[saymaListserv] Fwd: RE: [earthcare] Future Population Decline: What Are Our Responsibilities As Friends?
timlally at comcast.net
Thu Aug 19 22:17:19 JEST 2004
One Friends' response to the increasing numbers of senior citizens appears
to be to develop retirement communities.
I was recently in Richmond, IN, in FUM territory, and saw one such extensive
development of this kind, situated next to the new First Friends.
One sees advertisements for similar Friends-related developments located
elsewhere in the country in FGC territory.
Presumably there are similar endeavors out west and in Ohio in EFI
From: sayma-bounces at kitenet.net [mailto:sayma-bounces at kitenet.net] On Behalf
Of Janet Minshall
Sent: Thursday, August 19, 2004 7:00 PM
To: afmdiscussion at yahoogroups.com; sayma at kitenet.net
Subject: [saymaListserv] Fwd: RE: [earthcare] Future Population Decline:
What Are Our Responsibilities As Friends?
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 18:48:48 -0400
To: Wilkinson, Signe
From: Janet Minshall <jhminshall at comcast.net>
Subject: RE: [earthcare] Future Population Decline: What Are Our Responsi
bilities As Friends?
Hi Signe Wilkinson, Thanks so much for the response. It is really
refreshing to hear from someone who is interested in the questions raised by
some of the new findings about population trends. I find them just as
fascinating as they are disturbing. They could serve as an impetus for
rethinking much of what we have been doing/saying as Friends for quite
I agree with you about the need to seriously reconsider the age of
retirement as well as providing retraining for those who, do to age or
disability, have become unable to do the work that they once performed.
What is available now for active older people is retail or food preparation
work at WalMart or McDonalds at the lowest of all possible wages. That
makes no sense for people like me (disabled for the past 13 years since the
age of 51) who can still think pretty clearly, who has executive and
professional experience, who can use a computer, but who cannot travel to
work or work full time due to the untreatable pain in my body. I and others
like me get Social Security disability payments, but they amount to less
than $1,000 a month. Prescription drugs and healthcare are going up and up
despite the Medicare card I carry. And I dread the thought of ever having to
depend on "the system" for nursing home care. I hope and pray not to live
I'm afraid that the newer information on the prospects of living as part of
an aging and declining population are not what Friends wish to hear. The
amount of denial among the responses I've received is great. Pasted in
below your message is my response to several Friends. Others wrote to say
that my information must be wrong or they would have heard about it from
Friends publications or wider Quaker organizations or from individual
Friends whoknow a lot more than they do about demography. My comment is to
remind Friends that there is a real concern about panic reactions as well as
a disinclination among those who have been working for population control to
report on the realities of a significantly changing situation in the world.
Signe Wilkinson wrote on 8-19-04
Dear Janet Minshall:
I'm just eavesdropping on your e-mail conversations and don't think I've
heard all of them but find the issue fascinating if, for no other reason,
than that we've been worried about the opposite (population explosion) for
so long. I recently re-read the AFSC 1970-ish pamphlet "Who Shall Live?"
which broaches the issue of legalizing abortion. It argued for abortion on
the most clinical, least spiritual points--basically fearing a population
bomb. Even as an ardent pro-choicer, I winced at the mechanistic reasoning.
Not only do those arguments seem sort of quaint and overwrought now, but
they make one ask whether there ought to be some other rethinking of the
Quaker perspective on life/death issues.
As to your other points about adjusting to the idea of an older society, the
whole Social Security debate comes to mind. John Kerry promised not to
touch the retirement age but it seems to me idiotic not to. Certainly some
people have had jobs that physically can't be sustained at older ages and
shouldn't be expected to go on after their health has given out. But most
Friends and many other Americans aren't in that category. You are the
expert. Perhaps you could comment on whether retiring at 65 doesn't mean
having 30 years where other people are going to be taking care of you in one
way or another. Shouldn't we be thinking about working a good deal
longer--even if we ratchet back the intensity of our work or kind of work we
do? If you already discussed them, forgive me, but I'd love to hear some
ideas about how reforms now might help down the line. Signe Wilkinson
Janet Minshall wrote on 8-18-04:
In my previous messages, I raised the possibility that the coming decline in
world population might well represent the end of our current economic system
which is and always has been based on a growing population producing a
growing economy. Amazingly, I have heard from Friends who have responded
gleefully "Oh good, then we can move quickly on to Socialism and leave
behind the evils of Capitalism for good". Aside from the widespread death,
disease and dislocation which might accompany any transition to another
economic system, the difficulty, of course, is that Socialism hasn't worked
anywhere it has been tried. It has been combined with liberal capitalism and
democracy in, for example, Scandinavia and several other European countries
but as the cost of social entitlements and benefits such as Social Security
and private pensions, Medicare, Medicaid and health insurance, schools and
private education have grown more and more expensive, those countries have
rapidly backed off from Socialism in favor of liberal democratic capitalist
alternatives. Even Fidel Castro, dedicated revolutionary Socialist that he
is, is said to have encouraged workshops on Capitalist economic development
in Cuba to try to remedy the failures of Socialism. Why is that? people ask.
"Socialism sounds like such an ideal system." Thats right, it is an ideal
system, a utopian system that humankind has never yet managed to achieve.
Capitalism developed over many centuries. It wasn't invented or thought up.
It evolved out of the experience of our human weaknesses, our greed and our
desire for power. It developed alongside our common laws, it became part of
our legal system, our property rights, police, courts, and governments, all
of which limit the effects of our weaknesses. Capitalism has incorporated
those constraints that kept us from too freely expressing our greed and our
need for dominance and power individually as well as among clans, tribes and
nations. The reason we know so much currently about the excesses of
individuals and groups within corporate capitalism is because we have laws,
property rights, police, courts and governments to call them to account for
thier misdeeds and to make them pay for their greedy power-seeking behavior.
Capitalism has also provided financial incentives for individual and group
achievement which seem to be much more powerful as motivators of innovation
than is the abstract concept of "the greater good". And finally, Capitalism
has provided unlimited access to capital even for "the little guy" (finally,
in the modern era, women can also be included as they, belatedly, are
beginning to have widespread access to capital as well -- as in the Quaker
Economic Development Program "Right Sharing of World Resources"). Perhaps
the next economic transition will be to something that combines the
community-building and socially responsible aspects of what was originally
envisioned as Socialism with even wider access to capital and the necessary
constraints on greed and power of Capitalism.
Despite all of our learning and "civilization", despite all of our modern
marvels, the time of transition from our present economy to the next, and
the time just after that transition, will likely be ugly and painful. For a
time there will be considerably more people than funds and resources to
support them. If history teaches us anything it is that times of great
change tend to be especially brutal for the poorest and the weakest, the
youngest and the oldest, and the process of transition to a new economy may
last for a very long time.
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