[saymaListserv] Re: Politics and Economics

Janet Minshall jhminshall at comcast.net
Mon Nov 24 13:05:15 JEST 2003

Hi Stan and Friends,  There are three messages, one after the other, 
below so that anyone in SAYMA who is interested can be fully informed 
and participate in the discussion.

Thanks, Stan for your response. I have been using UN Population data 
too and in most respects, we said just about the same thing, i.e. I 
said "The US is close but not at the point of population deficit 
yet." and you said "Though our fertility is near replacement, due to 
population momentum and immigration we continue to grow by about 3 
million persons per year...."  The real difference is that you 
emphasize the harm of population growth as the most important factor 
to consider while I focus on somewhat different concerns: the 
economic, the military and ultimately the spiritual effects of a 
looming population deficit on the people of Earth.

The National Geographic article (in the Sept 2003 issue by Scott 
Elder) cited in my message focuses on the fact that without babies to 
replenish the labor force, to work and pay taxes there will be less 
and less money for pensions (Social Security) for the elderly and for 
necessary government services.  The Veterans of our wars, both old 
and young, are finding that when they need medical care or 
psychological help it is no longer available. How will most of us who 
are retired and/or disabled survive if the small amount we earned and 
paid for from Social Security or veterans' benefits is cut still 
further?   The disagreements occurring now in Congress over a 
Medicare drug benefit are intense because many older people in this 
country (not just the homeless or the currently jobless or veterans 
and their families) already cannot afford shelter, food, necessary 
healthcare and prescription medicines on the small amount of income 

The answer we get from this administration and from many of our 
legislators is that we need to build a fortress. They tell us that we 
must spend more and more  on stronger and better guarded borders in 
order to protect our "homeland security".  Many that they arrest, 
imprison and  deport are aliens who have done nothing more serious 
than try to get out of a country where they have lived in poverty and 
into a country which has plenty. The powers that be are very subtle 
in building and reinforcing distrust of foreigners because, however 
innocent the foreigners seem, they might really be terrorists. The 
FBI and other law enforcement has even given us an 800 number to call 
to report anyone we think looks suspicious.  In a country as 
ambivalent about racial, religious and ethnic diversity as ours do we 
really want ordinary citizens and local police to serve as informants?

The Bush administration insists that preemptive war and expensive 
weaponry are the only ways to insure our safety, that we must get 
used to a state of perpetual armed conflict because terrorists are 
everywhere.  Countries which have been facing years of armed 
resistance by disenfranchised ethnic groups different than those in 
power are encouraged to designate members of those other groups as 
"terrorists". Then the Bush administration assures us that the US 
will be busy killing people designated as terrorists for many years 
to come.

Finally, and this is where the spiritual aspect comes front and 
center, all of us are currently engaged, whether we know it or not, 
in deciding whether we wish to participate in the fortress mentality 
we are being encouraged to adopt or to take a different road.  The 
beauty of our economic system, over the last 1500 years or so as it 
developed, has been that it always adapted to a fast growing 
population and even now is rapidly bringing the poor out of poverty 
over much of the world. Chances are good that it can continue to 
support that growth at least until we reach the point of population 
equilibrium.  We really are the world and we are expected to reach 
that point of equilibrium (as many deaths as there are births) in the 
next 50 to 100 years, depending on which demographer you believe, and 
then we begin a decline. What you say, Stan, about rapid growth of 
population in the near term is likely if AIDS or other communicable 
diseases, or another major world war don't get us first. But if we 
and the system we have in place are to do a cultural and political 
about face we need to get busy and plan for progressively lower 
numbers of people.   We have a lot of changes to make very quickly. 
Knowing how long it takes to make such changes without bloodshed may 
provide us with a different perspective.  Fifty or a hundred years is 
nothing when we look at that larger picture.

