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.
Continuous growth is only for the benefit of short-term investors. Long term investment is not profitable quick enough. It will take something like Covid to burst the bubble, but everyone fights too hard to stay alive these days.
I admit to doing that.
Undoubtedly this is the REAL reason that rich, old white guys are always clamoring to defund Planned Parenthood. It's not so much that they are anti-abortion; they are anti-birth control, period. They want women to keep making exponentially more consumers.
And speaking of consumers, people do not so much procreate as metastasize.
I've birthed no one. Yet I'm having a pretty good time.
That's WHY you're having a pretty good time. I birthed no one either. All the parents I know look and act SO much older than I do.
Zip-all here, too.
But in my case, it really is because I'm selfish, just like they say.
Hey, me, too. I looked around at people who were parents and thought, "Well, THAT doesn't look like it's any fun!"
No birthing here either but it's because I saw a film in 6th grade showing the process and episiotomy and I swore I would never do that! It was traumatic. That and the zero population growth movement I took to heart removed that option from the table. Kim in PA
An excellent read, I need to read this again after coffee clears some cobwebs from my Saturday morning brain. Murr, how I wish you could converse with my barber, an Italian woman named Roe who read me the riot act yesterday when I tossed out "What's so wrong with Bill Gates". I think you'd like her a lot.
I don't think there's anything wrong with Bill Gates, myself. I just don't think billionaires should exist.
Sam Walton (the first Walton) wasn't a total prick like his spawn have turned out to be. He did make an effort to promote Made In USA. It was after he got moved out of active management began their truly intense let's- kill-American-manufacturing efforts. They kept insisting on lower and lower prices from vendors, prices that were impossible to achieve in the U.S. but could be done in third world nations, so it didn't take long for those vendors to move offshore.
This is a digression, but you know one really good reason to never ever buy an Elf on a Shelf (other than the obvious ones, like it's creepy AF) is the woman who came up with the idea never made an effort to find a manufacturer for that piece of crap in this country. Once she'd designed it her first thought was to look for a Chinese factory to make them. She bragged about her business acumen in an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution when the train your kids to tolerate continuous surveillance fad first hit.
Why would anyone WANT an "elf on a shelf"? Not only is it tacky, but you have to clean this shit or clean around it. Minimalism, people. It's less work.
I didn't realize the elder Walton wasn't entirely to blame. He still got richer than God's financial advisor though.
Agreed. But it's not just that woman. Watch one episode of Shark Tank. They straight up tell the people they must take their operations to China, that there is no way to be profitable in the US. It's a successful show, so the message must be heard by a ton of people.
By the way, I agree the constant growth economic model is unsustainable. It doesn't work for the people who get sucked into Amway or Mary Kay so why would it work for an entire planet?
Now you got me wanting a pink Cadillac.
I read a little book called "Empty Planet" that argued (fairly convincingly) that we may already have created our largest crop of babies, and be looking at steady declines from now on, which is terrific environmental news. It is crappy economic news, as the world is now constituted, but the world as now constituted is in an obvious death spiral, so any better outcome is predicated on somehow reconstituting it. I have felt so much better since reading that little book. Not that they're wrong about the bad economic news: they're not. But. As you say. We're in for a wrenching couple centuries in any case. But I can at least picture a future beyond that, now. (Btw, I'm no fan of Elon Musk, but I think he's thinking longer term even than we are, which I can only applaud. If the Earth gets smacked by a large asteroid while we're still a single-planet species, over the next few million years, we just vanish for good. He thinks that's an undesirable outcome, which is kind of quaintly sweet.)
It does require a certain surfeit of self-regard, does it not!
Evening out the spoils a little sounds like a great plan to me, but I'm betting the fat cats won't agree.
A good beginning might be to manufacture stuff that LASTS like in the old days when things got repaired instead of chucked for new because repair now costs too much.
I had a dishwasher that worked for 35 years until a rat chewed a hole in it. In case you want to know who would outlast us…
Apparently cockroaches will outlast everybody.
Have you read Kate Raworth's book about the Doughnut Economy? Because you are totally nailing the premise of it! And I love it–unlimited growth is NOT good, nor is it necessary. And frankly, our particular country has made it so darn difficult to be a parent, that it doesn't surprise me at ALL to see the birth rate dropping like a lead brick. All that BS about family values is just big talk.
I haven't heard of it, but by the title–yeah! Seems to me the greatest job creators are swapping the same money in the neighborhood. Plus, I like donuts.
I believe that tenets number 1, 2, 7 and 9 of the Creed are particularly relevant:
1) For the government to help anyone who truly needs help* is evil.
*(present company excepted)
2) To interfere with profit-making is evil, but only in proportion to the wealth and power of the party subject to the interference. Thus, to interfere with your profit-making or mine is trivial, whereas to interfere with the profit-making of a huge multinational corporation is unforgivable.
7) Refusing to give the rich everything they ask for and more would ruin my chances of becoming one of them.
9) Anything that does not yield a profit is not worth doing, and anything not worth doing is not worth doing well.
Ah shit, I was hoping there wasn't a Creed.
I agree with your comments but would also say about Jeff Bezos that part of his early success was that he simply refused to collect state and local tax on purchases – he was involved in lawsuits to protect that stance. So bookstores, his first target, could not compete. I distinctly recall conversations with people who looked around local bookstores but then bought their books on Amazon simply to save pennies on tax. Fast forward to now, and my county has had to implement a library tax and a parks tax, both of which would have been unnecessary if our local and state tax had not taken that hit. I love that I have now turned the tables on him. I window shop on Amazon to decide what I want to buy, but then I make the effort to find it locally and buy it.
Good for you! There was a great article about amazon in The Sun magazine a couple years ago. Eye-opening. It's time to bust some trusts.
Oh wait, here it is.