Global Recession & Low Birthrate -UPDATED

Margaret Cabaniss has a knack for finding the most interesting headlines, and this one is pretty jarring:

Blames Small Families, Poor Savings Habits

ROME, FEB. 8, 2010 (
Bankers are not the cause of the global economic crisis, according to the president of the Institute for the Works of Religion. Rather, the cause is ordinary people who do not “believe in the future” and have few or no children.

“The true cause of the crisis is the decline in the birth rate,” Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, said in an interview on Vatican Television’s “Octava Dies.”

He noted the Western world’s population growth rate is at 0% — that is, two children per couple — and this, he said, has led to a profound change in the structure of society. “Instead of stimulating families and society to again believe in the future and have children […] we have stopped having children and have created a situation, a negative economic context decrease,” Gotti Tedeschi observed. “And decrease means greater austerity.”

“With the decline in births,” he explained, “there are fewer young people that productively enter the working world. And there are many more elderly people that leave the system of production and become a cost for the collective.

“In practice the fixed costs of this economic and social structure increase. How dramatically they increase depends on how evidently unbalanced the structure of the population is and how much wealth it has. The fixed costs however increase: The costs of health increase and the social costs increase.”

I urge you to read the whole thing. Certainly something to ponder and talk about at the dinner table.

It brought to mind something I read yesterday, though, out of Benedictus -that excellent collection of excerpts from the writings of Pope Benedict XVI:

We should see that human beings can never retreat into the realm of what they are capable of. In everything that they do, they constitute themselves. Therefore they themselves, and creation with its good and evil, are always present as their standard, and when they reject this standard they deceive themselves. They do not free themselves, but place themselves in opposition to the truth. And that means that they are destroying themselves and the world. This, then, is the first and most important thing that appears in the story of Adam, and it has to do with the nature of human guilt and thus with our entire existence. The order of the covenant – the nearness of the God of the covenant, the limitations imposed by good an devil, the inner standard of the human person, creatureliness: all of this is placed in doubt. Here we can at once say that at the very heart of sin lies human beings’ denial of their creatureliness, inasmuch as they refuse to accept the standard and the limitations that are implicit in it. They do not want to be creatures, do not want to be subject to a standard, do not want to be dependent. They consider their dependence on God’s creative love to be an imposition from without . . . Human beings who consider dependence on the highest love as slavery and who try to deny the truth about themselves, which is their creatureliness, do not free themselves; they destroy truth and love. They do not make themselves gods, which in fact they cannot do, but rather caricatures, pseudo-gods, slaves of their own abilities, which then drag them down.
In the Beginning…: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall .

Again and again, we find ourselves confronting the truth that if we try to make godlings of ourselves, our trending moralities, our reason, we do not flourish; we diminish until we disappear. The weakening of the family, the nullification of its importance, the cheapening of human life that has resulted in our thinking of children as chooseable “burdens” rather than absolute blessings worth pursuing, all of this assists in our self-suicide, until we are the merest pinpoint of light (the leftovers of what Divine Flashes of Light we have allowed) surrounded by the empty, dark “nothing” with which we have replaced God, worship, the notion of something greater than ourselves.

I read these words by Benedict and think how much we rob ourselves -all we steal from ourselves- when we demand (as our founding fathers certainly did not) that all talk of God, and all religious philosophy be banned from our political, economic and social reasoning. It is a huge and wise perspective being shut out, in the name of -ironically enough- inclusion, liberalism and broad-mindedness.

And, even more ironically, the modern practice of “liberalism” -vaunted as the most efficient vehicle for human freedom- has turned out to be the delivery system of diminishment. The “freedom” it espouses is a freedom not to grow; it is a freedom to turn inward, like a fetus, rather than outward, like new life, new energy.

It is a dubious freedom that hurls us toward a disconnect -a gaping cavern. And after we have plunged into it, the end will be silence. And human absence.

Culture of Life brings life; energy, newness, progression. Culture of death brings death; the rest is silence.

I think Ettore Gotti Tedeschi is on to something. And so is Benedict.

And so is Mark Steyn: “Civilizations die from suicide, not from murder.”

