July 28, 02017

Longman paints a very simple picture for the next three generations: too many people in the late 20th century were born, and many decided not to procreate. The effect are already being felt: too much health care needs in the United States has led to run away health care costs. The mandate to get health care insurance seems like a sick joke from this perspective. Not only are Boomers using more health care, it is getting more fancy and expensive. They have insurance which is leveraging its losses onto the backs of young people whether they will or no.

So with reproduction rate dropping world wide (population still forecasts another 2 billion), who will the future generations be composed of?

  1. The highest scoring communities are the fundamentalists. They place a higher value on group ethic than the cult of the individual, and assert the value of reproduction.
  2. Those who don't watch television. Reproduction rates decline with TV adoption in any market. Very telling that last week Iran condemned 100k satellite dishes last week.

This is very telling today, 12 years after Longman's presentation, when considerable numbers of Syrians are taking refuge abroad. They are finding their values in conflict with their hosts, and a rash of crimes (largely fundamentalist induced chauvinism) are being reported every week.

Government response has been counter productive: raise taxes on those who are still able to have children. That is very telling of who is voting: the elderly are voting themselves 7 times the funding we are giving to children. But a dried fruit gives no juice. The necessity to stay in education until the middle end of our best reproductive years, then establish our career and dig out from student debt for another 15 before we feel any job security guarantees that young people will never feel like they can afford the $200k (2004 number) to take a child to age 18.

And so the pendulum swings. Fifty years of progress on human rights and individual rights will be undone by demographics. The fundamentalists and uneducated are more likely to have children, and children (largely) adopt the views of their parents.

As more work years, debt, and tax are laddeled on the young, they see fewer opportunities. I myself have looked to young countries to move to, to learn more, and live cheaper. More will be exiting the formal economy where they are burdened with the macro impact of society. What will that look like? Health care now is imposed on Americans and they are fined a great deal of money if they choose not to buy.

Phillip Longman

From the Long Now:

Full PDF of the talk here, slideshow here http://media.longnow.org/salt-slides/Longman.html.

No need to summarize this time. Phillip Longman wrote out his whole talk, with the illustrations more viewable even than they were at the Seminar and talk. (excerpt below)

It is full of rethink-the-news sentences like: "Notice that Japan’s lengthening recession began just as continuously falling fertility rates at last caused its working-age population to begin shrinking in relative size."

One thing worth adding from the Q&A at Phil’s public lecture August 13th. Kevin Kelly asked him what he thought the world might feel like in 100 years.

"People a century from now will have so few blood relatives I think it could be very lonely." The audience, convinced by then, was utterly still.

Excerpt from Longman's talk:

"So where will the children of the future come from? Some biologists speculate that modern human beings have created an environment in which the "fittest", or most successful, individuals are precisely those who have few, if any, offspring. As more and more humans find themselves living under conditions in which children have become costly impediments to success, those who are well adapted to this new environment will tend not to reproduce themselves. And many others who are not so successful will imitate them.

But this hardly implies extinction. Some people will still have children. They just won’t be people highly motivated by material concerns or secular values. Disproportionately, the parents of the future will be people who are at odds with the modern environment – people who either "don’t get" the new rules of the game that make large families a liability or who, out of religious or chauvinistic conviction, reject the game altogether. In short people like Mormons. "
--Stewart Brand