Fwd: Re: [earthcare] Re: [saymaListserv] Fwd: Re: Is Population Decline A Greater Threat Now Than Population Growth?

Janet Minshall jhminshall at comcast.net
Sat Sep 11 14:58:35 JEST 2004


Dear Friends, Below are two messages, responses to Mary Gilbert and 
to Elaine, both Earthcare Friends who wrote in response to my 
previous message.  Thanks for the dialogue.  Janet Minshall



Dear Elaine,  Thanks for the response. I do think Sweden is relevant 
but I also think the worldwide problem of population decline will be 
much more serious than the one already experienced in Sweden. Sweden 
has done what I'm suggesting the US may do by encouraging the 
immigration of people who wish to live there from less developed 
countries.  Eventually however, at current rates, all the developed 
countries will run out of prospective immigrants and refugees as 
population declines around the globe.  Sweden is a liberal democratic 
capitalist economy and after a period of stasis or stagnation  (which 
I'm sure will happen in the US, too)  I can't see the further 
adaptations that can replace younger workers. At least not yet.

We don't presently have a choice about whether to base our economy on 
growth. Capitalism, the basis of our economy, evolved and developed 
around growth of population over the past three to seven hundred 
years (depending on when you choose to place the date of the 
beginning of its rise.) Roy Treadway, a demographer who wrote on this 
list about it, recognized that capitalism developed out of the 
disintegration of feudalism.  That puts the date of the beginnings of 
capitalism at least seven hundred years ago. Capitalism is an 
integral part of all the various systems and organizations we (and 
the Swedes) have developed over time. I really hope and pray that 
Sweden is able to find an answer to the next level of challenge we 
face after the developed countries have attracted as many refugee and 
immigrant workers as are willing to come. That is the answer I'm 
looking for.            Janet Minshall


Elaine writes:


I would suggest that countries like Sweden have dealt with this issue.
Sweden is more of a steady state economy and something we should strive
for.  Basing our economy on growth is not the answer, it will lead to
the destruction of our ecosystems and quality of life.  Many years ago
Alva and Gunnar Myrdal wrote about what they thought would be a
population crisis (lack of) in Sweden!  It didn't happen tho birthrates
did decline.  But the Swedes adapted their economy plus they have
encouraged immigration.  The Scandinavian countries all seem to be
doing well.  We lived in Sweden during the summers for over 10 years
and found that most Swedes were far better off than most Americans.
And their taxes have actually been lowered during those years.

Elaine

from Janet:

"Yes Nancy, the basic causes of declining population are economic and
include the availability on a wide scale of birth control and
abortion.  But as birth control use goes up and women have access to
safe forms of sterilization when their families are complete,
abortion numbers go down.  At the same time, when women feel safe and
economically secure they choose to have fewer children, not more as
you hoped.  The population ages and then declines.  That is the huge
problem we face in 40 to 75 years depending on which study you trust
most.  As the population ages and declines there are fewer and fewer
workers to pay taxes and fund our social and health programs, our
support systems for the poor, the elderly, the sick and the disabled,
and fewer resources available to fund education of any kind.
Everything that depends on tax dollars begins to fall apart. What do
we do?  40 to 75 years really isn't a very long time to come up with
an answer.


 From Janet:

Hi Mary Gilbert,  Thanks for responding.  I use mostly UN data which 
is gathered well outside the control of the US military and US 
multinational corporations. The data the UN produces includes many 
"measures of public well-being", to use your words, and even a fair 
amount of ecologically relevant information. That data shows that as 
a result of globalization ordinary people in many less developed 
countries are moving out of poverty and into the middle class in 
large numbers and have been for many, many years.  I understand your 
analogy of Donald Trump in a homeless shelter but that isn't what I 
or the military think tank speaker I mentioned are talking about. The 
facts regarding the economic circumstances of ordinary people in less 
developed couintries are not derived from their national GDP (and 
since Donald Trump just went into bankruptcy in two of his largest 
investments, it would probably be safer to use Bill Gates as your 
example).

If you look at UN figures for yourself you'll find that both China 
and India, as well as many other developing countries, have "turned 
the corner"  (to use Bush's overused metaphor) and are now showing 
consistent improvement in the standard of living of the poorest of 
their people.  That is truly what is happening in the world but I 
find that many Friends do not even wish to find out first hand (study 
the economic data for themselves)  because they have grown so 
attached to a shared world view of dominance by evil "profiteers of 
Free Trade", to use your terminology. Yes, the rich are getting 
richer, but so are the poor.

