Growing old can have its advantages. One is that you can shrug off the latest calamities. Because you have seen so many other calamities over the years. And you know they fizzled.
This makes you look good. Younger people bleat about the latest calamity. The world is running out of…!!!!(Fill in the blank.) This disease is so rampant we will face a new plague! Global cooling will exterminate the human race. Wait a minute. Global warming will exterminate the human race. Wait a minute. Climate change…
You tilt your head and rub your chin over this news. You nod a few times. You offer a few hmmmm’s. Inside you think “Ho hum, another calamity. This is number fifty-five.” Outside, you appear wise and thoughtful.
Such meanderings came to mind when I saw a report about population trends this week.
If you are old like me you will know that humanity has collapsed already. Because the world has too many people. Billions are starving. Hordes of the starving are storming homes of the rich to find food. They are chowing down on their pets. Pestilence reigns.
This is what alarmists of a few years ago assured us would happen by now. They absolutely guaranteed it. Because too many babies were being born. The population calamity. Well, I guess you have noticed it did not happen.
Some alarmists have not yet got the word. They still rant about how the population bomb will soon explode.
Tilt, tilt, nod, nod, rub, rub, hmmmmm. It ain’t happenin’.
You can explain to alarmists that birth rates in all the developed countries have fallen dramatically. You can show them that in those countries the population bomb isn’t even a firecracker. “Yeah, but how about the poor countries? People are breeding like rabbits in the poor countries.” Right.
The item I read this week noted that birth numbers in the poorest countries are plummeting. Women in Thailand averaged seven babies in the 1970’s. Today, 1.6. A quick math lesson here: A country needs a birth rate of 2 to keep its population from shrinking. A little more than that, to allow for early deaths.
Brazil, Mexico, parts of India and Southeast Asia are racing in the same direction of Thailand. China has already arrived. Already more than half the world’s people live in countries whose population is shrinking.
Various countries are so worried about this they are offering incentives to folks to have more babies. Money. Bonus miles. Coupons. That sort of thing. Russia, South Korea, Chile, France, Australia. They are all pushing their people to turn off the TV and turn up the soft music. Ditch the pills and condoms. Pop open the bubbly.
They are doing this for practical reasons. One is that they need more young workers to support the growing numbers of oldies. Another is that they don’t feel it is a good idea for their countries to vanish. Don’t laugh. Italy and Japan’s birth rates point to extinction next century. Travel ads your great-grandchildren will see: Spend two weeks in Italy and meet all the Italians who are left. But hurry! Offer ends when Italy does.
So now you can stow the population bomb predictions in your calamity locker. Alongside the calamitous forecasts of old. You know, the plagues and droughts. And the end of forests. And farmlands eroded into the sea.
And you can prepare yourself for the next calamity: Population shrinkage. Alarmists will soon fire up the anxiety boilers over this. Already some Thai economist is proposing punitive taxes on single people and childless couples.
It could happen here. Our birth rate is dismal. And politicians forever look for reasons to whack us with more taxes. We may start funding Planned Parenthood to promote babies instead of abortions. At least it won’t have to change its name.
Stay tuned for this calamity to arrive. You still have time to practice your tilt, tilt, nod, nod routine. Purse your lips. Out with a few hmmmmm’s.
From Tom...as in Morgan.