Despite my best attempts, I haven't been able to finish this, but wanted to post it nonetheless. This will continue as a series of unfinished posts until I can finish them... :-)
Ah, finally some time after assorted deadlines, disappointments and triumphs. The bittersweet joys of parenting teenage children mixed with the deep sorrow of watching friends slowly die. The last quarter hasn't been the best. But I disgress...
This particular post was prodded by this post on The Adventures of Chester.
Up front: I'm a professional forecaster: I earn my money doing industrial forecasts and have been doing this successfully for the last 20 years. You won't read my name in the papers because I'm not interested in that: instead I provide my customers with the knowledge they need to make decisions today that changes their futures.
We live in a world which is undergoing massive infrastructure and demographic changes, changes that are rarely understood.
Read and see what the future will bring and why it's not the future many think it might be. And why asymmetry is going to be a real ball-buster for everyone involved. And when I say that I mean everyone involved, from the wooliest leftist intellectual to the gung-ho America firstest, to the ignorant uneducated peasant to the highly trained Eurocrat, from the Nepali family living in abject poverty to the billionaires.
Demographics is sometimes hard for people to really get a grasp on because demographic changes are slow in coming and are even less reversible than climate changes (and no, I don't think climate change is anthropogenic: to believe that is an act of literally incredible and more than annoying hubris). It's also a matter of simple arithmetic and only slightly more advanced analysis.
Infrastructure changes refer not merely to roads and bridges, but more fundamentally to how societies actually function and meet the needs of their populations. Who controls the infrastructure also controls the nature of how citizens of that country will view the world and understand how to make their way within the sets of rules, procedures, taboos and limitations that characterize all societies.
We in the West see our lives within a strongly structured and delineated world. Local governments that provide services for which we pay taxes; state governments who ensure that local developments mesh with at least a modicum of sensibility; central governments who are tasked with dealing with the problems that local and state governments don't and can't deal with. This is true regardless as to the exact form of how a government is organized: in France, for instance, the central government is much more dominant, but the local bureaucrats appointed by the central government fill the function of local governments. We know, largely, who is responsible for what function, what we must do in order to build that deck on the back of the house, who to call when the garbage doesn't get picked up.
The third world isn't like that at all: you pay (bribe) to get even a moderate sense of stability in your life, unless, of course, you have no money: then your life is tremendously stable. Of course, it is also rather nasty, brutish and short as you do not own anything, cannot hope that your children have it better, and can expect that the government and the thugs that pass for government will take any and everything of value you may posess, up to and including your life.
Big contrast that. Biggest we have on the planet.