What does the future look like to George Bush and the current 
administration? It seems to be filled with trouble both at home in 
the US and anywhere else resistance to authority arises.  Using the 
model of our past as prologue, The old, the sick, the poor, the 
disabled and the very young will be hardest hit as  income and 
services are withdrawn and we die off in greater numbers.  The 
highest mortality rates are likely be among these groups.  In 
addition, we will lose most of "the best and brightest" as casualties 
of the perpetual armed conflict, the war we are being prepared for. 
So who is left after all those people are dead? Are we, as Friends, 
preparing to survive in the fortress whatever it takes, or are we 
more likely to find our calling in serving those who are being 
disposed of.  It depends entirely on our answer to that question as 
to what we do or say about population control. Population control is 
very much in the interest of those inside the fortress--fewer mouths 
to feed, fewer people to share the wealth and less environmental 
pressure on the scenery.   While population control is clearly not in 
the interest of the disposables and those who care for them. Their 
very existence is in peril and they need defenders badly.

There was a time when a Jewish prophet encouraged us to follow him, 
to love one another, and to serve the poor and sick amongst us. Best 
Regards, Janet

>  Janet and Friends
>Greetings from Baltimore.
>I just returned from the Am. Pub. Health Assn (San Fran) where I 
>gave a presentation on "World Population Dynamics now to 2050" so 
>can comment from some reseach  on this matter.   First, we live in a 
>demographically divided world: from the  perspective of growth there 
>are  now really 3 groups of countries in the world: those with very 
>rapid growth (fertility above 5.0 children, mostly in Sub Saharan 
>Africa), those with moderate growth (fertility 2.1 to 5.0 children, 
>India, Indonesia, Egypt, most of Latin America, etc) and those with 
>below replacement fertility (nearly all of Europe, China and 
>selected other places). 
>While 59 countires have below replacement fertilty (44 percent of 
>world population but including China), only 14 or 15 countries 
>actually have more deaths than births (Russia and aside from Italy 
>all others are in Eastern Europe).. The rest of the 59 countries 
>continue to grow due to population momentum (e.g. China has a 
>fertilty rate of 1.8 but continues to add 9 million people each 
>Meanwhile, as a world we continue to add 75-80 million persons each 
>year or about 200,000 per day.  47 countries have fertility levels 
>above 5.0!
>The U.S. is a special case.  Though our fertility is near 
>replacement, due to population momentum and immigration we continue 
>to grow by about 3 million persons per year (about 1.5 million more 
>births than deaths each year and the other half of growth is 
>immigration, legal and otherwise).  Rather than, "the US is close 
>but not quite at the point of population deficit yet", the 
>projections from the U.S. Census Bureau show the U.S. population 
>climbing from 275  million in 2000 to 404 million in 2050 (medium 
>projection).   Recall that we were 76 million in the U.S. in 1900. 
>and 150 million as recently as 1950! 
>Friends who are interested can access the data and projections 
>directly (done by United Nations Population Division for each 
>country of the world (see Pop. Estimates and Projections at 
>http://www.un.org/esa/population/unpop.htm) and by U.S. Census 
>Bureau(Projections under People at: www.census.gov ).  Data are also 
>available in a concise data sheet from Pop. Reference 
>The media seem quite interested in matters of population decline but 
>give little attention to the continued problem of rapid population 
>growth in much of the world (e.g. India is adding 16 million persons 
>per year).
>I hope this helps clarify the matter.
>Stan Becker
>Worldwide we still add
>Janet Minshall wrote:
>>Dear SAYMA Friends,  Just a note to tell you about a very short 
>>article that is worthy of discussion, and to offer an apology.
>>I have always been on the side of population control and have been 
>>especially concerned about how many children are having children. 
>>I worked for Planned Parenthood for several years as paid staff 
>>and, eventually, ran a regional office of Planned Parenthood on the 
>>Eastern Shore of Maryland. We taught Adolescent Sex Education on a 
>>grant from Johns Hopkins to address the problems of the high birth 
>>rate among teenagers in that area as well as an unusually high 
>>incidence of sexually transmitted diseases.  The program was quite 
>>effective (I understood later from the Planned Parenthood office in 
>>Baltimore that the rates of adolescent pregnancy and sexual disease 
>>transmission were down by 25% and 30% in our area after the Johns 
