“Young people everywhere have been allowed to choose between love and a garbage disposal unit. Everywhere they have chosen the garbage disposal unit.”
—Guy Debord, French writer, born December 28, 1931
Almost everywhere the trend is toward zero population growth. There are a number of good reasons for it:
- Social security provision in advanced economies replaces the need for children to care for aged parents.
- Women are educated and participate in the workforce.
- Housing is expensive in advanced economies. Large families take up more space.
- Sex is no longer the only cheap entertainment available to most people. There’s a lot more to do in the dark today.
- Birth control means that even when people are still having sex (see the piece about Japanese young people and the remarks in today’s link about rising “singlehood” among Singaporean women) they don’t have to have children if they don’t want to.
Model Railroads. Back in the day, there wasn’t much choice: you could either buy what Lionel or American Flyer offered or you made your own. People would have miniature machine tools to make their own rolling stock, even, as well as making landscapes out of sponges and houses out of balsa wood. Now you can buy it all.
I’m reminded also of John Phillip Sousa’s fears about mechanical reproduction of sound. We can listen to all of the music in the world (gain) but fewer of us can make music ourselves (loss).
I love to cook. I got there by loving food and wanting to eat things that I couldn’t get in the United States like Italian cooking as practiced in Italy and non-Americanized Chinese cooking. Much as I enjoy a meal in a good restaurant, I’d almost always rather eat my own cooking. I regret that I can’t play the piano or guitar: because I love music I’d like to make it with my own brain and hands, just as I do with cooking.
Zero Population Growth in Singapore
“Right now the total fertility rate in Singapore is at about 1.2 and at times it has slipped down as far as 1.16. ”
Model Railroads, Yesterday and Today
“What we do today, and brilliantly, is model the entire railroad: We actually fill out the paper forms and “operate” the railroad more or less prototypically, even — here we find class again — modeling (reproducing) the social relations that make the General Code of Operating Rules come alive (leaving out the Jay Goulds and Jim Fisks, of course). And we model the landscape (the “scenery”) infinitely better today than we did forty years ago, although we model the contours of the land by carving pink slabs of (petroleum-based) styrofoam, spraying electrostatic (petroleum-based) model grasses, gluing down the track with caulking guns like Martha Stewart, instead of using metal spikes for pity’s sake….”
The Last Word
“Men are able to trust one another, knowing the exact degree of dishonesty they are entitled to expect.”
—Stephen Leacock, Canadian economist, born December 30, 1869