Christmas in Chaos

We live in interesting times. For a few days, the pace of public events will likely (hopefully) slow. There will be opportunities to spend time with friends and family, to disconnect from the chaos. If you’re among those fortunate enough to have downtime this holiday season, I hope you’ll seize this opening to experience a measure of calm.

Hug someone. Take a breath. Express your best wishes to those you love. Cherish every moment of joy and peace this holiday may bring.

Chances are, what was bad last year will be worse in the weeks and months to come, but we made it this far. There are signs of hope and optimism amid the damage. Take this chance to gain strength and purpose for the road ahead, whatever awaits. Happy Holidays, my fellow orphans. Thanks for sharing this journey.


  1. So completely unrelated to Xmas cheer, but a question re: Chris’ NEXT.

    There were several articles out in the recent past about how Japan is facing a massive population DECLINE in the next 3 decades, based on their age demographics, fertility rates, and immigration policies.

    Currently, Japan’s population is around 127 million, and will be under 100 million in the next 35 years if trends don’t change. So, to preserve capitalism in that country, does Japan not have to outlaw abortion and also radically increase immigration?

    Or does capitalism die in that country, as the consumer base shrinks and profits shrink, destroying the model?

    1. Japan’s population decline
      Why would it cause any real problems?

      100 million is 25 times our populations (NZ)

      The old workers to pensioners ratio is not a problem because as you increase the number of pensioners you reduce the number of kids – the costs just about balance out

      So why would declining numbers cause an issue?

      My own feeling is that as we get better “robots” the work involved in having kids will decline and the population will stop dropping

    2. Population declines will create issues, but only because a lot of business models are built on that assumption. Once businesses adjust their assumptions a declining population will lead to increases in wealth.

      That said, for some of those businesses it will be an earthquake, especially in agriculture.

    3. EJ

      To my understanding, the issue is less the population decline, and more the reversal of the age pyramid. If society somehow shrank without changing the age ratio, then as Chris says, it would be fine. But that’s not what happens.

      A society with many young working-age people and a few elderly retired people is able to spare some of the hours of those young people to look after the elderly. This is sometimes done in the form of a welfare state paying the young to look after the old, and sometimes done in the form of old people owning capital and thus capturing the value of young people’s waged labour. Young people are willing to buy into the system because they know that one day they will be old, and there will be enough young people around to look after them.

      When the population pyramid gets top heavy, this is no longer possible. Young people become impoverished with the burden of rent and long hours, and old people are unable to afford care. Perhaps even more dangerous, this leads people to be unwilling to buy into the system, and thus leads to a breakdown of the social contract.

      It is definitely true that once business adjusts to this, as Chris says, it will make money for its shareholders; but unless it’s seen to deliver benefits across society, the result will be little more than bricks through windows and burning police cars.

  2. Let me echo Mary’s comments. Political Orphans is one of the few places where the full ugliness of the Trump administration is discussed along with remedies in a civic manner. I do appreciate Chris’ efforts.


    1. EJ

      A loss of civility is always the necessary first step in rolling back unpleasantness, because one must be capable of acknowledging it and speaking frankly about it. This is no bad thing.

      Enjoy Christmas. Take as much time as you need to recover. The road ahead will be long and we don’t need anyone to drive themselves to burnout along the way.

  3. Thank you, Chris, not only for your Christmas wishes but also the time and thought you invest in your blog. You give voice and a platform to all who participate and many more who quietly follow along. As difficult as it is to confront the ugliness and chaos surrounding these times, I believe in the importance of being well informed and conversing with intelligent people. Thanks to all who add so much to my understanding.

    The beauty of Christmas is the opportunity it offers to share happiness with the people who matter most to you and reflect upon the good that remains. It may not be all that we need but it offers solace and welcome distraction.

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