Roger Marolt: The dust is settling from the baby boom
We do not value youth. We envy it. We covet it. By the time we realize its worth, it is no longer ours to count as gain. The loan is called, the interest accrued. Then we can only be in it like a costume. We pretend it is harnessed, but it has galloped away and we watch it ridden by those seeing the mirage as vast countryside, many of whom can’t wait to trade it for more adult-like things to do.
Things are changing. The value of youth will skyrocket. Talk about the bleak future we are leaving our grandchildren is blather. While youth has been desired since the beginning of mankind, it will become necessary to maintain its existence.
The fears of our demise from overpopulation have been greatly exaggerated. The predicted future of suffering will happen, but the source of it will be caused by declining birthrates, not a population explosion.
According to a New York Times report by Damien Cave, Emma Bubola and Choe Sang-Hun, “demographers now predict that by the latter half of the century or possibly earlier, the global population will enter a sustained decline for the first time. … All over the world, countries are confronting population stagnation and a fertility bust, a dizzying reversal unmatched in recorded history that will make first birthday parties a rarer sight than funerals, and empty homes a common eyesore. … Birth projections often shift based on how governments and families respond, but according to projections by an international team of scientists published last year, 183 countries and territories — out of 195 — will have fertility rates below replacement level by 2100.”
The implications are enormous. The elderly will outnumber the young. People in their vigorous productive years will be fewer than those relying on them to sustain their lives. The massive wealth accumulated by retired people will be transferred to a more concentrated population of active workers who will be able to generally name their price for the scarce services and goods they produce. The demand for youth will be great and the supply limited.
It is not only outsized monetary rewards the young will reap. The world will have to expend resources to increase productivity. Higher education, advanced degrees and excellent training will be the norm for our grandchildren. Elderly taxpayers will eagerly pay for this. Student debt will be a thing of the past. The quality of colleges and trade schools will increase. For every job you imagine now, future workers will be equipped to do them far better than we do currently.
Unemployment will be an historical concept, jobs being consistently more plentiful than workers. Employers will entice prospective employees with benefits beyond comparison with today’s offerings. Workers will be respected and revered. It is not impossible to imagine unions being formed to protect employers from being taken advantage of by employees.
Manual laborers will be held in high esteem. They who provide the basics, like putting food on our tables, cleaning our homes and building roofs over our heads will not be taken for granted.
Health care will not be an issue for the working population. It will be obviously necessary to keep workers healthy and productive. There will be a time in our future when every working person will have free health care, and we will be happy to provide it to them for our own good.
There will be less racism, too. Skin color will finally be seen as beside any point. We will understand it has nothing to do with how much anyone can contribute to the well-being of the planet. Nations will compete to lure immigrants to their countries to ease labor shortages.
Larger families will be encouraged through government incentives. The math will look straightforward: to sustain human life on this planet, a couple must produce at least two children to replace themselves. Producing more will benefit society.
Of course, retirement will not end up being what anyone imagined. For starters, it is going to be exceedingly expensive. Covering the scarce basics may be all most can manage financially. We will have to do without a lot of the extras, too, like golf and traveling on cruise ships. … So, not all bad.
Aside from being ironically interesting, this population quandary begins to look like the Ponzi scheme to beat all. A sustainable ideal size is impossible. A steady decrease means a certain end. Growth requires more growth until the whole thing collapses. Nonetheless, any way you look at it, it’s better to be invested.
Roger Marolt is eagerly not planning his retirement anytime soon. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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