The End of the Population Pyramid

The issue of overpopulation has been a bugbear of the popular imagination for decades, and remains so especially into the 21st century, when humanity crossed its seven billion mark — unprecedented in both size and scale of growth (consider that while it took millennia for humanity to finally reach a billion only in 1804, it took just another two centuries to hit seven times that number).

Given all that, it is perfectly understandable why people would be concerned about the impact such rapid growth is having on everything from the environment to global food supplies and energy resources (to say nothing of the subsequent social, political, and economic instability that results from such strains).

But as the following video from The Economist shows clearly, the global population — though set to grow by another two billion by 2042 — has already begun slowing down in its rate of expansion.

An excerpt from the original article nicely sums up the visual data:

 The pyramid was characteristic of human populations since the day organised societies emerged. With lifespans short and mortality rates high, children were always the most numerous group, and old people the least. Now the shape of the global population is changing. Between 1970 and 2015 the dominating influence on the global population was the fertility rate, the number of children a woman would typically bear during her lifetime. It fell dramatically over the period, meaning that the world shifted from having larger to smaller families. The age groups start to become markedly smaller only about the age of 40, so the incline starts much further up the chart than with the pyramid. The shape looks more like the dome of the Capitol building in Washington, DC. Between 2015 and 2060 the biggest influence upon the population will be ageing. Small families are already becoming the norm, the fall in fertility is slowing down and now almost everyone is living longer than their parents—dramatically so in developing countries. So, by 2060, the dome will have come and gone and the shape of the population will look more like a column (or perhaps an old-fashioned beehive).

In other words, barring any sort of unlikely massive uptick in the global birthrate, humanity is currently entering its peak of population: shortly after hitting nine billion, growth will begin to stagnate as the number of people of childbearing age declines.

Indeed, a map of fertility rates by nation shows that most of the world’s countries (many of them developing) are already experiencing slowing, stagnating, or even shrinking populations.

Total fertility rates as of 2013. Courtesy of Wikipedia / CIA World Factbook.

Keep in mind that a fertility rate between 2-3 (green) is considered the sweet spot for stable growth: any lower and you face rapid population aging followed by, and concurrent with,population shrinking (unless immigration is high enough to offset the difference); any higher, and populations grow too quickly for resources and institutions to accommodate. Both circumstances bring their own challenges and issues, which in turn vary from country to country.

But note how the majority of the world’s population growth is taking place in the developing world, especially in Africa (where not a single country has a total fertility rate of less than 2. Indeed, as The Economist video showed, 90 percent of the world’s youth will be living in emerging economies, with Africa having more young people than any other continent.

Conversely, it is mostly mid- to high-income countries whose fertility and birth rates are low, and whose populations have already begun stagnating, if not shrinking. The few exceptions — namely the U.S., Canada, the U.K, Ireland, and France — are growing mostly due to immigration and the subsequent increase it brings to the birthrate (since immigrants tend to have more children than native-born individuals).

The following map shows the population growth of the world’s countries by percentage between 2000 and 2010.

Courtesy of Wikipedia / United Nations. Note: data vary by source.

Notice again a similar pattern: broken down by country, most of the world is seeing low to negative population growth, even if the world as a whole is growing. Basically, the global population is growing highly unevenly, with a relatively small number of countries making up the lion’s share of total growth.

Moreover, as the video showed, much of this population “growth” is really a reflection of more people living longer: previously, population stabilized or shrank because enough people would die by the time the next generation came of age to have children. But as more people stick around longer, even the effects of a low birthrate will not be felt since so many people remain.

Hence why countries like Germany and Japan — which have long had some of the lowest fertility rates, and thus fastest-aging populations, in the world — did not begin to experience stagnation or decline until decades later. Their peoples are also among the longest-lived (note that higher immigration as of late has lead to modest but noticeable growth in Germany).

So what is the significance of all this? Well, there are many issues and challenges facing the world now and in the future as population dynamics rapidly change. Frankly, I do not have time to get into the larger social and economic ramifications of having whole societies without enough working-age adults; too many older people strains social security systems

But with regards to the most commonly cited concern — that of overpopulation straining resources — the solution is simple to recognize but difficult to implement: more efficient allocation of resources on a global level.

