Population and Cheap Labour

Herman Daly has made more fundamental contributions to specifying a truly sustainable economics than any economist of the past half century. At 85, he is still contributing to the development of ecological economics and still tossing off more memorable phrases in a short essay than most of us could work into a book. An example is his contribution to the Great Transition Initiative’s forum The Population Debate Revisited, which includes many essays worth reading.

By Herman Daly

  1. The Latin word proles means offspring, and in Ancient Rome the proletariat was the class with no property whose contribution to the Republic was to proliferate many offspring—servants, soldiers, and laborers for the benefit of the patricians. The association of poverty with both non-ownership of property and rapid proliferation is rooted in our very language. Marx redefined proletariat, emphasizing non-ownership of property and avoiding reference to excess population as a cause of poverty, even though it would have provided a better explanation for his needed “reserve army of the unemployed” than did technological unemployment. But Marx wanted the cause of poverty to be rooted entirely in social relations so as to be curable only by social revolution. Malthus, and even more the neo-Malthusians, offered the alternative of moral restraint as an individualistic cure for poverty rooted in the natural tendency to reproduce beyond subsistence. Malthus’s theory of poverty emphasized differential population growth by class and downplayed differential property ownership, while Marx’s theory did the opposite. Today, the Marxian connection to non-ownership of property by itself defines the modern meaning of proletariat, and the literal Latin connection to many offspring has been forgotten. It is past time to remember it, and to think seriously about it again.1
  2. Some say that people who want to limit population by birth control are anti-life. No, the more lives the better, as long as we are not all alive at the same time, elbowing each other and God’s other creatures off our finite planet. Maximizing the number of people simultaneously alive (especially high-consuming people) overshoots and consumes carrying capacity, reducing cumulative lives ever to be lived over time. It is laissez-faire reproduction, along with laissez-faire production, that is anti-life. Contraception is pro-life, as is limited production and consumption. Even abortion can be pro-life.2
  3. Some say that with more births there is a better chance of getting another Einstein or Beethoven, so we better encourage more births. By the same facile logic, there is also a better chance of getting another Hitler or Caligula. Maybe we already have some potential Einsteins or Beethovens whose genius is stifled by poverty and could flourish in a more egalitarian world.

    Cheap workforce on its way, young men risking their lives and seeking fortunes, legitimate asylum seekers, or what? Refugees on their way to the Austrian border in 2015. Photo: photog_at
  4. Some worry about depopulation and a shortage of labor (they mean a shortage of cheap labor). Also, a reduction of the working-age population relative to retired seniors threatens the solvency of social security at the existing level of ample pensions and early retirement age. The cheap retirement lobby prefers to increase the younger working cohorts relative to the retired cohorts, and that in turn requires population growth, not reduction.
  5. Some personalize the population question and ask, “Where would I be if my parents had practiced birth control?” Maybe you (your self-conscious being, spirit, soul) would have been connected to a child born to other parents, perhaps in a different time and place. Did you not ask in wonder as a child, “Why am I me, and not you?” Did you ever solve that mystery? Has anyone solved it? You might also ask, “Where would I be if my parents had not practiced birth control?” Maybe you would be an unwanted tenth child born to poor parents.
  6. Some personalize the immigration issue and ask, “Where would I be if my great-grandparents had not been allowed to immigrate to the United States? You have eight great-grandparents. Did they all immigrate? Regardless of that, is not the US, the third most populous country in the world, historically a “country of immigrants”? Yes, for sure, and net immigration is by far still the major driver of current US population growth. Does that mean that more future immigration is better than less? Does it even mean that past immigration was all good? Indigenous people did not benefit from the immigration of our European ancestors, did they? Nor did anyone benefit from the involuntary immigration of African slaves, except for the slave owners who got cheap labor. In fact, these two immigrations are often considered the foundational sins of the American nation.
  7. Without slaves, where can we get the cheap labor needed to keep the economy growing? From the proletariat, of course, just like the Ancient Romans. Encourage the proletariat to proliferate, and make it hard for them to move out of the proletariat by owning property. Concentrate property in the hands of patrician oligarchs. If the fertility of our proletariat should fall, then outlaw abortion, and contraception too, and bring in more immigrants from the global proletariat to depress national wages. Especially ignore undocumented immigration, because it keeps wages low and profits high. We have it easier than the Ancient Romans—they had to conquer foreign nations to add to their proletariat; today, people just come on their own. Indeed, wars, famines, and environmental disasters in our world of ecological overshoot, to which our growth has contributed substantially, make it morally impossible not to accept a large number of immigrants as legitimate refugees.
  8. In my lifetime, world population has quadrupled (from 2 to 8 billion). That big fact, plus the above thoughts, makes me wonder why there has recently been such a timorous attitude toward discussion of population (by Neo-Classical Economists, Marxists, Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, and Technological Gnostics), and makes me welcome Ian Lowe’s call to lift the taboo. Certainly, the Great Transition Network should be a major participant in a renewed and frank discussion of population.




