A great many comments have been posted in response to my posting, “Subsidizing Localism.”  I think the question I sought to pose – and for which I do not have a very good answer – is at the core of trying to articulate what we are doing here (and what fellow travelers who either visit here or have their own media outlets on these themes, are similarly hoping to achieve).  Are we trying to diagnose the spirit of the age and its better alternative, and does this suffice?  Or, are we also attempting to persuade, and isn’t any diagnosis inherently an effort at persuasion?  If persuasion is at least part of our ambition (and, I think, surely it is), to what end?  How can change be effected, and of what sort?  Will a world of the sort commended here be the result of changes in individual behavior, or does it require a measure of political influence?  How can any such political influence be conceived among those here who regard modern politics with such deep mistrust, even hostility?  Are we marking time, waiting for the denoument of a deeply flawed and broken system, preparing ourselves for its apocalyptic aftermath?   Are we trying to engineer, in our own way, a “soft landing” from the “irrational exuberance” of modernity itself?  Trying to talk ourselves and others down from a ledge?

The many comments attest to one simple truth:  the way forward is deeply uncertain.  People of good will and similar outlook deeply disagree, and there are too few of those to begin with.  In the end, is a kind of retreat – “The Benedict Option” – the only real option?  Is it an option, really?

Of the many comments posted, I thought I’d call attention to one of the latest, from our intrepid reader and commentator, Bob Cheeks.  He writes:

Patrick, congrats on this essay, a stunning success! I, for one, would like to see our other ‘contributors’ explore similar questions based in large measure on the ‘comments.’ So, please, consider this a request.

Among those I’m urging to blog on this or related themes is: John Willson, Mark Mitchell, James Wilson, Caleb, Pat, DW, and Mark Shiffman specifically because of their past contributions, comments, and expertise. But I would be pleased to read any essays on these themes by any of our gifted contributors!

I’m enthused by certain remarks by Willson re: his ‘defense’ of Southern culture which indicates an inquisitive and impartial (open) intellect, Caleb’s comments on Brolingbroke (sp) and any philosophical perspective suitable to the localist/particularist theme, DW’s vociferous and pointed renunciations of the central regime, with a close examination of the Obama Administration’s ministrations, Pat’s continuing explorations of the economic/social problems related to a restoration/re-creation of our human communities, Mark Shiffman and James Wilson’s illuminating probes into the nature of being and the erudite understanding that the great problem of modernity is the obliteration of the transcendent. And, in mentioning these folks in particular I am NOT diminishing the erudite contributions of the others.

Our world is collapsing. In our lifetimes we have seen the ennui, alienation, and boredom of the individual expand into sundry social disorders predicated on the received wisdom of our age, e.g. that the gods have died. And, here Hegel’s remark, “The Sabbath of the world has disappeared, and life has become a common, unholy workday,” speaks a truth good men and women do not wish to here.
So for me, and I open myself up to your criticism, this project is in fact a spiritual quest in an age that is defined by its pneumopathologies. We must recover/discover what it means to be human, how to live as a human being, and the love of God in freedom and in the Logos.

There is no greater challenge and thank you for your wisdom!

Another recent post on another “blawg” (my, how they proliferate) lays down a more skeptical challenge to the likes of FPR (it would seem it was written by a former student of our own Professor Mark Mitchell), accusing its authors of a form of romantic “aestheticism” rather than anything that could be seen as offering any real assistance to denizens of the age.  Of course, I think the more conservative disposition of many here inclines toward a deep suspicion of anything “programmatic,” informed as so many are here by a Burkean or Oakeshottian suspicion toward top-down impositions upon the messy reality of life.  But, does such a disposition fate one to an essentially romantic or “aesthetic” form of opposition to the dominant ethos – one that allows the authors here the liberty to say “I told you so” even as it relieves us of the necessity of the “hard boring of boards,” in Weber’s famous formulation of “Politics as a Vocation”?  I will admit that I struggle with these questions, and think that – in addition to doing what we are doing in these many, many fine, stirring, and accumulating posts, that there needs to be an effort to articulate “what is to be done.”  I’ll continue to try to do so, but admit that the question is difficult, perhaps unanswerable.  But still it must be answered.  Stay tuned – more to come.

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. Well spoken, Caleb. However, don’t such sentiments also suggest that much of the active opposition to “the times,” as is sometimes expressed on these pages, might also be incorrect? For example, we were visited here at Friends yesterday by State Senator Dick Kelsey, who expressed vociferous, even ferocious, opposition to the current Democratic health care proposals. Isn’t such opposition also a way of answering the “what is to be done” question, at least as much as Patrick’s?

