Global populations didn’t expand much until the industrial revolution, punctuated by mechanized farming and the petrochemical-based pesticides and fertilizers that enabled rapid population growth.
Like any other animal, humans expanded at the rate the food supply could support them. Any other species would have been culled by predators or disease, but our superior minds eliminated the predators and have managed to use modern medicince to keep the population from dying off from a plague…so far.
However, no resource is inexhaustible. Everything we depend on to support our growing population will be used up by us eventually, but sooner depending on how much more our population increases.
Oil supplies are dwindling while the pollution created by petroleum products is killing the species of plants and animals that we depend on. Many scientists estimate the world may have less than 50 years of oil left before dire and permanent shortages emerge. Scientists have also calculated that the pre-industrial world could support roughly 2 billion people. Oil has made it possible to grow to over 7 billion world wide. Therefore, when we run out of oil, at least 5 billion will starve to death.This is an optimistic estimate, assuming the survivors would let go of their modern conveniences and live as primitives. (See video below for a more realistic estimate of Earth’s carrying capacity).
We won’t be able to retool with wind and solar energy generation because petroleum is needed to build those renewable energy devices. An extraordinary volume of fossil fuel is required to mine, process and transport the rare earth materials required to produce renewable technologies.
Each year, somewhere between 10,000 and 150,000 species are going extinct. We’ve already overfished many species to the point of extinction. Global warming has altered the food chain that threatens increases algae and displaces species such as krill that many fish feed on. Ocean acidification is wiping out coral reefs, which may be completely gone in several decades taking 1/3 of the protein the world eats with it.
Trace all the environmental and resource problems back to the source and there is one cause remaining: overpopulation. The global population grows at over 70 million people each year. The Earth’s resources are not as infinite as our reproduction capacity seems to be.
Humans are very egocentric animals. Since the advent of birth control, we reproduce because we feel we are entitled to. Pride insists we must continue our lineage. Countries and religions are driven to enhance their power by creating more people who think as they do. For all the intelligence we think we possess, nothing is as blatently ignorant, selfish and insane as our inability to check our own population.
We had it all. We were at the top of the food chain. All we had to do was live within our means, but we couldn’t and still can’t fulfill that simple task.
As the population grows, we can look foward to a very painful existence and demise. It is the children being born now that will pay the price, and they can’t argue for the future we are leaving them.
What to do? This is something every person can work on and impact.
- Withdraw from any organization that stands against birth control.
- Support charities that promote and provide for contraception.
- Lobby for incentives for voluntary sterilization. Convicted of a violent crime, such as rape? Knock some time off by agreeing to a vassectomy. A woman that is a known drug addict or alcoholic who keeps getting pregnant? $1,000 bonus if she has her tubes tied.
- Support increasing taxes on families increasing the burden on society by making children (it is currently the other way around).
- Support tax incentives and rebates for people who sterilize themselves.
- Make it easy to be sterilized.
- Provide humanitarian aid to overpopulated, poor countries where people in poverty agree to sterilization.
- Sterilization needs to become a component of immigration.
There are so many self-proclaimed environmentalists that are, hypocritically, breeders. If you are concerned about the environment, you should absolutely not be reproducing!
If this sounds extreme, just look around at what is happening in the world. Glaciers are gone, the ice caps are melting. The evidence is around and inside you in the form of poison. Safe drinking water is becoming a comodity. These problems are fundamentally cause by populations that are too large and too consumptive.
Check out this video on population
It is impossible to for any person to erase their own carbon footprint. Every person in existence is a drain, but environmentalists act like collective action can somehow offset the human presence, and even suggest we can do better than that. WRONG. The impact of every new human cannot be offset. The only way to offset is to prevent the birth in the first place.
We cannot confront the realities of our long-term survival if the myriad of entities that allegedly lead the charge for addressing climate issues refuse to confront population growth as the number one problem.
