The Burden of Debt
Elon Musk has eight kids. Good on him. In his own words, he has so many in part because he’s doing his bit to counter the population crisis looming just over the horizon.
Oh? What’s that you say traveler? You’ve not heard of the looming population crisis?
Here. Sit by the fire and allow me to explain.
Simply put, people aren’t having kids.
This has been true in the “Western” World for the better part of a century but, as standards of living increase around the world, it’s increasingly true for the less developed countries also. As it turns out, this is actually a problem.
A fairly substantial one.
See, the issue is that human beings get old and die. Traditionally civilization has addressed this problem by arranging for men and women to come together and have a nice time making their own replacements. Granted, actually raising the little guys after you’ve made them is a fair amount of work but for the most part people haven’t minded that so much. Kids are cute and they make you laugh, even if they are a handful. But what happens when civilizations stop doing this? What happens when people look at the ROI of having a baby and collectively think, “Nope. Not for me.”?
Now you might counter (many do), that we haven’t *stopped* having kids, we simply have fewer. Fair enough but it doesn’t matter as the result is much the same.
Holy is He Who Wrestles is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
To keep a population steady every man-woman pair needs to have at least two children and raise them to adulthood. Another way of saying that is that the fertility rate in births per woman needs to hover somewhere around the number two. Any lower than this and the population will start to decrease over time as the older generations die away and there just aren’t the requisite number of newer people to replace them. For a long while now, again, particularly in The West, fertility rates about the 1.5 mark have not been uncommon. “That’s not so bad,” you might say. “After all, 1.5 is pretty close to 2.0.”
But, also no.
Let’s look at an example.
Imagine you have a bio-dome. One of those completely self contained ecosystems in a giant bubble like they used to imagine in the 90s.
In our hypothetical bio-dome we will put 100 people. 50 men and 50 women. Let’s say they all go into the bio-dome about age twenty and quickly pair up and start procreating. But for the purpose of our experiment we will limit the total fertility rate of the bio-dome to 1.5 births per woman. Obviously you can’t birth half a child, so to hit the 1.5 mark half of our couples will need to have two kids and the other half only one. If we call the first generation to walk into the bio-dome Gen A (number = 100), then that means that Gen B will be 75 people strong. We’re off to a good start. Let’s run the math step by step and see where this goes if the fertility rate keeps steady at 1.5
Year 0: 100 people enter bio-dome as young adults. (Gen A)
Year 20: 175 People. The bio-dome now houses Gen A (who have now largely aged out of having kids) and their children (Gen B) who are becoming young adults, ready to have children all their own.
Year 40: 231 People. The first generation (Gen A) is now in entering their 60s. Gen B is now coming up on their 40s. During the past 20 years the 75 people of the Gen B cohort reproduced themselves at the 75% rate producing only 56 kids (Gen C = 56). 75% of 75 is 56, and 175 + 56 = 231.
Year 60: 273 People. The 56 people of child bearing age replicate themselves at a rate of 75% creating 42 more people (Gen D = 42). Gen A is now at this point in their 80s. They will not be around in 20 more years.
Year 80: 205 People. Gen D (size 42) produced 32 people (Gen E). 273 + 32 = 305. Unfortunately all of Gen A passed away, giving us a big minus 100 to the population. Gen B is now in their 80s and will be dead by step 6.
Year 100: 154 People. Gen E (size 32) produced 24 people (Gen F). 24 + 205 = 229. Sadly, all of Gen B (size 75) died, giving us a minus 75. 229 - 75 = 154. Gen C (size 56) will age out of life in the next twenty years.
Year 120: 116 People. Gen F (size 24) produced 18 people (Gen G). 18 + 154 = 172. Again however, Gen C has gone on to meet their maker giving us a minus of 56. 172 - 56 = 116.
Year 140: 88 People. Gen G (size 18) produced 14 people (Gen H). 14 + 116 = 130. Of course, now Gen D (size 42) has died, bringing our population down, for the first time, to below its original starting level. 130 - 42 = 88.
And you can see how things would progress from here. Soon enough humanity will be extinct within the bio-dome. Presumably, many Climate-minded people would cheer.
