The Fifth Mission

The Fifth Mission

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The earth is full...

I have a couple of chapters on this, but here's a quick overview from another blog:

Malthus Redux

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
I see that there’s another neo-Malthusian trying to convince us that global starvation and food riots are just around the corner. This time it’s David Archibald right here on WUWT. Anthony had posted a graph showing gains in various human indicators, viz:
But David disagrees, showing various looks at wheat production.
Now, back in 2010, I wrote a post called “I Am So Tired of Malthus” … and I am. For those not born before 1800, a bit of history is in order. Robert Malthus was an English cleric who made a famous claim in 1798. His claim was that population increases geometrically, doubling every 25 years. But the food supply only increases arithmetically. If you are a fan of original documents as I am, you can find his claim here. In it he says;
Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will shew the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.
To him, this meant inevitable starvation was provably true … hey, it’s mathematics. However, in the event the population disagreed and kept growing … and we didn’t all die from lack of food. Go figure.
But this colossal failure did not kill Malthus’s idea, oh, no. In the 1960s the cudgel was taken up by the failed serial doomcaster, Paul R. Ehrlich. In 1968 he wrote “The Population Bomb”, which starts as follows:
“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate …”

His solution?
“We must have population control at home, hopefully through a system of incentives and penalties, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail. We must use our political power to push other countries into programs which combine agricultural development and population control.”
Charming fellow, compulsory population control in the US … of course, he’s a tenured Professor at Stanford so he must be right.
Riight … but once the 1970s were over and he had been proven just as wrong as Malthus, did he change his tune? Oh, no … in 1990 he wrote another book called “The Population Explosion” in which he claimed that there would be widespread food riots by the turn of the century.

Riight … but once the 1990s were over and Ehrlich had been proven just as wrong as Malthus for a second time, did he change his tune? Oh, no. He now says he was 100% correct, but he just got the timing wrong. It’s all gonna happen any day now, he says.
And David Archibald agrees with him.
The Limits To Growth isn’t discredited, just a couple of generations too early.
Riight … so I decided to take another look, as I did seven years ago, at how much food the world actually has. Per capita food consumption is the best indicator for this. A man can own a thousand automobiles on a given day … but he cannot eat a thousand breakfasts on a given day. So there is no distortion of average food consumption by a few rich people as there would be of average car ownership. Here are the latest figures from the FAO, the UN Food and Agriculture Association. I’ve shown the poorest groups of countries, along with the EU countries and the world average for comparison. First, total food consumption in calories per person:
food consumption calories.png
As you can see, people are eating better than ever. The poorest of the poor, the Least Developed Countries (“LDCs”, including the Solomon Islands where I’m writing this) get more food now than the global average in 1961, the first year for which we have data. And in turn, the world average is nearly up to where the EU countries were in 1961 … “widespread starvation”? Hardly …
Note also that the EU countries have leveled off. They are now eating as much as they want.
Nor is this just “empty calories”. Here is the corresponding graph, this time for protein consumption:
Microsoft ExcelScreenSnapz004.png
Again, we see the same pattern. The LDCs are up to the 1961 world average; the world is approaching the 1961 EU average; and the EU protein consumption has levelled out.
So while Malthus, Paul Ehrlich, and David Archibald all assure us that global starvation and food collapse is just around the corner … well, not this corner but the next corner … well, no, I didn’t mean that corner, I meant the corner after that … meanwhile, the people of the world pay no attention to failed doomcasters and grow more food per capita year after year after year.
Now, the increase in food is usually attributed to the “green revolution” of Norman Borlaug. And while this had a huge effect starting in the 1940s and increasing in the 1960s, Borlaug got the Nobel Prize in 1970 for his work. However, a corollary of that is that by 1995 the further gains from the Green Revolution would have been minimal. Paul Ehrlich specifically said that the Green Revolution is what screwed up his predictions, but with the Green Revolution behind us, he reiterated that we’re all doomed to starvation … not.
Are there still problems regarding food? Assuredly, although these days they are more problems of distribution and storage, not problems of production.
Are people working to solve those problems? Again, assuredly, it’s important work.
But while no one knows what tomorrow may bring, me, I’m not going to concern myself with people feeding themselves. Seems like we’re doing rather well on that score, with no sign of an impending disaster.
Best to all from the warm climes, join me over on my blog for my further adventures in a Least Developed but Most Interesting Country, the Solomon Islands.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A World of Three Zeros

Muhammad Yunus has published a book titled A World of Three Zeros: The new economics of zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero net carbon emissions.

