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What decline?

by Jerome a Paris Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 09:32:20 AM EST

Avec plus de 830 000 naissances, la France a été le pays le plus fécond d'Europe en 2006

La natalité française est en pleine forme : en 2006, avec un taux de fécondité légèrement supérieur à 2 enfants par femme, l'Hexagone est devenu, avec l'Irlande, le pays le plus fécond d'Europe. Ce dynamisme fait de la France une véritable "exception", souligne le bilan démographique de l'Insee, rendu public mardi 16 janvier : nos voisins, qu'il s'agisse de l'Allemagne, de l'Italie ou de l'Espagne, affichent des taux de fécondité qui ne dépassent pas 1,4 enfant par femme.

With 830,000 births, France is the European country with the highest fertility rates.

French birthrates are in great shape: in 2006, with a fertility rate above 2 children par woman, France has become (together with Ireland) the country with the highest fertility rates in Europe. That dynamism is quite exceptional in Europe, underlines the INSEE [the statistics institute] in its yearly demographic report, published this Tuesday: the birth rates in neighboring Germany, Italy or Spain are all below 1.4.

This is a great indicator of how people see the future, but it will in all likelihood be ignored (or attributed to runaway immigrant birthrates, something altogether incorrect). I see the headlines already: "France set for heavy unemployment by 2025"...


Display:
I've heard the arguments about how an ageing population weighs on a shrinking young population--and I don't buy the myths.  First, it means one generation will have to help the previous generation through old age more intensively than others have--and that could be a very good thing, tying up social networks etc...  It would (shock!) mean re-thinking our social and economic infastructures.

Then, it's twos all the way (or less-than-twos if the population needs to shrink...to more eco-friendly levels, in which case a few generations will have...etc...)

Any population rate above 2.0 is over-population, unless one thinks the planet can (or should) support more humans.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 10:10:44 AM EST
the birth rates in neighboring Germany, Italy or Spain are all below 1.4.

The population density of Germany is 232, Italy's 193, and Spain's 85 to France's 110. So I am not at all surprised that Germany and Italy have lower fertility than France.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 10:18:27 AM EST
Population density in people per square kilometre, of course. (wiki)

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 10:21:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that difference in density has been pretty much true throughout the past couple centuries, and did not lead to such structural differences in birth rates.

And Spain's example shows that there is no link (as would the example of the UK whose birth rates are somewhere in between France and Germany, despite having a pretty high density too).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 10:39:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain has a large semi-desert in the middle. It kind of skews population densities, compared to Germany, France or Italy. Not that this contradicts your point.

(This semi desert is also probably the main reason  Portugal got to be independent and stayed that way. But that's another topic.)

by Torres on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 11:00:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i think is bad news for france to have an icnrease int he birth rate... actually.

I have always defended that the low fertility rate in Spain is excellent for Spain...It is better to control population by the economi necessities (which drive inmigration) than by birth rate in Europe.

You can have economic downturn with high fertility rate but you can not have high inmigration with economic downturn.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 10:58:04 AM EST
No doubt it is altogether incorrect to attrbute the rate to runaway immigrant birthrates, but as a matter of interest, what are the ethnic breakdowns of this >2 average?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 11:44:40 AM EST
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 12:22:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome, it's sort of OT, but I've been wondering if you know what 'Algeria' means when French stats refer to 'birth country' - how does it count the pieds noirs, what about Muslims born in Algeria before independence? For current fertility rates it's rapidly becoming a moot point, but for other stats it still matters.
by MarekNYC on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 04:12:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IIRC, pieds noir are counted as "native" French. Immigration would be essentially harkis before independence and then other "Arab" people after.

But this is off the top of my head.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 05:46:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Give folks a reasonable expectation that they'll be able to raise kids and maintain a comparable standard of living to those who chose not to, and unsurprisingly,

Have a third child in France, for instance, and the allocation familiale more than doubles, and increases thereafter. Help raising younger kids when one of the parents needs a bit more flexibility? There's a young-child special allocation. Kids older and more expensie to feed and keep active? The allocation gets supplemented additionally at age 11 and then again at age 16. Staying at home to care for your kids? Another supplement. Have three or more at home and the budget starts getting stretched by one of the parent's reduced professional activity? Another supplement. Single parent? Ditto.

Plus the back-to-school supplement to make sure all children have a fair shake at an equal footing on day one, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something since I don't get these anymore, maybe Jerome can help me out.

The total family support can easily surpass €1,000/month, sometimes well more than that. Not including further allocations for housing and larger public housing space allotments.

Saddle folks with a child tax (which is essentially the way most OECD countries fiscal and economic regimes are structured, not to mention their socio-economic norms with respect to leisure, the trappings of popular culture and whatnot) and unsurprisingly, they stop having children, as is the case in most of Europe.