First published in the Great Transition Initiative’s June 2022 Population Debate Revisited.
Herman Edward Daly is an American economist and pioneer of ecological economics. He is emeritus professor at the School of Public Policy of University of Maryland, College Park in the United States, best known for his time as a senior economist at the World Bank from 1988 to 1994. In 1996, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award for “defining a path of ecological economics that integrates the key elements of ethics, quality of life, environment and community.”

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26 thoughts on “Population and Cheap Labour

  1. This is precisely the conversation we might be having if our own patricians (or oligarchy), due to changes in our communications laws, weren’t now allowed FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE FOUNDING OF BROADCASTING to own and control our electronic media AND ITS CONTENT, and again, thanks to deregulation, our print media, that is outside of the demise of the THOUSANDS of newspapers that once prospered in every little town in America, is now centralized too into the hands of the oligarchy. AS THEY MAKE SURE “THEIR” MEDIA make sure we aren’t aware of this big picture!

    We won’t get a conversation about population–as media bury that Biden’s ignoring N.E.P.A. and that the U.S. population is exploding (over 90-percent immigration), while their publishing houses make darned sure that NO MESSAGE but the, “There’s always room for more!” one is allowed to be published.

    1. Exactly. And even if discussion, or any valid reasoning or argumentation will change these guys’ mind just yet, only ultimatum will.
      This will happen. Wrongdoing is intrinsically finite, right?

      1. You nailed it, Teddy, and I keep hearing Thomas Jefferson’s, “Democracy requires the blood of a frequent revolution to refresh it,” with that particularly true when we have two political parties focused on all things but fixing and addressing corruption–MOST PARTICULARLY THEIR OWN!

      2. I respectfully disagree with Kathlene Parker’s quote of Jefferson to hint at bloody revolution. That’s exactly the kind of ‘ratcheting up the tension’ that the Overpop Project and everyone else on earth need to avoid.

        Surely our imaginations aren’t so atrophied that we can’t come up with 77 other ideas besides, “Let’s fight, let’s murder!” Even as metaphor (which Ms Parker surely intends), it’s a bad idea.

        Ditto the regrettable comment by Jefferson: among his worst.

        Editors, do you agree that even if we hear others parrot echoes of violence, it doesn’t mean that this website should join the mayhem? If so, then please say so.

        In general, millions of folks are wary of popul discussions precisely b/c of wing nuts or, like Ms Parker, over-zealous proponents, who amp up the drama and call for violent solutions. The ALL CAPS word-shouting in Ms Parker’s initial comment doesn’t help, either.

        Again, I’m sorry to fuss at you in particular, Ms Parker. Yet if you’re the Pulitzer-prize winning journalist at the Washington Post of the same name, well, button-pushing is a sad but all too common habit of your profession.

        In either case, my message goes out to all of us, including the site’s editors.

        Peace and love : )

  2. Wow. Top writing. A lifetime of good thinking in a nutshell – or should I say warhead – I almost would recommend this essay to be bullhorned on every streetcorner across the world for some time. And start selling earplugs :-).
    Excellent article.