There is plenty of capital, food, and energy in the world to go around, but most of it is concentrated in and consumed by a wealthy few nations (and within those nations in turn, by a wealthy few people). Finding a way to allocate such resources to where it is needed most would lift hundreds of millions from poverty.

Consider that food output is well above what is needed, but that chronic malnourishment afflicts hundreds of millions of people — especially in fast-growing populations — because much of that food does not go to the poorer parts of the world, and 40 percent is wasted altogether. (To further underline this misallocation, in recent years the number of overweight and obese people in the world has outnumbered the malnourished.)

Moreover, shrinking wealthy countries could benefit from taking in the younger workers overflowing fast-growing poorer nations — as several immigration-friendly nations are experiencing — but there is (and would be) much resistance.

Perhaps as the world continues to develop its global consciousness — and with it the necessary global institutions to implement such policies — we will find a mutually beneficial way address the mismatch in demographic changes. There is a lot more to this topic that I have not touched on given my time constraints, but as always I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

No Representation Without Taxation

Well, that is not quite the argument that Amy B. Dean made in her opinion piece for Al-Jazeera America, titled Not Enough Taxation and Too Much RepresentationBut she does point out the discrepancy between how little modern corporations invest in their community — whether through paying taxes or through offering decent employment — and how much they nonetheless continue to exercise disproportionate political influence.

For decades now, U.S. corporations have been cutting ties with the communities that enabled their success in the first place. The trend began in manufacturing, a sector that has slashed nearly 8 million jobs since 1979. It has since spread as companies have outsourced and offshored an expanding array of jobs. A good example comes from the semiconductor industry. According to the Government Accountability Office, beginning in the 1960s, semiconductor manufacturers began to move assembly plants to Asia. In the 1980s they followed these with wafer foundries and, beginning in the 2000s, design and engineering jobs as well. A survey of over 500 companies by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton affirms this trend, finding “a salient shift toward locating more sophisticated and mission-critical work in countries such as India, China, Hungary, Brazil and the Philippines.”

From 2010 to 2012, three-quarters of the jobs created by the 35 largest U.S. companies from were outside the country, according to The Wall Street Journal. And for the 2000s, the newspaper reports, “U.S. multinational corporations, the big brand-name companies that employ a fifth of all American workers, have been hiring abroad while cutting back at home” — with domestic payrolls reduced by 2.9 million while 2.4 million jobs were established overseas.

As it is, the complaint about high statutory corporate tax rates is a red herring. As the Economic Policy Institute reports, the effective corporate tax rate has stayed at a relatively low 27.7 percent, on par with those of other economically advanced countries. In fact, the effective rate has remained well below the statutory rate since the early 1980s, making corporations’ complaints about their tax rate here seem hyperbolic. The fact remains that almost all the benefits of higher productivity have gone to corporations, and their profits are at an all-time high.

One could argue that this trend could be tolerated, were it not for companies nevertheless wanting to play an ever bigger role in domestic issues and local governance:

As corporate culture has grown more and more disconnected from American communities, it has demanded a greater and greater say in the country’s elections. Since 2000, independent expenditures in electoral campaigns have increased over 60-fold, from under $3 million to $186 million today. And an increasing amount of this money has come from avenues opened by the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United, in which it upheld the idea that corporate money should be regarded as speech and thus be covered by First Amendment protections.

Given the long-term shift in corporate loyalties away from being invested in American communities, we should be moving in the opposite direction, taking action against corporations that have such a dominant role in our democracy. The ability to participate in democratic deliberations should be predicated on embracing the responsibilities of citizenship and being invested in the well-being of our communities.

Personally, I agree with this sentiment. Although I see myself as a citizen of the world, and think we have an obligation towards bettering the lives of others beyond the borders we happen to be born within, what is going on here is different: companies are decoupling from any sense of social responsibility towards their communities while still feeling entitled to disproportionately influence the policies of the very areas they have essentially abandoned.

Moreover, the fact that record profits have not translated to better pay or treatment for workers — in or out of the country — makes this practice all the more reprehensible. Many of these companies have the resources at their disposal, and can in fact continue making good profits while looking after communities both here and abroad; but alas, the demand for ever-higher payouts to shareholders and executives eats a bigger chunk of the profit that could be reinvested through better pay, benefits, and the like.

