Bell Curve

Our society and culture as we know it is very very young. The internet? 10 years old give or take.. Television? 50 years old give or take. Cell phones? 10 or 15 give or take? Cars as we know them (expressways, 70 mph speed limits)? 50 years old give or take. The point is, the world as we know it is extremely young. So much is changing in so little time that its actually a challenge to even keep up. How different were things just 100 years ago? completely. 100 years sounds like a long time; but put that in the perspective of how long the world has been around – it is a fraction of an instant. Over time, every great civilization has fallen. The roman empire would be just one example.

Our human intelligence, probably our greatest gift; seems fundamentally flawed. Build bigger sky scrapers. Drive bigger diesel trucks. Make faster internet. Make smaller cell phones. Make everything as fast as possible, as big as possible. Churn the fires of electronic industry and shovel more and more coal into them.

I feel like we are on the very apex of an astounding bell curve. The curve grows taller and taller, our confidence soars. Advances here, advances there; grow, expand, consume, transform. Soaring gas prices. Expensive heating bills. 5 hour commutes in 5 lanes of slow moving traffic. Fax machines. Fast food. Drive through everythings. Get everywhere as fast as you can and stomp on anyone in your way. Honk your horn. Flip the bird. Everyone is more important than everyone else. – It feels more and more like our priorities are not straight by any means.

We’re a roman empire. We need to keep in mind that bell curves have a downward slope as well.

9 thoughts on “Bell Curve

  1. Jeff

    Actually, it is not a bell curve, it is the business cycle. It goes up and down with a general upward trend.

    There are two reasons why the Roman Empire fell, the first was general corruption and decent throughout the citizenry, and the second was the never ending attacks of the germanic and other barbarian tribes.

    American is definitely headed in the direction of corruption, but we don’t have anyone knocking on our door yet.

    Furthermore, all the innovations you were talking about are things that move the long run aggregate supply curve to the right. This is the representation of the full capacity of our country.

    Normally the curve shifts by around 4% a year since this is a sustainable amount of growth. However, some things with shift it more and maintain the growth because they increase out productive capacity, this would be things like the industrial revolution, mass transportation, automobiles, and computers/internet. This events happen roughly every 50 years or so. We are do for the next shift roughly in 20 years, and all signs point to a biotech revolution as this new source of productivity.

  2. vanberge

    I was attempting to speak on a somewhat larger scale then the last 100 years of business cycle.

    The way i see it, since america’s inception – a general upward trend has occurred. but that has been very gradual. I.E not a whole lot changed from 1776 – 1876. I.E the slow incline of the bell curve.

    More and more it spikes. within the last 10 years spiking quicker faster and higher. its a bell curve jja 😛

  3. Jeff

    Actually, that is not true. It is a a pretty linear growth pattern of roughly 4%.

    The closest variation during the business cycle you are referring to that is most like a bell curve would have occurred during the 70’s, and that was squeezed out of the system by the recession in the early 80’s.

  4. jason

    How can a number such as 4% have any sort of meaning to the overall development and growth of our civilization? It make absolutely no sense when taking into account items such as poverty, disease, and displacement of peoples to name a few. These obviously has an opposite weighing on any sort of meaningless statistic. Our world is due for a change, corruption is widesread, there is too small of a base that cares and the power is not present at this point to make any sort of meanful move in out civilization, politics, or policies other than to defer more corruption, destruction, and to keep us in the sad worldly state that we are in now.

    Who is to say that we no longer have an present day ‘barbarian tribes’ that are ‘knocking on our door.’ First of all the sprawl of the Roman Empire was to vast and infringed on other legitimate cultures that, in turn, created the knocking on their doors, just as the US playing the same role has expanded beyonds its own good to mingle in other cultures, and now we have Arab Extremists on our doors, and while weak, they have considerable power over us. Science is of no use unless it helps us, most of which has done very little for our general well being in the past half century, and new sources of productivity like the black berry have done nothing but disinigrate a family like culture to incorporate a never ending work and organizaion knot of people to their jobs and careers.

    So, if it is not the governments of the world that will destroy our civilization at the rate it is moving, then it will be the earth that will fight back and disband all that we have created.

  5. Jeff

    The 4% growth trend is in relation to the production of the country.

    The Islamic terror faction represents a subsection of the community that is losing the war within the religion. They are making desperate acts in the form of terrorism again the United States, because we are an easy target that gives them media publication. It makes their cause seems like it is bigger than it is. Where in reality they are the death pangs of a failing ideology.

    The modern day situation is quite different than during the Roman empire. Current trends towards globalization are taking things in a dramatically different direction.

    Certainly factors such as poverty, structural unemployment, disease, natural disasters, etc… play a role in the development of a country but it is simply not economically possible to eliminate them. There are certain acceptable thresholds that need to be maintained so that they do not hurt the overall growth of the nation.

  6. jason

    So then wealth, growth, environmental destruction, and depletion of resources all supercede human life in the name of development and growth? And there is no way to eliminate poverty when the wealthiest peoples in American would rather spend millions on jets, boats, and cars? Leading to vast corruption and limited redistibution of wealth through greed and corporate holdings?

    Plus, your comment on Islamic militants are exactly what Roman Generals said about Germanic Tribes.

  7. Jeff

    “So then wealth, growth, environmental destruction, and depletion of resources all supercede human life in the name of development and growth?”

    Within a certain threshold it has to. It is unrealistic to expect growth for “free.” As progress is made, this threshold is slowly reduced. Such that now far less suffering is required for day to day operations in addition to production that ever before in the history of mankind.

    “And there is no way to eliminate poverty when the wealthiest peoples in American would rather spend millions on jets, boats, and cars?”

    Exactly. Any government interaction puts undue burden on the free market and is ultimately detrimental to the economy in whole. The resulting affect is that everything is hurt, all the way from the richest, to the poorest (rural). Those in poverty that are self sustaining because of farms are not generally affected unless they for some reason need to purchase something.

    “your comment on Islamic militants are exactly what Roman Generals said about Germanic Tribes.”

    Actually, it is structurally different. Roman had a problem with sprawl that is different than the United States. Obviously, our activities in Iraq would be close to the Roman situation, but on the home front it is quite different. Furthermore, the adversaries in the two systems are different. The barbarians that managed to decapitate Roman were united. The barbarians that threaten the United States are not. At this stage they may share a common hatred for Western ideas, but they are not willing to fight us over it.

    Thus, if one faction of Islamic terrorists has it out for us, we can handle that. But, if the entire Arabic people had it our for us…well that would be different. Fortunately for us, they cannot agree on anything.

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