    1. Well, Teddy, it’ll have to be a bullhorn, because as I defined in “Why population REALLY disappeared from the news and became politically incorrect,” for NPG, today’s media actively work to keep writings like this one FIRMLY UNDER NEWS BLACKOUTS! (And that assertion from a lifelong working jouralist!)

  3. Well, Davykydd, don’t get your panties in a twist. If the WARNING of a founder upsets your liberal bias, that’s your problem.

    My point was that if we don’t get this nation in order AND SOON, including getting our media back under control, we are likely heading for violence. That’s especially true because at NO LEVEL are our “leaders” a term I use jokingly, addressing ANY OF THE URGENT PROBLEMS OF OUR TIMES, and I’m old enough and wise enough to know that that is what leads to warfare.

    You can think and chant your “peace and love” mantra until the cows come home, war comes out of very real imbalance, and I believe the reason humankind endures so many wars–as Beyond War taught in the 1980s–is our tendency to think peace and love rather than growing up and dealing with the problems that cause WAR AND HATRED!

    For example, what on Earth do you think is going to happen in the American Southwest–as Biden continues to EXPLODE THE REGION’S POPULATION THROUGH ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION–if the area’s 200 reservoirs CONTINUE–as they absolutely are–to run dry?

  4. P.S. Davykydd, as a REAL JOURNALIST, I have absolutely NOTHING BUT CONTEMPT for the WaPo or the New “Yack” Times. They were once upon a time, great newspapers because they ADHERED TO STANDARDS OF ETHICAL REPORTING. In my view, they are today nothing but one-sided propaganda machines reflective of only narrow views. You know? The sort of thing that degrades into CONFLICT AND PERHAPS WAR!?

    In fact, as a journalist, I know of NO RECOGNIZED NEWS ORGANIZATION that I would trust to tell anyone the color of the sky on a clear day. Media today are rife with bias, half-truth and news blackouts of a type that, when I reported, would have gotten me fired!

    1. Quite true, and sad too.

      Surely there must be a cohort of ‘real journalists’ like yourself who could coordinate to launch a reliable online ‘News Organization’?

      Online viewers will gravitate toward the truth, especially when presented in the more sober tone of your two well-researched articles for NPG. ( Nice work there. )

      Then once a critical mass of viewers are reached, other media venues may open up. You’ve certainly got the skillset and the motivation. Focus it! : )

      1. Oh gosh, yes, if I weren’t so LONG IN THE TOOTH! I do write for NPG, Progressive for Immigration reform, etc., but too long in the tooth for much more than that.

        People ask what I read for information. Well, outside of specific sources like this website, very little, although I deeply revere the FREE MONTHLY PUBLICATION from Hillsdale College, called IMPRIMIS. It leans to the right but is of a QUALITY OF JOURNALISM that honestly tries to inform. I also do take THE EPOCH TIMES–way too far right for my tastes–but it does (as in being the ONLY publication to report that Biden is being sued for violating NEPA via his southern border policies) at least offer a balance to left-wing reporting that otherwise dominates AND it fills in a lot of news that otherwise (like the NEPA thing) would go unreported.

        The point is, thanks to deregulation gratis of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, we now have media CONTROLLED BY OUR OLIGCARCHY and we no longer have the reporting requisite to HONESTY, or the 4-legged stool of reporting.

        Today, we get ‘one leg,’ or strictly one-sided advocacy, no other info. I was always required to do ‘4-legged’ reporting. Or, both sides (both biases) and then sometimes multiple INDEPENDENT SOURCES for factual information and coloring between, as to who might be the most correct. But key is that it was HONEST reporting bent on providing a WELL-INFORMED READER ALL THE INFORMATION he or she needed to DRAW HIS OR HER OWN CONCLUSIONS, not as today’s media do, to PROPAGANDIZE US INTO ‘CORRECT’ THINK!

        I almost vomit every time I hear NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, Fox or anyone refer to Putin’s propaganda machine. He has nothing on us! Suggest you read my NPG paper, “Why population REALLY disappeared from the news and became politically incorrect.”

