Aging Populations and Replacement Birthrate

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 28th, 2014

Economics 101

(Originally published July 8th, 2013)

Trying to follow a Baby Boom with a Baby Bust creates Problems in Advanced Economies with Large Welfare States

In the late 1960s began a movement for zero population growth.  It called for women to have only enough babies to replace the current population.  Not to have too many babies that would increase the population.  Nor have too few babies that the population declines.  Something that women could easily do because of birth control.  And, later, abortion.  The drive behind this was to save the planet.  By keeping large populations becoming like a plague of locusts that devour the earth’s resources and food until the planet can no longer sustain life.

China did these zero population growth people better.  By promoting a negative population growth rate.  Limiting parents to one child.  They did this because during the days of Mao’s China the country set some world records for famine.  Their communist state simply couldn’t provide for her people.  So to help their communist system avoid future famines they tried to limit the number of mouths they had to feed.  Of course, trying to follow a baby boom with a baby bust creates other problems.  Especially in advanced economies with large welfare states.

China’s one-child policy and the preference for boys have led to a shortage of women to marry.  Some Chinese men are even looking at ‘mail-order’ brides from surrounding countries.  But China is going to have an even greater problem caring for her elderly.  Just like Japan.  Japanese couples are having less than 1.5 babies per couple.  Meaning that each successive generation will be smaller than the preceding generation.  As couples aren’t even having enough children to replace themselves when they die.  Leaving the eldest generation the largest percentage of the overall population.  Being paid and cared for by the smallest percentage of the overall population.  The younger generation.

States with Aging Populations are Suffering Debt Crises because they Spend More than their Tax Revenue can Cover

As nations develop advanced economies people develop careers.  Moving from one well-paid job to another.  As they advance in their career.  Creating a lot of income to tax.  Allowing a large welfare state.  Which is similar to a Ponzi scheme.  Or pyramid scheme.  As long as more people are entering the workforce than leaving it their income taxes can pay for the small group at the top of the pyramid that leaves the workforce and begins consuming pension and health care benefits in their retirement.  And there is but one requirement of a successful pyramid scheme.  The base of the pyramid must expand greater than the tip of the pyramid.  The wider the base is relative to the top the more successive the pyramid scheme.  As we can see here.

Babies per Generation - Constant Replacement Birthrate

Generation 1 is at the top of the pyramid.  It is the oldest generation.  Which we approximate as a period of 20 years.  In our example Generation 1 are people aged 78-98.  They’re retired and collecting pension, health care and other benefits.  Some combination of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, heating assistance, etc.  All paid for by Generation 2 (58-78), Generation 3 (38-58) and Generation 4 (18-38).  Each generation is assumed to bring 6 children into the world.  So these couples are not only replacing themselves but adding an additional 4 children to further increase the size of the population.  Which really makes running a pyramid scheme easy.  For if we assume each member in Generation 1 on average consumes $35,000 annually in benefits that Generations 2 through 4 pay for that comes to $555.56 per person annually.  Or $46.30 per person monthly.  Or $10.68 per person weekly.  Or $1.53 per person daily.  Amounts so small that Generations 2 through 4 can easily pay for Generation 1′s retirement.  Now let’s look at the impact of a declining birthrate with each successive generation.

