Robert Samuelson: The fate of Japan — and everyone else

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  • Traveller Farmington, UT
    June 14, 2019 2:32 p.m.

    @Hutterite "only method of growth is more"

    I don't think it would be logically possible to grow without getting more of something.

    Yep, the Earth has finite resources, and though we're nowhere near to exhausting them we will be some day.

    Solution: space exploration and permanent colonies on other planets. While the Earth is finite, the universe is not.

  • J in the Desert Maricopa, AZ
    June 14, 2019 1:09 p.m.

    Reading the article in detail would have been helpful. The core argument is this. If a nation does not maintain at least a stable population, that's the magic fertility rate of 2.1, the national economy will eventually collapse because the nation will run out of workers as they retire and die. You can have economic stability and even economic growth with a stable population. Neither is possible if the nation has fewer citizens every year. If you think that the empty cities in China are a thing, you haven't seen anything yet. Nations like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China may actually see depopulation in a big way over the next sixty to seventy years. The failure of their economies will probably happen sooner than that.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 13, 2019 7:37 p.m.

    The time I spent in Tokyo was fantastic for many reasons. One thing I never thought nor ever could is 'this place needs more people'. We've got to get away from the old thinking that says the only method of growth is more. More consumers, buying more stuff. That, too, is a totally unsustainable line of thinking. Besides, if free people in free societies decide, as individuals, that they don't want to have kids, they don't have to have kids. There really is no imperative to do so. There will be seven billion more people on earth at the end of my life than there were at the beginning of it. We don't have a population problem, we have a distribution problem.

  • Dart Thrower Ogden, UT
    June 13, 2019 2:24 p.m.

    Samuelson rolls out the tired canard that we can only progress by perpetuating the pyramid scheme of constant population growth. At some point the criteria for all our actions needs to be sustainability. I find Utah to much less appealing at 3+ million than I did at 1 million. And as Utahns now see, all this wonderful growth means exploding home prices, clogged roads and the inability to enjoy festivals, street fairs, outdoor recreation, etc. Let's just adjust to a flatten population and live in a sustainable world.

    And by the way, Japan is a wonderful place

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 2:21 p.m.

    Another pronatalist op-ed by the DesNews, which fears the birth dearth, whose only solution is to have more babies. The earth and its resources are finite and sooner or later we will have to confront that. Human intellect is not so finite, though, and can postpone the limits (see George Will's column today). Japan, as an island nation, is more acutely aware of resource limits than the rest of us. How about, instead of waiting until we are all standing cheek by jowl occupying every square inch of land, we start preparing for and achieving a stabilized population now and developing alternative institutions to care for the elderly (in place of the Ponzi scheme of having the young pay for the aged a la Social Security)? There would be some pain, but it would only be spread over a generation or two, 50 years or so, as the generational bulge passes through the demographic column. That way we still get to enjoy some of the natural amenities that give us pleasure (like lions, open space, penguins, flowers, etc.) instead of sacrificing them to the altar of industrial farms to feed tens of billions of people.

  • sgallen Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 11:33 a.m.

    It’s not reasonable to keep the population growing indefinitely. There will be some short term pain of decreased buying-power (we’re so efficient that we’ll always have enough food and shelter— the necessities). The alternative to unchecked population growth is climate catastrophe, which will lead to suffering and loss of life. Would you rather it be in a manageable fashion or the earth imposing its will on us?