A Learning Experience: The Decline of the West

6 Feb

Several reviewers of Hard Lessons have raised issues with the decline and eventual fall of the Western World depicted in the novel. They have questioned the likelihood of society collapsing, even under the twin pressures of the attack on Earth and the existence of the Solar Union. I understand their positions, but there are some countervailing points.

First, while emigration to the Solar Union is a relatively tiny percentage of the West’s population, it is largely concentrated in the most productive sections of society. Young men and women who are the bedrock of the economy are leaving in large numbers and not looking back. The people with the inherent talent and education to rise high, or open their own businesses, or anything along those lines are leaving. Arguably, something similar is happening to Greece and Ireland right now.

Because of this, the tax base is shrinking rapidly. Every time the tax rate is pushed higher, more people either leave or stop working.

Second, large numbers of businesses are leaving too. The Solar Union has access to Galactic-level technology, but it also has reactive regulations instead of proactive regulations. It is, quite simply, a better place to run a business than the West. Companies like Microsoft are moving their facilities to the SU because the SU treats them better.

Third, several economic bubbles have burst. The SU does not serve as a debt collector, so graduated students who leave the West are not paying back their student loans. Unsurprisingly, the costs of higher education have skyrocketed … but nowhere near high enough to offset the effects of the bubble’s collapse. Because of the lower tax base, bailing out the universities isn’t such an easy option. There’s also the problem that various near-monopolies in the US – internet services, for example – have been broken; the dongles introduced in ALE have spread widely.

Fourth, the SU is simply a safer place to live, with relatively low living costs. There’s no danger of having to deal with corrupt officials, while if you happen to be accused of a crime you can clear your name quite easily. Furthermore, there is no ‘criminals are the victims of society’ mentality; the SU has a narrow definition of ‘crime,’ but it enforces that definition harshly.

Fifth, there are simply many more opportunities. Imagine going to university for three years, then emerging with a useless piece of paper and zero experience (which is worthless, because everyone else has one too.) The only requirement for a job in the SU is the ability to do the job … and there are no shortage of training programs designed to actually teach someone how to a particular job.

And then there’s the wonder of living in space.

Seriously, who wouldn’t want to leave?

A countervailing point is that Europe didn’t suffer badly when large numbers of people left for the United States. That is largely true, but the relative population was much larger (it could spare the people) and the economy was considerably more primitive. And there was no influx of immigrants who had their own way of living.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

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40 Responses to “A Learning Experience: The Decline of the West”

  1. utabintarbo February 6, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    Basically, you describe an Atlas Shrugged scenario, with the Solar Union as Galt’s Gulch.

  2. Duncan Cairncross February 7, 2015 at 5:10 am #

    The assumption is that some vanishingly small percentage of the population have all of the “smarts” to keep things going

    IMHO that is totally WRONG – the main thing that determines where you end up in this world is simply LUCK

    Some people seem to think that having a university education means that you are in the top 10% – wrong – it means that you are probably not in the bottom 10%

    Remove the top 1% – what happens – NOTHING
    Remove the top 10% – now you will probably see some effect
    Remove the top 30% – now things will get a bit more difficult

    What percentage went to the Solar Union?
    1% would be 3 million people from the USA and 4 or 5 million from Europe

    There is no way in your model that the Solar Union could absorb the number of people required to kill the west
    30% of nearly one billion people is 300 million people
    And even if the Solar Union could there is no way that 30% of the population would want to move!

    Then you come to the assumption that all regulations are regressive and unnecessary
    A lot of people assume that –
    Until they start looking why the regulations are there and which regulations could be removed

    Are there some that could be removed?
    Damn right there are!
    BUT these are almost all the ones that are still there because they don’t really bother people

    The vast majority of regulations are there for a very good reason
    Just look at that GOP loony who suggested removing regulations on hand washing!
    (And replacing them with a regulation about a sign!)
    Besides the actual regulation say that washing facilities must be provided and that a sign saying – wash your hands must be put up-
    Not very onerous compared to the costs of food poisoning

    Application of regulations could often be smarter – but that involves paying more money

    “Every time the tax rate is pushed higher, more people either leave or stop working”

    We as a society have tried higher tax rates – much much higher – over 90%!
    How did that experiment go?
    Did people leave?
    Did the top people stop working?
    NO – we had much higher economic growth rates than we have had since with the lower tax rates.