It sounds like a blueprint for establishing Zion.

Except he forgot about the other three pillars, without which Zion can never be established. The obstacle to Zion is human nature, not finding the "right" economic theory.

Still, I like Yunus' approach. It gets us thinking in the right direction.

The WSJ provided a useful review, which generated the following comments:

How to Solve Global Poverty

Social-entrepreneurship programs have lent a much-needed lifeline to the world’s poor. But are they a viable alternative to capitalism? William Easterly reviews ‘A World of Three Zeros’ by Muhammad Yunus.

Muhammad Yunus has big goals: zero world poverty, zero unemployment and zero net carbon emissions. But he believes he can get us there because “we live in an age unlike any other in history . . . Never before have representatives of the entire planet joined forces to address the problems facing the whole human species.” Claims of new “unprecedented” opportunities “unlike any other in history” actually do have many precedents. In 1919, Woodrow Wilson wrote: “For the first time in history the counsels of mankind are to be drawn together and concerted for the purpose of defending the rights and improving the conditions of working people—men, women, and children—all over the world.” Harry S. Truman, during his 1949 inaugural address, noted that “for the first time in history, humanity possesses the knowledge and the skill to relieve the suffering of these people.” More recently, Jeffrey Sachs has remarked: “For the first time in history . . . [due to] scientific technological progress . . . [we are] within reach of eliminating extreme poverty.” The disappointment that followed each “new” plan suggests caution on Mr. Yunus’s claim of new utopian opportunities.
To be fair to Mr. Yunus, perhaps such utopian rhetoric is meant to motivate support for the more feasible programs he has in mind. His favored solution to making global progress against poverty, unemployment and carbon emissions is social entrepreneurship, the creation of “self-sustaining” businesses that operate with “freedom from profit pressures and from the demands of profit-seeking investors,” making “social businesses viable even in circumstances where current capitalist markets fail.” It’s the same principle behind Grameen Bank, which Mr. Yunus founded to offer small loans to the poor, and for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
Mr. Yunus has long been a hero of mine for his innovative faith in the resourcefulness of low-income people. In the book he writes about St. George Valley Organic Farm, a social business near Tirana, Albania, that rents land to 60 local farmers and educates them on producing marketable herbal essences, “a much higher-margin business than most forms of agriculture.” It helps that “this business is environmentally friendly as well.” Other examples include the car company Renault’s sponsorship of several hundred auto-repair shops across France to offer repair services to the poor at a discount; a waste-recycling business in Japan that employs 26 people; Grameen America’s providing its 86,000 members with low-cost loans to start or upgrade their own small businesses.
If you want to motivate support for social enterprise, a utopian promise of “A World of Three Zeros” makes for a better book title than “Helping 60 Albanian Farmers Grow Herbs.” And Mr. Yunus’s paean to entrepreneurship does indeed deliver inspiration about the power of human creativity. But problematic arguments remain, especially his imprecise criticisms of the current economic system and the implausibility of replacing the whole system with social entrepreneurship.


By Muhammad Yunus
PublicAffairs, 288 pages, $28
A major problem is one of scale. Mr. Yunus’s many social-enterprise examples are all on the same micro level as the 60 Albanian herb farmers. And while there’s nothing wrong with making a large number of small-scale efforts to help a great many people, it doesn’t qualify as a whole new system for the $76 trillion global economy. Mr. Yunus doesn’t confront the scaling problem. He could have noted, for instance, that successful social entrepreneurs, unlike successful private entrepreneurs, by definition don’t get the high profits to reinvest in scaling up successes.
Mr. Yunus prefers to criticize the market system—and mainstream economics—for its celebration of selfish greed as the basis of everything. This is a common misunderstanding of Adam Smith’s invisible hand, which privileges individual choice, not individual selfishness. If consumers choose to buy products with social benefits, or refuse to buy those that inflict social harms, nothing about the capitalist system prevents them from doing so. If investors want to accept lower returns in exchange for investing in socially conscious businesses, they are free to do that too. And both are already happening on a modest scale, fair-trade programs being one example.
Mr. Yunus also overlooks the benefits of markets in alleviating poverty. He attributes much of the progress so far to the efforts of foreign-aid donors and social enterprises such as the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, which supposedly helped concentrate the efforts of world nations toward eradicating poverty and improving health and education. Yet progress against poverty began long before the MDGs were established at the turn of the century, and it has happened most in regions that received little MDG aid. In East Asia, for example, poverty was reduced to 16% of the population in 2013 from 91% in 1981. For this region, the global market has been more of a cure than a disease.
Mr. Yunus does offer some criticisms of the market that are correct: The deceptive promotion of complex derivatives, for instance, did contribute to the 2008 financial crisis. But he doesn’t distinguish his criticisms from his more general condemnation of capitalism. Market failures happen when private and social returns diverge. Cheaters profit by causing harm to others. The answer isn’t to replace the market system with social enterprises, but to target the market failures and enforce laws or regulations against deception in financial markets. Mr. Yunus’s call to scrap a system that works, however imperfectly, for a vaguely defined and unproven system that relies mainly on social entrepreneurship, is a far too risky project.
Mr. Easterly, a professor at New York University and visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley,
is the author of “The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor.”


