On page 284 of Charles Murray’s new book Coming Apart he writes:
“There’s a lot to like about day-to-day life in the advanced welfare states of western Europe. They are great places to visit. But the view of life that has taken root in those same countries is problematic. It seems to go something like this: The purpose of life is to while away the time between birth and death as pleasantly as possible, and the purpose of government is to make it as easy as possible to while away the time as pleasantly as possible–the Europe Syndrome.”
I have observed, as has everyone else whose eyes are open, that the trend here in the United States is strongly in that direction. It has been away from self reliance and taking responsibility for one’s actions and toward shifting responsibility for our personal welfare onto the government. Our citizenry still has large pockets of creative, productive, self-reliant people as seen in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, but the general populace is moving toward a European style of personal apathy. Last week I was shocked when in group discussion about our super successful American creators – I mentioned Gates, Jobs and Grove by name – and the consensus seemed to be they were thieves who had robbed the public with their overly expensive products and they should be stripped of their money and positions. These folks seemed to feel quite jolly in their assessment. I mentioned that each of those guys had come from modest beginnings, and that Grove had even fled for his life across open fields from the Communist empire. How humble a beginning can one have? America is still a land of opportunity for those who have the intelligence and perspicacity to pursue success with vigor.
I love America and consider myself among the luckiest people to have ever lived because I was born here when I was, but our very success has now become our enemy. We are consuming way beyond our ability to sustain our way of life for very long and have come to expect the largess of the Earth to be eternal. We are living on the success of some of our most creative people’s ability to exploit opportunities and we are all benefiting from their success. This type of exploitation of new opportunities will continue to be successful for quite a while, because of the vast resources that are now being poured into research and development, but it can’t last forever. The limiting factor is population exceeding food supply and food supply isn’t infinite whereas population doubling is infinite, so long as there are adequate resources. But, resources and opportunities are not infinite! The only way, and I don’t often think in terms of the only way, but in this case – the only way to have a happy long-lived humanity is to have the population in balance with the resources available.
At present the only government of the world that seems to face that simple fact is China’s. They have a population policy that has worked well and the country known for millennia as a Land of Famine because of their recurrent famines is now the most successful economy in the world. China will retain is success because it has the proven capacity to enforce the simple balance of human population to their country’s needs. It has a huge population and a proven capacity of their people to work and to produce what is needed by themselves and by the rest of the world. It may sound outrageous now, especially to Americans, but China is almost certainly the country to be in control of the world economy at the end of the 21st Century and probably long before. No other country can have a population policy which will work, at least at present, and without that there isn’t any long-term hope for world stability. At some point that will become obvious, but for now it is outrageous.