    In the 50’s and 60’s we had very high tax rates – why would you expect people in the 2020’s to behave differently?

    • chrishanger February 8, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

      That isn’t quite accuate.

      It isn’t just a question of ‘smarts’. This was what Atlas Shrugged, taken in isolation, got wrong. Losing the top 1% might slow development for a few years, but it wouldn’t cause a social collapse, because maintaining something is a little easier than developing the next item. (However, Rand also had the effect of Looters and Moochers, which made matters worse.)

      However, there is the question of drive as well as smarts.

      It took me 7 years to make any headway as a writer and I only did it because I had the drive to take my lumps and move on and on in development. Luck played a role, but without that drive the lucky break would have meant nothing. In this case, people with the drive to grow and make something of themselves are going to space. They’re effectively sapping that drive from their former society.

      Chris

      My Site: http://www.chrishanger.net/
      My Blog: https://chrishanger.wordpress.com/
      My Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/ChristopherGNuttall

      • Duncan Cairncross February 9, 2015 at 2:23 am #

        Hi Chris

        The 1%
        Being a cynical engineering type I see two scenarios
        One guy puts his effort into “getting the job done”
        His brother puts his effort into “getting promoted”
        Which climbs the ladder faster?

        Far from “slowing development” I suspect eliminating the 1% would actually speed it up

        Anyway – to the “drive” issue
        Take your industry – writing – what is the limiting factor?
        Is it books written or is it books purchased?

        I am almost certain that the limitation is in the selling/purchasing
        In that case if you had fallen out of the race somebody else would have taken your place

        I don’t deny the drive it takes to succeed in your business – or many others
        But I think that “Drive” is not a limiting factor
        A great many people have more “drive” that is currently leashed because the opportunity to utilize that is not there

        For entrepreneurs is the limit the number of entrepreneurs or the amount of capital available for them?

        I look at things like intelligence and drive as being related to the human organism – like height
        So they should have a distribution in the population like height
        People use statistical “Normal Distribution” to describe populations – but in the real world a “Normal Distribution” is incredibly rare
        This is because of two things
        One direction is normally “easier” – if you make a random change in an optimized device most changes make it work worse
        Limits
        Despite what the statistical distribution will tell you there is nobody 12ft tall – they would die!
        There are physical limits – the heart cannot support a 12ft tall man

        So people go up to about 50% over the modal height
        I would expect intelligence and drive to follow the same pattern
        If the Martians steal the top 5% the “new” top 5% will only be a little shorter than the old top 5%
        The same will be true of intelligence and drive

    • johntae71 February 9, 2015 at 12:53 am #

      Using the US in the 50’s and 60’s as an example always comes up against the fact the US had no economic competitors at it’s own level for nearly 30 years.

      The late 70’s and 80’s simply showed the previous tax rates and economic policies weren’t viable in a competitive global environment.

      By the late 80’s high tax economies world wide were failing and the US Steel, Auto, Pharmaceutical, Oil and Manufacturing industries were on their way to the dust bucket.

      The information technology revolution pretty much saved all these industries in the US as much as they could be, while growing it self for the last 30 years. An industry the US Dominates by a wide margin.

      Educationally and financially Techies all fit into the top 10%. It’s the techies who’ve kept this country competitive for the last 30 years.

      I can guarantee that if given the chance most of Silicon Valley and the sort of people who go there would be on the first available flight to the SU.

      The best, the brightest and the boldest would all go. The effect would be in every field. If you’re a young up and coming geologist, what would you rather do, look for a Billion dollar oil field in North Dakota or get a percentage of a Trillion Dollar asteroid in the Kuiper belt?

      The Brain drain would be terminal and cumulative.

      • Dennis the Menace February 10, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

        “Using the US in the 50’s and 60’s as an example always comes up against the fact the US had no economic competitors at it’s own level for nearly 30 years.”

        Yes, that’s because our main competitors were bombed to the Near Stone Age. In one case, nuked…twice.