Mr. Yunus' problem is not with capitalism but with human nature. His vision for the future would be realized if only the wealthy had a change of heart and cared more for their less skillled/fortunate fellow human being than for their own aggrandizement.

Creating wealth is a noble cause; keeping it selfishly is not.


"Creating wealth is a noble cause; keeping it selfishly is not."

Do you think people stuff their mattresses with money? The fact is "selfish" behavior is what eliminates poverty - not charity. Wealthy people either spend, save, or invest their money. This creates jobs and "spreads the wealth around" in a positive way. Some may build yachts for their own "aggrandizement" but guess what, that creates jobs. 

Bill Gates helped far more people when he was in business than he ever will with his charity. His products massively increased global productivity enabling countless others to gain their own wealth. 

People get out of poverty by working or engaging in other productive activity such as starting a business, not from charity. That isn't to say there isn't a role for charity, but it only works as a temporary stop gap. Poverty will never end on charity. 


The condescending "creates jobs" excuse for personal aggrandizement is a last resort in the ongoing effort to justify selfishness.

Building a yacht contributes to overall wealth no more than digging and filling holes (which also "creates jobs"). Docks in wealthy harbors are full of rarely-used yachts. It would be far more productive--and unselfish--to spend the yacht money building homes for the homeless or educating people.

No doubt Gates enriched people around the world--except it was not Bill Gates alone who did it. It was thousands of employees at Microsoft and their partners worldwide. Gates seems to have recognized the fallacy (and shame) of personally retaining so much of the wealth his employees created, which is why he started the Giving Pledge.  

Besides, your thread shift to charity is a nonsequitur. No one is suggesting the money be "given away" as you claim. Yunus and others want people to have productive, sustainable jobs.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Dealing with adversity

Insight from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court reflects decades as a judge:

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts speaking at his son’s middle-school graduation, June 3:
From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Preach My Gospel

LDS missionaries study and use the book titled Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service. It's online here.

It's an outstanding guide, but there's an interesting aspect of it.

The book never uses the word Zion.

This strikes me as a strange omission.

In several places the guide encourages missionaries to refer to Moroni 10:3-5 when they teach investigators about prayer and how to gain their own testimony of the Book of Mormon. Lesson 2 suggests investigators read chapter 10 because "Moroni invites all to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him." Lesson 3 cites Moroni 10:7.

Chapter 4 of the Guide is titled "How Do I Recognize and Understand the Spirit?" It explains, "In Moroni’s concluding testimony, he wrote “a few words by way of exhortation” (Moroni 10:2). Read Moroni 10 and write in your own words what Moroni exhorts the reader of the Book of Mormon to do." Later, that chapter encourages missionaries to read Moroni 10:8-18 to understand the gifts of the Spirit.

But nowhere does the guide discuss or even mention Moroni's summary of the global purpose of missionary work, found in verse 31: "31 And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled."

It seems to me that missionaries ought to know that Joseph Smith said, "We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object."

This ultimate objective would give more coherence to the missionary message. Yes, we teach people about the restoration, the plan of salvation, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the commandments and the laws and ordinances, but to what end?

In verses 31 and 32, Moroni explains clearly the objectives are to (i) establish Zion and (ii) come unto Christ and be perfected in him. After all, Moroni sealed the book with these words.

Everything else the missionaries teach leads to those objectives.

Wouldn't it be clearer for both missionaries and investigators (and members) to have this two-fold objective spelled out the way Moroni expressed it?