      2. Well, one would hope, but the trouble is, we MUST–if we want to continue a democracy–get back an honest media, because “they” (the oligarchy or whoever now own media in ways once banned by law, to wit, Disney, Comcast, Sony, News Corp, National Amusements, Time-Warner) are CONTROLLING THE MESSAGE TO BILLIONS. (Also, young journalists are only being taught the kind of journalism those entities want (one-sided ADVOCACY REPORTING) and no nothing about the standards the profession used to try to adhere to.

        In our own country–though our two squabbling and from my view, largely corrupt political parties don’t seem to want to go there–I think the only hope is if someone (unlike Trump’s empty ‘fake news’) clearly defines that media DEREGULATION–removing laws in place since the 1930s–represents the biggest threat to our democracy in all of our history, and I’m putting it far ahead of 9-11 or the attack on Pearl Harbor, because it is below the radar, has happened quietly, has SILENCED THAT IT IS EVEN HAPPENING and is–as journalists never should –the very national and international agenda. For example, one reason “they” so hate Trump is that he’s the first president SINCE MEDIA DEREGULATION who ran for president DESPITE NOT HAVING MEDIA SANCTION!!! But now, all of media, in ways media ONCE WERE BANNED BY LAW FROM DOING are “going after him,” and if I as an experienced journalist can’t discern honest reports form lies, what hope?

        But we must get the FAIRNESS DOCTRINE back, we need the Big 6 MONOPOLY broken up and REGULATED and we need to make clear that it is NOT okay for people like Jeff Bazos to own media! The publisher of my last paper wouldn’t even let it join the Chamber of Commerce for fear it would compromise our journalistic OBJECTIVITY–contrast that with where we are today!

  5. I think this is a very good piece that doesn’t rehash things we’ve already heard a million times.
    The only thing I do not agree with is that we have a moral obligation to accept a large number of refugees. That might be true (morals are not set in stone, but there’s certainly a moral argument there), but it could be equally true that governments have a moral obligation to the welfare of their own citizens first, and that admitting very large numbers of migrants puts in jeopardy said welfare.

    I don’t know if anyone has seen Pakistanis claiming that “we” should pay for the damages caused by flooding in Pakistan because they didn’t cause climate change. I am very sorry to see people suffer like this, but I’d like to hear more about the insanely high population of Pakistan, Pakistani migrants contributing to pollution of wealthier countries, and how land use changes in Pakistan itself might have made it more vulnerable to such disasters.

    1. And, as a very outspoken voice here in the U.S. that we must stop OVER-IMMIGRATING (but then Barbara Jordan was my role model when I was young!), I am also outspoken–and angry at our own liberal left–for their lack of concern that in countries like Pakistan and dozens of others, women do not have the same chance as women TO DETERMINE THE SIZE OF THEIR FAMILIES as in the U.S. where we have access to birth control, which I firmly believe (though I live in a town with a nuclear-weapons lab) that we would be far wiser to fund for free to these countries than to build more nukes!
      But that assertion has, on occasion, gotten me labeled as a “racists,” as it seems, I hate those little brown babies and don’t want to see them born. Well, I DO care if they’re born, but as one who LOVES ALL BABIES, I want to know they’ll have food in their tummies and a CHANCE AT AN EDUCATION and lives other than living in flooded low lands of Pakistan! (Dr. Karen Shragg wrote on this eloquently in the last NPG Forum paper.)

      But our own now OLIGARCHY-OWNED MEDIA (before deregulation of media, there were very tight controls as to whom could own major media) now want only more population in the U.S. and inviting in ever-more “asylum seekers” (never mind that few qualify), is the ONLY conversation they’ll allow as THEIR MEDIA propagandize that all of us saying no to THE OVER-IMMIGRATION BARBARA JORDAN WARNED OF are racist.

  6. I absolutely agree. We endlessly hear of our “moral obligation” to accept refugees, never mind that we’re awash in inviting in the world’s poor, that we can’t keep accepting so many of the world’s roughly 4 BILLION POOR, or that we ignore our own impoverished poor–just as LIBERAL BARBARA JORDAN warned would happen with OVER IMMIGRATION.