Now, the really important thing to note here is that a sub-replacement fertility reate doesn’t *seem* like a big deal for almost the entirety of a human life span. In our experiment it took 80 years! to see the first drop in population numbers. Before that everything seems to be going only up and up. But… when the population drop finally did hit it hit hard. We went from 273 people to 205 in the span of 20 years, that’s a 25% drop in less time than The Simpsons have been on the air. From that point forward each successive generation grows up and lives in a world that is about 25% less populated than the world the generation before it experienced.
That’s pretty drastic.
Demographics are sort of like compounding interest.
The effects tend to snowball.
And that my friends is what we are waiting for. Like it or not, we sit at the cusp of that first drop. We are living now between step 4 and step 5. The baby boomer generation will more or less completely die away within the next twenty years and… well…
There just ain’t gonna be folks to replace them.
If you are reading this and are younger than 40, you are going to grow old in a world with substantially less people in it than the one you grew up in. It’s simple maths. The writing’s on the wall. The only thing that could stop it is for people currently in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, to decide, soon, to start having big families again.
There are no signs that this is going to happen.
I could show you charts and graphs here to prove my point but honestly I prefer anecdotes. In my experience anecdotes from people’s real lives are often a lot truer than any “data” some social scientist puts forward. Besides, if you think about it “data” is just a collection of anecdotes somebody somewhere happened to write down.
So. Here are my anecdotes:
I am one of four grandchildren. My sister and our two cousins. All four of us are in our 30s and of the four I am the only one that has kids (I have three). 4 adults, 3 kids. A 25% reduction in population.
My wife has two siblings. All three of them are adults of child bearing age with partners. Between them, currently, they have four children (my wife three, one sibling one, the other sibling zero). Three adults, two of them below replacement rate.
A quick survey of the people I am still in touch with from high school (names changed for privacy): Chris: 0 children. Steve: 2 children. Mary: 1 child. Brett: 0 children. Jonathan: 0 children. Wesley: 2 children. Melissa: 0 children. Cathy: 2 children. Daniel: 0 children. Drew: 3 children. Paige: 1 child. If you include all of these people’s partners you have 22 adults producing 11 children. A fertility rate of 1 birth per woman.
So, I dunno. From where I sit it doesn’t seem like the birth rate is going to get better any time soon. People just aren’t reproducing themselves. On the plus side, we can actually stop worrying about climate change now. Seriously. If Climate Change was ever a threat it’s not anymore. It’ll sort itself out very soon. All us people and our gasses and energy consumption… all that’s going to go away. So, good. I guess?
On the negative side a collapsing population has a lot of unforeseen consequences we aren’t prepared for. An infrastructure and economy built for X many people gets quick a shock when it suddenly has to be run by only 75% of X. What does our world look like when there are simply less people about to fix roads and maintain servers and push paper and pick up the trash? I dunno. Nobody does. However, a certain amount of contraction and, dare I say, reduction in our abilities does seem baked into such a cake. Perhaps we’re already seeing it. Maybe… just maybe… the rolling blackouts, the food shortages, the inability of the state to keep order, the unpaid liabilities… maybe all that has something to do with a bunch of qualified and highly trained people (baby boomers) all retiring or dying off en masse?
But also it doesn’t matter.
Because that’s not what this post is about.
There are more than enough YouTube videos and books and articles telling you about the coming population collapse and speculating about its consequences. You don’t need another internet guy telling you about doom and gloom. Instead, what I’m writing about is Why. Why is this happening? Why, on a spiritual level?
The answer is Debt.
It’s happening because of Debt.
In the video linked above Jordan Peterson iplies that the reason we aren’t replacing ourselves is because we started educating women. That’s actually not true. Sure, there’s a strong correlation between women getting more education and the declining birthrate, but I believe that correlation is only an accidental one. There’s no karmic or spiritual reason that an education woman should be less likely to give birth. There is a reason, however, that women raised in a system based on usury and debt would have less children. The connection to their education is merely that that education is usually funded by debt. Both on a personal level (student loans) and on a broader societal level (mortgages, car loans, credit cards, etc).
Here’s the thing.
Debt is the opposite of sacrifice.
When you make a sacrifice you are giving up something *now*, in the present, to procure for yourself a better future. That was the reason people sacrificed to the gods in the past. It’s the reason you sacrifice today.
