The Population vs. Productivity Paradox

This is one of the most fascinating discussions I’ve listened to in a while, and also one of the most sobering. Take the time to listen to this episode of the Cracked podcast, it’s 100% worth it, although a little unsettling in its conclusions. You don’t expect to get something this deep and thoughtful from a “comedy” podcast, but here it is…

Listened to it? (Really, go listen to it, it’s worth the time.)

Okay, now my own thoughts.

I think Jason’s pretty much 100% right, and while I wouldn’t quite call it a “hive mind”, I do think that societies function as organisms on a greater level than the individual which have their own goals and responses. The idea that societies produce the kinds of people they “need” makes sense if you look at it from this perspective and the children of each generation are shaped to suit the needs of that society by social forces.

Of course, his conclusions are pretty uncomfortable. When I first heard what he said, all I could think of was Mega-City One from the old Judge Dredd comics. Despite how the city is often portrayed post-1980’s in the comics, the original idea behind the city was that it was a city where everyone’s basic needs were taken care of by the state, and so the whole population existed in this everlasting condition of slight boredom. The city was essentially a warehouse of people who existed to exist, and this produced bizarre social trends and cultural movements which the comic played for darkly humourous social commentary.

However, looking at it with a more logical eye, I think the society he proposes might not be the worst option. Heck, as he says we pretty much do this already, we just call it something else. Those with ambition work, while those without ambition would just spend their time doing whatever it was they enjoyed and keeping out of trouble. Here in Canada we almost do this already with our extensive Welfare system, which many Conservatives harp on all the time and say we need to be rid of to “force them to work”. But the truth is we already have an “official”  unemployment rate hovering around 7%, and the true rate is probably much much higher (the government manipulates the numbers so they don’t look bad), so if we were to force all those “welfare bums” out onto the street what work would there be for them? Do you want hundreds of thousands (or possibly millions) of unemployed, starving and desperate people dumped out into our society? How’s that going to benefit social stability?

Meanwhile, as he says, all those “welfare bums” put 100% of what the government gives them back into society and keep our economy going, so why should we begrudge giving them what they need to survive? If anything, it’s the rich people who hoard their money that actually take money from the system and work against the economy by not putting most of what they make back into circulation.

What’s the alternative anyways? We either give people what they need to live, and let them choose what to do with their lives, or we have a large excess population that is poor, increasingly desperate, and progressively on the verge of social unrest until revolution finally does happen. And when it does, everyone will lose- rich and poor.

Then again, it would solve some of the overpopulation problem. As Jason says, society has a way of correcting these things on its own.

Rob

 

 

5 Ways We Ruined the Occupy Wall Street Generation | Cracked.com

One of the best CRACKED articles I’ve read in a while.

Quoted for truth:

5 Ways We Ruined the Occupy Wall Street Generation | Cracked.com.

5 Sci-Fi Medical Procedures We’ll Have in Our Lifetime | Cracked.com

Link

As I know a number of people who suffer from various types of depression, this one sounds especially promising. Although I have to wonder what other tricks they can use this technique for, hopefully not #5…

#3. The Anti-Depression Magnet

The Problem:

Depression and the various ailments that spring from it are the scourge of modern society. Sure, most of us get the blues every now and again, but when things really go off the rails, that shit goes clinical. Clinical depression is a dead serious thing that goes way beyond listening to shitty country ballads and sulking, deeply affecting the life of the person and likely everyone they’re close to.

And here’s the problem: Depression is a bitch to treat. Even in fictional universes where they have beams that instantly heal wounds, they’d never depict some kind of invisible depression-curing ray that they could just shoot at your brain.

 

 

Depression: Cured.

The Sci-Fi Solution:

Well, here it is:

 

 

Nothing treats depression like a dentist’s chair attached to a bewildering array of soulless machines.

The secret is magnets, and we’re not talking about the pseudoscience bullshit magnetic bracelets that are intended to cure your arthritis. This is no placebo, this is transcranial magnetic stimulation, where a patient’s head is exposed to a powerful electromagnet that stimulates the mood-controlling areas of the brain. The principle isn’t that much different from electroshock therapy, only without the electrodes and without so many patients running away screaming at the mention of it.

And experiments show it apparently works. Once they figured out a way to perform tests in a reliable way (which was, for some reason, bombarding everyone’s brain with electric shocks to mask the magnet), the magnet proved its effectiveness and is currently getting tweaked for widespread use. And it’ll be available pretty damn soon, considering the fact that magnetic therapy devices have already been approved by the FDA.

via 5 Sci-Fi Medical Procedures We’ll Have in Our Lifetime | Cracked.com.

5 Things You Do Every Day That Are Actually Addictions | Cracked.com

Link

#1 is a bit of a surprise, but the others sound pretty reasonable. I was expecting “checking e-mail/Facebook” to be somewhere on the list too….

5 Things You Do Every Day That Are Actually Addictions | Cracked.com.

Cracked.com- 6 Most Statistically Full of Shit Professions

My friend Don sent me this one this morning, give it a read. I’m surprised Teachers aren’t on the list, but hey, everyone misses something! ^_^