    In fact, their plight of our OWN MUSHROOMING NUMBERS OF POOR has disappeared–thanks to our broken media–from the national discussion.

    Plus, what does this author propose to do FOR WATER in a DESERT SOUTHWEST where all of the 200 reservoirs on the Colorado River (substantively our ONLY SOURCE OF WATER) are in crisis and there are predictions our mega-drought might last ANOTHER 30 YEARS OR MORE?

  7. Lots of great information and comments. One thing I once questioned is how many intelligent beings (mostly humans) could be had if there were no limits. Unfortunately, the number could be an infinite number. Given that, one should be happy they have beaten the odds and have been and are alive. That said, how many of us ‘lucky ones’ are living a good life and not one of abject poverty and misery. I once read a report that the number of suicides among millennials is at an all time high (many feel they have no future and either want to leave or go on drugs to lessen their perceived misery). My late partner (an immigrant from Iran) understood this issue clearly and became a real advocate of human overpopulation. She once asked her 2nd graders a question: What is more important, people or dirt? The latest National Geographic has a mind numbing essay on soil which address that simple questions. Also, I have become a fan of nature videos and have witnessed that intelligence is not just a human trait. Many, non-human, beings have strong senses and clearly a conscience. Too many of us are destroying the bio-diversity on this planet.
    The immigration is also misdirected into an emotional one of love or hate. It is and should not be about people but a system under which all must live. Unfortunately, too many let emotions determine how they feel about a subject and we all know the ‘doom and gloom’ reply when people hear of this topic.

  8. Largely agree, Jack, but let me remind you that it isn’t just that people “letting” emotions govern their views on immigration, but that that is what media are encouraging in every way by refusing to cover the SUBSTANCE OF IMMIGRATION while they report to DISTORT AND INFLAME!

    They label those seeking a rational border policy as racist. They unfailing call ILLEGAL BORDER CROSSERS “asylum seekers,” when they know perfectly well that 98-percent of them do not qualify for asylum. They refuse to do the jobs that journalists (That was my profession!) are obliged to do, to cover a complicated topic, FULLY, HONESTLY AND WITH FULL DISCLOSURE. THEY DO NONE OF THAT, as they–as I heard a CBS reporter do this week–assert all these people are here legally when that is absolutely not true!

    Nor do any of Big 6 NOW-DEREGULATED MEDIA seem willing to do their jobs as journalists to hold a president accountable for only ignoring IMMIGRATION LAWS LONG ON THE BOOKS, but actively gutting enforcement.

    Are you aware, for example, that Biden has refused to apply the National Environmental Policy Act to what is happening on the border, though a federal judge has made a ruling that will likely force that in the courts, and while that law CLEARLY STATES ANY ACTION BY THE FEDERALGOVERNMENT SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECTING POPULATION falls under N.E.P.A.?!

    That–a refusal to study the effects on population–even as the American Southwest faces READ MY LIPS, nearly 200 reservoirs either approaching dead pool or that, in the not-too-distant future, will face dead pool, to me reflects not only partisan politics and their worst, but corruption.

    If drought continues–not necessarily climate change, but NORMS FOR THE SOUTHWEST–what will 45 million people do for water? We hear a lot of pie-in-the-sky proposals like desalting (energy intensive, EXPENSIVE, with one national laboratory determining NOT LARGELY FEASIBLE) but even if feasible, it will take DECADES to get those online and the Southwest will run out of water LONG before that, DUE TO DRY NORMS IN A DRY REGION.

    So, perhaps a little emotion is well placed in a region where water in the ONLY MAJOR RIVER, the Colorado, is expected to continue at HALF OF NORMAL FLOWS into ALL OF THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE!

    1. Kathleen,
      Unfortunately, your comments are spot on. The serious issues facing the world toady clearly point all the fingers as too many of us. Yet we are hypnotized with the idea technology will save us. It will not and only makes things worse. I will attach a TED talk which touches on the technology issue. https://www.ted.com/talks/geoffrey_west_the_surprising_math_of_cities_and_corporations go to 13:50 minutes. I just read a piece showing the difference between linear and exponential. When one takes 31 steps one crosses the road. When one takes 31 exponential steps one circumnavigates the world 26 times. Our population growth (and so is Covid) is exponential.