I would include the establishment of Zion and coming unto Christ in every one of the lessons.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

If ye are not one

One oft-quoted scripture on the topic of consensus is this:

"I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine." D&C 38:27

I've heard this quoted many times to support the idea that people should agree on doctrinal matters, including interpretations of geography of the Book of Mormon and Church history. And that's fine, provided the agreement is on something that is true.

But look at the first part of the verse:

"Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine."

What is the Lord referring to here?

Verse 26 is the parable, but it refers,in turn, to the preceding verses.

Verse 26: "For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?"

In the preceding verses, the Lord explains that he created the Earth, that he has taken "the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom," and that "all flesh is corrupted before me, and the powers of darkness prevail upon the earth." 

Then the Lord says, "And for your salvation I give unto you a commandment, for I have heard your prayers, and the poor have complained before me, and the rich have I made, and all flesh is mine, and I am no respecter of persons. And I have made the earth rich, and behold it is my footstool, wherefore, again I will stand upon it.... And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me. And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself."

This principle is so important that the Lord repeats it twice, right before giving the parable of the unjust father.

In my view, Section 38 teaches about the basic Zion principle of equality; i.e., it is not just that some people are rich while others are poor. The Lord clarifies that he has made the rich; they may think they have "earned" it and therefore "deserve" it, but it is God who has given them the gifts and opportunities to become rich. 

A few months later, on June 15, 1831, the Lord explained further. 

"Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!"

The parable of the unjust father who tells one son to be clothed in robes while the other must be clothed in rags applies to the Latter-day Saints who seek to establish Zion. 

The Lord has told us that he has made the rich, and he has told the rich that they must give their substance to the poor. Enabling some of his children to create wealth is the Lord's way of providing for the poor. As D&C 104 puts it, "this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low."

This is what D&C 38 means. 

And to the extent that we fall short of becoming one in terms of wealth, we are not His.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Relief Society at the United Nations

In case you missed them, these are great stories:

"Our small and simple efforts are enhanced and multiplied by our collaboration with hundreds of partners, both global and local, including all of my fellow panelists. I have been humbled by their presentations today. Islamic Relief's "Day of Dignity" program has helped so many people raise their chins and look forward with determination to begin their new lives. Episcopal Migration Ministries’ emphasis on helping immigrants adjust to their new job markets has provided stability for individuals, families and future generations.
"When we reach out to other faith-based organizations, there is a certain affinity—a shared language, a common motivation—that allows our resources to complement each other. Our common purpose lends power to our work. Governments and UN agencies recognize it, and they rely heavily on faith-based organizations to extend the reach of their services.
"Faith motivates those who serve in our organizations to give not only of their substance, but to give of themselves — they bring a human factor to the work which governmental programs alone cannot provide.  We see a divine potential in those whom we serve, therefore our efforts are not limited to just providing relief — we strive to build their capacity and their self-worth, to increase their ability to meet the next challenge that occurs so that they can also, in their turn, experience the joys of service and life."

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

knowledge “that [had] not been revealed since the world was"

Elder Neil Anderson of the 12 gave a wonderful talk at BYU-Idaho about the impact of the Restoration.

Here is a long excerpt:

The year 2017 is now upon us. Your days, these days in which you live are some of the most amazing that this world has ever seen. The appearance of the Father and the Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove in 1820 brought the Restoration of the gospel and the dispensation of the fulness of times. You know why you are here and what the Lord expects of you. You have the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the priesthood of God is upon the earth. The Lord indicated to the Prophet Joseph Smith that it would not be just a time of spiritual revelations but also a time of understanding and progress in all areas. The Lord promised knowledge “that [had] not been revealed since the world was.”4 4. Doctrine and Covenants 121:26.
The appearance of the Father and the Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove in 1820 brought the Restoration of the gospel and the dispensation of the fulness of times.
These wonders would include remarkable achievements in science, medicine, manufacturing, transportation, and communication.
William J. Bernstein, a noted financial theorist and neurologist by training (not a member of the Church), wrote about what he saw in the world’s economic history: “When we look at the [facts], it becomes crystal clear that something happened … in the early nineteenth century. … [Up] until approximately 1820, per capita world economic growth [the single best way of measuring human material progress] registered near zero. … Then, not long after 1820, prosperity began flowing in an ever-increasing torrent; with each successive generation, the life of the [child] became observably more comfortable, informed, and predictable than that of the father.”5 5. William J. Bernstein, The Birth of Plenty: How the Prosperity of the Modern World Was Created (2004), 3–4.