Babies per Generation - Declining Replacement Birthrate

When all couples in each generation were having on average 6 children this added 1.9 billion new taxpayers.  Which greatly reduced each taxpayer’s share of Generation 1′s retirement costs.  But thanks to birth control, abortion and the growing cost of living each successive generation has fewer babies.  Generation 2 only has 3 children.  Enough to replace themselves.  And add one new taxpayer.  Generation 3 has only 2 children.  Only enough to replace the parents.  Providing that zero population growth that was all the rage during the late 1960s and the 1970s.  While Generation 4 only has 1 child.  Not even enough to replace the parents when they die.  Causing a negative population growth rate.  Which is a big problem in an advanced economy with a large welfare state.  For instead of adding 1.9 billion new taxpayers they only add 217.5 million new taxpayers.  Greatly increasing each taxpayer’s share of Generation 1′s retirement costs.  Instead of paying $555.56 per taxpayer they each have to pay $5,384.62 annually.  Or $448.72 per taxpayer monthly.  Or $103.55 per taxpayer weekly.  Or $14.79 per taxpayer daily.  Numbers that prove to be unsustainable.  The state simply cannot tax people this much for Generation 1′s retirement.  For if they did this and added it to the rest of government’s spending they’re taxing us to fund it would take away all of our income.  This is why advanced economies with aging populations are suffering debt crises.  Because their spending has grown so far beyond their ability to pay for it with tax revenue that they borrow massive amounts of money to finance it.

If you want a Generous Welfare State you need Parents to have More Children

If you carry this out two more generations so every generation only has one child the per taxpayer amount tops out at $14,736.84 annually.  Or $1,228.07 per taxpayer monthly.  Or $283.40 per taxpayer weekly.  Or $40.49 per taxpayer daily.  Amounts far too great for most taxpayers to pay.  This is what an aging population does in a country with a large welfare state.  It makes the population top-heavy in elderly people who no longer work (i.e., pay taxes) but consume the lion’s share of state benefits.  When couples were having 6 children each across the generations there was a ratio of 84 taxpayers per retiree.  When there was a declining replacement birthrate that ratio fell to 15 taxpayers per retiree.  If we look at this graphically we can see the pyramid shape of this generational population.

Generational Population - Constant Replacement Birthrate

With 84 taxpayers per retiree we can see a nice and wide base to the pyramid.  While the tip of the pyramid is only a small sliver of the base (Generation 4).  Making for a successful Ponzi scheme.  Far more people pay into the scheme.  While only a tiny few take money out of the scheme.  This is why Social Security and Medicare didn’t have any solvency problems until after birth control and abortion.  For these gave us a declining replacement birthrate over time.  Greatly shrinking the base of the pyramid.  Which made the tip no longer a small sliver of the base.  But much closer in size to the base.  That if it was an actual pyramid sitting on the ground it wouldn’t take much to push it over.  Unlike the above pyramid.  That we could never push over.  Which is why the above Ponzi scheme would probably never fail.  While the one below will definitely fail.

Generational Population - Declining Replacement Birthrate

If you want a generous welfare state where the state provides pensions, health care, housing and food allowances, etc., you need parents to have more children.  For the more children they have the more future taxpayers there will be.  Or you at least need a constant replacement birthrate.  But if that rate is below the rate of a prior baby boom the welfare state will be unsustainable UNLESS they slash spending.  The United States has a replacement birthrate below the rate of a prior baby boom.  While the Obama administration has exploded the size of welfare state.  Especially with the addition of Obamacare.  Making our Ponzi scheme more like the second chart.  As we currently have approximately 1.75 taxpayers supporting each social security recipient.  Meaning that it won’t take much pushing to topple our pyramid. We’re at the point where a slight breeze may do the trick.  For it will topple.  It’s just a matter of time.

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FT197: “Global warming insurance would probably sell as well as Obamacare.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 22nd, 2013

Fundamental Truth

The Scam of the Ponzi Scheme is that there is no Investment

A Ponzi scheme is a pyramid scheme.  An investment scam.  Here’s how it works.  Say three scammers build an investment fund that they promise will return an 18% return on investment.  A pretty good return these days.  If they have 100 investors who invest $25,000 each that brings in $2.5 million into the investment fund.  Now here’s where the scam comes in.

They pay each investor an 18% return each year.  So their $25,000 returns $4,500.  A return they can’t get anywhere else.  An investment just too good to be true.  Some take that $4,500 check and spend it on something special for themselves.  Others leave it in the fund.  While others beg to get into the fund.  Of course they wouldn’t do these things if they understood what happened to the $2.125 million that the fund didn’t pay out to investors.  That went into the pockets of the three scammers.