      I have been involved with population demographics for 28 years. Served on the board of the Seattle chapter of ZPG and am now a member of NPG. Immigration IS a biggie and gets played, using the emotional card by both sides and liberals are just as bad at skewing the conversation wrongly as the conservatives. A new person on the overpopulation stage is Dr. Karen Shragg and the latest NPG newsletter was an essay by her and it addresses exactly your sentiments. https://npg.org/library/forum-series/the-verdict-anti-growth-pro-human.html#:~:text=The%20Verdict%20Is%20In%3A%20To%20Be%20Anti-Growth%20Is,to%20pay%20attention%20to%20those%20crafting%20the%20message%21%E2%80%9D One part, I have experienced over and over: “…I can’t be on my city’s sustainability commission because I want to focus on how development is something we should stop attracting, I have been asked to not join a newly formed national alternative environmental group because of my focus on this issue…I have been deemed an overpopulation pariah and they wish to wash their hands of me.” I think with all that is going on today more are waking up to the true cause of our present maladies. The serious waters issues of the SW have been covered over and over on NPR and there was one such report today. NPR used to have a more balanced coverage of the immigration issue but now it seem to be one sided, as you stated.

      The biggest problem is industry. Industry wants and needs a cheap, pliable source of workers and their mantra of constant growth is at odds with reality on a limited planet. A partner in a firm I once worked told me when he hears sustainability he hears stagnation! Problem is, the situation is so dire many environmental groups (as ZPG, Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club and National Geographic – now owned by Disney) cannot afford to run their missions without massive funding that only industry can provide. Politics are also beholden to huge funding sources and too many politicians (as Biden) need that funding to get their message across.

      My late partner was an immigrant from Iran. She was a school teacher at a Seattle International elementary school. She was the most intelligent and reason based person I and many others have ever met. She understood the overpopulation and immigration issue and was extremely vocal in her beliefs (which mirrored ours). In the Seattle school system some 150 languages are spoken by students. This has created a huge cost. She experienced this and I learned of examples of the problems of which most have no idea. One shocking case involved an African family. The male had 4 wives and 32 kids. The family was sponsored by a church group and a loophole allowed the man to claim one wife and 3 ‘family members.’

      I think most here are a part of a ‘choir’ and understand the seriousness of this issue. One thing we can do is help educate others, of our group, to different avenues that are at work here.

      1. Jack, or perhaps I should say, “fellow overpopulation pariah,” I too belong to NPG, and in fact, have written 2 papers for them–one on the Southwest water crisis and one on WHY media no longer report on population–and I am currently writing one that revisits the water issue (with heavy references to media NOT DOING THEIR JOB), plus a look at the ‘mega’ fires in the region as Biden explodes our population and yet (this from the party which helped craft it) refuses to do a N.E.P.A. study of the impacts of this MASSIVE ‘federal program’ on the region or the nation.

        Iran: I dated, when I was in college (You know? When the dinosaurs were still around.) a young man from Iran, who had been one of the then-Shah’s favorites, a fighter pilot, from a wealthy, powerful family, but then, he saw the situation there and came here and STAYED. We’re seeing what’s still playing out there with the protests of those dear people whom I pray achieve the freedom they’ve so long sought.)

        Let me emphasize. I’m in no way ‘anti-immigrant,’ a label I defined in my NPG paper on media as media-crafted. I served on the national Sierra Club’s Population Issues subcommittee back in the 1990s or so, when their executive director, Carl Pope, insisted we print a bumper sticker call us, “THE WORLD’S MOST OVERPOPULATED NATION,” but then, as a recent EPOCH TIMES defined (partly as a result of my lobbying) after a hefty donation with ‘strings’ attached, the club was attacking and alienating any and all who believed population was STILL the core issue in carrying capacity, with that including people like Stewart Udall and David Brower!

