Debt-Does-China-Own.htm ), now guess how much money households in the United States spend per year… It happens to be roughly 10 trillion Dollars per year ( http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NE.CON.PRVT.CD ). Meaning that the accumulated US debt that China owns amounts to roughly 10% of the money that american households spend per year.

            If they keep going like this, China’s economy will have overtaken the United states as the biggest economy, somewhere around 2016-2020.

            Considering that China owns less than 10% of US debt now in 2013, which amounts to roughly 10% of what american households spend per year, and which amounts to roughly 150% of what the US spend on their military every single year – this claim is more than laughable. In the big picture, the US debt owned by China is peanuts.

            • JohnM

              The 1.2 trillion that you mention, comes from the 2009 article that you link. That was when the US debt was around 14.3 trillion. Today the total US debt is around 16.8 trillion dollars, and increasing about 3.9 billion pr day.

              Furthermore, comparing the Federal Governments debt, with the Household final consumption expenditure, is like comparing apples and bananas. It’s not the average Joe that needs to repay the debt, it’s the state. And Americans don’t pay 100% tax, last I checked.

              So if you want to compare it, you should compare it to the 2013 federal budget. And this year, their total revenues are projected to be around 2.9 trillion, and their total expenditures, about 3.8 trillion, creating a deficit of about 900 billions, which they have to finance, by selling more bonds to investors.

            • Andy_Schueler

              The 1.2 trillion that you mention, comes from the 2009 article that you link.

              No, the 2009 corresponds to the copyright stamp of the cartoon that is displayed at the top. The article happens to be from April 2012 (one hint would be that the guy talks about the debt crisis of 2011 right at the beginning… which would require pretty impressive forecasting abilities for a Dude writing in 2009).

              Furthermore, comparing the Federal Governments debt, with the Household final consumption expenditure, is like comparing apples and bananas.

              Your words:
              “Imagine this.. A crack dealer gives you a loan. You buy crack from him. Now you need a new loan, to buy more crack, from him. That’s essentially the relationship between China and United States at the moment. They import Chinese goods, and Chinese investors is lending money to them, so that they can raise the debt sealing and buy more goods.
              => whis is Bullshit since the US debt owned by China is peanuts compared to total household expenditure, which was exactly my point.

              So if you want to compare it, you should compare it to the 2013 federal budget. And this year, their total revenues are projected to be around 2.9 trillion, and their total expenditures, about 3.8 trillion, creating a deficit of about 900 billions, which they have to finance, by selling more bonds to investors.

              Wow, what an ENORMOUS problem for an economy that could easily create this much revenue (and much more actually…) by simply ending corporate welfare and taxing at sane levels.
              China will obviously take them over by 2016-2020 (let me repeat, China does not even own 10% of US debt, and the US could easily pay these debts off (not to mention that they cannot possibly default on them given that they have the FED)).

            • JohnM

              Andy said : whis is Bullshit since the US debt owned by China is peanuts…

              U.S. debt :
              China, Mainland, $1264.5 billion dollars
              Japan, $1115.2 billion dollars
              Oil Exporters*, $262.0 billion dollars
              Brazil, $253.4 billion dollars
              All Other, $245.5 billion dollars
              Carib Bnkng Ctrs**, $236.9 billion dollars
              Taiwan, $196.6 billion dollars
              Switzerland, $192.7 billion dollars
              Russia, $162.9 billion dollars
              Luxembourg, $144.7 billion dollars

              1265 billion dollars = peanuts?

              Oh yeah.. It’s only like the total budget of Germany, which is around 1.550 billion dollars.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_government_budgets_by_country

              Seriously, get a grip.

            • Andy_Schueler

              1265 billion dollars = peanuts?

              Dude, you are talking about the hostile takeover of the biggest economy on the planet by China due to China owning their debts. Although those debts do not even amount to 10% of the total debt of said country and the facts that said country has potential to dramatically increase their revenue because it is currently operating with ridiculously low tax rates and even more ridiculous tax loopholes (to the degree that the ten biggest corporations actually get money back from the IRS) and said country CANNOT POSSIBLY DEFAULT on their debts because it has a central bank.

              Gee, I wonder what the americans would rather do, sell out to china or simply end corporate welfare and raise taxes and (or simply have the FED print the fucking money – it´s not as if a few trillions would drastically decrease the dollar price (yes, in the big picture, this is peanuts)). And again, they don´t even have the choice, the FED would HAVE TO print the fucking money before they could default on their debts (well it´s technically not “printed”, but what the hell).

              This really is not that difficult…

            • JohnM

              Ok. The total budget of Germany = peanuts. Got it.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Got it.

              No.

      • Andy_Schueler

        WW3 is on the horizon with the Red dragon.

        The chinese (or the USA, or Russia) starting a war with one of the other global players would be almost instant economic suicide in a globalized world, not gonna happen.

        United states have been weakened as an economical power, and is in debt to the Dragon.

        Irrelevant.

        The nasty suicide rogue states are getting closer to WMD and some have them already. Containment have failed. Most notable, North Korea and Iran.

        The Iranians are not nearly as crazy and suicidal as you think and the North Koreans are far away from having a bomb that could be mounted on a missile, and even if they accomplish this feat sometime in the future, they are surrounded by three states with infinitely superiour air forces which all could and would bomb their military complexes to smithereens with conventional weapons (trust me, China has zero interested in North Korea going down that road and would solve this problem most likely before Japan and / or South Korea would do it) – the threat would be over very soon.
        If you are worried about nukes being launched, a conflict between Pakistan and India is still the most likely scenario (and “most likely” here still means a very low likelihood).

        The project of “building democratic societies” in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed.