That’s the scam of the Ponzi scheme.  There is no investment.  The scammers collect the money people invest.  Put aside some money to pay out as a generous return on investment.  While keeping the rest.  These scammers sit on top of the pyramid.  And the more people that join the investment fund the wider the base of the pyramid gets.  Pouring more money into the scam.  Providing more money to pay out even higher returns on investments.  Getter ever more people begging to get into the fund.  While burying the scammers under an avalanche of cash.

Our Aging Population is sending the Health Insurance Industry into a Death Spiral

All Ponzi schemes share these characteristics.  And one other one.  They all fail.  And the scammers go to jail.  Why?  Simple.  The scam works as long as the base of the pyramid continues to grow greater than the top of the pyramid.  As the base grows larger the scammers spend more money, though.  Because there is more money to spend.  And spend they do.  Putting down deposits and paying on large mortgages and loans.  Buying very costly things that have a voracious appetite for cash.  So over time more money flows out at the top of the pyramid.  Which isn’t a problem until money stops flowing into the bottom of the pyramid.  Or begins to flow out.  Because people want to use their money for something else.  Like for a down payment on a house.  And once the money flowing out of the bottom of the pyramid exceeds the ‘return’ on investment the fund pays those high returns on investments shrink and disappear.  Exposing the scam.

This is what has happened to Social Security and Medicare.  Thanks to an aging population.  Women are having fewer babies than they did during the baby boom generation.  So today we have fewer taxpayers entering the workforce who pay the taxes that pay for Social Security and Medicare.  While the baby boomers are retiring and leaving the workforce.  And living longer into retirement.  Consuming far more money than they ever paid into these entitlement programs.  So there is far more money flowing out of the top of the pyramid than is flowing into the bottom.  Inverting the pyramid.  And putting these programs onto the path to bankruptcy.

Health insurance is little different.  It just covers so much these days that insurance premiums have soared to pay for this ever expanding coverage.  And the aging population just makes a horrible situation worse.  The elderly are living longer and consuming the lion’s share of health care services.  Further raising the cost of health insurance.  Making it unaffordable to many.  So people simply choose not to buy it in their youth when they are young and healthy.  And wait to buy it later in life when they need it.  Such as when they start raising a family.  At which time they’ll try to find employment somewhere that has good health insurance.  When they start consuming health care services.  Creating adverse selection.  Where only those who consume health care services buy health insurance.  While those who don’t consume health care services (i.e., the young and healthy) don’t.  Creating a death spiral.  As there are no non-consumers of health care services subsidizing the high cost of the large consumers of health care services.  So premiums rise.  To allow fewer people pay for more.  More people drop their insurance because they can no longer afford it.  Shrinking the insurance pool.  So premiums rise.  To allow fewer people pay for more.  More people drop their insurance because they can no longer afford it.  And so on until the cost of health insurance equals the cost of the health care services.  And the insurance market goes the way of every Ponzi scheme before it.

When Reality hits People in the Pocketbook they tend to Lose their Idealism

Enter the Affordable Care Act and the mandates.  Forcing the young and healthy to buy insurance they won’t use.  So they can use their premiums to pay for the old and sick.  The greatest generational theft in history.  Something the young and healthy see.  And don’t like.  For they are not running out and buying health insurance on the health exchanges.  In fact the majority of the people to enroll thus far are the high consumers of health care services.  Which is basically the opposite of the goal of Obamacare.  The young and healthy may have supported President Obama and the Affordable Care Act but that was only in generalities.  Yes, we should help those who don’t have insurance.  And, yes, we should do something to save the environment.  We should stop discriminating against the LGBT community and let them get married.  In the abstract these are all noble goals.  But when the reality hits their pocketbook then it’s no longer an abstract thing to feel good about.  Especially when they can’t get a job with their college education because they had the misfortune to enter the workforce during the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression.  The Obama recovery.