        In fact, my favorite quote on immigration comes from black, liberal Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, who headed Bill Clinton’s ‘Jordan Commission on Immigration and the American Future,’ TRYING in vain to help open-border types understand that an immoderate immigration policy, “Doesn’t enrich the world; it merely impoverishes the U.S.,” exactly what we have (as you know) as numbers poor now even higher than the Great Wave of 1880 to 1918, when the U.S. was still mostly a great, open frontier nation.

        I live in poor border state New Mexico and just love (Sarcasm!) how we hear, from our now-oligarchy-controlled media, endlessly about all those poor ‘asylum seekers’ when most, by no standard meet that definition or the legal standard for entry. Yet, there is NO reporting on the impact on resident poor Hispanics (who mostly don’t favor that open border) or our Native American reservations, where unemployment is sometimes in ranges of 60 percent!

        Now, how could any informed people think the highest immigration levels in U.S. history–into a now highly urban nation (in large measure, including the American West of today)–think that helps ANY of our existing problems, from poverty rife (and mostly forgotten) throughout the nation to the Colorado River (to my shocked amazement) doing exactly what I warned it would in that earlier 2014 NPG paper?

  9. Herman Daly’s deft use of a modified Socratic method is a good model for proponents of limiting immigration to follow.
    Ask a basic question and weave the logical answer, without resorting to put-downs. He seems to be in a category all his own… an Economist/ Philosopher whose message is easily understood by everyone with the capacity to listen.

    1. Let me remind you, Claire, that most of the ‘put downs’ are the product of the type of media–to no standards of ETHICS IN BROADCASTING once required by law, that have resulted in our (1.) no longer being able to discuss issues BASED ON THEIR MERIT and (2.) divisiveness to SCHOOLED INTO US BY BIG 6 MEDIA–Disney, Comcast, Sony, National Amusements, News Corp, Time-Warner–that they are absolutely succeeding in what they set out to do: KEEP US FROM DISCUSSING CRITICAL ISSUES LIKE IMMIGRATION AND POPULATION AT ALL! Have you, for example, seen even ONE news report that alludes to the explosive growth in the American Southwest even as its OVER 200 RESERVOIRS ARE AT RISK OF RUNNING DRY?

      And let me remind you–as our ‘news reports’ are more full of news blackouts omissions and bald-faced propaganda than substantive news–that when a nation is the 3rd MOST POPULATED ON EARTH and currently NUMBERS AMONG JUST 8 NATIONS FUELING HALF OF ALL GROWTH ON THE PLANET, and our media work to bury that fact, rather than report it AS IS THEIR DUTY AS MEMBERS OF THE FOURTH ESTATE, that, then, is the foundational problem.

      I make my comments based on 30 years of population activism–including working with a famous mathematician and National Medal of Science recipient–and over 30 years in journalism, as a reporter, as an editor, as a publisher AND THAT DURING A TIME WHEN NEWSPAPERS OF STANDING ADHERED–as the New York Times or Washington Post no longer do–TO STRICT STANDARDS OF: honesty, freedom from bias, inclusion of ALL the facts and the knowledge that journalists are CHARGED WITH SERVING THE TRUTH, NOT POLITICAL AGENDAS!

  10. So the issue of overpopulation, being the most critical area facing human kind (and thousands of other species that are becoming extinct) has now take a back seat to politics and one species, us, giving in to our basic instincts!?

    Not to add a sour note to this discussion but in 1973, a MIT computer predicted when civilization will end. One big issue was the breakdown of politics and according to the computers prediction, we are right on time. https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/in-1973-an-mit-computer-predicted-the-end-of-civilization-so-far-its-on-target/

    Still, I often wonder what makes people, like some of us, hang on so vehemently to our sense of ethics and morality and keep butting our heads against this wall. It seems to be something we cannot control and becomes as important and as strong a drive as life itself.

  11. Why do we hang on? Why do we keep fighting? Well, the only answer I can come up with is that it’s cheaper than therapy! And we can all hope for the miracle that somehow the “social entropy” we’re enduring–especially with overpopulation–will somehow deliver us something that will cause us to wake up and at least pretend to be the THINKING SPECIES we’d like to think we are!

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