Offset this child tax (and then some) and unsurprisingly, children re-appear.

This is a long-term trend in France, and it underlines the strength of the French model. But you won't read about it in the FT and the other anglo press, because birthrates aren't traded in the City.

by redstar on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 12:38:51 PM EST
oops, lost part. ...unsurprisingly, they have kids.
by redstar on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 12:40:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is population growth an unqualified social good?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 12:52:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, we're not talking about population growth. I think 2.2 is the replacement rate (someone can correct me).

Only France and Ireland are there in Europe. No one is really growing, absent immigration.

by redstar on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 01:02:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Typically it is said that the replacement rate level TFR is 2.1 but the replacement rate depends on infant and childhood mortality - the lower those are the closer the replacement level TFR is to two.  
by MarekNYC on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 04:07:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops, and to answer...actually having a replacement rate certainly facilitates the financing of intergenerational solidarity mechanisms.

There are other ways to be sure, but as with financing a business, the most efficient and cost-effective way is to auto-finance.

by redstar on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 01:06:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With increasing productivity you may not need a constant population to finance intergenerational solidarity.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 03:59:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True.

I suppose that end of day, we could simply replace most everyone with machines.

But then, there's be less women to chase.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 12:19:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not if the women replaced everyone (well, everyone except Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, etc..) with machines.  A joke about toilets and dildos refuses to play before 11 pm.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 12:24:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Population stability sounds like a not unreasonable goal.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 01:29:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is just sustaining the population. I'm all for a massive population decline -- imagine what a great place the world would be if there were about five billion fewer of us -- but it's a little scary thinking about how we're going to get there.

So I think France, Ireland and the U.S. are fortunate in being in a position to sustain population while other countries -- especially Japan and Russia -- find ways of navigating their way through rapid population decrease. In other words, let THEM be the guinea pigs, and let us French, Irish and Americans learn from everybody else's missteps!

by Matt in NYC on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 03:56:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would suck. With only 1 billion human beings on Earth, there would be 200 million in industrialized countries. There would be a lot more rural areas in those industrialized countries and comparatively fewer economies of scale. There would be less industry, less technology and less science.
by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 06:45:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
less toxic waste, less sub- and exurban sprawl, less savage competition for resources and, who knows?, maybe less violence and fewer wars.

And do you really believe that countries with lower population density -- like Sweden, Finland, New Zealand, Australia, etc. -- have "less industry, less technology and less science" -- than densely populated countries?

by Matt in NYC on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 02:06:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes actually.

You're spectacularly wrong about sub- and exurban sprawl since Europe, the more densely populated, has very little of it. And China has even less.

You're also wrong about violence and war, which has nothing to do with population density. Or in fact any economic or environmental factor. Violence is a psychological and neurobiological phenomenon, nothing more.

This leaves only toxic waste and again you are spectacularly wrong since Europeans produce less toxic waste than Americans, Canadians and Australians. The exact opposite of your position.

You should probably read http://www.walkablestreets.com/manhattan.htm

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Sat Jan 20th, 2007 at 03:16:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wars aren't driven by economics or environment? I'd love to see that justified.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Jan 20th, 2007 at 03:19:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hardly need to justify a negative. Especially one that's so well-documented in history.

Admittedly, there are many historians who (still) think that wars are driven by economics or environment or some other nonsense. Exactly like there are many economists who believe in the free market. And the analogy is perfect since what passes for a reasonable explanation in both cases is just so much self-contradictory oversimplified nonsense.

In tribal societies, people engage in wars (really massacres) without any pretense of a rational justification. They will explain to you quite honestly that they were in a "killing mood" and decided to massacre their neighbours. In advanced socities, such patently insane behaviour can't be self-justified. So there needs to be a pretext. But this pretext is never an actual reason since it is always tissue-thin and never logically justifies the war.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Sat Jan 20th, 2007 at 03:36:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be argument by assertion. Perhaps you should revise your knowledge of logic?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Jan 20th, 2007 at 03:40:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's an argument by I don't give a fuck. If you really want to know, hit the books.
by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Sun Jan 21st, 2007 at 01:56:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The hormone-driven response of a teenager, it seems.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 07:13:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is that it is absolutely normal for women to both work and have children.

It can be inconvenient for businesses, but it's a fact of economic life (firing a pregnant woman is vigorously punished and thus extremely rare - and there is actually an obligation by law to give to a woman, after her 14 weeks or more of leave, the exact same job she had, or something equivalent - and again, a rule which is actually enforced).

Thus, unlike Germany or Switzerland, but like Scandinavia, no pressure for women to stay at home.

And, unlike the UK, it's not just the poor and the well-off who have children, but the middle classes.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 01:38:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Except for "maman chez nissan".