  2. Thanks Russell, but just as a matter of clarification, I’m not sure which sentiments you are referring to.

    If you are asking if I am saying opposition qua opposition is by itself enough (I’m not sure if that is what you are asking or not), then no, that isn’t my point.

  3. I guess what I meant to get at is the idea much oppositional politics–and maybe health care was a bad example; it could be opposing Wal-Mart, it could be opposing overseas wars, it could be opposing the 17th amendment–seems itself to often be quite programmatic: a “thing to do” that will set “the times” right, in other words. Patrick’s question of “what is to be done” is often readily answered, I think, by progressives and conservatives alike. I don’t know to what degree Berry–who himself has not shied away from offering more than a few, sometimes fairly radical and extensive, public policy proposals over the years–sees himself as always keeping his own advice. I wonder if any of us, except the true Benedictine saints, ever can.

  4. Caleb,
    I don’t think it’s plausible not to participate, in some way, in the disorders of the age. For starters, we both live in the U.S. – we are taxpayers (I assume) and citizens. We benefit from its very excesses. The very fact we post here is not an act of nature, but of a cooperative effort of a highly advanced scientific and technological arrangement that has been fostered by government and industry. The relative peace (ahem) and prosperity we enjoy is a further consequence of the age. Much as you or I might criticize that arrangement, we “benefit” – we “participate.” The question, it seems to me, is not whether or not we participate, but what form that takes. I have a twofold worry over those who claim a kind of “withdrawal” is an option: 1. It is almost certainly a form of willful self-deception, given the high degree of reliance that the appearance of “withdrawal” rests upon a system that is being disapproved; 2. It’s probably not a feasible long term strategy. The logic of the liberal/globalized system appears to me to be such that it will eventually strive to force you to be free in accordance with its definition of freedom – or, at the very least, your captive children. The STATE will be impelled to liberate them from the constraints you have placed upon them, and thus permit them a FREE choice of the kind of life they want to live – all the while pretending that such a form of “autonomous choice-making” isn’t already substantive. While I was on the faculty at Princeton, I heard more than a few colleagues uttering these kinds of comments about the captive children of the Amish. Soon those hushed words will make their way into the Law Schools, and before long, our policy. Pitchforks and small arms won’t be enough to repel that crowd, I fear…

  5. Patrick, I don’t think I ever mentioned withdrawal. I agree with you, withdrawal is a chimera. The two aphorisms above are not intended to be programatic, but rather just deflate the baloon of inevitability. Much of the “problem” we are describing is like one of Vonnegut’s “gran faloons” … tremendously powerful yet insubstantial. Close your eyes to it and it disappears. Of course we are so awash with cheapness that the high cost of enjoying what is free keeps us hypnotized. Talk about being nickle and dimed.

    Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive answer and by no means is it intended to be a dismissal of the very important questions Patrick raises. I’m all for a thorough and detailed discussion of these matters. I just think the posture represented by Voegelin and Berry is the necessary prerequisite … it deflates the enemy’s pretensions to invincibility.

  6. In one sense, the problem of modernism will solve itself because the system will simply fall of its own weight–is falling, in fact. The question is “what comes next?” There is nothing that can be done in the current context, but that context is fading rapidly. We don’t need to look at parties and programs; we need to look to centers of resistance which can withstand the coming tsunami. Having a child is an act of resistance; growing a tomato a small rebellion. We need more rebellions and more resistance. We need to ask, “If the nation came apart, how would my community feed itself? What resources does it have, and how can we organize them?” Modern politics and economics is about to lose all credibility, and should have lost it long ago. Now is our moment; the questions are no longer theoretical and remote, but practical and present. It is not a matter of withdrawal, but of indifference.

  7. Calen Stegall said:

    Remember Voegelin’s comment that no one is obliged to participate in the disorders of his age, and remember Berry’s pungent question to himself: “Do I wish to keep up with the times? No.”

    I just think the posture represented by Voegelin and Berry is the necessary prerequisite … it deflates the enemy’s pretensions to invincibility.

    I couldn’t agree more. Having exercised the option to opt out of the disorders of the age in a number of small ways, I have found it true that having done so, it quickly becomes apparent just how enslaved to an illusion we are. It is only when you step outside the illusion in some way that you begin to suspect its true nature.