In short, what we see is part of a wider trend in which economic elites feel little social obligation towards the rest of society. They have the resources to isolate themselves geographically from the non-wealthy, or indeed to leave their communities altogether (whether local, state, or national). Globalization has only amplified this disconnection, as the wealthiest citizens can simply move themselves and their great resources wherever suits them.

But in a world where overall wealth is higher than ever — yet concentrated so that 85 individuals have more than 3.5 billion people — is this sort of decoupling morally justifiable? Cannot these prosperous companies and their investors spare even a fraction of what they have towards bettering the lives of the workers worldwide who contributed to that prosperity, rather than try to dominate them further by supporting even more onerous policies? It would appear that our business culture and economic system do not allow it.

What do you think? Do companies have an obligation to their communities? Should they refrain from exercising influence if they are going to be leaving their localities or even countries behind?

Chart: Educational Mobility Around the World

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international group of 34 mostly-rich countries, has published its most recent Education at a Glance report for 2014, which ranks countries according to the proportion of adults (those age 25 to 64) who are better educated than their parents. This helps to determine how well member countries are doing at improving educational opportunity.

The full study can be found in the hyperlink above, while The Economist has put together the results in the following chart (note that for the sake of fair comparison, developing countries like Turkey, Brazil, and Mexico are not listed).

The New York Times also reported on this study, providing an even more telling chart:

As the article noted, the U.S. is doing far poorly than a nation of its size and wealth should:

Barely 30 percent of American adults have achieved a higher level of education than their parents did. Only Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic do worse. In Finland more than 50 percent of adults are more educated than their parents.

And matters are getting worse, not better. Among 25- to 34-year olds, only 20 percent of men and 27 percent of women, both out of school, have achieved a higher level of education than their parents.

It’s even bleaker at the bottom: Only one in 20 Americans aged 25 to 34 whose parents didn’t finish high school has a college degree. The average across 20 rich countries in the O.E.C.D. analysis is almost one in four.

Moreover, as usual, it is the poorest and most vulnerable members of society that are hit the hardest: there is a wide and ever-growing income gap in the graduation rate of teenagers from lower-income backgrounds versus higher-income ones; one study found a sharp increase in the impact of family income on the likelihood of graduation.

Basically, you need an education more than ever to make decent money, but need more money than ever to get a decent education. In such a competitive, globalized economy, that catch-22 is not sustainable. This is all the more tragic given that the U.S. once lead the way in providing free or affordable education at all levels (the Times piece notes how decades ago, America was already educating far more of its citizens before European countries did).

Given that the OECD’s report runs over 500 pages long, I have not had the chance to read the complete findings. However, one highlight that did catch my attention was the following:

In Brazil, Turkey and the United States, adults without upper secondary education are the most penalised in their wages, earning, at best, 35% less than people with that qualification. In Chile, Brazil and Hungary, those with tertiary education are, comparatively, the most highly rewarded, earning more than double the income of a person with upper secondary education.

This is just a small snippet, but it suggests that education is not as vital for economic success across the board. Some countries, such as Austria and Germany, still manage to have largely prosperous middle-class societies despite low educational mobility, thanks to a relative abundance of vocational schools, job training opportunities, and well-paying low-skill work.

However, the overall trend is clear:

In all OECD countries, adults with tertiary education earn considerably more than adults with below upper secondary education. Between 2005 and 2012, in countries with available data for both years, the relative earnings of adults without upper secondary education either remained stable or fell, to some degree, when compared with earnings of adults with upper secondary education.

In addition, in most of these countries, earnings of tertiary-educated adults relative to earnings of adults with upper secondary education increased or remained stable during the same period; the only exceptions are Hungary and the United States.

These differences suggest that the demand for higher-level and updated skills have grown, and that individuals with lower levels of skills are even more vulnerable today

In much of the rich world — and increasingly in the developing world as well — an education remains more vital than ever for individual and societal prosperity. But is the solution to make education on all levels more accessible and affordable, or to instead develop economies in which even those without a formal education can succeed? Perhaps a bit of both? What are your thoughts?

 

How Many Slaves Work For You?

Click here to find out. I’ve got at least two dozen apparently, though I’m sure it’s far more.

Suffering and exploitation are an inseparable part of our economic system, and there’s really no way to avoid it. Just about everything we use or own comes at the expense of someone else’s well-being. This is nothing new of course, but it’s far less noticeable than it once was, given the complexity and opaqueness of today’s market. We buy things without really knowing their origins or what was put into them, as I’ve discussed in just a single example before.