UPDATE I: It’s not just the Vatican talking about birthrates. Check out Japan:

A line that straight downhill is spooky: it cries out for a cause. It is such a steep slope that it appears there was a national decision, after some initial indecision before the 1970s, to stop having babies.

Can a civilization exhaust itself? Turn so inward and self-indulgent? Is there some hidden virus or amoeba acting to suppress the desire to breed? Maybe an adequate diet—in exact opposition to theory—causes that suppression.

It isn’t just Japan. It’s Italy, Sweden, Germany, Austria, and on and on. Even the “developing” countries show signs of the same disease: the better they get (materially) the less they breed. So far, the US is holding its own and still getting to business. Nobody knows why.

Perhaps it is because the US is still nominally “more religious” than those countries.

UPDATE II: But what about the Vampires?

Instapundit links, and this gets a Hot Air Headline! Thanks, Guys!

King, Bridegroom; Self-Immolating Lover
DHS Investigates Pro-Life Group
Planned Parenthood Criticizes Catholic Church for Denying Positive Aspects of Sex
John Paul II’s Theology of the Body

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • Maria Byrd

    Dubious freedom. It is no freedom, at all. This was a really rich and wonderful post. Thank you. I am made to think of St. Ignatius’ Exercises (The end of Man and The End of Creatures). From the end of Man:

    This meditation comprises three great truths which are the foundation of all the Exercises:
    I come from God.
    I belong to God.
    I am destined for God.

    From the meditation on mortal sin: Who is man ? A leaf, sport for the wind.

  • Jeff

    It’s not just the decline in the birth rate, but the 50 million americans who are not walking around our country thanks to Roe v. Wade and the culture it helped create. I believe the sad absence of all these people from this country is called the “Roe effect”? It is not only a moral tragedy but, as Tedeschi points out, an economic one because that is 50 million fewer people consuming, buying, and (Democrat politicians are you paying attention?) paying taxes.

  • P Buchta

    Please take this statement into consideration.

    Low Birth Rate Caused by Recession.

    This statement is certainly plausible by responsible people of all faiths. Some responsible married couples have taken an unusually hard look at their overall well being. With health care expenses on the rise, it is a usually difficult choice for middle class couples to make to raise and support children in modern day America. It would be interesting to look at the statistics for the last 2 to 3 small mini recessions that America has had and compare that to the birth rate of the middle class, which, I do suspect is running into the negative numbers.

    [You're still here on probation, you know. -admin]

  • Jason

    There are demographers who have been warning about this for some time. Here is the link….

    Also, the critics of the demographic winter are missing one thing in their analysis, math.

  • nohype1

    Most people are unaware of how low fertility rates are in industrialized nations. A rule of thumb is that a fertility rate of 2.1 allows the generation in childbearing years to replace itself. Most or all of Western Europe is well below that. Google fertility rates or see link

  • Calah

    What a wonderful post. Thanks once again for words of clear-minded wisdom.

  • Jan

    With health care expenses on the rise, it is a usually difficult choice for middle class couples to make to raise and support children in modern day America

    Regardless of the excuses people choose to validate limiting the size of their family, i.e., health care or whatever, it really boils down to pure selfishness. If a woman has more than her 1.5 kids, she might have a hard time keeping her job outside the home. Not as many clothes in the closet or lunches out. The family might not have a new or even a very nice house or new cars every other year. Dad might not get to go on great hunting or fishing trips out of state.

    It’s not difficult to have a large family, even on one income. All that is necessary is commitment and love, with a little faith thrown in; everything else falls into place if you value children.

  • Bender

    The birth dearth has been going on for far longer than the current recession, or any other economic slowdown. To be sure, births have plummeted in the most economically advanced countries. And even in today’s economy, the middle class live like kings and queens compared to, say, the 1930s to 1960s, so the slowdown today is hardly a reason for middle class couples to say that they “can’t afford” kids.

    In any event, while the problems associated with the birth dearth are real and great, I doubt that they are the cause of the current situation. We have plenty of working age people to support the non-working elderly if companies were hiring, but they are not. Now, in a few years, the numbers of elderly will exceed the number of working people that are needed to support them, and then we will wish that we had had more babies. But at this point, immigration has made up for it.

