You humans are on the brink of another dark age. Its cause will not be too much government, or too little, or bad taste in music. Its cause will be a massive increase in population that has been deliberately created by the rich, for the express purpose of driving wages down and profits up. Humans are effectively being bred like cattle, yet any discussion of this fact is a virtual taboo. The poverty resulting from this forced population growth will destroy your current civilization, and return you to the libertarian paradise of the medieval Dark Ages.
Nobody beats the law of supply and demand. In the long run wages are set by the balance of supply and demand for labor. Many factors influence this balance, but the dominant one is the fertility rate. When people all have seven kids each starting at age 14, then there will be more people than jobs, wages will be driven down to the most miserable subsistence, and the overall society will be capital starved, stagnant and corrupt. On the other hand, for the rich as a class nothing is more profitable than an endless supply of cheap labor. The rich are aggressively pushing policies that maximize population growth, the better to increase their profits. The decision of how many children people should have is apparently too important to be left to the general public. The rich are in effect breeding you humans as if you were cattle, and they will brook no discussion or dissent on this topic.
This forced population growth is rapidly burning up the productive capacity of your current technologies, and is likely going to return most of the world to the conditions of the European Dark Ages. However, because government policies favoring rapid population growth are the single biggest factor in wages and profits, they are almost never discussed. Powerful interests find such discussion inconvenient. Like the Emperor’s New Clothes, you are all compelled by social pressures and force of habit to limit your political discussions to narrowly defined ruts, while hiding in plain site are policies that are slowly but surely turning your world into hell.
Contrary to current big-lie propaganda, Malthus has not been proven wrong. First, it’s not just Malthus but also David Riccardo, John Stuart Mill, John Maynard Keynes, Alan Greenspan, and the editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal who hold the Malthusian position (the latter two might claim to disagree, but when they wax rhapsodic about how rapid increases in population drive down wages, or talk about how the vast excess of workers in China or Mexico makes it impossible for wages to rise, well we know what the story is). Malthus is standard economics.
Malthus never predicted a global catastrophe. Malthus only described how the world works: when everybody has seven kids starting at age 14, regardless of circumstance, the resulting exponential population growth quickly absorbs all resources into just keeping people alive. At this point the average person is reduced to subsistence and population stabilizes because of increased mortality. The society becomes capital-starved, incapable of making large investments, and stagnant. Desperation causes widespread corruption, which magnifies the misery and contributes to the stagnation. But because there is no need to pay more than a subsistence wage, the profits and power of the rich are maximized.
If you think that people should not have children that they can’t support (however large or small that number) then you are a Malthusian. If you think that 100 people competing for every job causes wages to fall rather than rise, then you are a Malthusian.
In the great depression the American fertility rate fell, because people were worried about having children that they could not support. The fertility rate did not increase until after times got better. Every prosperous society has such a history. Unless there are colonies or an open frontier, societies where people respond to poverty by having large numbers of children as a source of cheap labor inevitably remain miserably poor. Prosperity always comes after fertility rates have moderated, it never precedes it.
It is not so much the numbers of people, as the rate of increase that is critical. But more than the rate of increase, the core issue is whether people have more children than they can reasonably support given current circumstances. There is no single correct number of children or rate of population growth. However, given the power of exponential growth to increase without limit, the conditions where it is appropriate for everyone to have seven kids starting at age 14 are historically rare and brief.
“Overpopulation” is impossible, and “sustainability” is stupid. You humans will never run out of food, or anything else. That’s because people will die if they don’t have enough food, and they always have. That means that there will ALWAYS be ‘enough’ food to go around. The real issue – the only issue - is whether the standard of living is higher than subsistence. Saying that you are going to deal with the population explosion by reducing your per-capita standard of living, is utterly, utterly, asinine…