Justice will probably rule in favour of the mother, but delay to first audience is two years (judgment for diffamation was in a few monthes in comparison).

by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 04:07:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Current estimated TFR's for some countries, CIA Factbook

China: 1.73

Iran: 1.8

Turkey: 1.92

Tunisia: 1.74

Algeria: 1.89

Morocco: 2.68

Egypt: 2.83

Brazil: 1.91

Indonesia: 2.54

India: 2.73

Pakistan: 4.0

Bangladesh: 3.11

Nigeria: 5.49
.
.
.
 If you want to see Eurabia doom mongers heads explode point out to them that three of the four main sources of Muslim immigration to continental Europe have below replacement level TFR's, and indeed as Jerome's piece suggests, below that of France.

In general figures like these have made me much less worried about population growth - things are really improving very quickly. A large amount of the developping world population lives in countries with below replacement level TFR's. Defining high level birth rates as above three, the worrying areas are basically Muslim South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. But overall population control is one of the great unheralded successes of the past forty years. The demographic time bomb has been largely defused.

by MarekNYC on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 04:31:26 PM EST
Are these actual fertility rates, or they effectively include immigration/emigration?

Anyone willing, have fun with this nicely self-contratictory or ignorant analysis (emphasis mine):

RE: FRANCE TO STEYN - BACK AT YA   [Mark Steyn]

Kathryn posted on this story on rising French fertility rates the other day and interpreted it as a refutation of my book. Apparently, Mimi and Fifi and Yvette and Solange are lying back and thinking of la belle France, and in doing so telling Steyn to stick a croissant in his escargot and smoke it.

Au contraire, I think France's rising fertility rate is confirmation of my thesis - that native Europeans have given up breeding and Islam is inheriting the Continent by default. If that's the case, then as Muslims increase as a percentage of the population so that country's fertility rate will improve.

Do Muslims generally correlate with healthy birth rates in Europe? Yes. The only nations on the continent breeding at replacement rate are Turkey, Azerbaijan and Albania.

Do significant minorities of Muslims improve fertility rates? Yes. Of all those Continental nations below replacement-rate fertility, the top breeders are the Macedonians, whose population is 30% Muslim, which happens to be the largest Muslim minority in a European nation. [I've excluded war-ravaged Bosnia from the analysis, as, pace Derbyshire, rubble causes (statistical) trouble.]

Well, okay, forget Macedonia and stick to western Europe.

Which country has the healthiest fertility rate? France.

Which country has the most Muslims? France.

Which country has the second healthiest fertility rate on the western end of the Continent? Denmark.

Which country has the second largest proportion of Muslims? Denmark.

Get the picture? Take France and its neighbors and rank them in order of healthiest fertility rates (2005 official Eurostat figures):

  1. France
  2. Netherlands
  3. Belgium
  4. Switzerland
  5. Austria
  6. Germany
  7. Italy
  8. Spain

Now rank them in order of highest proportion of Muslims (no central source, but compiled from national data, European Muslim groups, UN and State Dept figures):

  1. France
  2. Netherlands
  3. Belgium
  4. Switzerland
  5. Austria
  6. Germany
  7. Italy
  8. Spain

Hmm.
To be funny, the guy takes much freedom with the data or argumentation.
by das monde on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 03:14:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On some level this is morally abysmal.   From an environmental standpoint - although I love my second son a great deal - it would have been more ethical to have one child, or zero children.

I believe that the world should place taxes on children beyond the first to discourage the practice of having more children than our planet can afford.

I think the demographic problems of retirees etc are best addressed by, if necessary, raising the retirement age.   I am perfectly willing to work until I die if this is what I must do to make a safer world for future generations.

Fertility rates should be below the replacement rate in all countries, particularly those that, like France, have high per capita consumption rates.

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a big fan of the French energy strategy which is the best in the first world.   I very much admire their nuclear system.  

But all of my crap about nuclear energy arises out of concern for the environmental impact of our population.   The root problem is not fossil fuels or unrealistic expectations for renewable energy.   The root problem is consumption and like it or not, consumption is very much a function of population.   There would be no problem whatsoever if the planet had less than one billion people.

I love France, and I love the French, but I hope there will be fewer French, just as I hope there will be fewer Americans.

by NNadir on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 09:09:08 PM EST
One thing that terrifies me is the growing proportion of children growing with mothers only. It seems almost as if more people take the presumably natural imperatives "procreate whenever you can" (for men) or "procreate with an alpha male" (for women) most literally. Raising children alone evidently became economically feasible more often for both sides (or one of them). But what will be the consequences: economical, social, psychological? Are we ultimately going towards a "wild wild society" in all respects? It is perhaps a harsh thing to say, but I am becoming less sympathetic towards lonely mothers.
by das monde on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 04:40:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With a global one children per women policy, you'll wipe out the entire human specie in a few centuries.