The American dream of independence and freedom through business ownership is dying, if not already dead for a myriad of Prozac-popping drones who long ago gave up on running their own business and joined the numbed rank and file; a stopgap on the way to unemployment, welfare or other entitlements. The only true job security these days is to work for the government itself. If you are considering this, seasoned policy wonks would say that you must check your moral and ethical world-view at the door, for you will soon discover that what government says on the outside is not what it does on the inside. Power in numbers is the unstated political mantra, and they are winning.
The death of small business is not for lack of will or desire to be viable, but from the massive burden government bureaucracy now places on their backs. It has been a slow burn—increasing business license fees one year, double-taxation the next—in sum the devastation bears greater resemblance to a major fire rather than a few spot burns.
Turn on the local news channel or read the newspaper anywhere in the country and you will be greeted with grim prognostications about how the government doesn’t have enough money to support basic services such as schools, health care, roads, museums, and libraries. The knee-jerk solution—albeit the only solution usually offered—is to raise taxes or risk losing the most important social services. This political extortion has become so commonplace, most people hardly register its despicable motivation. Those that understand feel helplessly oppressed. Pop another Xanax obtained through subsidized health care.
It has been said that you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you. Perhaps a big, dumb animal doesn’t know any better. Can an animal behave in deference to its character? Or is society doomed to accept that such bureaucratic constructs are beyond redemption. It’s easy to concede to predation when you aren’t the beast’s current victim. Even the most dedicated environmentalist will shout “kill the bear” if that bear is chewing his head off.
Did that mental imagry make you uneasy? If it did, there may yet be hope for society. The human capacity for compassion, comprehension and commensurate action is the attribute that could overcome all the other evils of mankind. The underpinning of understanding is the key and the most difficult level to attain. The question ever before us is: can we ever overcome the worst of humanity in order to manifest the best? Who these days will die trying?
Back to Business
Apathy has increased in step with the American standard of living. Nothing within our domestic borders seems worth fighting for, but we wave the flag with the spastic fervor of an epileptic in full seizure when we see an opportunity to displace our own guilt on other countries. American apathy has issued the government permission to gradually erode personal freedoms, especially those associated with conducting business. It is a big picture most Americans think they understand, but can’t really wrap their brains around. In the most simplistic sense, many economists use gardening as a metaphor: create a climate where your plants will flourish, providing you with the desired bountiful harvest. Let the surroundings become inhospitable, and your plants will die.
Government is the construct within which businesses grow (as well as the people who rely on them to prosper economically). If it is illegal to kill the garden of commerce, our government should be incarcerated for what it has done.
When new taxes are blocked, government finds other ways to raise the toll, such as changing the way taxes are measured, removing incentives, changing the rules. For example, the IRS requires businesses to pay them an estimate of what they will earn each quarter, irrespective of fluctuations the government controls. If a business (or self-employed individual) overpays, they get a refund—nothing more—while the government pockets the interest. But if a business doesn’t have the money to pay the estimated taxes, or accidentally makes a higher profit and owes more money, the business is assessed a penalty (fine) and charged interest on the money they don’t have.
Keep in mind that there are not one, but four levels of government doing these things. Remember the days in school when it felt like each teacher issued homework like theirs was the only class you were attending? It is far worse than that in business: they are all the same subject! You are basically being preemptively fined for the privilage of practically anything you do.
In recent years the states increased the number of permits required, each with an associated fee, as well as fees on all other licenses and procedural charges. This doesn’t seem alarming at first, but it adds up to billions in revenue Why is it that when the government holds surplus prepaid tax money, it isn’t obligated to the taxpayer for the same tribute it requires from the taxpayer holding money for the government?
There are hundreds of thousands of ridiculous and time-consuming sanctions against starting and maintaining businesses. If these sanctions occured suddenly, they would have raised alarm. But they’ve been added slowly, unnoticed while big stories like Janet Jackson’s nipple slip consumed the ever-shortening public attention span. With thousands of new rules and policies being created by elected officials at the federal, state, city, and county levels each year, it is far more than a full-time job to keep track of it all. So people don’t. Government wins by attrition.
A just and safe system for property ownership, trade and finance is a requisite for economic and social stability in any country.