    And I agree very much with John Médaille as well, in that our current situation is not a problem to be solved, but a predicament to be faced. (Thanks to John Michael Greer, via Sharon Astyk, for the problem/predicament distinction.) I fully expect that within my lifetime, things will come crashing down, and the question of the evil (or not) of technology being shouted about on other threads will become mostly a moot point in the struggle for survival. I don’t wish for this future (I like my luxuries as much as the next person, and I fear for my children as much as any parent), but I can’t see any way around it but through.

  8. John is right. And if I can indulge in the gross conceit of quoting myself from the link above:

    “When one lives as a modern—and we almost all do to one degree or another—he is implicated by nearly all the habits of his heart in the same culture of choice he believes he is voting against. When we fail to resist the symbolization of the modern world as a giant machine in which each part relates to all the others in a purely mechanical way, we give in to thinking in the most utilitarian way possible: how can I fulfill my needs and desires most efficiently? And the political question becomes: how can we configure the machine so that each part has the maximum freedom to pursue its own end as efficiently as possible, without interfering with the ends pursued by the other parts. Society and work and even family and church become ladders to be climbed, and the central spiritual motifs of our time become mobility and choice, and the fruits of this are pretty apparent—massive dislocation, family breakup, the end of meaningful small town and rural life, center-city rot, the end of functional education, economic ruin of small producers and landholders, the devolution of political life into identity and victimization games, and on and on. The end result of which is a profound existential alienation in the soul of modern man; he is without a home. And the pernicious logic of choice (which has a kind of weedy genius) in turn capitalizes on its own discontented and confused search for home and meaning by churning out a-hundred-and-one cheap and easy anecdotes. So we are awash in this expansive sea of popular mass culture which offers everything from Martha Stewart to easy birth control to empty entertainment to mega-lo-mart churches and discount-store religion. All of which functions to shield people from ever even approaching anything real: real faith, real truth, real meaning and contentment. Certainly in the life of our family we have tried to figure out what to do, but there is no doubt that it is tremendously difficult to resist the disorders of the age. I think for starters, we need to clear our lives of all the mass culture weeds that choke out authentic growth. Not just the Hollywood weed, but the Wal*Mart weed as well. Read the classics and the Church Fathers instead of junk fiction and self-help crap. And then go about the hard work of learning the discipline of place. Get married. Have kids, lots of them. Don’t turn them over to others to raise. When I finished law school I had offers to work at several large east coast law firms for twice the money I could make at home. But home was more important, so we stayed. Shortly after law school, my wife Ann and I, with our four boys, moved to 18 acres outside of town. We try to grow some of our own food, Ann homeschools the boys, we have a commitment to this place and these people that trumps most of the other things we could spend our life pursuing. It isn’t perfect or anywhere near that, but it is, we hope, a decent resistance. Recently I made a move from working at the largest law firm in the state, a job to which I commuted for years, to setting up a solo country practice. There is risk in all of this, I suppose—commitment by its nature portends disaster. Inevitably either we fail the place or person or idea we are committed to or it will fail us.”

  9. We have moved well beyond the sturdy ethos of enlightened self-sufficiency and into a kind of nonchalant collective-sufficiency that blurs both cause and effect as well as any discussion of “need”, “virtue” and “good” vs. “rights” and “liberties”. In such a context, little can be done in the face of a cultural distemper that has come to think of itself as some kind of “birthright” or culminating event where the past and future are marginalized in the face of a present of cheap thrills and immediate gratification. The continuum of life Augustine spoke of is put in a kind of artificial suspension , resulting in, as I’ve previously asserted a present that has no abiding presence…..at least in the cultural-civilizational mode. The spiritual continuum is still present within individual lives and so it is from there that any progress may proceed..if and when it proceeds after the self inflicted sputtering Medaille mentions, plays itself out.

