The popular world population argument is “don’t worry,” because the rate of growth is slowing down. Therefore it will not be a problem. But there is a problem because even with the current living population, we will consume most of the one-time use resources. At my age of 84, I may see the beginning of this process but probably won’t live to see the end of it.
Cartoon comedy can discuss issues which are impossible in cool discourse, and therefore that medium can explore beyond the problems facing us today. Actually, today’s problems have been latent and around for a while, but we in general, and the public in particular, aren’t interested in problems until we have begun suffering personally.
In the TV show South Park there are some episodes about the Manbearpig, (this is actually worth watching) which are about how long-term personal greed is catching up with the community’s resources. The elders, now living in elder care facilities, lived beyond their income for their whole lives by spending capital they did not create. Think of nice cars, beautiful homes, cheap oil, coal, natural gas, and public financing of their university educations by selling off Indian land to private people and using the money to build the universities and pay the professors. (free Land Grant Colleges).
That has been great for my generation, and because of that one-time use of resources we had a better education and, in general, made a lot more money during our careers. It was expected that we would pass on the one-time bounty to the newer generations, but that hasn’t happened, and we refuse to pay taxes to properly support our universities here in Oregon. The result is that our next generation is going into deep debt which will take these kids years to pay off if ever, to obtain what people of my generation got for free. My parents didn’t support me economically, and I supported myself and worked my way through a Master’s Degree without owing any debt at all. We got it all for free. The young people today I know are deep in debt, and for an education that may not have much of a future in economic rewards.
South Park then took the next intellectual step with my generation which lived a high life off of capital they didn’t create and are now in nursing homes. They showed how those people are now living off of Social Security that in most cases will far exceed the money they supposedly put into that system. I am not living in an elder home yet, but many people twenty years younger than I am are in those homes and consuming resources they supposedly earned. But much of that is money created out of fantasy, and the people who will actually pay to keep these old people alive are those now being underpaid because they can’t get a job fitting their expensive education.
Those old people are living off of their future debt, off of future work, but it is work which they are not going to perform because they will be dead. They have put the people living in the future into debt to those who created a system for shifting responsibility for paying off debts to other people. Watch the South Park conclusion where the whole town is offered a contract by the Manbearpig.
“Five wonderful years of bounty and great living, and then everything will be a thousand times worse.” OK!
It’s crazy and it worked for us. Unfortunately, if you are reading this you are still alive and will soon be paying off the debt for these moments of fun.