Ask A Genius 388 – Demographics, Public Policy, and Public Rhetoric
September 20, 2018
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What will be the future demographics of religion, especially given the main predictor, probably, of the next culture is the size of a household and the overarching metanarrative and belief structure of the home?
Rick Rosner: Muslims have a birth rate of 3.2. Nonreligious people have about 1.6, so basically suburban whitey vs. Muslims. My conservative buddy, Lance, is always arguing that Muslims, if we let them, are going to take over demographically.
My argument against that is we don’t have that many Muslims in the US anyway, roughly 1% or about 3 million. There’s not enough time before future weirdness is fully upon us for a differential birth rate to, say, pump the percentage of Muslims – if Muslims are what you’re going to worry about – over 10%.
It would take, at least, 80 years. That is being wildly not conservative in your estimates. That is like wide open immigration, which the US doesn’t want to tolerate at the moment and then crazy rates of reproduction.
Even then, 80 years from now, having Muslims being 8% of the population is a) not going to happen and b) there are going to be so many other technological changes and sociological changes that 8% of the population being Muslim is not going to be the thing to worry about.
It might be if you were trying to address social change now in Europe. Some Western countries have seen the Muslim population approach 10%. Everything else that is going to happen is going to be more of a worry for Americans than too many Muslims.
To go from that to a general point of view, the future will bring us incredible abundance, but the deal we make with the future will also bring us incredible weirdness. Conservatives, of at least the American type, are against weirdness and change or, at least, pay a lot of lip service to it.
Right now, the conservative politics in America is owned by rich people who want to see if they can squeeze more money out of America: pay less in taxes, take more and more profits. That is the real agenda.
Then there is the semi-fake agenda of standing for traditional values and being against change because change means the ungodly erosion of everything we stand for. Even though, the conservative president and the Department of Justice is taking kids away from parents who want asylum and putting them in mini-concentration camps.
The conservative politics are the most hypocritical they have been in living memory, but they still stand against change: gay rights, gay marriage, against trans being a thing. Along with that, much conservative politics is zero-sum.
The philosophy for us to hold onto what we have then other people have to be denied access to what we have, particularly, right now, immigrants. All this stuff serves the hidden but main agenda of conservative politics right now.
For rich people to get more money, including the idea of taxation as theft or government services should be privatized, Carolla talks about things. He has become increasingly libertarian. One of the things that he brings up is that he doesn’t get his money’s worth out of the taxes that he pays as a rich guy that are more than a regular person pays, e.g., public services, streets, schools, and garbage pickup.
He is not getting his money’s worth. He has a problem with that. Carolla is smart enough to not entirely believe this point of view. But there are a lot of other people who try to manipulate people into the zero-sum points of view: “any money given to taxes are given to people who didn’t work for it.”
On the other hand, we can talk about the guy who is best known for making claims about the future path of history is probably Karl Marx, who came up with the whole idea – I haven’t read enough of his work but have read enough about him – of communism.
It includes a whole history of what has happened in the past and extends it into what will happen in the future, concluding with workers eventually obtain the means of production.
That is, capitalists are overthrown and, eventually, workers own everything and use the means of production and capital -money, equipment, and factories – to make stuff for themselves and each other, and the common good.
He is wrong. In that, he was seeing an old-style industrial future. People making the stuff that they have always made but more productively and better, and using what he conceived of as the means of production, e.g., factories and heavy machinery.
Karl Marx didn’t anticipate the information-based future at all, as far as I know. I could Google it, but I do not want to. He was dead wrong. We are not going to live in some communist utopia.
His idea that you can predict the future is not entirely wrong, especially since the future is coming at us so fast. There are some things that you can predict. One is that stuff will continue to get cheaper, as long as you’re talking about basic necessities and some not-so-basic stuff.
Being flooded with entertainment and information, if you wanted to do the math, it would be the cost per entertainment option. I am a kid of the 70s. We had 3 network channels on TV and PBS, and one independent channel that put on crap.
We had no choice. Now, we have a thousand choices for what to watch on TV at any given instance. I belong to the TV academy, so I get to vote on the Emmy’s. That means we are sent DVDs of every show whose producers think has a shot of winning an Emmy, of getting nominated.
I am sitting in a room next to our huge TV, which is cheap now. I am looking at 7 boxes of each containing other boxes of DVDs containing thousands of hours of entertainment. 98% of which is better than any of the crap that we were forced to watch in the 70s.
There is some way to apply math to that and then come to the conclusion that entertainment is fantastically cheap and improved. It might cost 15 bucks to go to the movies. But you can stay home and watch shows on Netflix for 11 bucks a month now.
You can watch Netflix for 168 hours a week without exhausting what is on Netflix. That is 2/3rds of a thousand hours. It is 700 hours of entertainment if you’re able to binge that much for pennies an hour. Food and clothing cost a quarter what they did compared to the average income of a century ago.
So, we are already live in an era of plenty, thanks to technology. There is an era 100 years or 150 years from now, of ultimate plenty. Where once human cognition and thought and consciousness are all mathematicized, and replicated, it’ll be possible to live on the cheap – a cheap cyber-existence, where you are not even part of the material world, for zero.
That’ll be a choice. If you are broke and/or old and worn out, you can take a path 100 to 150 years from now, where you can live for basically free in a cyber version of reality. We can look at, I think, several paths people will take, which we have talked about a lot.
But most of these paths include some levels of abundance because manufacturing both the necessities and the stuff isn’t too crazily luxurious, but will still be awesome compared to what we have now, will be super cheap.
We will still have people who are the technical Amish. People who choose to maintain various levels and limits of historic human existence. Of the 12 billion people we will have by 2080, many billions of those people will choose to live traditional human lives.
They will choose to limit the weirdness that they embrace. They will limit the amount of built-in technology that they allow in their bodies. They may live in nations that limit these options for them.
These lifestyles that are less weird than they could possibly be. There will be a gazillion different flavors.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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