This is when youthful idealism turns into skepticism.  As reality settles in hard.  This isn’t raising taxes on the rich.  Something they won’t have to deal with until much later in their career.  This is in the here and now.  When they stop hearing inspiring words from the president about what we can do if only we implement his policies.  But only hear B.S. and lies.  For if they had that youthful idealism they would be rushing to the health exchanges to buy health insurance to make the world a better place.  But they’re not.  And this has the left worried.  Not just about trying to fix the broken Obamacare website.  But will this skepticism spread to other items on their liberal agenda?  Such as the fight against manmade global warming?  They still want their carbon tax.  And they’ve worked hard to get kids graduating from high school convinced that we’re destroying the planet and need to make polluters pay.  If the young lose their faith on Obamacare they may just stop fearing global warming to the point that they may start driving big SUVs again.

In the abstract the youth will support many things.  Until it starts hitting them in the pocketbook.  And if we make the fight against global warming hit them in the pocketbook they would quickly become indifferent about manmade global warming.  Even becoming manmade global warming skeptics.  Perhaps even noting that the glaciers once stretched down from the poles to near the equator.  And moved back towards the poles.  Before there was any manmade global warming.  Something that probably bothers them today but they’re not yet ready to question the left about manmade global warming.  But if we made them buy insurance to protect themselves from the ravishes of global warming they probably would.  The prognosticators can run off a list of calamities that will befall us from unchecked global warming.  So actuaries should be able to put a cost on that.  And set insurance premiums to cover the cost when the calamities of manmade global warming hit us.  Putting these premiums into a Save the Planet from Manmade Global Warming Trust Fund.  Just like the Social Security Trust Fund that has nothing in it but government IOUs.  Let the youth start paying a monthly premium to save us from manmade global warming and see how soon they become global warming deniers.  If we did this global warming insurance would probably sell as well as Obamacare.  Because when reality hits people in the pocketbook they tend to lose their idealism.  And this is the biggest fear the left has.  Because they count on that youthful idealism to win elections.  For once people lose their idealism they tend to vote Republican.

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Aging Populations and Replacement Birthrate

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 8th, 2013

Economics 101

Trying to follow a Baby Boom with a Baby Bust creates Problems in Advanced Economies with Large Welfare States

In the late 1960s began a movement for zero population growth.  It called for women to have only enough babies to replace the current population.  Not to have too many babies that would increase the population.  Nor have too few babies that the population declines.  Something that women could easily do because of birth control.  And, later, abortion.  The drive behind this was to save the planet.  By keeping large populations becoming like a plague of locusts that devour the earth’s resources and food until the planet can no longer sustain life.

China did these zero population growth people better.  By promoting a negative population growth rate.  Limiting parents to one child.  They did this because during the days of Mao’s China the country set some world records for famine.  Their communist state simply couldn’t provide for her people.  So to help their communist system avoid future famines they tried to limit the number of mouths they had to feed.  Of course, trying to follow a baby boom with a baby bust creates other problems.  Especially in advanced economies with large welfare states.

China’s one-child policy and the preference for boys have led to a shortage of women to marry.  Some Chinese men are even looking at ‘mail-order’ brides from surrounding countries.  But China is going to have an even greater problem caring for her elderly.  Just like Japan.  Japanese couples are having less than 1.5 babies per couple.  Meaning that each successive generation will be smaller than the preceding generation.  As couples aren’t even having enough children to replace themselves when they die.  Leaving the eldest generation the largest percentage of the overall population.  Being paid and cared for by the smallest percentage of the overall population.  The younger generation.

States with Aging Populations are Suffering Debt Crises because they Spend More than their Tax Revenue can Cover

As nations develop advanced economies people develop careers.  Moving from one well-paid job to another.  As they advance in their career.  Creating a lot of income to tax.  Allowing a large welfare state.  Which is similar to a Ponzi scheme.  Or pyramid scheme.  As long as more people are entering the workforce than leaving it their income taxes can pay for the small group at the top of the pyramid that leaves the workforce and begins consuming pension and health care benefits in their retirement.  And there is but one requirement of a successful pyramid scheme.  The base of the pyramid must expand greater than the tip of the pyramid.  The wider the base is relative to the top the more successive the pyramid scheme.  As we can see here.