    Modernism, in its triumphant sense of self is a period rich in an almost chaotic assortment of symbols…abstract, concrete, historic and contemporary . There is a certain seductive vigor to it all and a tremendous technological jump that is almost spasmodic in quality. However, the vocabulary of symbols are divorced quite frequently from meaning, or meaning beyond certain shopworn conventions or popular conceits. Some would say they are liberated from harsh convention but it is my belief that the condition is more aptly described as “unmoored”. We think if we describe something enough in a certain manner it will become that something. Will marries mind and loses itself in the moment. Compounding this indiscretion is the Cartesian Jones, the urge to dissect and categorize and cross-breed, creating “new categories” of meaning ..or , if you will, the release of meaning from some imagined imprisonment. To formalize this subjective state of liberty, we create certain ironclad specifications and standards of meaning that can be followed by checking boxes. A society of relentless accomodation, redolent of bored ease insures that the categories will be updated by the State. Accordingly, we become factotums, spectators, an audience for the parade of life run by the State Circus. Hence, look away as Caleb suggests and your gaze might alight on something more interesting if not quite so full of glitzy production values as the Greatest Show On Earth: Imperial Washington…our Happy Face Byzantium.

    One of the current conventions is that “aesthetics”….the recognition and treasuring of beauty is maligned, used as a pejorative to describe “romantics” who do not follow the conventions and manly convictions of technocratic categorization. It is like that old Hogarth engraving after Pope, where the wag splotches whitewash on the tired cultural conventions of yore……this is a process that has been going on for some time. There is a certain beauty to some aspects of modern technocratic conventions but as a general rule, ugliness is the default mode and the society in general, suspicious of active literacy or erudition joins the Wag of Pope’s engraving in giving everything an obliteratingly fresh coat of emptiness. This opens the door, of course, to the sacred cow of innovation. Innovation is not an evil in itself, of course not, we humans innovate and modify our surroundings, it is what we do but in our mad ablutions to the cult of modern innovation , we forget the clarifying effects of perfecting that which we already possess in an act of love for what we now possess….the lingering moment of passion over the fleetingly impossible event of that never seen thing called the Present…aka the Presence.

    One of the benefits of modern America , aside from the technologically achieved physical ease and mobility of it has been the fact that the system the Framers left us has allowed people to create their own reality and function within it quite happily and freely ….coincidental with their own level of engagement with the wider civilization. However, the reductionism of the technocratic era has deracinated this ability into a state largely built upon consumer categories. This has effectively dulled the original benefit of a person’s ability to create their own reality. Skepticism but not ennui has taken a real hit. The task then becomes the act of marrying the benefits of an ability to craft one’s own reality with the comforting stability of re-awakened meaning…the fundamentals of a Presence. We would have a better ability to manage our technological abilities if we were successful at this marriage. But this requires the services of two other victims of the modern technocratic era: Repose and Introspection. Meaning can never be fully aroused without repose nor recognized without introspection.

    But these are mere aesthetic philosophic reveries of course….akin to what I was once chided for during a discussion of public schools with my local school board. Philosophy is of little use to the modern educator..or education administrator in their quest for numbers and category…and success in the Great Leveling Project of Benevolent Liberalism.

    So, the best thing we could possibly do to immediately take back our fates and put a proper and right governor upon our sense of governance is to start in the neighborhood, move out to the town and then impart this renewed power to the States to, in cooperation with one another, stand down the Federal Government. Not….. surely, to abolish the Federal Government but to reawaken its proper meaning in the manner the Framers intended and to do so with the benefit of the things we have learned since 1776. Technology is not the bugaboo here. It created the internet and a vast ability to communicate globally via the task of the written word; child of introspection. Here’s the rub, while it is a fine tool, the user of this tool remains unmoored to a chaotic and stormy sea of popularized presumptions and couples this with an almost knee-jerk compulsion to vent the cheap pleasures of anathema. I stand roundly convicted myself here. However, once an atheist, I have entered into a dialogue with that which I once righteously abjured and for now, am a happily laboring apostate enjoying that “just not yet” moment. You folks here are enjoined in something you never fully offered and it has come in on electrodes in digital time.

    Never, ever apologize for aesthetics…it is one of the most ennobling sentiments of mankind and the fact that it is marginalized in an ugly and pedestrian age is exhibit A in the Museum of Natural History of Man’s Liberation From History and his Subsequent Divorce From the Future. Just inside the Hall of Technocratic Abundance you might, if you look hard enough, find a little glass box on the all that is decorated with a perfunctory sign stating “Break Only In Case of Emergency”. Inside, of course. is Presence.

  10. So it seems the only alternative is local black markets. Not that I’m against it. I recently have been concocting an idea of using the Corporate-State techonological infrastructure to implement a local barter system.

    Hey Sabin, good post.