You need to target a given earth population (whatever the criteria - do you have reference of serious ones?) and once there, unless technological change, that's two children per women.

by Laurent GUERBY on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:59:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could have a policy where there are no financial disincentives for the first child, no financial incentives for a second child, and financial disincentives for higher numbers.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 07:01:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any evidence on how that actually affects the averages? I'd expect quite a small effect outside of the normal economic effects unless the incentives and disincentives are large, which starts to impinge on pretty basic human rights quite quickly.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 07:07:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Redstar is arguing upthread that France's fertility rate is 2% instead of the 1.4% of its neighbours because of apparently modest financial incentives to families.

The idea that it is a basic human right to have as many children as one can manage and that society has to then make it easy for one to live with a large family seems a little excessive, especially if you think human population is near the ecological carrying capacity of the planet.

Children have basic rights to well-being and education, but I don't see why people should have a basic human right to have children they don't have the ability to provide with their basic right to well-being. That just creates a social burden to provide what an irresponsible parent predictably can't.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 07:14:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems that relatively few people actually want to have as many children as they can manage once there is a reasonable level of economic and social stability and women have other ways of contributing to society.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 07:20:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Assuming a poisson distribution, 2 children per woman translates into 14% without children, 27% with 1 child, 27% with 2 children and 32% with 3 or more children. The figures for 1.4 children per woman are 25% with no children, 34% with 1 child, 24% with 2 children, and 16% with 3 or more children.

I wonder how well that compares with an actual breakdown of the number of children per woman.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 07:30:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your poisson distribution suggests to me that in order to create the conditions for sustaining population stability (absent immigration and emigration), it is likely that given the high proportion of folks who have children at less than replacement rates, incentives to compensate for such intergenerational free-riders are appropriate.
by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:01:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is an intergenerational free-rider?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:10:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Simple. My base pension is based on the work of my children, and your children, and the children of our 30 neighbors down the street.

I have three, you have three, and the rest have none.

What happens to the pension?

Meanwhile, the rest of the neighbors saved a lot of money by not having children - the education bill, the clothing bill, the supplementary housing bill, the food bill, the lost income caring for sick kids bill, et c., and so they can supplement the pension that got cut in half.

We can't, because we spent it all raising the kids who are supporting what's left of that pension. So while they retire to a nice villa in Nice, we retire to our lousy flat in Rennes.

That's the free-rider problem, in its demographic manifestation.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:34:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean 2 per woman and 4 per woman, not percent.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 07:22:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about "if adding a child to your household would put it under poverty level, you can't do it"?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 07:36:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How would you stop them (or me?)

btw, do you mean an absolute poverty measure (level) or a relative one?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 09:02:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I don't know. But I'm trying to argue that deciding to have a child who, by virtue of that decision will be below poverty level, is not a "right" that needs to be defended, not for the sake of the parent but for the sake of the child.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:12:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So if you're rich you may have as many children as you like, but if you're poor you shouldn't have any?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:13:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, why should society have to put up with another child under poverty level just to please you?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:14:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think restricting reproduction to the rich is going to be very popular. I suppose if you don't consider that people have a right to regulate their own reproduction and fertility then it's not immoral though. Maybe we could require women with more than a certain wealth level to produce enough kids to make up for the poor people banned from having them.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:18:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course people have a right to regulate their own reproduction and fertility, but they also have a responsibility to regulate it, or don't they?

And it is immoral of parents to have children that they will not be able to provide for. This is not about the parents, it's about the children.

There is a social network to help the disadvantaged. It is even there to help those that disadvantage themselves. But putting people at a disadvantage voluntarily, your own children to boot, and expecting society to foot the bill is frankly immoral on two counts.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:24:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I fear you are treading into dangerous territory, here, and you must also know that having, say, five or more children in an environment like a flat in Paris or Madrid of any size will less than comfortable, to say the least. There's no need for disincentives really, and to do so is mean-spirited and calls into question the actual intent of the policy imho.

I wasn't aware that, in countries where a strong social network obtains (and really, there are not too many of these), there was a problem with significant populations within the lower income strata having far too many children, but I could be wrong.  

Are there good stats on this?

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:29:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the number of French households under poverty level? What is the number of children under poverty level?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:37:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait a sec. Why is the burden of proof on me?

I don't see a problem. I don't need any convincing.

For the record though, France has the lowest poverty level of any OECD country, if I'm not mistaken. And the highest birthrate in the EU.

If you think there's a problem with this, hey, knock yourself out finding the evidence...

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:43:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And, more importantly, why should children have to live with the consequences of being born below poverty level just to please their parents?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:16:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe you should poll such children.

Here's the question: "You were born in a poverty-stricken family . This has affected you all your life. In view of this fact, would you:

  1. Prefer not to have been born;
  2. Want to have been born anyhow or
  3. Don't know.

Report back with your survey results.
by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:24:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe we should abolish social support for families, since it's so great to be born regardless of the conditions.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:27:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's plenty of parts of the world where your position is policy.