Babies per Generation - Constant Replacement Birthrate

Generation 1 is at the top of the pyramid.  It is the oldest generation.  Which we approximate as a period of 20 years.  In our example Generation 1 are people aged 78-98.  They’re retired and collecting pension, health care and other benefits.  Some combination of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, heating assistance, etc.  All paid for by Generation 2 (58-78), Generation 3 (38-58) and Generation 4 (18-38).  Each generation is assumed to bring 6 children into the world.  So these couples are not only replacing themselves but adding an additional 4 children to further increase the size of the population.  Which really makes running a pyramid scheme easy.  For if we assume each member in Generation 1 on average consumes $35,000 annually in benefits that Generations 2 through 4 pay for that comes to $555.56 per person annually.  Or $46.30 per person monthly.  Or $10.68 per person weekly.  Or $1.53 per person daily.  Amounts so small that Generations 2 through 4 can easily pay for Generation 1’s retirement.  Now let’s look at the impact of a declining birthrate with each successive generation.

Babies per Generation - Declining Replacement Birthrate

When all couples in each generation were having on average 6 children this added 1.9 billion new taxpayers.  Which greatly reduced each taxpayer’s share of Generation 1’s retirement costs.  But thanks to birth control, abortion and the growing cost of living each successive generation has fewer babies.  Generation 2 only has 3 children.  Enough to replace themselves.  And add one new taxpayer.  Generation 3 has only 2 children.  Only enough to replace the parents.  Providing that zero population growth that was all the rage during the late 1960s and the 1970s.  While Generation 4 only has 1 child.  Not even enough to replace the parents when they die.  Causing a negative population growth rate.  Which is a big problem in an advanced economy with a large welfare state.  For instead of adding 1.9 billion new taxpayers they only add 217.5 million new taxpayers.  Greatly increasing each taxpayer’s share of Generation 1’s retirement costs.  Instead of paying $555.56 per taxpayer they each have to pay $5,384.62 annually.  Or $448.72 per taxpayer monthly.  Or $103.55 per taxpayer weekly.  Or $14.79 per taxpayer daily.  Numbers that prove to be unsustainable.  The state simply cannot tax people this much for Generation 1’s retirement.  For if they did this and added it to the rest of government’s spending they’re taxing us to fund it would take away all of our income.  This is why advanced economies with aging populations are suffering debt crises.  Because their spending has grown so far beyond their ability to pay for it with tax revenue that they borrow massive amounts of money to finance it.

If you want a Generous Welfare State you need Parents to have More Children

If you carry this out two more generations so every generation only has one child the per taxpayer amount tops out at $14,736.84 annually.  Or $1,228.07 per taxpayer monthly.  Or $283.40 per taxpayer weekly.  Or $40.49 per taxpayer daily.  Amounts far too great for most taxpayers to pay.  This is what an aging population does in a country with a large welfare state.  It makes the population top-heavy in elderly people who no longer work (i.e., pay taxes) but consume the lion’s share of state benefits.  When couples were having 6 children each across the generations there was a ratio of 84 taxpayers per retiree.  When there was a declining replacement birthrate that ratio fell to 15 taxpayers per retiree.  If we look at this graphically we can see the pyramid shape of this generational population.

Generational Population - Constant Replacement Birthrate

With 84 taxpayers per retiree we can see a nice and wide base to the pyramid.  While the tip of the pyramid is only a small sliver of the base (Generation 4).  Making for a successful Ponzi scheme.  Far more people pay into the scheme.  While only a tiny few take money out of the scheme.  This is why Social Security and Medicare didn’t have any solvency problems until after birth control and abortion.  For these gave us a declining replacement birthrate over time.  Greatly shrinking the base of the pyramid.  Which made the tip no longer a small sliver of the base.  But much closer in size to the base.  That if it was an actual pyramid sitting on the ground it wouldn’t take much to push it over.  Unlike the above pyramid.  That we could never push over.  Which is why the above Ponzi scheme would probably never fail.  While the one below will definitely fail.