        At the end of WWII, the US had something like 80% of the total world’s intact industrial capacity.

        Oh, and during that ‘golden age’ of the libs, we operated on a gold monetary standard system, too.

        That right there are two definite inconvenient truths libs don’t like to acknowledge.

    • Dennis the Menace February 9, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

      “The assumption is that some vanishingly small percentage of the population have all of the “smarts” to keep things going

      IMHO that is totally WRONG – the main thing that determines where you end up in this world is simply LUCK”

      Sorry, but that is leftwing claptrap talkin’.

      It’s not about the ‘smart’ people but the ‘smart people who take risks’. Every business that has been organically founded has been founded by such people. The State has tried it and normally wastes every form of capital involved with but a few anecdotal exceptions. And, it is such small but growing companies that drive the bulk of hiring in the economy. Well, any healthy economy that is.

      This is why it is alarming that entrepreneurship rates have fallen like rocks during the Obama years.

      • johntae71 February 10, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

        It’s the technically skilled folks who keep things going in a technical society.

        Technically skilled meaning mechanics, machinist, programmers, engineers of various stripes.

        If every scientist in every university or lab died today the world would go on and general innovation would continue.

        If every engineer or tech died today, most of the human population would follow within the year.

        It’s the technical folks who would most likely go to the SU en mass. They would also be the folks who most recruited by the SU.

        If you want an example of this, you don’t have to go any further than India today. The Very best and brightest have left and the best and brightest who haven’t, have built their own enclave separate from the rest of Indian society.

  3. Duncan Cairncross February 7, 2015 at 5:16 am #

    “Fourth, the SU is simply a safer place to live, with relatively low living costs. There’s no danger of having to deal with corrupt officials, while if you happen to be accused of a crime you can clear your name quite easily. Furthermore, there is no ‘criminals are the victims of society’ mentality; ”

    That may be a problem in the USA
    But in Germany?
    Sweden?
    France?
    NZ?

    No corruption
    Safe
    No problems with criminals

    Relatively low living costs?
    Are you serious?
    How could it be cheaper to live where you have to make your own air!
    You have to enclose everything
    You have to build in a vacuum

    It would be cheaper to live in Antarctica!

  4. Duncan Cairncross February 7, 2015 at 5:19 am #

    In “A learning experience” you have the AMA preventing the new medical technology from being introduced
    Imagine that actually happened
    How long would they be able to make that stick?
    I give it 1 year and at the end the power of the AMA would be totally broken

  5. Duncan Cairncross February 7, 2015 at 6:56 am #

    I enjoyed the books in the end
    But I almost stopped reading part way through the first one
    I was on the point of deleting it (from my Kindle) and then deleting the rest of your work (I have another six or so of your books) when I decided to keep on going
    In the end I did enjoy the books
    I find it hard to enjoy something (even science fiction) if it is simply unrealistic and the Randian ramblings are not just unrealistic but in the real world actively poisonous

    Think of a book extolling the advantages of Adolf’s Third Reich – could you read all of the way through it?

    Please don’t do it again

  6. Shane February 7, 2015 at 10:12 pm #

    An anarchist is anyone who believes in less government than you do. – Robert LeFevre

    I guess that makes me the anarchist around here… Some would argue that Western Civilization is already in collapse (Tainter 1988, Ferguson 2012) and we are just watching the final death throws; kind of like watching a chicken run around after its head has already been cut off.

    While the Solar Union could not cause the collapse of Earthly civilization, it would certainly hasten it. I feel Chris came close to the point that a great deal of intellectual and physical capital would flee to a land (space) of greater opportunity (his Galt’s Gulch in space), what he failed to consider in his rebuttal was the fleeing of all the other capital as well… social and financial, etc. This would greatly reduce the marginal investment efficiency of bloated bureaucracies and increase the real and social costs of maintaining the complexity of the top heavy societies. Collapse in complexity is an economizing response, once external or internal supports or influences are removed, complex systems will always revert to a level that is self sustaining.

    Overall, this was a fun bit of fiction. Perhaps Mr. Cairncross is looking for something more substantive… In his case I would highly recommend “The Problem of Political Authority” by Michael Huemer. If he would like to gain an eye opening perspective on the AMA and its destructive effects upon Health Care in America, not nearly as recommended but still informative is “The Case for Legalizing Capitalism” by Kel Kelly.