        Seeing the idiotic ways in which the USA tried to accomplish this, particularly in Afghanistan, this came as no surprise.

        We know that our oil won’t last forever. What do we do?

        Stop relying on oil. This will not be a desaster for any nation except for the OPEC states (unless they start developing their infrastructure soon) and the USA (unless they find a different way to keep the Dollar price stable than tying it to Oil trade).

        Talks about climate change and what to do, fails epic, every single meeting.

        That indeed is a real problem.

        Japan had a nuclear accident some time ago. We don’t like being reminded about Chernobyl.

        While Germany and other states are about to shut nuclear power plants down for good which seems to be setting an example (still leaves the huge problem of nuclear waste though).

        Free speech is threatened in many countries. In some places by Fundamentalist, who attack and attempt to murder, anyone who draws pictures of their religious figures. In other places, people who speak their opinion about homosexuality for example, are being harassed, arrested and even jailed under the banner of “hate speech”.

        You can count the number of anti gay activists who were arrested for speaking out against homosexuality on one hand. And “speaking out” in these cases refers to hate speech that compares homosexuals to child molesters that should be executed sensu Leviticus. I´m undecided on whether such hate speech should be allowed on free speech grounds, but there is no way to allow this hate speech, but outlaw speech that demands that “filthy Jews” are a threat to world peace and should be exterminated. You can still preach against gays as much as you want in any country on the planet (including Canada and Norway), what you cannot do is incite other to violence against gays. If that is your biggest problem – cry me a river, bigot.

        Epic Natural disaster on TV, how often?

        Discounting Hurricanes (related to global warming), not more often than ten years ago, or twenty years ago, or thirty years ago or…

        Youth unemployment have reached epic proportions in Europe. Politicians and commentators now often talk about “a lost generation”.

        Yet another real problem (which pretty much encompasses your other points about gang violence and the rise of nationalism / fascism). Could be pretty easily solved though by ending those idiotic austerity politics.

        What we have on the other hand is a world that is not threatened by a global war anymore (because a global war would mean economic suicide for globalized economies). We have a world where health and prosperity are statistically improving almost everywhere (despite popular misconceptions – http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen.html?quote=129 ). We have a world where violence is globally decreasing (despite popular misconceptions, see the book that Jonathan referred to – http://www.amazon.com/dp/1455883115 ). And we have a world where compassion and social justice, esp. with people that are different than ourselves due to a different skin-colour, worldview or sexual orientation, is statistically improving year by year.

        • JohnM

          Andy said : What we have on the other hand is a world that is not threatened by a global war anymore

          The cold war may be over, but United States still have 2150 active nuclear warheads, and the Russian bear has 1740. Global war is just one button away, or one short-circuit I guess.

          Andy said : The Iranians are not nearly as crazy and suicidal as you think

          Have you heard about the 12th Imam?

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKRwJby3OnA

          • Andy_Schueler

            The cold war may be over, but United States still have 2150 active nuclear warheads, and the Russian bear has 1740. Global war is just one button away, or one short-circuit I guess.

            1. It´s actually two buttons pressed simultaneously by different people.
            2. The number of nuclear warheads is irrelevant, everything >10 standard sized warheads is overkill anyway and would cause a world-wide nuclear winter.
            3. If a scenario like the cuban missile crisis would be conceivable in the near future, this would scare me. But it isn´t.

            Have you heard about the 12th Imam?

            1. Scares me exactly as much as fundamentalist christians in the US Air Force, I don´t care if it´s Christians or Muslims praying for Armageddon.

            2. Never trust Fox News (and especially not Wingnuts like Santorum or Bojkin).
            3. Ahmadenijad is frequently (and sometimes intentionally) mistranslated by western media – he apparently never said anything like “Death to Israel” or “have to wipe Israel of the map”. What he actually said is that the “Zionist regime” of Israel has to vanish (not that much better, but still paints it in a very different picture).
            4. If you ever have the chance to talk to an Iranian, do so. From what I´ve learned so far, fundamentalism among the Iranian people is not nearly as pronounced as fundamentalism among the regime (and even the regime might be composed largely out of religious whackos, but they are neither insane nor suicidal (i.e. not comparable to NK)).

            • JohnM

              Andy said : he apparently never said anything like “Death to Israel”

              Well, then you didn’t watch the video. 1:30

            • Andy_Schueler

              Well, then you didn’t watch the video. 1:30

              Dude, you do realize that Ahmadenijad speaks Farsi and the english translation has been provided by Fox News. If a serious source provides the same translation, I´d consider it. Until then (esp. given that he´s been intentionally mistranslated before), I don´t buy it.

    • JohnM

      Oki so let’s take something that I think reflects immoral behaviour in or society. Divorce..

      When people are married, they swear allegiance to each other, for the rest of their life. A breach of such an agreement, is a flaw is ones character. There is no way to see this as a good thing. And we all know, that the kids are the ones who pay the price, EVERY time. They are the ones who suffer greatly from broken homes and families.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/jan/28/divorce-rates-marriage-ons

      The article describes a very clear trend, where less and less people are getting married, and of the ones who are, a high number are divorced.

      The only good news is, that in recent years, we have seen a decline, most likely caused by the economical crises, as people cant afford to get divorced, and therefore have to work out their problems instead.

    • Polly and I were talking about this very thing over the weekend. If things are getting worser and worser :) why the decline in crime? They harp on how evil TV is and how violent games are turning our youth into serial killer, yet violent crime is declining.

      Maybe if Jesus waits long enough we won’t need him to make all things new. :)

    • Pingback: Don’t (Moral) Panic!!! | A Tippling Philosopher()