These places tend to have more, not less children.

And guess what. The respondants will still respond the same overwhelming way.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:37:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The question is loaded: people are always going to prefer being alive to not, regardles of the conditions.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:39:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly.

Though loaded is not the word I would use. More like "yeah, that is the most fundamental aspect of human nature, one that nothing can take away".

And likely draw a different conclusion from this observation.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:41:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There was a famous case of a woman in Spain who was allowed to select the sex of an embrio for her 6th child just so she could have a girl, and the judge awarded it to her because "a girl is more likely to take care of her mother in old age". Now, if that is not an immoral instrumentalisation of children on the part of both the mother and the judge, I don't know what is.

Of course people want to be born. But people also have a responsibility not to have children just to please themselves momentarily or in the future, because children are people, too, and they are not responsible for the mistakes of their parents though they bear the brunt of the consequences.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:45:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed 100%
by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:46:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, how the state can help children in poverty without at the same time rewarding irresponsible parents is a policy question I would like to know the answer to.

And please note that I am not faulting people who are in poverty or fall into poverty but those who would bring a child into poverty.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:49:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you consider it immoral, for a couple who are in their thirties but poor to have a child? Don't own their own property, live in private rental accomodation in a borderline condition, poorly educated, work at minimum wage jobs. They shouldn't have a child?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:53:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If they want a child they could adopt one, couldn't they? Now, should they be allowed to adopt a child if they wanted to, if the resulting household would be under poverty level?

Anyway, how about the first child is exempt from the poverty rule?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:57:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If they did have a child should they be required to put it up for adoption? And if a not-poor couple have a child and then fall into poverty should they then be required to put it up for adoption or should  that only apply to the second child?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 12:00:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You did not answer my question. You go first.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 12:02:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The household shouldn't be impoverished in the first place so the issue shouldn't arise. That it does arise is a failing of the society and we should support their children. I don't accept the proposition that people will breed to the limit of resources: we're not bacteria.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 12:05:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
People will breed to their comfort level, and often beyond it. And the small families of today are a historical  anomaly: people in the past bred to the limit of women's bodies. As to breeding  to the limits of our resources, this goes back to redstar's challenge in a parallel thread about estimates of the world's sustainable population. What do you think that is? If we are in an ecological  crisis right now that would appear to support the idea that the carrying capacity cannot be much higher than 7 billion.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 01:50:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not necessarily.

If 3 billion people consume resources like an average American, that's a problem.

If 7 billion people consume like an average, oh, I don't know, Thai? Probably less of a problem.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 02:07:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So we need to keep billions of people at "I don't know, Thai" level in order to protect everyone's right to breed as they damn well please?

The pension problem can be solved with immigration, too, there is no need for a vegetative replacement rate.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 02:36:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So we need to keep billions of people at "I don't know, Thai" level in order to protect everyone's right to breed as they damn well please?

Well, yes. That's the intent at the heart of every discussion of conservation, after all. Why else care how much petrol one uses, or meat one eats, or electricity one consumes to be comfortable indoors, water one wastes to make sure golf courses are good and green, convenient packaging one desires one's goods to be contained in, or the energy efficiency of long-haul food and other commodity-good supply chains, and so forth, if the goal isn't to make our world more sustainably prosperous for the most people?

What's the proper level? I dunno. But it ain't at US levels, that's for sure. Don't like my throw-away Thai reference? How about Brazilian with their flex-fuel cars, or Spanish, who do quite well with water conservation, for instance?

The pension problem can be solved with immigration, too, there is no need for a vegetative replacement rate.

Agreed 100%, as alluded to elsewhere in this thread. But arguably (and convincingly so in many cases) not as efficiently, when one takes into account human development differentials (education, social attitudes, aptitude to assimilate) and the inevitable disruptions that mass migrations tend to cause (and whose beneficiaries rarely pay the cost, while the losers tend to suffer without recompense).

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 03:34:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is the side question: why are the people even living in poverty? Why is that possible? Surely that's a failing of the society?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:54:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or put another way, it's not poor people having children that's the problem. It's that there exist poor people that is the moral problem.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:55:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, this is the one that gets the "best comments of the day" award.
by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:59:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not advocating removing social transfers. I'm saying increasing the amount of people in poverty is not socially responsible.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 12:02:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And eliminate poverty and you don't have that problem.

But eliminate children and you won't eliminate poverty. You'll likely increase it.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 12:04:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Again, I'm not sure where you're seeing the problem, statistically speaking.

Anecdotes can be found anywhere, but I'm just not seeing overpopulation problems in places where there are these solidarity mechanisms to which you refer.