  11. John is right that perhaps the most important thing we (and others) can be doing now is having children, and encouraging young people to do the same. This is probably one subject that is TRULY anathama on today’s college campuses – we can encourage our students to pursue every lifestyle choice except a future of marriage, family, and parenting. Amazingly, this basic human good and obligation is one of the main objects of dismantling by the logic of modernity. For this reason alone, it will lose. But it is, and will do, a great deal of destruction in the process.

    That said, I think my daughter may have broken my nose last night when she jumped up while I was leaning over her. So, it’s a pretty dangerous mission that I’m recommending…

  12. Mr. Deneen, I think my father would agree. When my sister was young, she dropped a toy vacuum cleaner on his face and broke his front teeth. I still have no idea what said toy vacuum cleaner was doing anywhere around his head.

    Be careful.

  13. I think Patrick J. Deneen‘s last comment probably gets at it best. What is to be done? Have kids, lots of ’em, and raise ’em right. The fact that this present evil age makes this very difficult–particularly the first two–suggests to me that this really is a powerful blow against modernity.

  14. Having children as a means to taking over a culture sounds a lot like Muslims currently using the same strategy in Europe and the United States, it being the fastest growing religion in the USA based on birthrates. As certain areas of the United Kingdom have adopted Sharia law through due process and prolific breeding, must we go and do likewise? I have to say I’m a bit skeptical of the “outbreeding” strategy which seems to be a major strategy of most fundamentalist movements. To be fair, it would “work” if the opposition didn’t also try to outbreed us. Since opposite sides are usually busy breeding, the result is the same battle being fought between ten times as many people. Not that I’m against children, but what about overpopulation, the environment, and scale? Does scale not apply to procreation?

    Anyone seen the movie Idiocracy?

  15. Lacking a reasoned and coherent philosophy for living happily together and with nature do we not simply repeat the same mistakes over and over again and our children too? to have that philosophy may incorporate the notion that human thinking is subject to more proneness to fallibility than we have previously been prepared to admit but that in itself is progress. It also suggests we recognize that what we have been lacking in our institutions and processes is the opportunity to have dialogue with each other to identify the fallibility in our ideas. This is telling us we have too little democracy in our lives. Too little democracy usually means the need to fight for a greater share!

  16. Not only are the Musloms outbreeding us but the modernist single gal, the group we’re trying to outbreed, is breeding at a incredible rate and they have the State to help them along and a seemingly unlimited supply of “donors” to help them out. In this race my money is on the modernist single gal.

  17. well I have had kids and although my tomatoes did poorly this year due to the bizarre weather – I have a fine crop of brussel sprouts.

    Patrick Deneen is I believe right – there is a point at which well written analysis of the ills which are destroying us just isn’t enough. Nothing like having kids and nieces and nephews to make one seek strategies to help them through the bleak future.

    I do hear this “Benedict Option” spoken of often but rarely see much more other than “well we could try the Benedict Option”. Perhaps a way forward which might address the issues Patrick Deneen has identified could be to discuss this option. What might it look like? What are the pitfalls? What do we really know about how monastic communities function and the mechanisms they employ to maintain themselves?

    Now I do appreciate I am just a female but my dissertation work resulted in spending months dissecting the records of the ancient monastic community at Durham. They actually still do have inventories of how many sheep they sold back in the 12th Century. On that limited basis I can assure you – these communitites were very complex and they were very vulnerable. The numbers of people, the range of skills it took to keep em going was significant. So before Benedict Option becomes the solution – perhaps it would be wise to do a little investigation and preparation. Unless of course the consensus here is that a house in the hills and lots of ammunition is the way to go.

    I’d like to note that the essays I appreciate the most at FPR are those by John Medaille. He has helped me to understand a lot more (although my ignorance is still great) about what the future could be.

  18. We, more or less, concur with the idea that our culture/civilization is at the very least regressing, if not collapsing. Any analysis of how and why is useful and there have been and, I hope, will continue to be those contributors that address this problem.
    In fact, that’s about all that’s been accomplished so far.
    Perhaps it would be useful to determine not only how we will recapture/recover that which has been lost once the trauma of collapse is completed (hopefully it won’t follow the model of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or worse) but also what should be the basis of human existence in the establishment of any future culture?
    Because we have among us any number of erudite scholars and thinkers it is my hope they might offer carefully considered solutions to this problem.
    As examples:
    1. Re: the first question, perhaps Caleb might explore the idea of ‘enclaves,’ that he’d suggested in an earlier interview, where he might address the idea in terms of surviving any possible collapsing phase and acting as a foundation for a polis during the restoration phase.
    2. For those scholars who’ve a particular fondness for our Greek friends it might be timely to offer essays on the question of phila politike (political friendship); where this ‘friendship’ is predicated on the recognition of the noetic component of man, required for the establishment of social and personal order.
    3.We must address the question of the transcendent. Can a culture consisting of individuals who embrace the metaleptic relationship of man and God (open existence) and those who have immanentized (closed) human existence exist in good order? Perhaps, this is the big question and any response must be a thorough and penetrating analysis.
    If I’m out of line here, I trust my fellow commentators will let me know. But, I really do think we’ve reached a point where many of our people have lost the ground of human existence. Nothing else can explain the incoherence, disorder, and the loss of nous. If it’s any consolation, I think our kind has spent an inordinate amount of time in the act of recovery; maybe this time we’ll do it right.