I hold in my hand an example of the amazing blessing of technology—my iPhone. This small device is a mobile phone, a planner, a GPS, and a digital camera. It includes videoconferencing, books and newspapers, a video and music player, and so much more. There are apps for banking, word processing, social media, video games, and a thousand other purposes. Just the other day I was skiing with my son-in-law. As we started up the chairlift for the last run of the day, he said to me, “Dad, I’m going to go ahead and warm up the car.” He pulled out his iPhone, and with the touch of his finger, his car more than a mile away started its heater, melted the snow off its windows, and prepared itself for our travel home.
Elder Neil L. Andersen holds up his cell phone during his address to BYU-Idaho students February 14.
Advances in science, medicine, manufacturing, transportation, and communication will continue throughout your lifetime. There will be variety in entertainment and innovation never imagined. These are your days, and it’s a beautiful time to be alive.
However, in this time of prosperity and advancement, there are also real challenges. You live in a world that is sometimes divisive and contentious. Information is everywhere, and with it, a host of enticing voices attempts to pull you one way and then another. There is confusion and commotion, with many moving away from God and His commandments and away from the Savior. Think about these U.S. statistics:

Believe in God: my generation—81 percent; your generation—64 percent6 
6. See “Americans’ Belief in God, Miracles and Heaven Declines,” Dec. 16, 2013, Information is based on surveys of approximately 2,200 adults in the United States.
Believe Jesus is God or the Son of God: my generation—74 percent; your generation—58 percent
Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: my generation—72 percent; your generation—55 percent
You hear and read on your mobile devices the exact words of those who shot the arrows at Samuel: “It is not reasonable that such a being as a Christ shall come”7—or that an angel would deliver the Book of Mormon to the Prophet Joseph. 
You hear and read on your mobile devices modern-day Korihors saying or texting, “[You] that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things?”8
Your days are a time of sifting in the Church. It will be very important for your eternal welfare that, as the Apostle Paul said, you are grounded, rooted, established, and settled in spiritual things.9
There are great privileges, possibilities, and opportunities in this wonderful time of life. I admire you and respect you for your worthiness and preparations in being here at BYU–Idaho.
Be wise in what you are learning. In today’s environment, you need to know how to think, adjust, and mold yourself to a changing world. Be disciplined in planning your courses to ensure a timely graduation. Whether you are a young man or a young woman, you should be sharpening your professional skills, strengthening your ability to work on a team, exercising your mind so it is adept at many subjects, disciplining your commitment to work, and fortifying your character so you can be trusted with responsibility. I would advise my own sons and daughters to prepare professionally. Women in this audience may be in a position to choose to use your unlimited intelligence, talents, and capacities full-time in strengthening your own children in your home, but in the event that is not your situation, you need to prepare to compete in the world should it be necessary.
Even more important than your professional preparation is your spiritual preparation: prayer; the word of God; the importance of honesty, purity, and faith.
As you seek to be grounded and settled, I repeat the advice given to you just one month ago by President Russell M. Nelson in his worldwide devotional for young adults. You will remember when he said this:

“How can you increase in your discipleship? I have an invitation for you that will help—it’s an assignment, actually—if you choose to accept it. Commence tonight to consecrate a portion of your time each week to studying everything Jesus said and did. …
“This may seem like a large assignment, but I encourage you to accept it.” Now, listen to his promise. President Nelson continues: “If you proceed to learn all you can about Jesus Christ, I promise you that your love for Him, and for God’s laws, will grow beyond what you currently imagine. I promise you also that your ability to turn away from sin will increase. Your desire to keep the commandments will soar. You will find yourself better able to walk away from the entertainment and entanglements of those who mock the followers of Jesus Christ.”10
10. Russell M. Nelson, “Prophets, Leadership, and Divine Law” (Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, Jan. 8, 2017),
I add my witness to this counsel and promise given to you by the President of the Quorum of the Twelve—a man whom we sustain as a prophet, seer, and revelator. Follow his counsel and you will see the realization of the blessings he promised you.
The journey ahead will be a joyful journey if you will ground yourself spiritually and be diligent in your professional preparations. Oh, there will be challenges, but there will be tremendous happiness and beautiful satisfactions. There is no better time, no better place, no better conditions to live out your mortality than now.
I realize that you come from many countries and many different situations. What I have said applies to all here today.