  • Tom

    This is another example of how delusional and idiotic conservatives are. Among other paranoid fantasies, conservatives seem fixated with the belief that we are somehow going to RUN OUT OF PEOPLE. Complete idiocy. This is just a shallow and transparent attempt by the Vatican to sway public opinion about abortion.

    So the birth rate in the Western world is stagnant, and we’re roughly maintaining the same level of population? Good. What the hell do you idiots think is going to happen if the birth rate continues to swell? What, do you actually believe that this planet can maintain a human population in the tens of billions?


  • Tian Shi

    That statement doesn’t make sense at all, really. The notion that decline in birth rate equal austerity is absurd.

  • John

    It seems almost a natural consequence of the size of the population/urbanization that the birthrate would be lower. Who would argue that if the birthrate was still 4 per couple or +, that it could possibly be sustainable, if merely considering the square footage required to build suburbs off into forever up to the American standard of living?

    One mustn’t have 5 children to be Godly or have a good family.

    We must frame the lack of and derision of spirituality as a problem of spirituality; not a problem of birthrate.

  • Don L

    Face it, we destroyed the traditional family in order to make more for those extra things in life – little realizing that all costs would rise to meet our additional “extra” income. By so driving up prices, we placed a burden upon those who choose to struggle with Mom staying home. And now we have the demographics of catastrophe, economically and through the swarms of immigrants whose culture and religion is radical.

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  • Brian Macker

    The Vatican’s economist is an idiot. Catholic countries have generally been economic basket cases with high birth rates. If squirting out children like gerbils were the key to economic success then Africa would be an economic powerhouse.

  • Momma K

    Fascinating–like to read more about this–
    Here is a link to a study that says those that are confident in God have more children and tend to be conservative.
    I wonder if the decline in children does mirror the decline in faith? And if in our attempt to increase our material goods, we have engineered our own financial ruin?

  • HeatherRadish

    What’s with the “traditional family” revisionist history, anyway? Women have ALWAYS worked to generate income for their families–especially on family farms and in family businesses–and women have always worked outside the home (or taken in work) to make ends meet or to buy a few “extra things in life” like clothing, food, and education. Before the boom in the 1950s, only a small percentage of well-off (and need I mention white?) married women ever had the luxury of opting out of remunerative work–and even then, it was a percentage of middle-class (again, mostly white) women. Maybe that’s the way you all grew up, but it’s not representative.

    I’m with Jeff–the assorted “entitlement” programs are collapsing because there are fewer and fewer workers to support greater and greater numbers of recipients, and the taxes from 25 million or so adults who were never born would shore them right up. Of course, that collapse hasn’t happened yet, so probably not a cause of the recession.

  • Aloysiusmiller

    Healthcare is our modern Tower of Babel. Healthcare will give us immortality and make us gods. Not! Immortality is not eternal life which only God can give. We will bankrupt ourselves in the quest for the Tree of Life because we lack the faith to partake of the one that is offered freely.

  • Drew

    Organized religion and liberalism are two sides of the same coin. The former is based on blind faith, the latter in pure emotion.

    Both deny the world for what it truly is, because reality is often inconvenient.

  • Grateful heart

    Could the fact that because goods are more easily manufactured and in less time, so that stores are overstocked with an overabundance of stuff that we really do not need but they need to sell to stay in business, also contribute to the recession? How much ‘stuff’ do we really need to live comfortably?

    Is there a saturation point of buying?

  • Sepp

    The earlier comment about the “disappearing middle class” gets to one of the problems in Western society. I find it interesting that the rise of socialism and big government in the 1930′s and in the post-war era coincides with the decline in fertility rates. More government programs lead to more regulation, more taxes, and more government control over liberty, and a decline in personal responsibility. It is a negative feedback loop.

    Curiously, I have sat through a number of sermons where the priest has advocated for more government programs. Perhaps more distressing, I have sat through sermons that advocated government controlled healthcare, and where the priest seemed oblivious to the government funded abortion aspects of the legislation.

    In the end, I find it depressing that many of the Catholic clergy advocate for a government controlled society that leads to low fertility rates, and then wonder, “where are the children?”

  • Miriam

    I think we should be thanking the Duggars (who were slammed in People mag) and people like them.

