Sunday, March 18, 2007

Population time bomb...tick...tock...tick


Polish Catholic-nationalists, and 'liberal' environmentalists, in their different ways, fear there is a demographic time bomb waiting to go off. Bang!

Poland’s population is shrinking faster than any other country in the EU. Strange that, in a country that claims to be 95 percent Catholic, don’t you think?

The average family in Poland has 1.22 children, and a couple of weeks ago the government announced tax breaks for working women with children which will cost the tax payer 17 billion zlotys (US$5.6 billion, €4.5 billion). At a time when the EU is pressing the government to cut its budget deficit, that's not going to help, fiscally.

Catholic nationalists (of which the governing coalition is full of) blame all sorts of things for this. Feminism is the main culprit, apparently. They would like women to get back in the home and return to what the ‘natural’ function of a woman should be: being a baby machine.

A report by the UN adds to these people’s fears. In half a century’s time Poland will be one of the oldest nations on earth. In a dozen nations - including Japan, Bulgaria, Macao, Hong Kong, Italy, Poland, Korea, Slovenia, Romania and Spain - four in 10 citizens will be 60 or older by 2050, the UN says.

Eeek!

Does this mean that Poland will simply fade away as a nation?

But scratch the surface and you will find that what these people are really worried about is that there will be no Polish Catholics - the 'true' Poles - left in Poland to light up the candles in church before Mass.

A shortfall of population can easily be addressed by immigration, of course. But that, as catholic nationalists like Maciej Giertych would say, would weaken Polish (read ‘Polish Catholic’) ‘civilization’.

But if immigration is the obvious solution, then where would it come from?

There is always the less developed countries. They have lots of babies, don’t they?

And the tree huggers don’t like it

Whereas catholic nationalists in Poland fear that the low birth rate is a threat to (Latin) civilization as we know it, western ‘liberals’ think that there is just too many people in the world.

It’s getting impossible, for instance, to pick up the UK Guardian without being confronted by some misanthropic gibberish like this from ‘columnist’ Juliette Jowit:

In the time it takes you to get to the end of this sentence, seven people have been added to the population of the world…..

Then welcome seven new people to the world, I say! It’s a great place to be, if you avoid reading the Guardian too often, that is.

Jowit works herself up into a froth of indignation about how we cannot deal with ‘climate change’ without cutting down the number of humans on the planet.

Some population activists argue the world can only support a population of two to three billion, even as few as 500 million in future [?!?]. But even if reducing the world's population is unlikely or distasteful, it is incredible that there is not even a debate about limiting and maybe one day reversing growth.

….some braver voices - Sir David Attenborough, Jonathan Porritt and Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, to name a few - have begun to raise the issue.

Well, Juliette (where does the Guardian get these morons from?) Sir David Attenborough, Porritt et al have not suddenly 'began to raise this issue', they have been raising it for sometime. In 2003, these people - who have formed the scary sounding Optimum Population Trust (sounds like a bunch of Nazis) - were calling for the UK’s population to be cut in half!

Attenborough, the BBC’s natural history guru, seems to prefer the company of tigers and algae to his fellow human beings.

But whereas these kind of people would be scoffed at in the past, today this kind of thinking is becoming almost mainstream.

It’s basically a form of neo-Malthusian ‘analysis’ – which progressives used to laugh at when I was at college in the late 1980s – which fits in well with the culturally miserable-ist times.

What both Catholic Polish nationalists, and the tree hugging human haters need to be told is that too many humans, or not enough Poles, is not the problem. The problem is the lack of faith in human ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

It just goes to show that neither conservatives nor liberals have the ideology to cope with the modern world.

A little more faith in humanity, and a little less fear of the future, will sort this out. Humans - even immigrants! - are not the problem, they are the solution.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Demography does determine a nation's destiny. But are you advocating mass immigration from the third world as the answer to Poland's demographic problem. A couple of hundred thousand educated and ambitious immigrants would be fine but what you're contemplating is insanity. Much better would be for Poland to improve its economy so that young people would stay and raise families rather than seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Martin said...

"Much better would be for Poland to improve its economy so that young people would stay and raise families rather than seeking opportunities elsewhere."