>>Hopkins program was implemented). Of course, the program was quite 
>>controversial and so was shut down after a few years primarily 
>>because of protests from fundamentalist Christians on the Eastern 
>>Shore who were steadfastly opposed to birth control, abortion and 
>>sex education.
>>But something else quite significant has happened since then.  It 
>>is summarised in a one page article in National Geographic, 
>>September '03, by Scott Elder.  The title is "Europe's Baby Bust" 
>>It is about the change in world population that has been occurring 
>>for some years and is now beginning to have a dramatic effect in 
>>much of Europe. Because of my long term concern with population 
>>studies I found it most interesting.  It illustrates clearly that 
>>much of the world is no longer suffering from rampant population 
>>growth as it seemed to be when I worked for Planned Parenthood in 
>>the'70s, but rather from the reverse. The developed world is now 
>>facing a population deficit, which is causing alarm and the 
>>rethinking of long term entitlements such as Social Security and 
>>Medicare.  Elder says "Without babies to replenish the labor force 
>>and pay taxes Europeans will be hard pressed to fund the pensions 
>>of longer-living retirees."  And the problem is not just in Europe.
>>The US is close but not quite at the point of population deficit 
>>yet. However, that population deficit is looming large in our 
>>future and in the minds of many of our politicians who have been 
>>briefed on this matter. The politicians fear especially that if we 
>>keep on funding Social Security and Medicare at current levels, the 
>>money available for other government services, and especially the 
>>pork barrel government programs that keep many politicians in 
>>office, will run dry.  One answer to the problem for the US and 
>>Western Europe is to admit more young immigrants and refugees who 
>>are anxious to work and pay taxes.  The insistent pressure of 
>>migration on the US and on certain Western European countries 
>>(France, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and Norway) has enabled 
>>these countries to delay facing this monumental economic change. 
>>However many people, including those near the top in the present US 
>>administration, don't really like having more refugees and 
>>immigrants in their midst.  There is still a prominent racial and 
>>cultural bias which appears to be the source of resistance to 
>>increasing the number of foreign immigrants and refugees. That 
>>tension, between the unpleasant realities in our economic future 
>>and a dislike and mistrust of foreigners, may underlie much of the 
>>political debate in the US, Western Europe and the rest of the 
>>world for years to come.
>>If anyone in SAYMA wishes to comment, respond or argue about this I 
>>would love to hear back online. My previous messages have 
>>engendered responses but the messages were all addressed to me and 
>>the rest of SAYMA didn't have the privilege of sharing in the 
>>discussion.  I think that as Friends we believe in and try to 
>>embody "one standard of Truth" so please share your thoughts.  It 
>>will make for a  more interesting dialog.
>>Now, for my apology: On June 28th of this year I wrote on the 
>>Kitenet list the following:
>>"Actually, the only places in the world where poverty is still 
>>increasing are in remote areas of China and India. These are areas 
>>where one aspect of globalization, moving jobs away from affluent 
>>workers in the US to impoverished workers in the rest of the world, 
>>has not yet reached. Everywhere that globalization has reached both 
>>employment and incomes have increased, sometimes dramatically, for 
>>the poor."
>>I completely left out the largest area of entrenched poverty in the 
>>world, Sub-Saharan Africa.  I have worked in Africa and am well 
>>aware of the severe economic problems so why did I leave it out of 
>>my message entirely?  I really do not know. I only realized the 
>>mistake when I reread the message much later on.  That omission may 
>>have been related to my disability which leaves me in pain most of 
>>the time and in severe pain some of the time.  When the pain is 
>>severe I don't think, speak or write clearly.  I'm not offering 
>>this as an excuse, just a possibly relevant fact.
>>(To update the message from 6-28, in recent economic data both 
>>India and China have turned the corner and are fractionally up in 
>>alleviating poverty among their people and environmental 
>>degradation in their countries.  Both Chinese and Indian people are 
>>becoming less poor. China is ahead in some areas of economic 
>>advancement and India in others, primarily as a result of 
>>Janet Minshall

Janet's new e mail address is :  jhminshall at comcast.net

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