    Regards;
    Shane

    • Duncan Cairncross February 8, 2015 at 4:38 am #

      Hi Shane
      I have had a look at those books
      I bought the second one
      The Problem of Political Authority. – is $33.60 US – as an Ebook!
      I had a look at the reviews and it seems to be a rehash of already dis proven libertarian nonsense
      So did the second but at $3.16 I will buy it and see

      • Duncan Cairncross February 8, 2015 at 9:37 am #

        Well I’ve read “The Case for Legalizing Capitalism”
        The problem is this book is written for the world where the “Lamb lies down with the Lion” without being eaten
        In the real world there are problems

        In this world;
        Wealth is a positive sum enterprise
        Them as has – gets
        If you have money you get more,
        We all knew this but Piketty examined the effect of the amount invested on the return you get to totally confirm this effect

        Bargaining only works when one side does not have a power advantage over the other
        When your employer can afford turn you down and you can’t afford to turn him down he has too much of an advantage

        The market can work – but it requires everybody to have perfect information
        When do you see that happening??

        Regulation
        If we could see the future then there would be no need for regulation
        In the real world without regulation
        People would die of food poisoning (and just poisoning)
        Houses would leak, burn and fall down
        The water would not be safe to drink or the air to breath
        Now there are regulations that are primarily used to reduce competition –
        but this is for the most part an American problem and has more to do with your strange political systems than with any inherent problems in regulation

        Overall a fantasy – but a dangerous one – some people don’t seem to understand that he is talking about some other planet and try to apply these ideas on earth

  7. Duncan Cairncross February 8, 2015 at 3:36 am #

    “great deal of intellectual and physical capital would flee to a land (space) of greater opportunity”

    Having worked in industry and for government if the top echelons of any company was abducted by martians there would be a short interval while the lower levels found the relevant files and keys before business went on as usual (or better)
    Nobody at the “Chief Engineer” level or above actually does anything that is necessary, their function is setting of priorities for their subordinates.
    A necessary function – but not one that has immediate repercussions

    “bloated bureaucracies”
    These exist but they normally consist of an upper layer of empire builders and office politicians
    Who can be dispensed with
    Over the top of a much much larger force of people who actually do things
    They inspect buildings, fix plumbing, clean the roads
    And do all of the other things that are necessary for us to live our lives safely
    And the expense of such people is orders of magnitude LESS than the expense of not having them perform these functions

    • Dennis the Menace February 9, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

      “Having worked in industry and for government if the top echelons of any company was abducted by martians there would be a short interval while the lower levels found the relevant files and keys before business went on as usual (or better)

      Nobody at the “Chief Engineer” level or above actually does anything that is necessary, their function is setting of priorities for their subordinates.
      A necessary function – but not one that has immediate repercussions”

      So, you equate 1% corporate overlords with entrepreneurs. They simply are not the same at all.

      Also, those on the bottom always take the view that those at the top don’t know what they are doing. While that might turn out true in a lot of cases (I’ve witnessed it myself in my career so I am not disputing what you’ve also witnessed along the same lines nor the frequency), the truth is the lower rung types simply do not have all the facts and information of what really goes on ‘up stairs’ to make such a declaration every time. Every working stiff who’s been promoted up into management learns that lesson real quick.

      And you are discounting the importance of Capital, which is whom those upper rung folks represent. W/o it, productivity wouldn’t be what it is today and it is from productivity that living standard increases stem from and modern wealth is built of, as you point out indirectly. There are people who can fix plumbing, inspect buildings and clean roads in Haiti, too. But at the end of the day, they go home to their cardboard shacks with rivers of feces running in the middle of their streets — and those are the very few who are lucky to hold a good job. What is the difference between Haiti and First World nations regarding this salient point? Capital acquisition and efficient deployment of it in viable investments. Specifically, how that is expressed in the resulting Capital-Labor Ratio [CLR].

      You can have as many engineers out there that you want, but those who are employed and living well will be the ones doing so because of the benefit of Capital backing their jobs up with investment of some form or another.

