Things are getting better – aren’t they?

Economists know that we are producing more goods and services with less resources and labor. Health care and good food, are increasing longevity by two and half years per decade. Education is producing an ever-advancing technology. Sociologists are stopping gang wars, feeding the starving, maintaining air and water quality, and mounting attacks on disease and addiction. And Political scientists are resolving conflicts among nations at the negotiating table.

Environmentalists know we are despoiling the natural diversity of the environment. They see water, land, air, and food becoming toxic. Land eroding. Virgin forest and fisheries depleted. Demographers see a rapid separation of the global community into have and have-nots. They see the trickle down process failing to deliver enough well-being to keep the have-nots peaceful. The have’s move into gated communities, with protected water supplies, private farms, and private armies. Have-nots breath poisoned air, drink poisoned water, deplete or despoil their remaining resources, experience weakened governments and judicial process, and are reduced to an agenda of local and immediate survival.

Demographers see ever increasing rounds of conflict between the two groups. Do these statements ring true for you? Do you already live inside a gated community -- a national border? "Are things "still" getting better -- for you inside this border?" Maybe? Are there gated communities within that national boarder springing up where haves live? I don’t know if you live in one or plan to live in one but maybe you would like to consider "on which side of that gate" your kids, grand kids, and great grand kids will live?

Which of today’s actions determine their side? The most common answer is that each of us must amass a large fortune with which to launch each of our progeny so they are successful in the process that separates the haves from the have-nots. Obviously this solution can not work for everyone. It is possible that because of the produced conflict it works for no one. Conflict can reduce the well-being of even the haves.

There are other behaviors, which produce much better predictions. Humankind can act to enhance the trickle down performance so even the most deprived have-nots can have great expectations. With this action, everyone can expect to double, quadruple, and even octople their well being within their lifetimes. Everyone can, envision, if not directly experience, their great grand kids living 16 times better then they themselves lived at birth.

How does such a magical improvement take place in a world where already 80% of the current population can not maintain their present levels of material well being? It is not based on some technological break through like spaceships carrying people to Mars. The answer is far more simple.

It happens when 6 billion individuals all choose to father or mother only one child. By not having siblings or aunts or uncles, each kid can expect a doubling of well being each 30 years. How did I arrive at such a number? Ask yourself how many parents you had? Two. How many grand parents you had? Four. How many great grand parents you had? Eight. So if your grand parents were "only children," and they inherited the homes of your great grand parents, they have two homes. If your parents were "only children," they would inherit four homes. And if you and your spouse were only children you would inherit eight homes. If you had only one child and he or she married a person of similar lineage then he or she would have 16 homes.

More importantly, this result works for all 6 billion people at the same time. And it completely removes the motivation to recover through conflict lost well-being created by the natural process, which separates us into haves and have-nots. Trickle down, created by rapidly decreasing population works better than it has ever worked in the past based on advances in productivity and efficiency, expanded consumption of non renewable or overuse of renewable resources. With much smaller numbers humankind’s footprint is greatly decreased. You may own 16 homes but you need to turn on the lights and flush the toilet in only one of them at a time.

What we have to ask is why people’s faith in the mythology that "life is getting better" has not been shaken by events in New York, Beirut, Jerusalem, Chechnya, East Timor, Kashmir, Sarajevo, and Bogota. Maybe people lack the ability to create accurate causal models of present social systems. They can not make believable predictions. If they can they can not value them. In place of any casual reality, ZPG or other rules of thumb will determine procreative behavior until it's too late.


Jack Alpert (Bio)     mail to:      position papers

     (more details)