I’m not sure what we can do to fix this exploitative system. Some have argued that there must be an underclass of labor that must be used and abused for the sake of providing cheap goods to the market. I don’t know if that will always be true, but I’d like to think that someday we could change that.

Sixteen Cities to Watch Out For

Cities are what are shaping civilization. Humanity is more urbanized now than ever before, and we’ve created unprecedentedly large communities where millions of human beings – and all their ideas, businesses, talents, and beliefs – intermingle and converge within a dense space. This is why cities are dynamic – and also a bit overwhelming – and why they’re driving growth, innovation, and culture across the world. In other words, they’re shaping the next century of human development.

This is especially the case for the developing world, which is rising rapidly, if not tenuously, in economic, political, technological, and cultural clout. Our globalized and interconnected world is giving way to global cities, where cultures, peoples, and businesses from across the world gather, giving urban configurations influence far and wide. These are the cities who’s financial markets, media outlets, industries, and other exports can change nations, or even the world.

Tokyo, Paris, London, and especially New York City were classic examples, and remain core global cities to this day. But they’re already being joined by many others, some surprising and some not so much. Foreign Policy has posted a slideshow selecting the 16 cities that will influence the world – for better or for worse – or that will be defining symbols of the coming era.

Like any list, some of the selections are contentious, but they still make for a good view and a lot of consideration. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to add your own suggestions as well. I’d be curious to read them.

Click here for view the article.

The Video Game Boom

What began as a simple curiosity has grown into a billion dollar industry that pervades our society, media, and commercial market. Video games have become a staple in entertainment, popular culture, and the average young person’s life for well over a decade. But they now seem posed to become the single-largest form of media ever, if current growth trends persist. The Economist reports:

OVER the past two decades the video-games business has gone from a cottage industry selling to a few niche customers to a fully grown branch of the entertainment industry. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a consulting firm, the global video-game market was worth around $56 billion last year, and has grown by over 60% since 2006, when the Nintendo Wii console was launched. The gaming industry is more than twice the size of the recorded-music industry, nearly a quarter more than the magazine business and about three-fifths the size of the film industry. PwC predicts that video games will be the fastest-growing form of media over the next few years, with sales rising to $82 billion by 2015. The biggest market is America, whose consumers this year are expected to spend $14.1 billion on games, mostly on the console variety. Consoles also dominate in Britain, the fifth-largest gaming market. In other parts of Europe, and particularly Germany, PC games are more popular. China has overtaken Japan to become the second-biggest market, and  is one of the fastest-growing, with sales rising by 20% last year.

And since I’m a visual man myself, here are two charts that better reflect the growth and dynamism of this massive industry:

Notice how games are booming outside their traditional markets – namely North America and Japan. As in most things, China is set to become one of the largest game markets in the world, and with time, may very well begin to churn out prominent video game companies of its own (so far, its game developers are largely domestic and relatively unknown).  The “Others” section is also pretty massive, suggesting that video games – like so many other products and media – are globalizing far beyond the long-established developed rich-world markets.

As a semi-serious gamer and world-culture enthusiast, I for one think it will be exciting to possibly see more game selections emerge from other countries. Of course, that assumes that the old guard of Japanese and (especially) American game companies don’t try to retain their long-held market advantage by buying off or out-spending their competitors.

Sounds familiar? These titans of industry are not unlike their contemporaries in other markets, from Hollywood to news media to oil: as their commercial markets expand, so to does their influence and power, and many gamers – myself included – are concerned about the perverse influence that all this growth and money will have on small or up-starting developers. Companies like EA Games, one of the largest media corporations period, have already developed a reputation suited to Industrial Era conglomerates: trying to dominate the market through cunning business practices and brute force.

Alas, that’s the way it goes for most things. People lament the loss of artistic and individual freedom in Hollywood, now dominated by a core of powerful studios and their mass-produced blockbusters; or of reliable news outlets similarly absorbed into just a handful of huge media corporations. The novelty and adventurism of a new idea – a sort of Wild West frontier that nearly all industries start off of – makes way for something that becomes too conformist, greedy, and soulless: the rehashing of the same formulaic but money-making stuff the draws in the larger crowd but leaves the veteran and enthusiasts reeling.