Given Friends' testimony on Truth, it is really important for Quakers 
to make the effort to find out the realities of the world they live 
in rather than just  passing on or accepting the tired cliches of 
"political correctness".  A few spokespersons from the labor movement 
have succeeded in convincing most liberals in this country that 
virtually all of the work done abroad is done in "sweatshops" and 
that the only way you can be certain that you aren't contributing to 
that supposed horror is to join the US labor unions in protesting 
globalization.  They have managed to convince many well-meaning 
people that the ordinary working conditions in other countries amount 
to torture and degradation.  They don't.  I've visited several 
factories in Africa and Eastern Europe that are called sweatshops and 
they are simply less grand than their counterparts in the US. They 
have electric lights and fans and much better  restrooms than most 
local people have in their houses.   When working on contracts for US 
companies they pay better and provide better benefits than other 
local employers.  Workers in those factories laugh at Americans who 
come there and tell them they have to go on strike to protest their 
treatment.  They know they are doing quite well by the standards 
prevalent in their country and recognize that it is the Americans who 
are threatened by their work.

As to the inference that the military is preparing for future wars, 
you're darned right they are.  That is what they do.  Thinking that 
they do anything else is naieve.  What is important to note is that 
they are aware of at least some of their most grievous errors and are 
preparing to change. That, as I said before, is a hopeful sign. Lets 
hold the in the Light of the Holy Spirit to support the changes they 
are considering.    Janet Minshall



 From Mary Gilbert

Greetings,

I have been reading only some of the back-and-forth about population, and this
comment is not on that subject.  Consider it a footnote.

The data accepted by the administration and its fellow-thinkers about countries
achieving economic growth/viability/stability are data that look at GNP and
an averaging of wealth that obscures the growing divide between the profiteers
of "Free Trade" and the majority of the populations in those countries.  ("If
Donald Trump walks into a homeless people's shelter the average income of those
present increases to one of great wealth.")

These data include neither measures of public well-being nor real ecological
sustainability, so the wealth they indicate is based in the dectruction of
local economies and public self-sufficiency, and horrendous violation of the
local ecosystems.

I also find it onimous that the military is thinking about an internal
readjustment indicative of planning more invasions.  These invasions are for
the purpose of establishing U.S. imperial control of economies everywhere.

Walking (sometimes not so) cheerfully,
Mary Gilbert

Janet Minshall wrote:
>
>  Hi Nancy Winfrey,  Thanks for your comments (below).  They were 
>actually along
>  the same lines as some of my own thoughts.  I just happened to tune in to a
>  presentation to high level military personnel on C-Span Saturday night about
>  the possible reorganization of the US military as a result of the problems
>  they have encountered in Iraq and before that in Afghanistan and Somalia.
>  They are thinking along the lines of developing two separate military
>  organizations, one to do the actual armed combat and armed peacekeeping, and
>  one to follow up with an army of people who have the skills to help rebuild
>  infrastructure, a legal system, a government and ongoing civil services such
>  as police, fire departments, sanitation, etc.
>
>  The man who made the presentation was from a military think tank. He was a
>  very effective speaker and had state-of-the-art audiovisual displays to
>  emphasize his points.  He spoke out of an understanding of 
>political economics
>  and, especially, out of knowledge of the actual effects of globalization in
>  the world (Not the imagined effects you have heard from anti-globalization
>  protesters, but the actual effects that are apparent to economists and
>  sociologists who have studied the data). The reality is that globalization is
>  beginning to bring nations out of poverty, even some of those which have
>  struggled with issues of corrupt leadership, lagging economic development,
>  exponentially growing populations and millenia of periodic draught 
>and famine.
>  The thing that most intrigued me was that his evaluation of which countries
>  would and which countries would not be able to achieve economic independence
>  came down to how women are treated in those countries. Only those countries
>  which have freed women for full participation in the economy and in the
>  political decision-making process are clearly becoming economically viable.
>  After all these years of talking about inequalities and how they ultimately
>  damage most those who promote and enforce them, we Friends finally have some
>  allies in the military of all places!
>
>
>  Now don't get me wrong.  I do not believe that the military has changed
>  overnight into a bunch of soft-hearted liberals.  Nor do I believe that the
>  changes discussed will actually occur without a lot of struggle. But it makes
>  me feel better about the military to learn that it is rethinking its mission
>  and realizing, at least at the think tank level, that change is necessary.
>  That is an enormous step forward.
>
>  Yes Nancy, the basic causes of declining population are economic and include
>  the availability on a wide scale of birth control and abortion.  But as birth
>  control use goes up and women have access to safe forms of sterilization when
>  their families are complete, abortion numbers go down.  At the same 
>time, when
>  women feel safe and economically secure they choose to have fewer children,
>  not more as you hoped.  The population ages and then declines.  That is the
>  huge problem we face in 40 to 75 years depending on which study you trust
>  most.  As the population ages and declines there are fewer and fewer workers
>  to pay taxes and fund our social and health programs, our support systems for
>  the poor, the elderly, the sick and the disabled, and fewer resources
>  available to fund education of any kind. Everything that depends on tax
>  dollars begins to fall apart. What do we do?  40 to 75 years really isn't a
>  very long time to come up with an answer.
>
>                                  Janet Minshall
>>




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