    Our future depends on them all.

  • annk

    Anyone who has not yet read “America Alone” by Mark Steyn is in for a real treat. He addresses this very serious topic in a manner that is laugh-out-loud funny on nearly every page.

  • Doc

    Along with Steyn, Spengler has written brilliantly on this topic for years. If you haven’t read his work, I’d encourage you find his archive of articles and take some time going through them. Really great work. I hope he makes a book out of them.

  • jOHNt

    We have enslaved ourselves to materialism and expediency, always taking the path of least resistance. It is so difficult and expensive to raise children now and the world is so evil, it is no wonder no one wants to bring children into it anymore.
    So we will let 3rd world Countries breed US and all Western countries out of existence. It is a matter of time, we import our lower class now and when the ‘progressives’ are done destroying the middle class there will be a nice space for the ‘immigrants’.
    What a mess, what a logical way to end civilization as we know it.

  • Bender

    Wow — this posting must have been circulated to the lib seminar.

  • Deirdre Mundy

    It’s no surprise that a nation addicted to easy credit and instant gratification would shun children.

    Having kids is all about delayed gratification. Pregnancy is hard, and at the end of it you have an infant. Small children demand constant self sacrifice. You find yourself cleaning up bodily fluids when you’d much rather be reading, or surfing the web, or even just doing dishes!

    BUT then one day you wake up and you have this kindergartener who helps around the house, adores her younger siblings, and is constantly asking questions, thinking, and coming up with interesting ideas about the world!

    And, further down the road, in your old age you have these adults who, for some funny reason, actually care what HAPPENS to you….

    Talk about long-term investments. Honestly, I think this is another one of those cases where God knows us better than we know ourselves. At 22, I wouldn’t have wanted this many kids this close together– I was going to have a ‘fullfilling career’. I certainly wouldn’t have dreamed of homeschooling. But I did believe in following God’s laws, even when they’re hard.

    And it turns out the whole thing about the yoke being easy isn’t just a trite saying to embroider on pillows. God doesn’t lie and he always keeps his promises.

    Basically, the current economic hardship is because so many of us have gone out and made our own yokes, instead of taking the ones that God made for us. We’re in decline because we’ve declined God’s freedom.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    As Mark Steyn once said, “The future belongs to those who actually show up for it!”

    The Population bomb argument has pretty much been exploded, with the statistics on the current birth-dearth; Japan, Europe, Russia, all those countries with declining birth rates could certainly support many more people than they do now.

    Without workers to support them, welfare programs and nanny states will collapse, since there won’t be enough gainfully employed souls paying into them. And, yes, there is the Roe effect. 50 million isn’t just “a woman’s choice”, or somebody’s personal decision; that’s an entire generation, who’ll never show up for the future. How many doctors, lawyers, artists, scientists, craftsmen, just plain old hard-working employees did we get rid of, because they were supposedly unwanted, and would cramp our lifestyle?

    It looks as if our lifestyle will be cramped—but it won’t be our children doing it.

    The problem is spiritual, not economic, and can’t be fixed by economic solutions, or more healthcare, or whatever.

  • JohnRDC

    The plethora of comments, and their content, suggest that this post has not been helpful.

    It conflates a host of issues, demographic, economic, moral and financial, into one big mess.

    Today’s economic crisis in the U.S. began with a financial meltdown which in turn greatly exacerbated an economic downturn. Together, they have generated some of the worst economic/financial conditions since the 1930s. None of this was related to population.

    In addition, governmental expenditures at the local, state and federal levels have accelerated without an accompanying increase in revenues. Again, this development, which is mirrored throughout Europe, has nothing to do with population.

    What is related to population is the transition now underway as baby boomers move from work to retirement, and the consequent demands the new retirees will place on remaining workers to support social security, medicare and medicaid. (One obvious and powerful solution is for Congress to mandate a much later retirement age.)

    As to the Pope’s comments, I do not like to see Pope Benedict’s writings excerpted. If there is one author whose prose is more dense and closely reasoned than Benedict’s I am unaware of him. Any excerpt therefore runs the risk of seeming incoherent. IMHO this excerpt qualifies.

