Suicide ain’t painless IV: What is going on in the Americas?

In the first installment of this series, we have looked at the situation in the ex-Warsaw Pact. The spike we saw in the suicide rates during the 1990s could be explained by the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, some of the other trends are a little harder to interpret. To see what we mean, let us look at some graphs.

Regional graphs

We have already discussed the post-Warsaw pact situation, so here we will touch on the other regions.

Africa The African numbers are very low, but also quite rapidly increasing. A quick look at the data shows that essentially 100% of the numbers for Africa are the numbers for (the Republic of) South Africa, and our statistics (which start 1996 for that region coincide roughly with the African National Congress (ANC) rule in the country. It should be noted that ANC, despite the very good press it has received in the West is an avowed Communist and racist organization, and the economy of the country is being destroyed systematically. As for the numbers being low in absolute terms – this seems to be a phenomenon of the entire sub-Saharan Africa — apparently, suicide is more-or-less foreign to the culture (though violence is most certainly not).

Asia The Asian numbers are largely those for South Korea and Japan, and these are quite heavily concentrated among the older (75+) cohort. This author’s guess is that there are a number of factors that enter:

  • Life expectancy is very high in South Korea and Japan (and getting higher), so these cohorts are quite large (and growing larger with the low birth rates and the consequent aging of the population.
  • There has been considerable social change in these generally very traditional societies. This change is particularly hard to countenance by older people.
  • In Japan particularly, there has been the much-discussed economic stagnation, so it is possible that more older people feel themselves a burden on their family.

Middle East A look at the data shows that the suicide rates (and absolute numbers) in the Muslim countries is extremely low, and so the Middle Eastern numbers are dominated by Israel. Here, the period considered is (with exceptions, which, ironically, coincide almost exactly with the flattening of the graph) dominated by Binyamin Netanyahu, both as Prime Minister and as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance under Ariel Sharon – Netanyahu had adopted a more muscular stance vis-a-vis the Palestinians, as well as had reformed the previously heavily Socialist Israeli economy, the latter providing a considerable boost to the Israeli economy and the former helping Israelis out of their previously uncertain and guilt-ridden state of mind, which led many (even patriotic) Israelis to question the long-term survival of the country. No more.

Europe The Europe rate decline before 2006 seems a mystery, but as we shall see, it is not so hard to explain: the answer, in two words is: “East Germany”. Indeed, while the population of Germany grew but some 3% between 1990 and 2007 years, the number of suicides dropped by 4000, and the suicide rate declined from 18.5 to 11.5. The 4000 drop is responsible for about 70% of the drop in the total number of suicides in Europe. The remaining 30% is entirely due to France, and I really cannot tell why.

The Americas We now get to the most interesting (or depressing, if you prefer) region. The suicide rate in the Americas was dropping until around 2000 and then started growing rapidly. Now, the absolute number (9.2 at the peak) is not that high, but let us look at some representative countries:

Suicide rates in the Americas

First we note the continued rise (off a rather low base) in Mexico and Brazil. Both countries have been woefully misgoverned during this period, with increasing Socialism in both. The most spectacular graph, however, is the one for the United States. Suicide rate was falling slowly until 2001, at which point it rose, first slowly under George W. Bush then rapidly under Barack H. Obama’s leadership. A closer look shows that the suicides have been particularly prevalent in the middle age white men cohort.This author sees two reasons for this. The first is the quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has led to a high number of combat veterans (the suicide rates of which is two-to-three times that of general population). The other is the much-documented “war on white men”, and the hollowing out of the traditional US heartland (for popular references, see Tucker Carlson’s “Ship of Fools”, and Victor Davis Hansen’s “The case for Trump”). Since these groups were instrumental in getting Donald J Trump elected President, the hope is that the numbers have started declining again (they had not in 2017).

A remark on the biology of gender or, why do women menstruate?

Many have wondered: why is it that women menstruate every month? This seems like rather poor design, but upon reflection, this is really user error.

Indeed, until very recently, women had their menarche (onset of menses) at around 16 years old, and generally had their first child by their early 20s. After that, women had children as frequently as biologically possible (every two years) until the onset of menopause (which was earlier then than it is now). Of course, many of these children did not survive to adulthood (even in upper class families), and death in childbirth was the leading cause of death among women. Still, the effect of this was that, by and large, only young women menstruated, greatly impeding the marketing of female hygiene products (not coincidentally, the industry exploded in the middle of the twentieth century).

Aside from menstruation (or lack thereof), the lateness of childbirth leads to other problems:

  • Generation gap. Much has been made of the disconnect between parents and children. This has many causes, but one of them is the great difference in age.
  • Parenting difficulties. In the days of yore, women transitioned from being mothers (pre-menopause) to being grandmothers at around the age of forty to fifty, and helped their children bring up the grandchildren, which almost eliminated the “what the hell do I do now???” phenomenon all too well-known to modern parents.
  • Empty nest syndrome. In the past (and in many traditional societies, such as those in India and the Middle East today), there is no such thing as the empty nest: several (anywhere from three to five) generations live together, and older people are never alone, and are always there to help with the youngest generations.
  • Birth defects. These increase dramatically with mother’s age (incidence of Down’s syndrome, for example, goes from 1 in 1500 at maternal age of 20 to 1 in 44 at maternal age of 40).
  • Demographic collapse All the advanced Western societies (with the notable exception of Israel) are reproducing at below replacement level. This is quite obviously due in large part to starting later (also to women working, which is closely related, see below).