If we accept that population stability is a worthy policy goal, and we accept your poisson distribution, then parenting is something which needs to be incented or rewarded to some extent. As you rightfully point out, it is impossible to help the child without helping the parent (unless we are prepared to do some unsavory and/or immoral things). But this does not in and of itself pose a problem if we accept the proposition that there's no problem with children being born into poverty, especially since we have put into place solidarity mechanisms to ensure they are not.

And if you would like to limit the number of children at three or four? Don't like eight children being born to a family with the maximum four- or five-room housing-estate flat? Simply curtail the incentives after a certain number of children are in the household, and do certain of your allocations on a case-by-case, rather than formulaic, basis.

Which is precisely how French policy is set up.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:58:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
especially since we have put into place solidarity mechanisms to ensure they are not.

Have we? How come there are so many children under poverty level in every country?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 12:04:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Relative or absolute poverty and how defined?  Even accepting your moral frame for a moment, there is rather less moral failure associated with bringing children into relative poverty than there is bringing them into absolute poverty - although the way it works is that the absolutely poor generally have more children than the relatively poor.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 12:09:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would you mind reminding me of the definition of absolute poverty, as well as spelling back to me "my moral frame"?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 01:25:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because children are expensive, and usually they are had when folks are at the low end of their earnings potential, not high end.

Keep this in mind, since poverty is usually defined as less than half the median income, and child-bearing populations naturally skew low on this scale, which is why poverty reduction, and not children reduction, is the proper policy prescription to emphasize.

But by the way, there is a very strong correlation between social spending on child welfare and child poverty rates which, surprise surprise, aren't all that high in most EU countries:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Source, OECD

'Course, we could try to figure out a way to do it so that we have kids at age 55 (that'd solve nnadir's issue with population growth too) so we could afford them better but unfortunately, women's bodies aren't made that way, despite what crazy Italian natalists may hope to achieve one day.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 12:14:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
People want to have been born. I'm not sure anyone is capable of wanting to be born.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:48:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. You get today's PN points.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:50:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cool. I was getting behind.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:51:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Correlation is not causation.

The position in my last comment is rhetorical excess to answer your loaded question.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:40:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Loaded is one way of describing it.
by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:45:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sophistry is another.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 01:36:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Touche...

But, in the service of equality, everything is fair.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 02:13:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you do the math, it would take 2.58 generations of a replacement rate of 0.5 to reduce human population to one billion.     You could, of course, stop somewhere along the way.
by NNadir on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 08:53:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh. Stop fucking for a generation and a half, then start up again.

That ought to do it.

Let's say America starts first...

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 10:54:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
without procreating.
by NNadir on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 01:05:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who gets to decide what is a sustainable population level? What is the scientific and credible means to determine this? And who gets to check the math...

And once the math is checked, what are the proper policy means to achieve that goal, and how do we ensure that those means are not simply yet another attempt to limit the number of working class people, or brown people, or other people undesirable to the (largely Western) comfortable classes?

Without these questions answered, this is simply another Malthusian doomsday eructation imho, with some possible unfortunate overtones of other things.

After all, didn't the great Malthus claim we'd have run out of food by now?

And today, all I see here in the part of America where I live is a bunch of rather overweight people lightly interspersed with those of more healthy girths.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:07:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A credible way to determine the level is to let population grow unconstrained and watch it overshoot and collapse.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:13:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, Houellebecq's last novel (if you can get through it, it is pretty, well, unsatisfying) sort of envisions how this would pan out.

It isn't pretty.

But I doubt it would happen. Affluence tends to depress birthrates, and once a certain level of affluence is achieved, the population self-regulates.

And there's no question that the world is becoming, on balance, a more prosperous and secure place, despite what America does in it.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:22:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about The Limits to Growth? They have scenarios where increasing population not only depletes natural resources but degrades water, air and soil quality to the point that the carrying capacity quickly decreases below the population, and a large dieoff ensues.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:26:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More Malthus, great.

Didn't they say the planet was going to starve in the '80's too?

I don't remember this happening. Did I miss something?

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:44:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you read Malthus's essay?

http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~stephan/malthus/malthus.0.html

The key to his approach is that populations rise exponentially while fertile land grows...well...here he is in his own words.

I think I may fairly make two postulata.

    First, That food is necessary to the existence of man.

    Secondly, That the passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state.

[...]

Assuming then my postulata as granted, I say, that the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.

    Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will shew the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.

By that law of our nature which makes food necessary to the life of man, the effects of these two unequal powers must be kept equal.

    This implies a strong and constantly operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence. This difficulty must fall somewhere and must necessarily be severely felt by a large portion of mankind.

[...]

