We have to change our course

After we a spend a second 50 billion dollars reducing Iraq to a mumble. After we kill many Iraqis and some Americans. After we rebuild Iraq into a modern democracy. We will have to implement this course of action again in North Korea. When we finish with North Korea, there will be new rogue states, or groups, that have built weapons of mass destruction.

Even if we could succeed at this never ending succession of one sided yet dangerous global crisis, we would still be heading toward conflict with our friends. The competition for scarce resources with the Chinese, Russians, Europeans, and Western Hemisphere neighbors will beggar us or them.

The losing governments would be susceptible to revolution from within. Impoverished groups will fight first for rights, then independence. With independence they will become "have-not" nations and will set up to fight "have" nations to reclaim assets lost to or by their previous government.

This view of our global future is not pretty. However, if it is the one you believe, then you and I must ask the questions,"What would it take for humanity to go somewhere else?" "What behaviors would have to be changed so we could have an improving future rather than a slide into hell?"

There are some behaviors that have the desired effect. However, none of us have ever thought conditions where bad enough to even consider implementing them. And those of us that have considered obtaining these behaviors from 6 billion people have found the task either difficult or unethical.

What are these behaviors that would change our present course. I suggest a "one-child-per-family- behavior" for all six billion people. The resulting rapid decline in human population, the resulting rapid increase in resources per person, would remove most of the forces that now take individuals and societies into conflict with one another.

Wouldn't the aging population problem (a smaller group of young to support a larger group of old) overwhelm us. This is not at all clear. First, there would be much smaller costs to raise the smaller brood. And second, individuals who experienced 2-3 doublings of personal resources during their lifetime would have a much easier time in retirement without needing support from their young.

Isn't there an economic rule about no growth no prosperity. Yes, but it does not consider personal well being "can increase through increases in resources per capita that result from a rapidly decreasing population."

With these reservations removed, the real obstacle to a one child per family decision is to "overcome the cultural momentum using an abstract view of a horrible social future." This requires cognitive skills few if any have.

Maybe a parallel goal to disarming Iraq, should be to find a way to help a future generation obtain these cognitive abilities.


Jack Alpert (Bio)     mail to: Alpert@skil.org      (homepage) www.skil.org      Other position papers

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