Or import a few plumbers.

Anonymous said...

Jeez, What a BS rant! I agree with the first part about the perceptions of Poland's religo-politcal leaders, but really open your eyes.

The second part about overpopulation is completely disconnected and unrelated to the first. The overpopulation of the earth is not some thing that we can hope will be taken care of by some future generation. It needs to start now. I don't necessarily think that it means limiting people to single children, but instead properly educating people about this type of thing and encouraging fewer children and a more open economic environment throughout the world.

Wishing (or in your words "having faith in humanity") is just putting off the problem for a later time. Why not have faith in humanity to create a solution now and not in the future?

geez said...

BR: The problem is the lack of faith in human ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

I wonder why.

Maybe it's more a lack of faith in corporations and/or gubmints to adapt to changing circumstances.

Maybe the combination of democracy and capitalism is not exactly all it's cracked up to be.

geez said...

BTW, is that a picture of Junior Soprano celebrating his birthday in Poland? Maybe he's the one responsible for the revivification of disco polo!

Junior's to the right:
http://i.timeinc.net/ew/dynamic/imgs/020913/152558__sopranos_l.jpg

Philip said...

My impression of the course of the population question is nearly the opposite to Beatroot's, though I'm not saying he's wrong and I'm right.

All through the 70s and 80s the mantra was "too many babies. We can't feed them all." In the last few years it's been "too few babies. Who's going to pay for my retirement home in Aspen?"

I think it's a debate crying out not to be had. If there are too few people to till the fields, roll the steel etc. then we'll just make more humans. If there are too many, we'll make less.
It's not rocket science.

varus said...

The idea of replacing the gap in society with immigrants has the added problem of its affect on the donor country. In many African countries, the infra-structure (already in a mess) is not being helped by the constant brain drain north and west.
(See Laurie Garrett in "The Challenge of Global Health," (Foreign Affairs January/February 2007))
Britain is a prime example of this phenomena, (Polish brains, not being immune to the attractions)

Harry said...

Good rant BR! Pity the second half of it is utter bollocks. Humans are not the problem, they are the answer? Perhaps you could be so kind as to explain how a planet of finite size can continue to support infinite population growth?

What's that? You can't?! Gosh, now there's a surprise.

To quote the Prophet:
There's too many fucking people in the world.
Someone needs to say that by the way.
Tired of this, "Hey hey aren't we the coolest. Humans are so neat."
Too many of yer.
Quit rutting, just for a fucking day.
Let's work out this food/air deal. Then go back to your rutting.
Where's this idea that childbirth is a miracle came from. I missed that fucking meeting, okay?
"It's a miracle, childbirth is a miracle."
No it's not. No more than a miracle than eating food and a turd coming out of your ass. It's a chemical reaction, that's all it fucking is.
If you you wanna know what a miracle is. Raisin' a kid that doesn't talk in a movie theatre. Okay, there, there, there is a goddam miracle.
It's not a miracle if every nine months any yin yang in the world can drop a litter of mewling cabbages on our planet.
And just in case you haven't seen the single mom statistics lately, the miracle is spreading like wild-fire.
"Hallelujah!" Trailer parks and council flats all over the world just filling up with little miracles.
Thunk, thunk, thunk, like frogs laying eggs.
"Thunk, look at all my little miracles, thunk, filling up my trailer like a sardine can. Thunk. You know what would be a real miracle, if I could remember your daddy's name, aargh, thunk. I guess I'll have to call you Lorry Driver Junior. Thunk. That's all I remember about your daddy was his fuzzy little pot-belly riding on top of me shooting his caffeine ridden semen into my belly to produce my little water-headed miracle baby, urgh. There's your brother, Pizza Boy Delivery Junior."
Hold on for a minute, let's figure out this food/air deal okay? Okay. I'm just weird, you know? How about having a nice world for kids to come to?

jannovak57 said...

geez said: "Maybe the combination of democracy and capitalism is not exactly all it's cracked up to be"


"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried."

Winston Churchill

geez said...

Maybe greed is more of a problem than "rutting."

BTW, I'm writing in Daniel Ortega for US President!

jannovak57 said...