On a spiritual level slaughtering your best calf and burning it is the same thing as giving up a night’s sleep to cram for a big exam. Pouring out a libation offering to Apollo is likewise no different than abstaining from a milkshake to look better in your bathing suit. Giving a tenth of your income to the church is the same category of spiritual action as putting money in your 401K. In each case you are sacrificing something you could enjoy now (disposable income, the fatted calf, a good night’s sleep) in the hopes that by doing so you will make tomorrow somehow better. The fact that the ancients thought this process was mediated by the gods (and therefore sacrificed to them directly) and you maybe don’t doesn’t change the overall behavior or psychology. Sacrifice is giving up something to a higher principle. Saying, “It’s more important to me to pursue this higher aim than to enjoy what I have in the present.” That’s sacrifice.
Debt is the opposite.
Whereas sacrifice is giving up something now to have a better tomorrow, debt is giving up a better tomorrow to have something now.
You want the nice house that makes you look right proper middle class. Yes? And you want it now. So, you take out a mortgage and, by so doing, promise to give up years of productivity and labor trying to pay it down that could be otherwise spent. You want that college degree so that you can have a bit of social status? Okay fine. You want it now? Great. Take out a student loan. You can have the money now.
You have to pay it back tomorrow.
It’s the same everywhere. If you want to enjoy the moment and have your milkshake now you certainly can. But you’re going to pay for it in the future. You’re not going to enjoy that beach body like you wanted.
And maybe that’s okay.
Look I’m not a moralist or anything sitting here chiding you for enjoying the present. You have to decide what’s best for you. But you do need to know what doing what’s best for you actually entails. You shouldn’t be making choices from a place of spiritual blindness. Debt and sacrifice are real things. Things you ought to think about.
Unfortunately a lot of people didn’t think about them. For the better part of a century The West has made choices while wearing a spiritual blindfold. For a people who never took the time to really comprehend what Debt was, The West sure took on a lot of it. Built its entire economy around it in fact. Made Debt such an integral part of their lives that one’s “credit score” has come to be seen by some as a proxy for morality.
See, The West actually isn’t rich.
That’s a myth.
The West is just very very very much in debt.
We have the appearance of wealth because we stole it from the Future. Literally. We decided, collectively, to join with the prodigal son and say, “Give my my inheritance, now.”
Problem is the future’s coming due.
And we already spent it.
Depopulation has to happen. Do you understand? Karmically. Spiritually, it has to happen because the future has already been spent. That’s what Debt does. Spends the future. There has to be less kids because there’s literally not enough Future to go around.
That’s what it is. That’s all it is.
Did you think all this stuff was arbitrary? Not at all. Notice how almost every single hot button issue of the last fifty years has the same end. Gay rights. Abortion. Climate Change. Contraception. A.I. and immigration. Women entering the workplace… Every single one of them results in less babies being born. That is the single common thread in all our politics. Gay couples do not make kids. Abortions do not make kids. People worried about global warming do not make kids. People on the pill do not make kids. People outsourcing the labor that needs to be done by vigrous young people to machines and immigrants do not make kids. Women consumed by careers and burdened with 100K in student loans do not make kids.
ALL OF THIS is about depopulation.
Because it has to be.
Because Debt is a real thing and so is The Future.
We’re spiritual beings. That means we can bargain with God, with eternity, with the future. We can sacrifice now and get Heaven later, or, we can have our bit of heaven now and risk there being Hell to pay.
It’s a real thing.
Debt is actually the selling of the future.
And, when you do that… you don’t have so much future to give. So, naturally, you can’t have any children to give it to.
There is a depopulation agenda. Sure. You’d have to be blind not to see it. But it’s largely unconscious. Largely its a thing playing out on the spiritual plane. No doubt there are probably a few creepy rooms filled with evil billionaires hunched over charts and figures who are trying to do all of this on purpose. I grant that. But by and large the world is run by spiritual forces far outside even the richest man’s control. Ideologies which reduce the birthrate are simply a natural consequence of an excess of debt. You never have a chance to have it be otherwise. Baby Boomers who complain about LGBT+ or abortion or who think global warming is silly (it is) are beating at the wind. The current social climate was decided long ago when they normalized the credit card. After that there was never any other option. Debt is selling the future, so, of necessity, the future had to work out in such a way that there would be less people to take hold of it.
Debt is actually the same thing as sin and everything is karma. Your karma. Your action.
It’s all your doing.
Empowering and scary at the same time.
Holy is He Who Wrestles is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.