Gnomicon 274

If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.

Gnomicon  274
Sunday 10 February 2013
Read gnomica 1-250 here!

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The problem is that, while making babies is fun, raising them isn’t.
“America’s Baby Bust” The Wall Street Journal
Sat-Sun 2-3 2013  C2
Jonathan V. Last (DOB? –  please update w. link)

Until quite recently I would open the financial section in The Wall Street Journal with a certain sinking ventral sense of not-again-please, and I can’t recall when I last laughed out loud at anything I read in those now not-so-dark pages. But a few Saturdays back I did.  It was a funny moment in an unfunny article.

Worried about war in West Africa?  further fiscal cliffs down the road?  stubbornly high unemployment rates?  uncontrollable White House spending?  global warming?  our unsustainable debt?


You ain’t seen nuttin’ yet!

All of that may well be – as a calculus professor I once had whom I do not remember fondly used to say about elementary algebraic problems not directly involved with the operations of calculus itself – “trivially true”, but so what?

The really serious action that inevitably drives all else involves a kind of reverse Malthusian nightmare, not of too many people but of not enough people:  it’s the fertility rate, stupid!  Japan – by long-standing personal choices – and China – by long-standing government fiat (now finally under serious pressure) — are, apparently, the ominous monitory and minatory harbingers of things to come not only in America but world-wide, for “97% of the world’s population now lives in countries where the fertility rate is falling.”

As for that amusing interjection above from amid the general seriousness, yes, most would no doubt agree that the making of babies is the fun part – brief, fleeting, it’s over – and would also agree that then comes the not always so fun part – interminable, perdurable, lasts forever.

The reasons advanced in “America’s Baby Bust” for this state of affairs strike me as not unreasonable; the possible solutions, less compelling.

But Last is an author (in addition to many articles, he has a very recent [2013] book on the subject) who has written at great length about this issue of the global decline in the human fertility rate and where it leads, and although it would seem unlikely that most of us alive today will live to see its consequences in real time – barring some as yet unforeseeable and unknowable transformation in the way things are – it is clearly an issue of over-riding concern.  And if humans don’t step up and get on with working it in the old-fashioned way, among those ‘transformation’ that one could possibly imagine is the establishment of government ‘hatcheries’ hatched in the vats of biotechnology, but for obvious reasons I won’t even contemplate going in that direction:  I don’t do science fiction (but it would make for an intriguing novel) – and who knows: maybe the species is preprogrammed with its own eventual senescence to be followed finally by its inevitable obsolescence.

Yet, at last, happily, while it still does last, early every morning with a fresh WSJ spread out before me, that “certain sinking ventral sense of not-again-please” is gradually morphing into something more civilized like a “rising ‘cordial’ sense of yes-again-please”!

More matutinal coffee, anyone?

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