Granted, I’m not this cynical about it, but I’ve certainly heard this sentiment expressed with respect to video games, just as I have about virtually everything else that inevitably becomes commercialized once it’s popular enough. I think it’s a valid concern, but like anything else, this sort of development is a double-edged sword: after all, more money also means more technical innovation, and we’re seeing games become more cinematic and groundbreaking by the year.

Furthermore, the backlash against this sort of commercialization, coupled with the ubiquity of technology and programming skills, means that small-time game makers still have their niche, and we can still expect a fair share of quirky, innovative, and diverse selections to complement the “big box” stuff (which can also be pretty fun too). I know its all still debatable, and I don’t have the time to go into much more detail, but the game industry is moving so fast there’s no telling where it’s really going. I think there is reason for excitement and anxiety, and I’d like everyone’s thoughts on the matter.

Graffiti: A Global Art Form

I know I’ve become quite a booster for Foreign Policy lately, but I find that it covers quite a few interesting and eclectic topics for an international relations periodical. The topic of this article concerns graffiti transcending it’s American origins and becoming a global art form. It also delves a little bit into the rather touchy subject – for art aficionados at least – about how one defines art, and to what extent the creation of art, in particular graffiti, is truly about political or personal expression, counter-cultural transgression, or merely an act of impulsiveness.

I for one do view it as an art form, both for it’s aesthetic quality and it’s capacity to communicate all manner of ideas, thoughts, or feelings. I would love to find a comprehensive collection of graffiti from all over the world. I always find globalized cultural products of some kind to be fascinating, especially when they include a unique fusion of styles or the development of culturally-specific variations. It’s just another way human beings across the globe are being connected.

Developing World Rising

The 21st century has been dominated with discussions and concerns about a major paradigm shift in the world: the rise of so-called developing countries. It’s pretty much become accepted that poorer, comparatively under-developed nations – chief among them China, India, Brazil, and maybe Russia – will soon reach a level of wealth and industrialization long characteristic of North America, Western Europe, East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. The modernization and prosperity gap between the developing world and developed countries (as rich nations are called) is quickly narrowing, with vast political, social, cultural, and economic implications for the world.

The Economist recently published a brief but detailed report about this increasing shift in power and fortune for emerging economies (as they’re also called). One version is heavier on the info-graphics – linked here – while the other is more wordy and analytical, and linked to here. For practicality’s sake, I’ll post some of the data here, as it pretty much speaks for itself.

Essentially, developing economies still have some ways to go in terms of attaining the “mature” characteristics of an advanced economy, such as more outward investment, consumer spending, and large companies. But by and large, they’ve not only caught up with the rich world in many ways, but seem poised to surpass it rather quickly. As the Economist article notes:

The combined output of the developing economies accounted for 38% of world GDP (at market exchange rates) in 2010, twice its share in 1990 (see upper chart). On reasonable assumptions, it could exceed the developed world’s within seven years. If GDP is instead measured at purchasing-power parity, which takes account of the fact that lower prices in poorer countries boost real spending power, emerging economies overtook the developed world in 2008 and are likely to reach 54% of world GDP this year. Even more impressive, they accounted for three-quarters of global real GDP growth over the past decade.

So momentum and recent historical precedent are clearly in the emerging world’s favor. Granted, the future is always a difficult thing to predict, especially when it comes to economics (as we’ve grown painfully aware of these past few years). But barring some gigantic global catastrophe, we can expect to see a lot of new countries join the stagnant ranks of the industrialized world, if not officially, than at least as far as the quantitative measures go. Even another economic crisis might not be too troubling: most of today’s developing nations were among the first to emerge from the punishing global recession, and were far less harmed by it than their richer rivals. As the article poignantly notes:

Two decades ago economic models treated the developing world like a dog’s tail, wagged this way and that by rich countries but too small to affect them. Now the tail wags the dog. Their greater weight and speed mean emerging markets drive global growth, commodity prices and inflation.

These emerging powers will no doubt be more than happy to exercise that sort of influence, which they’ve long had to face from richer nations. However, I don’t want to overstate the implications of any of this. Again, the developing world still has a long way to go, and it will likely take decades for most of them to reach the level of development that we’re accustomed to. Economic growth doesn’t account for political and social progress either: China and Russia may still be corrupt and authoritarian, while India may still contend with ethnic, religious, and political tensions.