    Altogether, a mishmash of a posting. It wasn’t helpful that Instapundit linked to it.

  • spudmomof6

    The assumptions made by government in the 30s and the societal changes that have happened since (without noting that the assumptions were wrong) have led to this fiscal disaster. When an average family had six children who survived to adulthood, and when life expectancy was 65 years, Social Security made sense, helping people who actually outlived their own retirement preparations with small contributions from a much larger, younger generation. Now that there are fewer workers and lots of retiring baby boomers (who vote) the government can’t keep its promise to them and has no stomach to tell them the truth; that they have lived twenty years longer than they expected and produced too few children and grandchildren to take care of them. But, if it were explained correctly, how many of those grandparents and great-grandparents who have enough savings would forgo their monthly checks in order to preserve a better standard of living for their descendants? Maybe if more young people spent as much time working hard like their grandparents did, and were more respectful of their elders, it could happen. I’m not holding my breath…

  • Bill

    There is a lot more to a recession than population demographics. I see a lot of small families at Church that “believe in the future” and have a strong faith. Every couple makes their own decisions about family size, etc.

  • Ilpalazzo

    Yes, I believe we, as people, have spent too much time being selfish and trying to be Gods these days. However, I don’t know if I can agree with this whole assessment. I’m 28, self-employed and making only about 25K a year (if that!). How in the world would I be able to support a family on that income? Almost everything goes to bills and supplies! But is my lack of having eight kids right now because I’m selfish? And another thing, can you imagine if every household in the world had 5 to 8 kids right now? That would be the death of the world. Imagine how many more resources would be consumed and obliterated. We’re pretty over-populated as it is, that many people would be like a morbid obesity of over-population.

  • lobbey

    Also, the critics of the demographic winter are missing one thing in their analysis, math.

    Actually, we are pretty good at maths, its cherry pickers of statistics like Steyn that seem to have a problem. Since 1960 till now, what has been the population change worldwide? Still think there will be a demographic winter?

  • Paul A’Barge

    I’m sure low birthrates are a problem. Especially when the Mooslims breed like rabbits.

    But to blame the global recession on low birthrates?

    What’s that expression? Face, meet palm of hand.

  • MS

    There’s an old joke: a guy falls off the Empire State Building. At the 50th floor, someone sticks his head out the window and asks how he’s doing. “All right so far,” the guy replies.

    If you don’t see how this applies to the overpopulation issue, I can’t help you.

    At some point, there will be no more oil, or coal, or natural gas. What then? The US Southwest is using up water at a faster rate than it’s being replenished. So is much of Africa and the Middle East. What happens when there’s no more? Arable farmland is disappearing due to poor management in much of the world. If that keeps up, then what? I could list dozens more examples. I will grant you that Western materialism contributes to the problem, but population pressure is the lion’s share.

    There is absolutely no problem facing the world that isn’t at least exacerbated, if not outright caused, by overpopulation.

    And for some reason, I’m absolutely uninterested in what a bunch of celibate, childless old crossdressers living in palaces where they are waited on hand and foot, and who have never had to support a family, have to say about birth control. I’m funny that way.

  • Bender’s Cheerleader

    Wow — this posting must have been circulated to the lib seminar.

    Was thinking the same thing myself. I’m surprised at some of the name-calling.

    [I'm not. You should see my hate mail. There are people in the world who respond to any challenge to their worldview with name-calling. It's all they have. Or, really, it's not all they have; it's all they can be bothered to have. admin]

  • Sue from Buffalo


    “And for some reason, I’m absolutely uninterested in what a bunch of celibate, childless old crossdressers living in palaces where they are waited on hand and foot, and who have never had to support a family, have to say about birth control. I’m funny that way.”

    I see. Calling people who are a lot smarter than you names doesn’t make you funny. It makes you sadly uninformed and sounding clueless.

    Yes, I noticed the attack of the libs here, too. Spouting off old excuses that aren’t true.

    My mother (who had 5 children and is now 85) said that if you wait until you can afford children then you’ll never have them. Sometimes she worked outside of the home, sometimes she didn’t. My father worked at a job he hated because he loved us, God rest his soul. He was a good man who trusted God.

    One brother has passed away, the rest of us are grown and productive adults. I have five children. I work part time as a church organist. My husband works full time.

