Imagine being one of the poorest of the poor… starving… watching people dying all around you. You’d likely wonder, Where’s God? Where’s the United Nations? Where are the rich people of the world who could help? We’re dying here!….
Any reasonable person would agree that there should be a safety net of some kind, some set of public programs that would help people in dire need. Private entities like corporations can’t solve the problem because they need to make money… and people in dire need typically don’t have money, so private entities typically shrug them off and justify their neglect with silly theories like “trickle-down economics” that never work in practice.
So the only entities suited to serve the needs of the poor would be public programs, such as tax-supported government or multinational programs. Only programs like that can reliably place the needs of the poor and the well-being of society-at-large above profit.
If you’re one of the poorest of the poor, then, you would expect, or at least hope for, some sort of public program to rescue you. If you didn’t get it, you’d assume it’s just one more slap in the face by an unjust world. When people start feeling that sense of desperation and neglect, the savage side of humanity starts to rear its head in such forms as genocide, Somalian piracy, and Internet scams by the poor.
So let’s assume for a moment there’s a safety net in place. Governments around the world have somehow become reasonable, driven not by lobbyists and self-seeking politicians and corporations, but by broad-thinking panels of men and women with the best interests of the world at heart… people like Paul Farmer (Harvard professor and UN official who chooses to live with his family in Rwanda). And these men- and women-in-charge have acquired the needed tax revenues to spread safety nets through societies everywhere to take care of the poor, victims of natural disasters, those suffering diseases, and others in need.
So, at last humanity has found peace and contentment, right?
Hm, I don’t think so. I think there’s one more crucial step that will have to be taken, and that will involve preventing people from overpopulating and overconsuming. Without that, the crowds of needy and society’s soaring needs will continue to swell, stressing the safety nets as needs continue to outstrip resources. No matter how much revenue and how many good intentions are spent strengthening those safety nets, they’ll eventually burst… and problems will explode… as long as overpopulation and overconsumption continue unchecked.
Living in Rwanda, Dr Farmer can monitor the pulse of one of the world’s poorest countries, and he sees society there today with new-found energy since horrific mass murders killed about a million Rwandans in 1994—20 percent of the population. Since that historic case of genocide, Rwandans have been planning new ways to run their country while taking care of the people’s needs, according to Dr Farmer.
This sounds very promising indeed… on the surface. My concern is the fertility rate of nations like Rwanda, which hovers between 5 and 7. On the average, each woman in these countries has between five and seven babies in their lifetimes. Theortically, population in a country with a fertility rate of 2 (two babies per woman) would stay about the same over time, or decline a bit. A fertility rate greater than 4 would drive a population nearly to double every 32 years… leading to increasingly widespread shortages, famine, genocide, and other tragic conditions over the course of a century. Countries like Rwanda, with fertility rates greater than 5, in short, are time-bombs for disaster.
There’s just one solution to problems like those in Rwanda: The Vitality Ratio. It’s the only solution that would permanently prevent needs of any society from outstripping resources and falling victim to the ruthless symptoms of severe economic imbalance.
Without the Vitality Ratio, or an effective family-planning program like China’s (which is one small but important part of the Vitality Ratio), population in Rwanda will continue to burgeon, and any economic vitality felt there now will soon diminish and eventually be replaced by desperation… very likely leading to another case of suffering and death on a massive scale.
And that is not a viable way of life for any society—to flourish for a few short decades between horrific moments of famine or mass murder.
The only real solution is to keep population and consumption in line with available resources… and that can be done in a complete way only with the Vitality Ratio.