[permaculture] [OT] My Vision of the Future (now!)

Toby Hemenway toby at patternliteracy.com
Thu Aug 4 22:13:39 EDT 2016

> On Aug 4, 2016, at 8:36 AM, Georg Parlow <g.parlow at gmx.at> wrote:
>> That scenario makes real solutions easier to see. More acceptance of the need for birth control, and greater redistribution of concentrated wealth. Those would be my own starting priorities. 
> Correct me if I am wrong, but in my eyes these are not "real solutions", but just pipe dreams once again. Or else - how actually DO you start on these?

I think of acceptance of the need for birth control and redistribution of wealth as goals, not solutions. A solution tells you how to do something, not where you want to get.

For reducing population, Indonesia provides a telling example (as do a number of other countries). I was there in the 1980s for an extended visit. Everywhere I went, people proudly told me how they were having small families, even though they came from a large family. The government had sent teams into every town and village in the 1970s, focusing primarily on the women, telling them the advantages of small family (less time spent pregnant, more money from having fewer mouths to feed, etc,) and set up birth control dispensaries everywhere. 

The birth rate dropped from 5.6 children per woman in 1960 to 2.6 in 2000, and it’s still at 2.6. Remember, too, that this is a Muslim country, so they aren’t that backward (not like the Catholics!)

The real solution is education of women. The other solution is simple affluence, in which raising a child becomes incredibly expensive, rather than in agrarian societies where children are viewed as workers. That’s what did it in Europe (1.4 children per woman, well below replacement) and the US. But the affluence route isn’t as open as it used to be.

Redistribution of wealth, if we can’t totally dismantle corporate capitalism (now, there’s a goal!), has often been addressed by confiscatory tax rates. In 1944-45, US income above $200,000 ($2.4 million in 2009 dollars) was taxed at 94%. $14,000 per year ($168,000 today) was taxed at 50%, and it went up fast from there. The next 25 years saw the US middle class have a higher standard of living than any time before or after. There are other solutions (e.g., campaign finance reform) but taxation is a straightforward one. 


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