Among the critical pillars of the U.S. economy has been the policy and legal infrastructure associated with individual property ownership, known in real estate parlance as “real property.” The entire world felt the pain of the USA’s 2008 economic collapse stemming directly from a crash in the real estate market, which nearing the end of 2010, the USA still has not recovered from. Moreover, USA’s instability has thrown the entire global economy into chaos.
There were many reasons for this crash, but the majority of the blame was placed on the financial institutions that secured and then sold loans which were over-leveraged in different ways with the misguided expectation that property values would forever increase in a country consistently decreasing its own manufacturing capacity in favor of outsourcing. Lack of regulation has been cited as the reason so much unsecured debt accrued. Regulation is one thing, enforcement is another.
The U.S. government has spent trillions of dollars to stabilize the banking industry, hoping that investor confidence will rise and capital will again readily flow from the entities that warehouse money in order to extort extreme usury fees (compound interest) from people or companies that want or need capital. Unfortunately, the combination of centralized power, bureaucracy and corruption is so extreme that recovery is taking far longer than it should and more citizens are being harmed in the process. With each incident of pain inflicted on the citizenry through financial institution malfeasance, government ineptitude, or the confluence of government rhetoric, consumers dig deeper into a fiscal mailaise equivalent to an economic ice age.
In resolving some core problems, the federal government has created new barriers to economic stability. Many of these barriers could be remedied by simply enforcing existing laws. For all the talk about new controls and restructuring, financial institutions continue to operate with impunity while functioning with carte blanche freedom to circumvent the contractual and ethical rules in each state. Moreover, most of the institutions including Fannie Mae–a federally owned quasi-corporation–consistently violate federal laws, such as the buyer right to choose their escrow company written into law under the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (RESPA).
More to Blame
Real estate agents are highly regulated in each state, required to take hundreds of hours of specific training on ethics and law before they can take a licensing exam. If they pass, they must sign up with an experienced broker and take more state sanctioned training each year. Some agents are better than others, but there is widespread enforcement and many grievance avenues available to parties in a transaction. The National Association of Realtors and its various chapters exert much control and influence over the process, combining membership requirements with access to something every agent needs: a local multiple listing service by which each agent can sell listed by other agents. The Association adds a number of requirements beyond the ethical code each member is sworn to uphold. The basis of the Association is to support a stable real estate market with protection for buyers and sellers. For this reason, the standardized contracts developed over decades of development and legal testing include dispute resolution services that make it possible to resolve most conflicts faster at lower costs. The written offer and acceptance procedures establish a clear path showing what was agreed to and what was not, further minimizing conflicts.
There are and were no toxic assets…
only a toxic financial industry operating within an ignorant and corrupt government.
Financial institutions made assets toxic by implementing improbable scenarios for selling their property. On paper it appeared they were attempting to liquidate property, but even when offers came in at over 80% of the loan value, banks consistently failed to follow through with short sale offers, usually by not signing documents in time. Was this a conspiracy to con the government out of more money? Did they go through the motions, write off the loss, and seek bailout funds for the difference? Knowing that properties pending foreclosure deflate surrounding property values, were they counting on greater depreciation? At the lowest point, did they want to recover properties cleared of all liens? Once the majority of the “toxic” properties were in their possession, did they introduce new barriers until they felt the time was right to actively sell property with after realizing huge appreciation? Are they still waiting?
Reality is strange and difficult to accept.
You can’t finger one bank or one person as the culprit. Those that manage these assets set up a circle of entities, none of which can be held completely culpable. They then play a childish game of “hot potato,” tossing the asset from one entity to the next.
