Unoriginal Thoughts

We’ve spent a lot of time talking during the last two years. Now the ugly truth can come out: I am a shameless plagiarist, with seldom an original idea to my name. So what better to send you off with than the sum and substance of myself — some of my favorite quotes?

Nineteen years ago, we bade some friends adieu as they moved back to the west coast. I recently came across a letter I gave them as my going-away gift, from which the preceding was the brief introduction.

Some of the quotes I shared:

Continue reading “Unoriginal Thoughts”

A Myth in the Making

Because Shelby Steele is a scholar instead of a pundit, he usually has something worth saying when he speaks up. Just so this column, Barack the Good, from tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal.


Mr. Obama wants to be—above all else—a profoundly transformative president … Mr. Obama … remains rather undefined—a president happy to have others write his “transformative” legislation … As the health-care bill and the stimulus package illustrate, scale is functioning as vision … “if I don’t know what to do, I’ll do big things” …

For me, the big insight was that the President may “literally experience [him]self as a myth in the making.” That rings true.

Hard words about the “Overpopulation Myth”

[R]ising consumption today far outstrips the rising headcount as a threat to the planet. And most of the extra consumption has been in rich countries that have long since given up adding substantial numbers to their population, while most of the remaining population growth is in countries with a very small impact on the planet. By almost any measure you choose, a small proportion of the world’s people take the majority of the world’s resources and produce the majority of its pollution.

So argues Fred Pearce in his artice The Overpopulation Myth. This has long been my sense of things, though I’ve waffled a bit lately.

I reason thus when waffling: “We can’t have more and more and more of anything else without limits. Why should I think we can have more and more babies?” I suspect that 9 out of 10 of my readers – if I had 10 readers 😉 – would respond “Well, duh!” because the overpopulation myth, be it true or false, is of of truly mythical proportions. What can I say? I just like to think counterhegemonic thoughts sometimes.

Back to Pearce’s most piercing challenge, which amounts to a corollary of the quote above:

Economists predict the world’s economy will grow by 400 per cent by 2050. If this does indeed happen, less than a tenth of that growth will be due to rising human numbers. True, some of those extra poor people might one day become rich. And if they do—and I hope they do—their impact on the planet will be greater. But it is the height of arrogance for us in the rich world to downplay the importance of our own environmental footprint because future generations of poor people might one day have the temerity to get as rich and destructive as us. How dare we?

It puts me in mind of the second emphasis of the good guys and gals over on the Porch. “Place. Limits. Liberty.”