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Tom Toles
Posted at 07:15 AM ET, 02/19/2013

Fewer people

How about fewer people? This is an old, used-up conversation, and the clingers-to-it are now branded as misanthropes. But I want to open the creaky old attic trunk, pull out the box tied shut with faded purple yarn, blow the dust away, cough, and cough some more, and some more, jeez that was a lot of dust!, wait, is that a bottle of Poland Spring way over there?, reeeeach, swig,, wipe my eyes, and re-introducce the topic: FEWER PEOPLE!

The old version of the argument ran aground on what turned out to be a wrong prediction, that fewer people would use up all the resources. It was a plausible argument, but the evidence-driven among us had to concede that free markets have a way of finding more resources, getting more out of old ones, and finding replacements than the gloomsters anticipated. But still the question remained, were we just getting better at wringing a finite sponge? But there were also still some unaddressed realities to worry about. One was species loss. Natural habitat destruction was an ongoing and worsening problem, and a species gone is gone forever. And then came climate change, and that changed the whole conversation, or would have, if evidence actually DID matter.

But I’m going to come at this from a different direction today. Everybody is looking at the stubborn unemployment numbers and scratching their heads and other places. What do these numbers MEAN? Here’s a possible answer! We don’t need so many workers anymore! Fill your tub at home with that thought, and settle on in for a soak. We don’t need so many workers anymore! The machines we built, after decades of prediction, are capable of doing the work now! This is NOT A PROBLEM! This is a solution! If we turn it into one! Less work, fewer workers, more time off, more nature, more species, more natural beauty, healthier planet! The fewer-people thing going to happen anyway. It’s starting already, with changing family dynamics. Let’s celebrate it and create some new, better patterns of life. The old huge farm-family model is fading away. I’ve got an empty box in the attic we can put it in.

By  |  07:15 AM ET, 02/19/2013

 
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