((addressing the group as another individual))
Gentlemen, before we go any further astray, allow us a moment to address some few points brought up thus far.
To the expansionists: only two of the flaws of the Expansionist doctrine have been addressed--- that it only provides a temporary solution which must be inevitably repeated, and that it constitutes an act of theft, if not of outright war. That these two facts alone do not deter you from advocating this approach is... most disappointing. But there are other flaws which are yet to be addressed.
To the Free Traders: your arguments have the advantage of inevitability. You are correct in that we cannot assume that the current stasis between ourselves and the outside will persist. If we refused somehow to grow or change, it is no guarantee that the outside world would do the same.
But your proposals, as presented, are vague on many points, and you offer few if any fallback positions in the case of calamity. You have a plan for the best case scenario; you lack such for even one of the many poor ones.
Also-- so that they are not brought back up later to no fruitful end--- I would address a few of the side issues touched upon.
Sir Wulf, indeed, the young Questor who has gone abroad has proven himself to be no pup. His courage and honor is to be commended; his perilous undertaking at such a young age, and his separation from the arms of his loved ones by painful duty and base political conspiracy is to be regretted and condemned. And if we are not careful, we will follow one sin quickly with another and condemn many more sons and daughters to a similar perilous fate.
Several of you have striven to blame the blight of crime in the Tumbledowns on our nation's current difficulties. I would express my dismay that your lessons in economics and civics and history and sociology are forgotten so easily. It has been demonstrated again and again that it is not crime that is caused by poverty, but quite the reverse--- it is criminality that reduces a community to squalor. There are dozens of townships throughout Antillia where the average annual income and personal wealth-- measured in money, land and possessions-- is far less than that enjoyed by the average Tumbledown dweller. But they do not see the lawlessness that is endemic to the slums. And in times past our people as a whole have gone through periods of strife and peril and need far worse than any tumbledowner of this generation has ever known, yet our people did not descend en masse into lawlessness.
No, it is not a financial failing, but a moral and spiritual one, that leads to such decay.... and is a matter for another discussion entirely.
Master McClaw.... you suggest that our problem could be answered if our society somehow controlled and regulated its growth. Your sentiments are noble, and your suggestions well-intended.
That is what makes them so dangerous.
You forget Wildsage's most famous quote: <I>Nothing happens for just one reason, you cannot do just one thing.</i> And I would add a second: <B>What you desire matters less than what you cannot avoid.</B>
Your proposal has been aired before, by a variety of thinkers of-- ahem-- varying quality. It has gone under many names--- sustainable growth, natural balance, even the highly educated sounding name of "zero population growth." Those who propose it do so while operating under flawed initial premises; in ignorance of the fatal oversight in the proposal; and unable or unwilling to see the inherent immorality inevitable in its execution.
The flawed premises---first: that growth in numbers only increases growth in consumption, and not growth in <I>production</i> as the number of new hands and, more importantly, new minds increases, and second: that the relationships between production, consumption, and growth is in any way linear and predictable.
The fatal oversight---failing to observe that a "stable" population is neither possible nor remotely safe in an UNstable and violently turbulent Universe;
The inherent immorality--- that its execution requires that someone, by necessity, must use the force of government to control others' very bodies and to deny <I>someone</i> the natural right to choose for themselves whether or not bear or sire their own offspring.... in fact such level of control would require that the executors of this authority would be responsible for much more than mere numbers of people; they would be responsible for maintaining the balance of that which, in a FREE society, naturally balances itself; our society and our economy and our culture--- dictating how many farmers, how many scholars, how many soldiers, how many inventors, who farms what and when, who builds up and who tears down....
We would not be people, but <I>ants.</i>
Worst of all, That some individual or entity must be first granted this awful and unprecedented level of overweening power in the first place... a degree of power <I>I would not entrust to the angels themselves, </i>much less to flawed, fallen and sinful beings such as ourselves. That power--- the power to dictate what men and women did with their land, their wealth, even their very bodies--- would be grasped for by the wicked, and would sooner or later fall into wicked hands.
These are not the results you want, my dear Master McClaw.... but they are the results your vision would inescapably get. They are the terrible consequences of bad decisions made in unneccessary haste.
((sigh)) which brings us back to the subject at hand. Forgive an old man his digressions, but they do have a point. We see a problem before us, gentlemen and ladies... but let us not succumb to hasty decisions made in urgency <I>when we are still far from any true crisis.</i> Yes, we can see the seeming inevitable course of events unfolding; but please recall to yourselves that we are far from the eleventh hour. Our numbers are not yet pressed to the walls; our farms still produce bountifully, far beyond our needs. Our land is, by and large, still far from crowded--- do not mistake the bustling metropolis outside your bedroom windows for the entirety of Antillia!--- and even our "metal crisis", though discomfiting, is far yet from inducing disaster. In fact it has, for the not-so-short term, resulted in a minor economic boom in certain formerly struggling segments of the population--- scarcity still creates both demand and better profit margins, and necessity is still the mother of enterprise.
Let us consider today ALL the options open before us, and more importantly search out carefully ALL the potential consequences of each decision, BEFORE we make a choice we cannot easily revoke.
"What was that popping noise ?"
"A paradigm shifting without a clutch."