      Even entrepreneurs founding start-ups need that Capital to get started.

      And EVERY society that has experienced real wealth creation has done so with a high CLR. Every one.

      So, you have two types of people (who may be the same person fulfilling both roles in the case of a self-financed dry cleaners someone puts their life savings into starting up, for example) who really drive the economy: Entrepreneurs who take risks founding new businesses or reforming existing businesses…and the Capitalists who fund them.

      Now, I happen to think that the Big Corporation business structure is toast as a viable form of economic organization precisely for the reasons you mention as well as a few more choice ones I could bitch about with high confidence you’d agree with me. For futurists or anyone with half-a-brain and a pair of eyes, this revelation is less and less a big surprise. But that has been self-correcting for years now and will self-correct for even the most entrenched players in the rent-seeking political protection rackets going on. Maybe not fast enough for you, but don’t worry…it will soon get pretty damn fast. This I can say with confidence because the pressures driving such change is not being driven linearly but rather exponentially.

      But those gripes have nothing to do with the overwhelming empirical evidence of the past — both recent as well as 100 years ago — proving that both entrepreneurs and Capital flee to where they perceive greener pastures lie (and they are often not wrong about that, these tend not to be dumb people after all). The history of Silicon Valley for the last 25 years proves that hands down — most start up founders there are immigrant entrepreneurs. Recognizing this reality, nations like Australia and Canada have adopted ‘points’ systems for immigration which also include people coming in with capital ready to found a business that will hire 10 or so people within a set amount of time. And such a process is a zero sum game as such talent and capital constitutes “rival goods” — the Indian entrepreneur bringing $200,000 in to found a company isn’t doing so in his native India or anywhere else, for that matter.

      So, seeing this happen within the context of Earth Capital & Talent fleeing to the SU is more than believable. In fact, it is a no-brainer.

      • Duncan Cairncross February 10, 2015 at 5:38 am #

        Hi Dennis
        Lets take your example – Silicon Valley
        The heart of entrepreneurship!

        What percentage of capital spent in the USA each year, actual capital spent – things like machine tools, research, buildings
        Was spent in Silicon Valley?
        0.01% – 0.0001% – less??
        Basically damn all because the big capital spend is on the “stuff” to make things and Silicon Valley tends to do the design but not the making

        So lets look at research – where did all of the big ideas come from?
        Here it is totally clear
        Just about everything was developed by state funded operations
        The private sector comes in a bit down the stream after the idea and technology has been developed

        What percentage of “entrepreneurs” went to Silicon Valley
        This is higher – but only in comparison to the very low percentage of capital
        Maybe 10% ??? probably more like 2%

        So the Solar Union could grab some of them – how many?
        How many “entrepreneurs” emigrated to Silicon Valley?
        A few hundred? – A few thousand?, tens of thousands?

        In order for the Solar Union to effect the world it would have to hoover up millions of “entrepreneurs”

        There are about 1,000,000,000 people in the western world
        if 1/100 can be an entrepreneur
        (and in my book it’s more tike 1/5)
        Then you need to steal 5 million people before you significantly effect the pool of talent

        The primary difference in our worldview is how you see the “common” man (or woman)
        You see sheep
        I see people making things – building houses – building hot rods – learning languages – sports – music

      • Dennis the Menace February 10, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

        “What percentage of capital spent in the USA each year, actual capital spent – things like machine tools, research, buildings Was spent in Silicon Valley?
        0.01% – 0.0001% – less??”

        Doesn’t matter. It isn’t germane to the point I was making with regards to Silicon Valley.

        My point was it attracted talent and capital from other places. And regionally Silicon Valley is now one of the wealthiest areas in the US while fifty years go that honor belonged to Detroit. Apple Computer makes more in revenue than oil companies do. Sure they have global operations…but they started out in a garage in Silicon Valley.

        “Just about everything was developed by state funded operations
        The private sector comes in a bit down the stream after the idea and technology has been developed”

        That’s wrong. I refer to your characterization of ‘everything’. And for those cases where your point applies, it took risk-taking capital to actually do something with it. Apple and Google were not established via state funded operations.