Do you think the Catholic Church has come to the conclusion that some of the flock are using birth control?

There are obvious and immediate solutions (which is not likely to get governmental support anytime soon). Encourage immigration from the African country of Niger, which should get a prize for breeding. 1000 people in Niger produce a greater number of offspring that 5000 plus Poles do.

Is there a crisis in Poland that’s significantly different than is being faced by any of the industrial societies of the west? Not really.

The Catholic-nationalists and 'liberal' environmentalists should buy a textbook on economic policy, as to some extend birth rate is based on the economy. But also birthrate is based on societal and individual attitudes.

When asked most couples declare a desire for two children but in reality more often it ends up as one. There’s shift in Polish society with respect to the family, which prioritizes individual self-fulfilment over “duty” to create the family. In some measure we are more materialistic then previous generations.

So why the low birthrate?

-no economic need to produce children
-limiting children to increase the family’s general standard of living
-uncertainty about the economic future
-a more educated population inclined to control their reproduction options
-a desire for career fulfillment
-increase the options for travel
-more free personal time

Throwing money at people to breed is unlikely to get the desired result except for creating a minor baby boom amongst the least educated and most backward portion of society. Economic reforms combined with an effective daycare system would likely yield the best results, a modest increase in birthrate.

geez said...

Now you're quoting the guy as an authority after you battered him for selling out Poland? Well, *more* democracy might help curb or at least offset the excesses of capitalism. But certainly not western democracy in it's present form.

^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried."

Winston Churchill

jannovak57 said...

With respect to “rutting” greed versus personal choice, when does personal choice become greed? There is a school of thought that believes not producing offspring in an already crowded world is socially responsible.

Churchill was not Poland’s most reliable ally but his commitment to democracy was real if not somewhat dated.

Daniel Ortega still doesn’t look convincing in his new suit, his trying to convince people he’s found god and social democracy, concepts he wouldn’t recognize if he tripped over them.

I don’t really understand your problem with capitalism as practiced in developed western societies. Over the last century there’s been an evolution from the days of the “robber barons” to the present. The present form of capitalism s highly restrained by society and regulated in every aspect of business activities.
I would be curious as to what aspects of western capitalism you feel need further restraint or additional regulation.

I will agree that in Russia and China it’s a different ball game almost resembling the days of the “robber barons” when it comes to workers rights and work conditions.

beatroot said...

The main point of the Guardian article was that politicians were not listening to brave souls like Atenborough et al. about population growth, so how can we tackle global warming.

But all the recent reports about global warming DO take into account population growth.

So she is barking up the wring tree hugger there.

Of course, as nations develop demographic growth slows down. This is because developed societies have better health care, so people live longer, and having children is not seen as a way to increase a family’s income – which it is in many Third World countries.

The danger that tree huggers pose to these countries is that they want to slow down those countries’ economic growth….

Wealth creation is the key to a slow down in population growth. And its wealth creation that the greenies so hate.

As to the Malthusian assumptions in that article: improving technologies have shown this to be nonsense.

Look at agriculture. We have got better and better at growing more on less land. Land is then freed up for other use. Like housing, etc.

This process would be greatly helped by more use of GM crops.

But of course, GM crops are yet another thing the screaming greenies hate.

So everything that will help us adapt to population growth, economic development, wealth creation, development of technologies is just what the tree huggers want us to stop.

As for those who fear immigration: well, I think it’s pretty obvious how immigration is beneficial to host countries…

opamp said...

@jannovak57:

Economic reforms combined with an effective daycare system would likely yield the best results, a modest increase in birthrate.

Sweden did manage to achieve about 2 children per woman this way, so this model is certainly workable.

Of course, if our Christian politishuns really cared about the women having children they would fix the economical mess in this country. But they will not, because bitching about abortion is much more spectacular (and guarantees immediate and unconditional Church support). Their credo has been stated by one of them (Goryszewski) in early 1990s: "It is not important if the Poland would be rich. It is not important if it would be democratic. It is important that it would be Catholic."

@BR:

As for those who fear immigration: well, I think it’s pretty obvious how immigration is beneficial to host countrie...