This natural inequality of the two powers of population and of production in the earth, and that great law of our nature which must constantly keep their effects equal, form the great difficulty that to me appears insurmountable in the way to the perfectibility of society. All other arguments are of slight and subordinate consideration in comparison of this. I see no way by which man can escape from the weight of this law which pervades all animated nature. No fancied equality, no agrarian regulations in their utmost extent, could remove the pressure of it even for a single century. And it appears, therefore, to be decisive against the possible existence of a society, all the members of which should live in ease, happiness, and comparative leisure; and feel no anxiety about providing the means of subsistence for themselves and families.

    Consequently, if the premises are just, the argument is conclusive against the perfectibility of the mass of mankind.

We have increased land yields (more food per acre), but the key point is that "a large portion of mankind" is...well...it's all those poor people in the slums etc...

The one thing Malthus couldn't countenance (because of his religious beliefs) was the use of contraception to limit population growth (while keeping the passions alive.)  It has been demonstrated over and over that access to effective contraception plus the education of women are the best methods of restricting population growth.

Re: Miguel's point about the inequity of bringing children into a world of poverty (both material and I would add emotional) is key.  Here's George Carlin:

Save the planet?  We don't even know how to take care of ourselves yet.  We haven't learned how to care for one another.  We're gonna save the fucken' planet?  I'm getting tired of that shit.

It really is as simple as the hippies, Jesus, Buddha, and many many others have said: We gotta be...compassionate.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 12:55:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well yes, but make those poor people more prosperous, and they have less kids.

We know the drill - improve women's education and access to contraception, and birthrates decline. And relative affluence correlates to both things.

And affluence can be helped along, via social support mechanisms.

We need to be careful with what comes first - I read Miguel to be saying less children spells affluence, or at any rate is the solution to poverty, and further, that those who are not affluent should have less children in the first place.

I fear that's the other way 'round. Solve the poverty problem, and you've solved your demographic issues.

In any event, the latter certainly would qualify as more "compassionate" in my book anyway...

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 02:11:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are readinf me wrong, consistently. All I am saying is bringing children into poverty is undesirable for the children and for society. This is not to say fewer children implies lesser poverty. I suppose one possibility would be to guarantee every household enough support to bring them out of (relative) poverty in the first place. Sure.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 02:25:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I misunderstand you, I apologize, but I note that I might not be the only one. I believe Colman's questioning with respect to poverty and legitimacy of parenthood is along the same lines, at least I read it that way.

Absolutely, bringing children in the world is not optimal. But people will have children, that's how we're made, it's human nature. And if they are in poverty, so be it. There's no changing that.

Nor would I want it to be changed. For to want it to be changed would be to value the life of a poor person less than the life of a wealthy person. (Or, to out it in the class terms Jeannette Vermeersch might use, defavorising childbirth among the poor is a tool by the bourgeois for there to be less working class folks out fighting for their interests.)

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 03:44:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since when do the ruling classes advocate for small populations? Large populations provide cannon fodder and cheap labour.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 04:02:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and more importantly, consumers to buy things.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 04:33:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's only since Keynes discovered that demand makes the world go 'round.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 05:12:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and people to be richer than. after all if everyones a milionaire, then you'd need to be a billionaire to be rich. You can't be rich without someone to compare yourself to

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 05:34:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not ruling classes.

The middle class.

Big difference.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 04:37:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to be...I dunno...so here goes...

If we need working class people--you mean...people who work?  Middle class would mean...what?  An attitude of mind?

Also, if you get rid of poor people, does that mean they have more money and so are no longer poor, or does it mean a more equitable distribution of resources where the notion of "poor"...changes?

As the issues seem to revolve around

1) Access to resources (absolute poverty)

and

2) Access to status (?) (relative poverty)

....

(One) point being that I was relatively poor (according to official definitions) well into my thirties, but I wasn't (I don't think) in either of groups 1) or 2) above.

Re: people having children they can't support, I would say that "poor" and "working class" aren't the point unless we mean "poor" in the sense that the child suffers from a lack of 1) and 2) above...

And I agree with what (I think) your point is: social instruments (including money but not only money--access to decent schools, decent food, activities, support networks...things that money can't always buy, it depends on so much)...

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 04:31:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All very good points, and well taken.

I would dinstinguish very much between what Americans call "working poor" from the middle class, or what maybe an outright lefty would refer to as proletariat and bourgeois.

Middle class is not "working class" by virtue of "working," though it's a common assumption, esp. in America, that this is the case, so you'll see guys like Bill O'Reilly claiming they were working class growing up, when their father was a public accountant, or an old boss of mine who claimed same even though his dad was a small businessman. Sure they worked, but the consciousness ain't the same as a coal miner. And it's very much a consciousness thing.

You don't have to be comfortable to be bourgeois, but normally, over the medium to long term, you do have to have means.

How to define this in contemporary terms? It really comes down to workplace autonomy, and especially how one views ones relationship in the world via his or her work.