        Xerox PARC is a perfect example of a private sector equivalent of just that. They had stuff they never commercialized because it either would rock the boat with their exiting business model or just because nobody as motivated to take a risk with it. THAT latter function is what entrepreneurs and capitalists are for.

        And the history of such state attempts to fund start ups is terrible. I drive by the abandoned HQ of Solyndra a lot on Hwy 880 as a constant reminder of that fact.

        “What percentage of “entrepreneurs” went to Silicon Valley
        This is higher – but only in comparison to the very low percentage of capital
        Maybe 10% ??? probably more like 2%”

        As a percentage of what? The percentage that I was referring to was how many foreign immigrants vs native born Americans constituted the total total entrepreneur count in Silicon Valley. It was over 50% in the 1990s and 00s.

        “This is higher – but only in comparison to the very low percentage of capital”

        What ‘low percentage of capital’?

        “There are about 1,000,000,000 people in the western world
        if 1/100 can be an entrepreneur
        (and in my book it’s more tike 1/5)
        Then you need to steal 5 million people before you significantly effect the pool of talent”

        So? Not all environments are equally conducive to helping them achieve their potential. Elon Musk had to leave his native South Africa to come to Silicon Valley, for example. This is why Bangladesh and Haiti are dumps and Singapore and Hong Kong are not.

        Someone can be an entrepreneur, sure. But in most parts of the world they can’t realized their full potential, which is why they flee to move to those places where they can. Same applies to the Solar Union.

        “The primary difference in our worldview is how you see the “common” man (or woman)
        You see sheep
        I see people making things – building houses – building hot rods – learning languages – sports – music”

        Ok, now you are just being an asshole simply because I exposed the logical flaws in your ‘argument’, don’t like or can’t argue logically back and so act like a child instead.

  8. utabintarbo February 10, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

    ― William F. Buckley Jr.

    This pretty much describes Mr. Cairncross. The veneer of Liberal “tolerance” is microns thick and extremely fragile. Views not fitting the narrative are unwelcome and must be put down. Witness his earlier admonition to our host: “Please don’t do it again”.

    • Dennis the Menace February 10, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

      Hell, just read what he just replied to me (and my response).

      • Duncan Cairncross February 11, 2015 at 4:32 am #

        No Dennis you are the “asshole”

        I simply said that smart people are a LOT more common than you think
        So removing ENOUGH smart/driven people from a population of nearly a Billion would require millions of people to move

        You and your right wing buds are convinced that you are so smart and such a small minority of the population that if you move the “sheeple” will fail

        I have much more respect for the people I have worked with over the decades

        “Someone can be an entrepreneur, sure. But in most parts of the world they can’t realized their full potential, which is why they flee to move to those places where they can. Same applies to the Solar Union.”

        Fine – you can have more entrepreneurs in the Solar Union
        I never said you couldn’t
        What I did say
        Is that you can’t starve the earth of entrepreneurs

        In your scenario above you don’t reduce the number of entrepreneurs on earth you just increase the total number

    • Duncan Cairncross February 11, 2015 at 5:06 am #

      I’m not a liberal
      I’m an engineer – I have a horrible weakness about requiring people to make sense
      When somebody proposes using a bucket to empty a reservoir I tend to question their grasp on numbers

      • utabintarbo February 11, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

        Yes, most Liberals prefer not to be identified as such. Who can blame them?

        And I find it odd that you claim to have a requirement for people to make sense, and also claim that the overriding factor in one’s success is “LUCK”. This is often the refrain of those who don’t really understand how that whole success thing works. In this context, it may as well be magic (which, of course, makes all sorts of sense, right?) Not everyone suffers from Impostor Syndrome.

        And when someone looks at an allegory like Atlas Shrugged as tantamount to a future historical/factual account, I tend to question their grasp of concepts.

      • Dennis the Menace February 11, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

        ‘No Dennis you are the “asshole”’

        Sorry, but demonizing me as seeing ‘people as sheep’ is a standard libtard assholeness, dude. And it immediately destroyed your credibility as someone on here who is trying to have an intellectually honest conversation. And you deliberately tried to avoid admitting that is what I came right out and identified what you were doing by claiming I made the charge regarding something else entirely.