Generational Population - Declining Replacement Birthrate

If you want a generous welfare state where the state provides pensions, health care, housing and food allowances, etc., you need parents to have more children.  For the more children they have the more future taxpayers there will be.  Or you at least need a constant replacement birthrate.  But if that rate is below the rate of a prior baby boom the welfare state will be unsustainable UNLESS they slash spending.  The United States has a replacement birthrate below the rate of a prior baby boom.  While the Obama administration has exploded the size of welfare state.  Especially with the addition of Obamacare.  Making our Ponzi scheme more like the second chart.  As we currently have approximately 1.75 taxpayers supporting each social security recipient.  Meaning that it won’t take much pushing to topple our pyramid. We’re at the point where a slight breeze may do the trick.  For it will topple.  It’s just a matter of time.

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Birth Control and Abortion have reduced Tax Revenue and House Values for Seniors

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 26th, 2012

Week in Review

Birth control and abortion will bankrupt Social Security and Medicare.  And they will bring down Obamacare, too.  When Social Security became law we had a growing birth rate.  More people were being born each year.  So the population was expanding.  And the Roosevelt administration thought it would keep expanding.  So they created a Ponzi scheme.  Social Security.  Where more young people (i.e., taxpayers) pay into the system than retirees (i.e., tax consumers) collect from the system.  A foolproof system.  As long as the population continues to expand.  Keeping the base of the pyramid growing larger than the top of the pyramid.

Well their assumptions didn’t hold.  Women stopped having babies beginning in the Sixties.  Just as the Johnson administration gave us the Great Society and Medicare.  Based on the previous assumption that women would keep having babies.  So the funding mechanism was a flawed as it was for Social Security.  And now Obamacare is going to expand the Medicare model.  In the face of what is now a declining population growth rate.  Meaning the number of taxpayers will dwindle as the number of tax consumers retiring will explode.  Causing the aforementioned bankruptcies.  And that declining birth rate is causing even more financial damage (see Is Our Aging Population Partly to Blame for the Slow Recovery? by Philip Moeller posted 8/21/2012 on U.S. News & World Report).

As the unusually weak economic recovery continues, you’ve at least got to wonder if future studies of what ails us will include our aging population as a material cause. Simply stated, older people tend to liquidate assets to fund their retirements. Younger people tend to acquire financial assets as their personal wealth rises and they build their own nest eggs.

The United States has enjoyed nearly 40 years where the number of people acquiring assets was greater than the number of people disposing of them. This condition is being turned on its head. We now face roughly 40 years where there will be more people in this country wanting to sell financial assets than buy them. This supply-demand shift could put a lid on asset values and depress overall economic growth.

So on top of the government failing us in our retirement even our own retirement savings are going to fail us.  It will be like being on the far side of a housing bubble after the bust.  Where seniors want to sell their houses to finance their retirement.  Only to get tens of thousands of dollars less than they had planned.  For just as there are fewer taxpayers to pay the taxes to support an aging population there are fewer homebuyers (as well as other asset buyers) to buy the houses of an aging population.  Lower demand means lower selling price.  And a less comfortable retirement.  All because of that generation of greed and selfishness.  The baby boomers.  Who were all about sex, drugs, rock & roll, birth control and abortion.  And not so much about raising children.  Of course they, too, will suffer the effects of their selfish ways.  As there will be fewer taxpayers to support them in their retirement.  Or to buy their houses.