A working-class person would tend to view his or her work as toil whose product is not his or hers, and is simply passed along the conveyor belt for someone else derive profit, his or her increasingly diminishing and precarious wages being the only tenuous relation to the product he or she has. A middle-class person would tend to attribute to the product of his or her labor a value which is intrinsically personal and in so doing, identify both with the economic system of which he or she is a part and of its supposedly inherent universality (or inevitability).

These two groups normally tend to different income strata, even in the more socially democratic welfare state of Western Europe. There are no hard determinants of this, though, and when times are good and income distribution is happening in a more or less egalitarian fashion, you're going to see working class people with incomes approaching those of the middle-class professional classes.

But the underlying system being what it is, egalitarianism is an anamolous state of affairs, so eventually, the oil and the water separate, and this quite apparent in outlooks on life and work.

Most of us on this site, I am willing to bet, are very much bourgeois, so I try to take care around the subject, as there are some things I just cannot fathom from my perspective even though, like you, I have gone through periods, even as a father, of hardship and lack of resources. But ultimately, we had resources, and we had options. And if you are truly working class, you really don't.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 05:34:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And if you are truly working class, you really don't.

My assumption is that working class is, roughly speaking, a way of saying "unskilled labouring."

In the past it meant "selling your labour for money."

The middle classes were propertied--had investments--didn't have to labour for cash.

So I don't know that holding onto the word "working"...well...I wonder if it's an accurate description...what with the working class (well, there is a lot of unskilled labouring, but also a lot of unemployed unskilled labourers...so...) also not working--hence the rise of (the term) "underclass" to describe the lack of resources/options outcome...which is an outcome, I think.  Sometimes it's a starting point, but I don't think a person who identified as working class would consider their children (who would be working class) to be born into a lack of resources/options...  Well, some would (and, pace Migeru, I would say, "Well, why are you having children, then?  Why bring them into what you self-describe as poverty?  (Of cash and aspiration)...well...the answer is they hope their kids do better (through school...but..ach...they ignore their own role...the role of parents), and some people don't care...

Bourgeouis....means (I think--etymologically) from the "borgo"...the city.  City-dwellers.  They (some of them) made their cash.  As terms of disrespect, for me, "middle class" (usually used by the middle class!  A strange form of alienation...)

Yes, alienation!  You're sorta saying, no?, that "working class" means "alienated from the products of one's labour."  So an accountant could be working class (on this definition) while a car mechanic (a good one, who cared about the sprokets and springs) would become skilled --> professional --> middle class?

I'm not sure...but I think the key definition at present is:

Rich/poor.  Where I would define poor in terms of basic services: clean water, shelter, sewerage, clean food, health provision, basic education etc...

Where I live (and I think I can generalise to Europe, at least) the poor have access to all of these--if they don't then there are specific reasons (maybe in some parts of Europe--I dunno...Mafia...absolute corruption...but those are pockets...minorities?  Am I wrong on that?  I am ready to be corrected--may be a prejudice rather than a truth)...anyways, the poor round my way have all the basic access but...

They don't study at school (family background/peer group pressure / what I would term "poverty of status"...but also I would also say "Decadent"--give the bright and needy of the poorest parts of the world...give them access to the exact same services...the communities who moved to the UK from the indian subcontinent (well, some of them) saw it clear: no caste system!  Study!  Take advantage!  Lossa indian doctors, solicitors, dentists, etc...)

So I think it's something to do with the disappearance of large-scale non-skilled manual labouring jobs--in the developed countries.  Computers and machines do the hard lifting these days.  But because society didn't accrue (enough of) the benefits (profits...money...went to the owners of the various methods of production...)

yack yack!

(As a side point, I wondered how a buddhist monk would fit into this characterisation.  Which comes back to your point about finding a globally acceptable level of existance--and I'm an optimist, for the Robert Anton Wilson reasons--good for the immune systems, optimists tend to go the extra mile, tend to think laterally, search out opportunities etc...)...wow....my grammar...so...I think "toil" describes the lot of the poor--and they live in slums, in the poor countries.  And, to move sideways backwards and off over and under...in that list of birthrates, Pakistan was way up there (4.0 average!--average four kids per family!)...and somehow I think

Tis true the wealth is held by the few, by dint of:

  1. Lack of self-respect, lack of community feeling, lack of discipline (I mean rigour)...in the rich countries and

  2. People being pure fucked over elsewhere (outside the rich enclaves, I mean.)  DeAnander can expand on that at length, but just one example.

http://www.narmada.org/gcg/gcg.html

Good typing to you, Redstar!

(I would like to make a point about people no longer developing skills...that skills take time to develop but dominant culture no longer encourages those timescales...)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:12:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, I thought you were American, thus my contemporary cultural references.

Excuse the misdirection.

by redstar on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 05:38:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
man, these huge threads!  I get lost.  So, I think you're saying that to me and from me I say...no problem.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 06:16:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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