To summarize, although it is not the goal of this author to judge, it seems clear that from the standpoints of both mental and physical health, the feminist revolution has been a disaster. The question is, then, who benefited from it? Not the women (though many women will surely disagree). Instead, the ingestion of women by the workforce was the first (and most expensive) example of (onshore) outsourcing:

Indeed, technological advances made it possible for women to work outside the home, and back in an age when families survived quite reasonably on one salary, it was reasonable for women to use their spare time to make a couple extra bucks. They (remember, all statements here are statistical) did not care so much about pay parity with men, and were just looking for a bit of pocket money. For industry, it was an opportunity to get high quality labor at a low price. Of course, the process snowballed with disastrous effects. Not just those described above, but also economic. Indeed, look at the following chart of inflation-adjusted household income (by the way, the government is known to underreport inflation):

Inflation adjusted household income

Since in 1968 most households had a single earner, and in 2018, the vast majority have two earners, we see that (look at the “median” line) that the there has been no economic benefit to household from having both adults work. In other words, we have all been sold a bill of goods, and have had our societies destroyed by demographic collapse and family dysfunction.

Nothing like progress (yes, this state of affairs is absolutely nothing like progress).

A follow-up to Hill’s paper or – is free speech dead in the West?

Things seem to come in bunches, and just (under) three weeks after Ted Hill’s Quillette.com article, and much discussion in the various blogs (Tao’s, Gowers’ and others) an even bigger fight has broken out.  Alessandro Strumia, a theoretical physicist at University of Pisa gave a talk at a “gender equality” conference at CERN where he cast doubt on gender equality in physics.  The result was that he was instantly booted out of CERN, and the Rector of the University of Pisa announced a disciplinary proceeding against him. The reader can read the slides (which, by the way, were immediately removed from the CERN repository, in a misguided attempt to send this work down a memory hole – that trick never works these days where information travels with blinding speed) above (click on “talk”), and decide whether or not Strumia is actually Hitler.  The reader can also make up her own mind as to whether she (or he) agrees with Strumia’s analysis. This writer would be doing the reader a disservice if he tried to make the reader’s mind up for her/him.

Populism and Nomenklatura

This meditation was prompted by the recent arson epidemic in Sweden and the Swedish government’s completely lame response to it. The question I asked myself was: who is the Swedish government? To put the study in context, I decided to compare it with the “populist” Hungarian government, especially as the two governments could not be more different when it comes to their views on (im)migration, while the populations of the two countries are roughly similar (around five million each).  The standard liberal view is that the Swedish policies are “enlightened”, whilst the Hungarian policies are backward-looking and obviously promoted by benighted thugs. Here is what I found (note: I do not list experience in politics).

 

Prime Minister

Sweden: Stefan Löfven

Trained as a welder, dropped out of university, where he majored in Social Work for a year. Quickly became a trade union operative, advancing to be the head of the Metalworkers’ Union.

Hungary: Viktor Orbán

Has a law degree from Eotvos-Lorand University (the premier university  in Hungary). From 1987-89, he lived in Szolnok but
commuted to Budapest, where he worked as a sociologist at the Agriculture and Food Industry”s Director
Training Institute from November 1987 – March 1988. From April 1988, he was a research fellow at the Central
European Research Group sponsored by the Soros Foundation. In 1989, he received a scholarship through the
same foundation to study at Pembroke College, Oxford about the history of English liberal political philosophy.
In 1983, Viktor Orbán was one of the founding members of the Juridical Sociological Collegium (which was
renamed István Bibó Collegium in 1988). With several members of this collegium, Orbán helped establish a
journal of sociology entitled „Századvég“ and was one of the editors.

Justice Minister

Sweden: Morgan Johansson

BA in Political Science, worked as a journalist for three years.

Hungary: László Trócsányi

Undergraduate degree and a doctorate in Law, practiced as a lawyer for a many years, worked as a professor of Law, did research at the Hungarian Academy.

Minister for Home Affairs (Ministry of the Interior)

Sweden: Morgan Johansson  (see above). The previous Minister for Home Affairs was

Anders Ygeman

Ygeman has no higher education, except for a semester in criminology, and was excused from military service after a few days (for incompetence.)

Hungary: Sándor Pintér

Pinter is a career police officer. Graduated from the Police Academy,  and also has a law degree. He served in the police force for 25 years, the last 5 as National Police Commissioner (top law enforcement officer in Hungary).  He also operated a private security company.

Minister of Defence

Sweden: Peter Hultqvist

No higher education (seems to have a one year degree in social sciences). Worked as a journalist for 12 years.

Hungary: Tibor Benkő 

Career  (forty years) military officer, rising to Chief of Defence Staff, studied in the USSR AND the USA (Army War College), has a doctorate in Military Studies.

Foreign Affairs

Sweden: Margot Wallström No higher education. Worked as a bank teller for three years.

Hungary: Péter Szijjártó Degree in Foreign Affairs.

Higher Education and Research

Sweden: Helene Hellmark Knutsson Does not have a university degree. The only non-politics job is in the trade union system (as Ombudsman).

Hungary:  László Palkovics. Mechanical engineer, PhD, University professor, Full member of the Hungarian Academy. During his professional career, Palkovics held numerous managerial positions in companies like Thyssen-Krupp Presta Hungary, Knorr-Bremse Group and Bosch Budapest. Meanwhile, he has worked as editor for the International Journal of Vehicle Design, Heavy Vehicles and the Journal of Automobile Engineering.

Conclusion

The Swedish government is pure Soviet-style nomenklatura, It is run on pure patronage, and not any discernible skill. The Hungarian government is run by professionals, who have dedicated their lives to their respective areas of competence, and have achievements at the very top of their professions. The results are plain to see: Sweden is in ruins. Hungary is not -Orban and his team have done very well by their people, naysayers be damned. I hope they keep it up. I am not sure what hope I have for Sweden.