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Religion allowed Sumer, Egypt and Europe to be Great

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 15th, 2011

History 101

Religion Allowed Sumerians and Egyptians to Work Together and Live in Crowded Urban Cities

The world’s first civilization was Sumer.  Which included a series of city-states in Mesopotamia.  That land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.  Modern day Iraq.  And at the center of each city was a temple.  A ziggurat.  A multilevel structure that was broad at the base.  Narrow at the top.  Kind of like a pyramid.  But it wasn’t for entombing the dead.  Its height made it a ‘bridge’ to their gods.  It was at the top of these ziggurats where the priests performed their sacred rituals.  Ruled over the people.  Organized their large-scale farming.  Irrigation.  And their civilization.  Their food surpluses, the key to an advanced civilization, were stored at or near the ziggurat.  And the priest-king distributed the food to the people.

The world’s second civilization was Egypt.  Home of the pyramids.  That entombed their dead in elaborate rituals.  To help them enter the afterlife.  During the Old Kingdom one man ruled all of Egypt.  The pharaoh.  But he wasn’t just a king.  He was a god.  The people worshipped the pharaoh.  And worked at his direction.  The pharaoh directed the massive irrigation works.  The farming.  Managed the food surpluses.  And the people served their gods.  Possibly built the pyramids for them.  Out of love.  For some evidence suggests that slaves may not have built the pyramids as once thought.  But that they willingly joined together to build these tombs out of love and/or respect for their beloved pharaohs.

The first two great civilizations were theocracies.  Religion was the basis of their governments.  And the religious authority ruled.  Whether it be a priest-king.  Or a pharaoh.  A god to the people.  They organized and directed the people to do the things that made these civilizations great.  And the people did great things.  For their cities.  And their god(s).  For their religion was the great unifying factor that allowed a great number of people to live in crowded urban settings.  And work towards a common goal.

During the Dark Ages Charlemagne used Christianity to Unite Europe

Civilization advanced from these humble but great beginnings.  Religious thinking led to other thinking.  And everything great that followed.  Math.  Science.  History.  Physics.  And metaphysics.  We were thinking about our present.  And remembering our past.  The Greeks took thinking to great heights.  Figured out much of what we know today.  Alexander the Great took the glory that was Greece and spread it to the known world.  Then the Romans spread it to the parts of the world Alexander did not conquer.  The grandeur that was Rome was, in fact, Greek.

But the greatness peaked during the Roman Empire.  And then the Germanic tribes to the north sacked Rome.  And plunged Europe into the Dark Ages.  A world devoid of glory.  Where the hands of time were turned back a millennium or two.  Or three.  But all was not lost for Europe.  Because there was Christianity.  For the Roman Empire was a Christian empire.  And that’s something the people of Europe did not lose.  Their religion.  Which was the unifying force of the kingdoms that followed.  Including the great Charlemagne.  The unifier of Europe during the Dark Ages.  For Charlemagne was a devout Christian.  And even ascended to the throne as Holy Roman Emperor.

The rise of Islam in the holy Christian lands led to the Christian Crusades.  While in the ancient cities around the Mediterranean the Christians found a lot of lost Greek texts.  Brought them back to Europe.  To Christian monasteries.  And started that thinking all over again.  Leading to the Renaissance.  And the Enlightenment.  Picking up basically where the Greeks and Romans left off.  Making Europe the dominant region for centuries to come.

A lack of Religion and Spiritual Understanding Empowered Dictators to Kill their own People

Throughout history religion has made life better.  From its earliest days that simply allowed people to live and work together.  To developing a love for our fellow man.  Which restrained our most base instincts.  And calmed the savage breast.  Don’t believe this?  Just look at the worst genocides.

In sheer numbers it’s a tossup who killed more of their own people.  Joseph Stalin (the Soviet Union).  Or Mao Tse-Tung (the Peoples Republic of China).  In terms of a percentage of their population it’s no contest.  Pol Pot (Cambodia) wins that honor.  He killed some 20% of his own people.  And what do these three have in common?  They were all communists.  And their official religion?  None.  They were atheists.

Which is probably what let these dictators commit these cruel acts of barbarism against their own people.  Because they had no spiritual understanding of this life.  Or the afterlife.  So they had little to lose in their eyes.  Nothing to give them pause in unleashing all that repressed cruelty that advanced civilizations worked so hard to suppress.

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