    We trust God not mankind.

    I suspect that a lot of today’s problems are because we (the world) have not trusted in God enough. Part of that is because of the low birthrate. Don’t worry about the resources. Be responsible in taking care of the resources but don’t worry about running out.

    MS, that old joke sounds cute but it doesn’t apply.

    Gotta go. My 3year old is hungry and I’m going to go take care of her.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    You are a funny guy, MS, that’s certain.

    You have anything else to offer, besides ad hominems, and snarky remarks?

  • Bender’s Cheerleader

    Anyone who thinks Catholic religious live in palaces and are waited on hand and foot is delusional. And why the nasty crack about cross-dressing?

    I live in the west, almost the southwest but not quite. There is plenty of arable land to sustain us for years to come, if not forever, but people have to stop building on it – and these aren’t your modest little houses – they are mansions built with cash flow as opposed to real wealth. Problem here is that the kids are inheriting the farms and the homesteads and selling to developers for a quick windfall. That’s the sort of thing that has to stop.

    As for natural resources? Has everyone not yet heard that there are more trees in the country now than when it was founded? Has everyone not heard of the vast oil reserves that are untapped – largely because of liberal feel-gooders?

    And, even if all the resources would magically dry up, doesn’t anyone have any faith in humanity to survive? I could live in a damned cave and still make my family comfortable. What’s more – I have 7 kids. If I was younger, I’d have more. Because I love my kids and they love me, I won’t ever have to worry about having some where to go or someone to care for me – my family will see to it, and I suspect theirs will see to them, when the time comes.

    Everyone has to live somewhere, but for anyone who thinks the earth is overpopulated, maybe you can be the first to do your part to eliminate the problem, and I don’t mean by not reproducing. although that’s a good idea, too.

    Get the hell over yourselves.

  • jim

    Hard to say which is funnier: the thesis that low birthrates somehow create economic downturns – or the idea that liberalism (the same liberalism that produced crazy ideas like a minimum wage, desegregation & the concept of women as legal persons & not chattel) “diminishes us all” … posts like this one are proof positive that church & state need to be strictly seperated – religion & politics just don’t mix.

    Note: The refutation of the bizarre thesis of this post is everywhere one looks. China consciously (& ruthlessly) regulates its birthrate – & right now its economy is growing, & it’s eating America’s lunch. Many nations in Central Africa have spectacular birthrates – yet their economies are catastrophically dysfunctional, not booming.

    PS – Steyn’s “civilizations die from suicide, not murder” concept will surely be deeply comforting to Native Americans … perhaps one can infer the existance of an Amerindian urge toward “suicide-by-US Army” (a cultural parallel to “suicide-by-cop”) to justify such an historically illiterate statement.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I am sorry about the hate mail, Anchoress.

    Obviously, you’ve touched a nerve with this—which means you’re doing the right thing.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Why the nasty crack about cross-dressing? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

    I’m not sure, B’s Cheerleader, but, sadly, when some progressives get angry, they resort to name-calling—even when said insults would seem to violate their own, allegedly tolerant principals.

    “Retard” is a particular favorite of theirs, too, which also strikes me as odd; aren’t they supposed to be the compassionate ones?

  • Derek

    I always find it insanely ironic that liberals push social programs that demand sustained population growth and yet then push for population controls (abortion, birth control, etc) along with a constant blathering about overpopulation. They have no clue about consequences of actions.

    This, among many other reasons, is why I find liberals irrational and devoid of reasonable logic. Quite frankly, most of them are insane.

  • Jacobian

    The flaw in human reasoning is evident in the criticism. If studying global climate change means to some minds that we ought immediately to legislate global cap and trade and even dismantle capitalism, then the mention of overpopulation surely must mean we must abort the unborn. Heck, we may as well kill the elderly and make soylent green in the name of limited resource equity.

    It shows how emotionally rash and dangerous human thinking is without God.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    jim, again, to quote Mark Steyn—”the Chinese are going to get old, before they get rich.” Because of its rigorous birth control policies, the “One child per family” rule has resulted in a preponderance of males, who can never hope to marry, or have their own families. This is already causing their society problems, and will cause even more, the further down the road they go. I doubt they’re going to be eating our lunch, or anybody else’s.