        Take that trolling crap back to moveon.org where it ‘belongs’.

      • Dennis the Menace February 11, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

        “I’m not a liberal”

        That’s what all liberals say.

        “I’m an engineer – I have a horrible weakness about requiring people to make sense”

        …while making no sense yourself.

        You are an engineer who never learned anything else, it seems. Your demonstration of having a poor grasp of basic economics and inability to want to even be open to learning some when it clashes with your “down with the managers!” jihad proves this beyond all doubt.

      • Duncan Cairncross February 11, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

        As the two clowns Utabintarbo and Dennis have said that they believe that 1% (10 million people!) leaving a society will fatally damage that societies viability I think I’m quite justified in saying that they are Randites and think of their fellow citizens as “sheeple”

        As far as the idea that “luck” is not the most important thing in determining where somebody ends up!
        They are probably both over privileged numpties who were
        “Born on third base and think they have hit a home run”

        And Dennis was the first to use insulting language so YES he is an arsehole

  9. Toronto Teacher February 11, 2015 at 4:48 am #

    The Toronto District School Board in Canada allows corruption.

    Roselands Junior Public School is a government-funded elementary school in proximity to marginalized ethnic communities in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
    There’s no other way to say this. The Principal of Roselands Junior Public School, Mrs Jill Norman, with the help of her cronies at the Toronto District School Board, are trying to censor a number of Youtube videos which appear to be recordings between several TDSB staff members.

    The way to defeat totalitarianism in the Toronto District School Board is not to censor Youtube videos , but to tell the truth.

    The recognition of the fact that a journalist called Roselands Junior Public School on September 15, 2014 and had his phone calls disconnected at Principal’s knowledge shows how unprofessional some of the Toronto District School Board employees conduct themselves as public sector workers.

    Criticizing some of the employees’ conduct at the Toronto District School Board is a moral commitment in ensuring that our children receive the best education in Canada from competent workers who follow the rules and standards of the teaching profession in accordance to provincial and federal regulations.

    Suppression of criticism through SLAPP lawsuits, libel chill and police corruption do little to foster democracy in Canada.

    The Principal of Roselands Junior Public School Jill Norman had knowledge that a journalist called her school on September 15, 2014 concerning incidents of unreported child abuse in Canadian schools, and that the secretary Anna Genua hung up the phone on him.

    In addition, the Principal immediately contacted the Communications Department and claimed that the secretary, Anna Genua, did not hear anyone when in fact the above Youtube link reveals that Anna Genua did speak to the journalist for a short moment. Why are some of the employees at the TDSB such liars?

    Based on an anonymous source, the TDSB contacted the Toronto Police Services in January 2015 when they found out the recordings were on Youtube.

    Why is the Toronto District School Board eager on removing those recordings from the internet?

    Is there really some form of cover up going on between staff at Roselands Junior Public School with regards to the unprofessional and discourteous phone service incident?

    Is there something more in which parents are not aware about?

    The journalist pointed out that he was investigating incidents of unreported child abuse in Canadian schools and he wanted to speak with the Principal. To his surprise, the phone calls were disconnected several times, including one by Anna Genua.

    A forensic analysis of the sound waves and sound output of one of the recordings reveal that in one instance the phone operator was told to “hang up” the phone by someone in the background. This explains that even though the Principals blamed her students for hanging up the phones, a teacher was in charge of supervising those students.

    Criticizing employees of the Toronto District School Board is not defamation of character.

    Discussing matters of public interest such as why did the staff at Roselands hung up the phone on an investigative journalist should not be defamation of character.

    On the contrary, it is the highest expression of concern for the children of the future.

    The Toronto District School Board should not be trusted to be honest in some cases, as in the abovementioned narrative about the staff at Roselands Junior Public School who disconnect phone calls from investigative journalists, while hiding under the protection of the Toronto District School Board to censor those recordings from the internet by using the police to engage in unconstitutional behaviour.

    Fortunately, the Toronto Police did not act on the unconstitutional requests by the Toronto District School Board because the Youtube uploads are protected under Free speech.

