By Philip Cross, January 12, 2023
Collectivists subscribe to the fantasy that we humans can simultaneously expand our population, reduce our environmental footprint and continue to enjoy rising per capita incomes. This displays an utter lack of awareness that the three are a trilemma at the global level. In a trilemma you can achieve only two of your three goals simultaneously; whichever two we select, the other necessarily falls by the wayside. Fortunately, the choice is not hard for sensible people to make.
Most of the Left clearly supports an expanding human population. This is implicit in their belief, which they share with just about everyone, that every individual has worth — and deserves, they would add, support such as universal health care and a basic income. Demographers agree population will continue to increase from its current eight billion to somewhere between 10 and 11 billion people. Most members of the Left will not object.
At the same time, collectivists regard any recession in incomes or rise in unemployment as intolerable. Witness their near-hysterical reaction to the tightening of monetary policy in response to the inevitable surge in inflation following excessive fiscal and monetary stimulus during the pandemic. The Left does tolerate chronic slow growth in developed nations — though without conceding that the taxes and regulations it favours often cause it. Economic growth is even more imperative for the hundreds of millions of people in other countries still living in “where will my next meal come from?” poverty.