The banks, the asset managers, relocation companies, service companies and more recently Fannie Mae use lower than market prices to coerce buyers into accepting contracts with many stipulations that are binding only on the buyer. The transactions begin with standard forms, but any resemblance to a standard transaction ends there. Unlike regular sellers bound by laws and standards, these sellers won’t sign the offer paperwork, so there is no official acceptance and no paper trail with which to track the progression of negotiated terms that would normally bind the seller. Actually, there are no terms negotiated. The terms are dictated. They seem to go through the motions of appearing to negotiate to appease and appear to be cooperating. If they finally agree to some basics, they require the buyer to sign a document that rolls back the real estate transaction process to the pre-licensing era a century ago. The so-called seller “counter offer” isn’t a counteroffer at all. It is a new contract that negates the entire standard agreement and replaces it with unilateral terms dictated by the selling party’s representative. The following are conditions typically found in these contracts:
- Removes arbitration and mediation (ethically questionable and expensive)
- Steers toward the seller’s escrow company (illegal under federal law, but there is not serious enforcement)
- Disavows any responsibility to be aware of or comply with federal or other liens, jeopardizing the buyer right to clear title (supposed to be illegal)
- Holds the seller harmless against any legal claims including malfeasance in the sale process (borderline duress)
- Fines the buyer $50 to $100 for each day closing may be delayed (highly unethical, especially with the seller refusing to comply with the same standard)
- Forces cash up front into earnest money prior to seller acceptance (puts buyer at greater risk of losing money to a process that has no paper trail)
- Allows inspections but removes any option for buyer to adjust, renegotiate or withdraw from the transactions without penalties no matter how detrimental the inspection findings (unethical)
- Ignores state-specific real estate laws in favor of a marginally legal unilateral contract (illegal if checked against many state laws)
Many buyers with real estate or business experience won’t sign the required documents or participate in the process dictated. Others who failed while attempting to purchase short sales or bank-owned property refuse to put themselves through it again. These tactics erode the buyer base and taint the market.
First-time homebuyer incentives brought many inexperienced prospects to the table in 2010. They were told things like “everyone has to do it this way…the banks would never do anything illegal, you can trust them…and you have to go along with their requirements if you want this property, otherwise someone else will.”
Not knowing any better, they go along. A lucky few become property owners without mishap, but far more are surprised by problems for which there is no remedy—they signed their rights away. A few investors will still buy these properties, knowing they are assuming full risk for the property, but they can afford to take a loss if something goes wrong. Nonetheless, bank actions continue to limit the market in ways that unnecessarily and artificially reduce property values. Appraisers value new sales based on comparables without adjusting for whether a sale went through the convoluted process prescribed by national banks and their minions.
Although the conditions are dictated from the top down, tne excuse used by these entities is that there is such a backlog of so-called toxic assets, they are buried in paperwork and must use third parties to liquidate property. They say they can’t afford any other process than they one they are using. It is interesting that they had so much time to write so many problematic loans, but now have no time to follow the rules. They have time to accept money from a depositor, open a credit card, or a checking account, but just can’t stay on top of their real estate assets? Sure.
What about the agents?
Although the ethics of accepting a listing from a seller who will not follow the rules is questionable, many real estate agencies do just that, especially the large national firms like Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Keller Williams, and RE/MAX. Often the owner of record filed within the respective county is different than the person and the company represented in the negotiations. This prevents a buyer from filing complaints against the seller representative. Do banks use third parties and do those entities use agents as scapegoats? Does using an agent circumvent class action lawsuits?
What is most interesting about this is the real estate associations require agents to attend ethics classes which contradict bank owned property procedures. The real estate associations in each state lobby heavily for more training and controls to make the industry more exclusive, but they are NOT lobbying for actions against the banks that are contradicting their ethical standards. Curious.
This is ultimately a consumer protection issue that should be handled by the Attorney General in each state, but as soon as anyone attempts to file a complaint and they find out a bank is involved, they refuse the complaint and refer to federal regulators who won’t investigate either.
States were willing to file antitrust suits against Microsoft, but none seem willing to address the economically damning practices of the financial institutions.
The American public rightfully feels outrage about the mortgage market, but would become apoplectic if they discovered the true actions and schemes of the financial industry. What happens in practice can’t be learned from reviewing bank industry statistics or listening to their testimony. Regular people are the victims of governmental ignorance and bureaucratic malaise. The masses continue unheard as financial institutions continue to fleece the taxpayers of more money while harming the marketplace with the audacity and destructive power of a proverbial bull in a china closet.