There is no general rule. Silicon Valley vs. Clichy-sous-Bois, eh? It has more to do with whether the host country is capable of assimilating the immigrants (Western European countries seem to be generally incapable in this regard, leading to the creation of closed immigrant communities).

Besides, immigration in case of Poland is a non-solution: it is being pushed by business associations as a way to keep the wages down. These people have lobbies hard to give the Romanians and Bulgarians full access to Polish work market, hoping for an influx a cheap labor. You know how many Romanians came to Poland? NONE.

Now if someone figured out a way to bring some Polish emigrants from abroad, that would do some good...

As for these predictions for 2050, I'd take them with a grain of salt. It is not really probable that the current trends will continue for that long, since we are facing a new world war over diminishing natural resources much sooner.

By the way, excellent post.

Anonymous said...

Beat, look at China and then tell me that over population is not a problem. You're obviously a bit ingnorant about that part of the world.
Pete

Anonymous said...

Immigration, you mean of the Simon Mole type?

geez said...

I was not posting in terms of personal choice (whatever that is) vs. greed. My suggestion was that the uneven global distribution of wealth is even more threatening in the here and now than any purported future population time bomb. I agree with BR (egads!) that healthy economies create situations whereby population growth is properly managed by individual choice.

I'm not so sure what kind of democracy to which Churchill was committed. I'll defer that debate to Mad Dogs, Englishmen, and other sundry opinionated folk.

If you want to attempt to persuade me that Daniel Ortega is any less committed to God and democracy than Winston Churchill, though, please have at it. I'd like to believe he's seen the light. Good for him on calling upon the US to support the contras financially today as it seems many have somehow not managed to reap the benefits the recent years of capitalist regulations; in fact, many have fallen into dire poverty. And he's lost his "darling" status with lefties and choice conservatives with his stand on abortion. If only Dennis Kucinich could have stuck to his guns. Oh well, his new wife is a babe!!! From jolly Olde England, too!!!

Your suggestion, Jan, that "The present form of capitalism is highly restrained by society and regulated in every aspect of business activities" may well be echoed countless times by CEOs and petty bourgeois businessmen alike, but I am indeed all for more democratic regulation. Sorry, but I guess I'm talking gubmint here. Y'see, istm that the regulations for the most part are put into place by the foxes in charge of the hen houses. It's their version of democracy. It serves them well. But it doesn't serve folks who get sent to fight stupid wars and it doesn't serve masses of people who remain illiterate. I just read today that 1/3 of the resident's of Washington, D.C. are illiterate. Something's mighty screwed up there and sorry, I'm not going to unilaterally blame the individual or group of victims here, although there is certainly an element of individual choice. But I'd still say in the refrain of the old tune, that largely "There but for fortune go you or I."

geez said...

Anon: Please crawl back under the rock from under which you crawled out.

Nobody takes anything you write seriously.

At best, my sense is that most folks here, left, right and inbetwixt, are incredulous that you can even write.

If your purpose has been to prove that you can be as annoying as fingernails on a chalkboard, you've succeeded.

So you've won. Now please go away and defecate somewhere else.

I'm going to ignore you from now on. I consider what you post to be graffiti. An annoyance with which we unfortunately have to live, just like dog shit.

beatroot said...

Pleases, anonymouses…give yourself names…there are few anons here and it makes it very difficult to recognize the inteligent guys from the ‘Simon Mol is the devil’ types.

So. Anonymous who sad:
properly educating people about this type of thing and encouraging fewer children and a more open economic environment throughout the world.

And this is the guy that told me to ‘open my eyes’. Can you show me one society where demographic growth has slowed by ‘educating people’?

The world simply doesn’t work like that, mate. Poland’s population is not affected by ‘education’, there are sociological, historical and economic factors behind demographics and you will not understand anything by thinking ‘education’ changes family size.

Phillip:
My impression of the course of the population question is nearly the opposite to Beatroot's, though I'm not saying he's wrong and I'm right.

No, Phillip, one of us is right and one of us is wrong. Or, we both either right or wrong.

And you are missing the point. The problems in the west and the developing world are completely different.