There’s a lot to be concerned about regarding the costs to the environment and labor rights: what will a world with billions of new and increasingly demanding consumers be like? Will there be enough resources and land for all of them? Can the world take any more waste and pollution from all the new industries and goods that are proliferating? How much logging, mining, and clearing for farms can our planet take? And what will happen to the vast underclass of workers that will be expected to extract and make all the resources needed?

More people having access to food, shelter, healthcare, and education is a good thing, but how sustainable will it be, and at what costs will it come? I’ts perverse to think that the long-suffering majority of this planet must be questioned in its growing prosperity due to unfortunate timing. But if the rest of the world came to live more like Americans, we’d have a lot of scarcity on our hands, as even current levels of consumption are being increasingly difficult to maintain.

Thus, this “rise of the rest,” as Parag Khanna, an international relations expert puts it, will present vast challenges to a fragile but increasingly dynamic world. One could only hope that the growing clout, wealth, and education levels of these nations could constructively be applied to address these concerns before they bring us all down.

Pakistan Reinvents Jazz

We rarely hear of anything good or “normal” coming out of Pakistan anymore. Like Mexico, Iran, and other countries gripped by some sort of civil strife, the country suffers from an intractable image problem that leaves it synonymous only with grim news headlines of violence or instability. But there’s more going on in these places than conflict, corruption, and misery. Life goes on, and people still go about their daily routine. Art, literature, and scholarship is still produced, as in all human societies.

As the title states, Pakistan, for example, is adding a distinct and intriguing twist on classical jazz music, while resurrecting its beleaguered classical and underground music scene.

The video is short, but I felt it merited attention, and I hope some of you decide to look into the genre some more (there’s some interesting stuff out there). I’ve become quite weary of our limited and negatively biased perception of most of the world, being exposed to the same old negative stereotypes that persist in both media and the public consciousness. Our society has long been intrinsically ethnocentric, and many Americans are deprived of most of the fascinating cultural products and ideas that emerge around the world – assuming most of them care enough in the first place.

So as far as many of my peers are concerned, much of the world is either war-torn, poor, or uninteresting; countries that are bedeviled with misfortune and conflict are at a considerable disadvantage already, without this added sentiment. Part of my life’s goal as both an IR major and a world culture aficionado is to dispel these notions to the best of my ability. I think I may create a series that will try to cover various cultural and intellectual achievements from around the world, particularly from countries that are obscure or have bad reputations. I also hope some of you contribute to this project as well – I’m always happy to engage in illuminating cultural exchanges.

If there’s one thing that’s always fascinated me about humanity, it’s our innate knack for creative and high-minded pursuits in every civilization we form, regardless of size, development, or environment. That’s something I want – and hope for – others to appreciate.

Migration

Hello everyone, I hope you’re all well.  Unfortunately, I’ve been hit with another hectic schedule lately, so I haven’t had time to post or write as much as I’d like. However, I figured that I could at least leave you all with an interesting video to watch, once against courtesy of RSA. This one covers a topic that I find to be sadly under-appreciated in it’s significance: migration (in case you couldn’t tell by the eponymous title).

Humanity has become increasingly mobile with the progression of time and technology, and the 21st century may come to be defined by massive movements of people to and from different parts of the world. All these journeys could have considerable influence on economics, society, politics, culture, and even religion. As people move, so do ideas, faiths, customs, and economic potential. Both the place of origin and the destination will be altered in some way, sometimes for good, for ill, or somewhere in-between. This has already begun, and the recession has done less to slow it down than we’d think.

As the video keenly but concisely illustrates, keeping up with the ramifications of all these exoduses  will require a lot of innovation: in the way we build and design cities; in the laws that govern property and travel;  and in how we think of and treat migrants of diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses. Migration also allows us to experience the power of human ingenuity, willpower, and perseverance, as people travel vast distances and endure great hardships to improve their lives and that of their communities. Migration will be a definitive element of identity for millions.

While there’s much more I’d like to say on the topic, I must save it for future post. I’ll also leave you all with an interesting review of one of the few books to cover this fascinating topic. I hope you all enjoy reflecting on and exploring this issue as much as I do. Until next time. If I don’t get around to posting tomorrow, than have a fun and safe fourth of July.