    (And are you really presenting China, a totalitarian society, which killed off millions of its own citizens under Chairman Mao, as some sort of example for us, or any other nation?)

    (As for Africa, one of its problems is that it’s been wracked by war in past decades, and Islam trying to spread Shari’a, in places like Darfur. As for the American Indians, last time I checked, they’re still around.)

  • MS

    Nobody answered my basic question: what happens when the resources run out? How is it even possible not to see that more and more people means faster and faster depletion of resources? And if we don’t stop increasing the world’s population now, when do we? What’s the magic number? How many people in the world is enough? Seriously, I want to know. Do you really think we can go on forever?

    Sorry if you were offended by the snark. To address a couple of issues: while most RCC religious do live modestly, the upper hierarchy, i.e. the ones who make doctrine, most decidedly do NOT. They do, in fact, live in palaces, where they are waited on 24/7. And few, if any, of them, have ever supported a family. They are the ones I was specifically referring to, not the local parish priest or the nun teaching high school. I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear. I suppose the fact that they wear dresses is not strictly relevant, so I withdraw that comment. I’ll also grant you they are probably smarter than I am, since they live in palaces with servants and I don’t.

    As I said, if you don’t get the relevance of the joke, I can’t help you.

    Bender’s Cheerleader: Do you have a reliable cite for the notion that there are more trees now than when Columbus landed? I’m pretty sure that’s a myth, but I’m willing to stand corrected. And where exactly are those vast oil reserves? Even if they are there, they are still FINITE, and they will run out someday.

    And while I agree with some of your points about land usage, you didn’t really address the issue of water depletion, which is probably the really crucial problem for that region (where I grew up, I might add).

    I have lots of faith in human ingenuity, but sometimes there isn’t a solution just because we want it to be there. Not to mention that we’re not actually doing anything serious about figuring out alternative energy sources, sustainable agriculture, etc. Personally I’m not interested in living in a cave, nor living like a Salvadoran campesino or a Bombay street dweller, nor do I want that for anyone else.

    And while objecting to some fairly minor snark on my part, you then suggest that I kill myself. Nice.

    As it happens, we don’t have kids. There are things that I regret about that (my wife more or less talked me into it), but I’m really glad now that we made that decision. We do have nieces and nephews, and–all snark aside–I’m genuinely terrified about the world I think they and their children are likely to inherit. That is my motivation for being concerned about this issue. I’ve had a pretty darn good life so far, and I would like everyone to have a chance at that. But they won’t if we keep pretending that population growth has no limits. We can either limit it ourselves, or Mother Nature will find a way, and her way won’t be nearly as nice as birth control.

  • Maureen

    But in Italy, there aren’t “more and more people”. There barely are any children at all. And at that, Italy’s better off than Spain. All over Europe, villages are disappearing and the lights are going off. Packs of wolves and forest animals are the only inhabitants in places that have been settled since the Paleolithic. The animals are taking over human territory, not the other way around.

    Keep thinking the world’s overpopulated as long as you can. It must be a comforting world you live in.

  • MS

    Italy and Spain aren’t the entire world. I can’t speak for the rural areas, but I was recently in Barcelona and Paris and there are plenty of kids. And London is undergoing a serious baby boom.

    Seriously, why is “more people” an automatic good while “fewer people” (note I didn’t say No people, just fewer) is an automatic evil? I honestly don’t get it.

  • Bender

    Nobody answered my basic question: what happens when the resources run out? . . . Seriously, I want to know.

    Seriously?? Nobody has answered your basic question?? And you seriously want to know?? Then surely you know that what you are spouting has been spouted since the 1960s if not before, and all those questions have been answered ad nauseum again and again and again and again and again. But since you are seriously concerned about this, even if you didn’t know that, I’m sure that you are going to go out and dedicate all your serious waking hours to reading all of those texts on these issues.

    Seriously! One of the most absurd wastes of my time was having to read “Limits to Growth” and similar moronic books in college over 25 years ago. Seriously.

    Seriously folks, get another playbook. Get some new talking points. You guys are a bunch of dinosaur geezers. Seriously.