My post was about how both conservative catholic nationalists and liberal greens are both deeply conservative and represent exhausted political ideologies.

Varus
I take your point about
The idea of replacing the gap in society with immigrants has the added problem of its affect on the donor country.

Just look at Poland! But the freedom to move around the world seeking a better life is an important political one and should be supported.

Harry
Perhaps you could be so kind as to explain how a planet of finite size can continue to support infinite population growth?

You are slipping into Malthus. The point about humans is that we can invent, and develop the way we get resources from the planet. In Mathus’s day he could not have invisaged modern techniques of agriculture, or modern sways of generating power, like nuclear power, for instance.

More inniovations will come and we will keep getting better at getting more out of less.

That’s the history of power generation, for example. Burning wood gets a fraction of the energy out of that wood. Coal gets more. Oil get more. But still a fraction of what is in their. Even nuclear power only gets about 5% of all the energy that is in plutonium.

The earth is not a ‘closed system’ (look it up).

Jan. I think, for the first time ever, we are in complete agreement about something.



Although you seem to be having an argument with yourself about this, so I will leave you to it…

Opamp
Cheers. It’s actually a post that catholics might appreciate AND progressives (excluding modern day liberals).

But immigration per se is not the cause of the Parisian experience. …it’s how the host country reacts to immigration that counts.

Pete – what are you talking about? China has a massive population and that means it has a potentially MASSIVE MARKET.

I think you don’t know what you talking about, Pete.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Farris said...

A big reason the birth rate has fallen is that employers don't want to hire young women who will get pregnant (and young women with any education whatsoever and/or personal ambition are mostly putting off having children in favor of working).

Most of the government proposals don't address this of course and focus on trying to compell them to have children or offer shiny, useless trinkets...

varus said...

Beatroot,
i agree ofcourse that the freedom to search for work adn a better future is important and should be upheld. However, allowing this to happen is different to actually head-hunting for skilled professionals as the UK to name but one has done in Central/Eastern Europe and various African countries. Here they are using their economy to unfairly compete withj the local labour market.

Philip said...

Beatwrite root:

"No, Phillip, one of us is right and one of us is wrong. Or, we both either right or wrong."

I think there's a typo in there. For one thing, I admitted you might be right rather than I, not that both of us can be right. Read carefully. Perhaps you should pause to consider before you rush in to batter the hated "tree huggers."

My comment was only on the arguments that have been presented over the years - not on the merits of any of them.

Deep Thought said...

Immigration won't be an answer; see, its not just the number of people, its the number of people of working age. To maintain the dependency ratio in Poland (meaning, the same number of workers compared to children and retirees) would require over a million total immigrants *every year* for 20 years or more. The nations of the developing world (like Niger) have fertility falling *faster* than Europe, so they will 'catch up' in the not-having-baby races very soon, now.

And Sweden did not get their fertility rate up to 'about two' with their programs; they increased fertility from 1.5 to 1.66, meaning that their billions of dollars of expenditures had enough of an effect that the population of Sweden will be halved in 55 years instead of 45 years.

And Sweden's TFR is trending down, again, too.

opamp said...

Thanks. I stand corrected.

beatroot said...

Phil: Perhaps you should pause to consider before you rush in to batter the hated "tree huggers."


For sure, it was a typo - my point was a clumsy attack on relativism - and I do not think you are a tree hugger (meaning someone who puts 'nature' first, humans a long way behind. It's a self hatred, really.)

But I still don;t think that government 'education' changes behaviour.

Szwagier said...

"Attenborough, the BBC’s natural history guru, seems to prefer the company of tigers and algae to his fellow human beings."

And frankly, who can blame him? What idealist wouldn't?

beatroot said...

My goodness – here we have one. A self hating misanthropic tree hugger.

Welcome to the beatroot. You would like me – not human, just an innocent root veg (though I am afraid I am not organic).

YouNotSneaky! said...

Poland always has been people-scarce. And historically the way to deal with that has always been to import foreigners. Germans, Jews, Italians, Scots, Russians, Tatars, an Englishman here or there. It worked in the past. For us and for them.

dr. moreau said...

not organic? ru sure ur not genetically modified?