Terrible, terrible news. Humans are no longer spawning at a replacement rate and in a matter of decades we might be down to about nine billion of us, all told. It’s a catastrophe.
Here’s what I read: “Population growth is vital for the world economy. It means more workers to build homes and produce goods, more consumers to buy things and spark innovation, and more citizens to pay taxes and attract trade.” If we don’t keep pumping out the babies, the experts say, the economy will not be sustainable. It will not grow. It must always grow. How can it? It can’t. But it must.
A constantly growing economy is, of course, not sustainable any way you look at it, and maybe we should be placing our chips on a plan that doesn’t depend on using up all our resources and cooking the planet and poisoning the water. Because that is truly unsustainable. (To explain what it means to be unsustainable in a way even Matt Gaetz can understand it, it means you can’t keep it up.)
But the people who worry about the baby bust say there will soon be too many old farts and not enough young people, and then who will pay the taxes? And take care of the old farts?
Thus it is revealed that the entire vaunted world economy has been a Ponzi scheme all along.
Well, I suspect if money is the problem, maybe we should set things up so that everyone has at least enough to trade around and nobody has way way way too much. Even out the spoils a little. You can still structure it so you have really rich people if that’s what you want.
A lot of people, though, will go to the mat to defend the rights of billionaires to keep all their money. Boy, what a con job! Somehow the fat cats have got the little people believing that wealth is its own proof of virtue. What about all the jobs Bill Gates created? Did he? The way wealth actually works is you might have to suck for a while but once you’ve got the siphon going, it will just keep pulling that wealth out without you having to lift a finger. After that, you might still suck, but it’s optional.
They don’t mention the Waltons, whose money originally came from destroying manufacturing jobs and family businesses by having their products made on the cheap in countries that utilize slave labor and have no environmental standards; that’s Walton The First, and Waltons Two through Eight got their billions by shooting out of a worthy Walton womb.
Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, siphoned plenty by destroying his competition, in much the same manner as Walton did with Walmart. The third richest woman in the world got her pile by divorcing Jeff Bezos. #49 is a pig breeder, speaking of unsustainable practices. Tons of resource extraction on that list too. We’re running the human operation into the ground so fast that people (like Elon Musk, #2) are suggesting we move the whole franchise to Mars, and they’re not even kidding. Damn! A whole new planet to mine.
So. There aren’t enough babies. This catastrophe is brought to you by birth control combined with educated women who are shirking their duty to pump out more consumers. Even Italy is slated to halve its population this century.
Ah, those blessed consumers. Consumption, of course, may be vital for The Economy, at least for a few more years, but it’s otherwise a losing game. So it stands to reason that a falling population would be good for the planet. Fewer people, less consumption. And it is: except that it’s the consumption that is the problem, more than the number of people. A dozen rich dudes can do more damage to the planet in a long weekend than some entire African tribes will do in a year. Wealth is the culprit. And most of us who like to complain about the population explosion are ridiculously wealthy by any reasonable standard. We’ve run through more energy in the last fifty years than in all the years since the first ape stood up. We’ll destroy an ecosystem to pull a mineral out of the ground to operate a plastic talking Bob Ross Bobblehead for a few weeks before we chuck it in the ocean, and not give it a second thought. We’re the problem.
Relying on rampant consumption to run the world economy is like finding a faster car to drive off the cliff. This has been fun, but we’re running out of choices and time. There will have to be a better way to manage things. A less showy but more intimate way. We’ll build our shelters smarter, we’ll generate our power on site, we’ll grow more of our food locally, we’ll feed and entertain each other in person. Even without the bobblehead, we’ll probably be happier.