This post examines two predictions of future catastrophes. The first is Global Warming. The second is the collapse of Social Security. One of these catastrophes is completely predictable and avoidable and yet largely ignored by the media and government, which refuses to take action to avoid it. The other is completely unpredictable and, if true, just as completely unavoidable, and yet it is discussed everyday in the media any by members of the government who insist that actions must be taken. This post examines why one is predictable, that other not, why they are treated so differently, and why understanding what is predictable and controllable and what is not is so important to your personal success.
First, why is the collapse of Social Security completely predictable and Global Warming completely unpredictable?
Social security is a man-made construction based upon the strategic element Sun Tzu called the ground. In Sun Tzuâ€™s system, the ground is the physical and economic basis for competition. Certain aspects of the ground are fixed, whether we are taking about distance and height of the physical ground or population and age of the social ground. All human control is engineered on the ground and based on known laws that I call, the â€œrules of the ground.â€ Each type of ground, economic, political, and military, has different rules, but at least some of those rules can be discovered and used. The ground is predictable because those laws do not change. Sun Tzu's strategy was designed to improve your position in terms of the ground you hold.
Because Social Security is built on the ground, we understand its foundation. We know what the population is. We know that that population gets one year older every year. We know what the birthrates are. We know the trends in longevity. Putting all these things together, we know that Social Security, as currently constructed, must fail. We can ignore the warnings from people like the Fed Chair Bernanke
, but because that failure is decades away, people ignore these warnings despite the fact that to actions taken now to prevent that failure would be relatively painless.
The prediction of global warming, on the other hand, is based on the strategic element Sun Tzu called heaven and we call the climate. This is the realm of change, which is, by definition, uncertain and outside of our control. The strategic concept of climate is much broader than the physical climate, including emotions, creative innovations, and other drivers of change. While the climate affects progress on the groundâ€”specifically how long it takes to get from one place to anotherâ€”nothing solid is built on the basis of change alone.
While certainly the earth has been warming since the last ice age (not a bad thing, by the way), we have no idea about the larger forces involved in creating ice ages and warming periods. We know our sun is a variable star. We also know that whatever causes these big changes is beyond human control and prediction. Could some smaller aspect of the current warming trend be influenced by human technology? Certainly, but that doesnâ€™t mean we can predict human technology either. Fifty years from now, our technology may still produce carbon dioxide or it wonâ€™t. No one knows what is possible. We do know that people, being human, will do what they need to survive and be comfortable and, if that means burning fossil fuels, they will do it no matter what the government says. (Quoting the Washington Times
: â€œAlmost to a nation, those few covered [by the Kyoto protocols] countries aren't complying.â€) However, despite our inability to predict Global Warming, an impact that is centuries away, â€œsolutionsâ€ that require Draconian sacrifices, and the uncertainly of those solutions having any impact, more government action regarding Global Warming is continually promoted.
In making your own predictions, you should base them as much as possible on solid ground, that is, your existing position, and as little as possible on the uncertainties of climate.
This bring us to the second question, why does everyone ignore the first catastrophe, which is certain, man-made, and preventable, while promoting â€œsolutionsâ€ to the second problem, which is uncertain, beyond human control, and insoluble?
The answer is again found in the economics of the ground. Certain â€œsolutionsâ€ are cash cows for the insiders involved in promoting a crisis
. These insiders almost depend on growing the government for their power, prestige, and financial well-being. If a solution only benefits the general public, that is, the outsiders, and is costly in terms of power and money to the insiders, no one has a reason to promoting the crisis, indeed, they would prefer that it is ignored as long as possible.
Problems, such as Global Warming, are never solved because they are much bigger than the government. However, they can be used to drive an endless cycle of regulation and spending, empowering and enriching the insiders promoting the â€œcrisis.â€ The success of these people depend on promoting government as God, that is, the omnipotent power in the universe from whom all good things flow.
The solution to Social Security, a problem created by the government, involves the government relinquishing control and allowing individuals to make their own decisions about retirement savings. No one on the inside is enriched in power or wealth by promoting its solution. Indeed, fixing the problem requires dismantling bureaucracies and returning power to the people, something the insiders are always against.
However, the nice thing about retirement (and climate change), is that you as an individual don't need government to fix these crises for your, which is good, because they most likely won't. You can and must address the breakdown in Social Security on an individual basis, by accepting that the government is not God. It is not a benevolent force on which you can depend. You must take care of yourself. Similarly, if you really believe that Global Warming threatens you personally, don't rely on the government to save you. It will only work the problem to enrich and empower itself. Instead, move to higher ground and cooler climates. Invest your retirement money in companies building sea walls and farming in Siberia
. (The HORROR of warming winters in Russia: rivers free of ice, field free of snow! How will they survive!). Don't worry about saving the Earth, which is in the real God's hands. Instead, save yourself.