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The invisible hand

I've often loudly proclaimed myself as a "born-again Agnostic," and I hold that belief pretty firmly. But of late I've noticed a certain tendency towards self-correction in the way the world works that is giving me some serious cause for doubt.

The current mess involving social security is one. The main push towards reform is demographic -- the population is, on average, getting older. People are living longer, and fewer and fewer workers are supporting more and more retirees. If demographic trends continue, proponents say, the system will inevitably go bust.

But a while ago, someone else brought up another interesting point. Our society is suffering from an epidemic of the diseases of affluence. We are, as a group, more obese, more diabetic, and host to a horde of other afflictions. Our passion for eradicating disease has led to the overuse of antibiotics to the point where we are breeding new strains of antibiotic-resistant diseases. And our rampant freedom in matters sexual is giving us new rises in STDs. With all these, the chances of that many of us surviving to collect that much in social security is markedly less -- perhaps even enough to ease the burden. How Just.

A while ago, the topic of abortion was kicked around here. Some commenter pointed out the obvious: people who are pro-choice tend to have fewer children, while those pro-life tend to have more. It's a simple fact of statistics: even presuming that there are an equal number of pro-lifers and pro-choicers, and that both sides get pregnant equally often, eventually the pro-lifers will out-produce the pro-choicers, simply because some of the pro-choicers will choose to have abortions.

Since Roe V. Wade was about 30 years ago, a whole generation has been born and grown up, and I think it's fair to say that a majority of those youngsters have pro-life parents. There's no guarantee that these young folks will adopt their parents' beliefs, but it's certainly a factor. How Just.

I, personally, am emblematic of these situations. I am overweight, and have several medical conditions that are related to that. I am pro-choice, and have taken steps to make sure I never father children. And while raised Methodist, I haven't belonged to an organized church in roughly 20 years and proudly proclaim myself an agnostic (not quite confident enough to say "athiest"), I look at this tendency for the world to right itself in amazing ways and find myself doubting my doubts.

J.


Comments (11)

All stable dynamic systems ... (Below threshold)
Beck:

All stable dynamic systems tend towards equilibrium. Humans & their behavior--so far in history anyway--have managed to maintain that stability despite some pretty mammoth pushes to the extremes.

There are more than a few i... (Below threshold)
-S-:

There are more than a few issues here that can and perhaps should be discussed, so I hardly know where to begin.

I'll start with that population problem that is reported to be affecting the Social Security system (I believe that it is): it's not that there are less younger workers working but that the wages available are lower overall and that the problem of non-contributors to the tax system exist in increasing numbers, young and old.

And, that the formula of the system depends on a larger payin base combined with a smaller payout top and that's now changing and has been for a while. And, the fact that we are now no longer a manufacturing nation and manufacturing is the best way to get a large number of unskilled and often younger workers employed and to keep them employed and paying taxes for more years with less job changes than anything else.

Pro-choice is a failed philosophy and counters the biological imperative of the species. Otherwise, sexual intercourse would not be so rewarding for so many and for so long, as with other species. We're a biological being and an aspect of our life is to reproduce. Thus, people who reason their way out of that work against their very biology and it does, eventually, fail the survival test by one means or another.

You can apply the religious issues beyond that (and I do as do many others) but we humans are more impelled by our biology than most humans tend to admit or even understand. Something to consider.

Are you really surprised th... (Below threshold)
Dave A:

Are you really surprised that goodness is beneficial? This order is by design. Consider the 7 deadlies. Chaos and disorder stem from humans indulging what they know are their natural weaknesses.

Just an FYI here. Diabetis... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Just an FYI here. Diabetis epidemic? Nope, more MSM lies.

What happened is that long about 1995, the AMA changed the rules on who they call diabetic for type II.

Overnight, everyone that was previously called "pre-diabetic" and headed towards diabetic, and even normal, all of a sudden became diabetic.

If you go to the "welcome to diabetis" class that the insurance company pays for, you will be told all this by the medical staff.

I'd really like to see a st... (Below threshold)
Eric:

I'd really like to see a statistic for "lifetime number of children" for women who have had an abortion, vs. women who have never had an abortion. All of the talk of "the Roe effect" acts as though an abortion is sterilization, or as though pregnancy occurs at a constant rate throughout a woman's child bearing years.

I don't automatically dispute that women who are pro-choice have fewer children, I'd just like to see some real numbers.

Jay, you have rediscovered ... (Below threshold)

Jay, you have rediscovered the Roe Effect.

Congratulations!

I'm not necessarily sure I ... (Below threshold)

I'm not necessarily sure I buy into the Roe effect, and here's why: memes, unlike biological survival adaptations, aren't passed along during conception. They're passed along during child-rearing. These days, so much child-rearing is being done by proxy — babysitters, teachers, television and video games — that the link between parents' values and kids' values has been broken, or at least seriously weakened.

Whether parents are pro-choice or pro-life, the likelihood that they passed their values on to their kids during this most recent generation is less than it would have been, say, a hundred years before.

There are things that I wil... (Below threshold)
mina3727:

There are things that I will say I believe in, things I will say I do not believe in; but there is very little I believe or disbelieve to the point where I will not reassess my beliefs in the face of new information. I do my best to look at it carefully and rationally and make an informed decision. Re-assessment either confirms what I already think or causes me to change my belief. I see no sense in refusing to even consider that I might be wrong. I have been before.

steps to make sure I nev... (Below threshold)
Julie:

steps to make sure I never father children

What? No pitter patter of little case j 's?

You should doubt your belie... (Below threshold)
firstbrokenangel:

You should doubt your beliefs; you made them at a time when it seemed that was your only choice. When I was born, I had polio but for most of the world, polio does not exists. I have several illnesses and disabilities but some day in the future I truly believe they won't exist. I came from a town that was tortured in disease (A Civil Action) and hopefully that trend is slowing down and disappearing. You have to take what of this day is and base your judgements on that to intertwine with medical science. Those of us who are ill and disabled need that measly SSD just to survive in any fashion and usually with someone else sharing in the costs. I hope things get better so that my kids and my grandchildren, when and if I ever have them, won't have to worry about where to live, how to eat, not carrying on physical illnesses. With each day, each thing is going to change, no doubt about it.

Cindy

The wall of separation betw... (Below threshold)
Ritch:

The wall of separation between religion and state needs to be strengthened once more where we as individuals and a nation can go forth. Go forth with new technologies that benefit us, stem cell research, and better birth control methods for example. Religion is an individual idealism that should not be promoted or forced upon our nation as a whole. Lets trade in Christianity for some humanity.




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