  19. Gottfried’s latest is helpfully clarifying:

    “Allow me to make one final point about Peter Kocan’s fond references to the Jacobites and to other lost reactionary causes. This doting is fine as an aesthetic diversion, but can do nothing to change the cultural Marxist power structure that has taken over through most of the Western world. The relevant response to this situation is “political,” in the sense in which Carl Schmitt understood that term.*** One must identify ones enemy and then bring to bear all available forces to counter its power. Devoting one’s life to a search for the Cavalier origins of the Old South or hanging on the wall a portrait of Stonewall Jackson, in the case of one of my acquaintances, near a campaign sign for John McCain, is what Schmitt characterized as a “cultural activity,” as opposed to a political act. Peter may enjoy the aesthetic poses of some of the paleoconservatives, but that attraction should not hide the fact that this group has been politically insignificant for the last fifteen years. Needless to say, I would not level this charge against Carl Gustav Mannerheim or Francisco Franco—or most other historical actors of the Right who hindered the progress of the Left in the twentieth century. I’m criticizing what Schmitt called the “romantic imagination” that has turned in upon itself. That has, not incidentally, been the fate of the paleoconservative mind that has outlived its historical value.”

    *** This requires the identification of specific political enemies and the development of tactical resources by which one systematically and strategically undermines, restricts, contains, and ideally, crushes the power of those enemies. This is why we should always talk of a political movement rather than a conservative movement. This is what every political movement that ever had even a snowball’s chance has done.

    There really is a difference between cultural activity like having kids and planting tomatoes and political acts, which have directly to do with ammassing and weilding power. Likewise, there is a difference between personal recovery (which is the direction my comments above were pointed) and political recovery.

  20. Lundy,
    When I first watched “Idiocracy” I thought it might be a documentary but then I figured out it was fiction. It’s a seemingly dumb film that is smarter than it looks at first….summing the situation up nicely. Funny, It comes to mind for me more than it should.

  21. Mr. Lundy, in the West, the concern ought not be about overpopulation, but about population collapse in the generational aftermath of the second half the 20th century. We’re going to see a lot of pain in the U. S. in the next fifty years, but it will likely not be close to what some industrialized areas in Europe (unless it really does become Muslim) and the East are going to feel. The biggest population growth is going to be in Africa, China and India, but even they can’t keep population from peaking around 2050, after which it will fall. Just two generations, and then bam.

  22. Albert, I think you are being far too optimistic. The problem is not coming in five decades, nor even in two. The problem is about to burst on us in a year or two. The question is not about the overall population numbers, but the population in their productive years, say 18-70. Everybody must eat the bread produced by this group. But as this group shrinks, and my group (geezers) grows the problems become impossible.

    The problem, by the way, is already evident in the Chinese economy. The Chinese government would like their citizens to spend more and save less. But this is not possible. Why? Because of the one-child policy, which means that four grandparents must share one grandchild. Clearly, this child will not be able to support four adults and his own family (one child or not). The elderly must look to themselves, and that means having great reserves.

    For the past 25 years, the social security system has been subsidizing the general fund. But next year, due to job losses, the general fund will have to repay Social Security. And in three years, the leading edge of the great baby boom will retire. As I tell my students, “In a few years, y’all are gonna owe me a lot of money. So get good jobs. Oh, wait, that’s not working either. Hmmm. I’ll tell you what: Get two jobs at WalMart, one to support yourselves, and one to support me.” That sounds fair.

  23. John, you’re absolutely right about the proximity of economic decline from demographic imbalance. I meant to focus more narrowly on the population figure itself, rather than the economic ramifications of the changes.

Comments are closed.