Two out of three “Top Stories” from the New York Times today (Sat, August 28) report serious problems at opposite ends of the earth… opposite in terms of economics as well as geographics… but I’m convinced there’s only one viable solution for both: the Vitality Ratio. (click here for details)
Growth economics in the USA is just a bunch of “more-more-more.” Growth economists have a thankless, frustrating, and self-imposed job to keep pressure on government and business to sustain an unsustainable pattern of ever-increasing production by industry, ever-increasing sales in stores, and ever-increasing consumption by the people. More-more-more at every level of society. Unfortunately, growth economics has outlived its practicality.
While Americans have a modest, safe fertility rate (about 2 kids per woman), big streams of immigrants (legal and illegal) pour into the country… so that there were 76 million Americans in 1900, 200 million in 1967, and 300 million in 2006. Today there are 310 million people living in the USA, and by 2050 there will be 450 million.
This burgeoning population makes it clear (to me, if not to anyone else!) that resources are no longer as plentiful as before. Each person will have to get by with a smaller portion of the American pie. That’s a very simple and natural fact, something that growth economics ignores… but something that is at the crux of the Vitality Ratio.
Scarcity is one of the few things we Americans today are facing more-more-more of… and adhering to growth economics amid scarcity is about as smart as hosting water-guzzling contests during a drought.
We need to scrap growth economics, and the only viable replacement would be the Vitality Ratio… which keeps a society’s needs in line with its available resources. That’s the only safe, rational economic standard for the future… and it was made possible just recently, with the advent of computer technology and the Internet.
Meanwhile… genocide in Africa (along with famine, war, and political instability) is nothing but a symptom of wildly out-of-control population growth. Fertility rates in Africa (click here) are as high as 8 kids per woman in many places, meaning that population would double every five years or so if it could. But, as any reasonable person knows, it can’t. There are natural limits to growth. Too many mouths to feed.
There’s nothing complicated here, folks. We humans like sex, and so we tend to have lots of kids. Unless there’s some sort of birth control, whether in the form of sex education or strict morality or government policies limiting family size or couples’ desire for small families or… whatever!… eventually there are too many mouths to feed.
The Vitality Ratio would work as well in Africa as it would work in the USA. It would guarantee economic stability within a generation or two, once it was properly implemented.
Editor’s note: Although I’m not going to be totally obsessed with this Vitality Ratio thing for the rest of my life—spouting nothing but resources, needs, population, and product consumption in everything I write—you can be sure that I’ll keep driving it home from time to time on this blog…. Nothing is more important and do-able than the Vitality Ratio for a safe, healthy future for humanity on Earth. Of that I have no doubt.