    It is irresponsible for any society to allow such conduct by the Toronto District School Board. TDSB Director Donna Quan should be ashamed for trying to foster and condone censorship of free speech.

    • Dennis the Menace February 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

      From an American constitutional point of view, Canada seems to have weaker free speech protections in general.

      Ann Coulter and other conservative speakers have avoided speaking in Canada after being publicly threatened by justice ministry officials for possible criminal prosecution of ‘hate speech’ if they did, for example.

      While down here, such a thing would be completely laughed out of court by even the most liberally biased of our judges-with-pretensions-of-Stalinism.

      The UK is similar to Canada and getting worse, it seems.

  10. Caleb February 14, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    I would pay good money to read a learning experience sequel where it focused on all the social changes instead of being a space opera. I think I agree with the logical conclusion of social changes except for the college tuition. As soon as a large portion of the population starts going beyond where the banks can force them to repay student loans they will stop giving student loans forcing colleges to actually make the price of college reasonable. Sure many for profit colleges will fail but almost overnight classes like womens studies and phd’s in the matting habits of woodpeckers would go away. That said every cult on earth would be setting up colonies, particularly the ones who think men should have 50 wives and marry them when they are 10,11, and 12. Then you will have the entrepreneurs who were first to jump at the opportunity of little regulation trying very hard to make regulations to kill any competition. And most fun of all will be the bureaucrats who for whatever reason had to leave earth who want to become parasites for the solar union, the type who work for the EPA who watch porn all day but get paid for it. I think you got a great understanding of the first stage of the solar union but its the second stage where all the parasites latch on that can possible kill it

    • Dennis the Menace February 17, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

      In the US the student loan debt scam was nationalized under Obama. That’s right, it is a federal government scam now. The banks get origination fees at best, if they are even directly involved at all any more.

      It was snuck into the ObamaCare legislation, believe it or not. Makes sense as nobody got to read the bill except for Harry Reid and a few other select ‘wise men’.

  11. Zaboose February 18, 2015 at 1:05 am #

    The main thing I noticed with half these comments were people trying to disprove a science fiction story rather than just realising that it’s a fictional possibility with examples provided to explain how it happened, so the story could progress onto the main plot.

    I sure wouldn’t want the author to go into massive details to explain how such a thing could be possible when he could instead focus on the bigger picture, the simple solution is you shouldn’t get hung up on what if’s when dealing with aliens/advanced tech/future.

    The story explains that those circumstances occurred and then proceeded onto the main plot, so I’m more interested in seeing how Chris tells the story of the characters than trying to force my notions/understanding of how our present world works onto a circumstance that has not yet been encountered.

    • Dennis the Menace February 18, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

      Yes. You see, dissent is something the Left can not tolerate in any form whatsoever, it seems.

  12. Les Barrie February 20, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    Couldn’t help but notice that Earth V Aliens by T.Jackson King uses the same picture on the cover as A Learning Experience,just a tad confusing for new readers.

    • Dennis the Menace February 20, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

      Seems he also uses it for his second book, Humans v Aliens. The Earth is different, tho.

      Link: http://amzn.com/B00T6MDS34

      Chris…you might want to check into this. If you contracted out the artwork, might want to start with asking if they sold the same cover but modified, first and then make sure it doesn’t happen again.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard February 20, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

        This has happened before. One “individual” tried to make a big “stink” about Chris using “his” cover but IIRC it was a case where different cover designers were using (with permission) similar images.

      • chrishanger February 20, 2015 at 8:52 pm #

        Oh, no – this again .

        The short explanation is that the artwork is one from ISTOCKPHOTO, which I purchased the rights to use – unfortunately, not the exclusive rights. This doesn’t prevent others from using it, including one guy who had it edited before using it himself and was under the impression he had purchased exclusive rights. I’m not sure if it was a shakedown or a honest mistake.

        Anyway, as far as I know, there are three other kindle authors using the same cover. I should probably get it changed, but I’m stubborn that way (and I like the picture.)

        There’s an expanded version here – https://chrishanger.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/on-stock-images-and-multiple-owners/

        My Site: http://www.chrishanger.net/
        My Blog: https://chrishanger.wordpress.com/
        My Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/ChristopherGNuttall

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