TAKING STOCK : People Power: Nothing like it

How do you think, the per capita income of a country is calculated? The total output of a nation is divided by its population. Simple.

Thus, if the number of people increase – a baby is born – the income goes down. Now imagine what happens if your cow gives birth to a calf. Since calves are part of a nation’s output the per capita income goes up. In other words, a woman giving birth to a baby is a disaster, a cow giving birth means wealth.

Does this make sense? A human being, who is the fountainhead of all of mankind’s progress, is a liability, and an animal with no powers to think or produce, and no purpose on earth except to serve man is an asset.

Now imagine annihilation of every living human being. How would this affect our per capita income? Anything divided by zero is infinity. Make the population zero and our average income zooms to unlimited per our formula!

Apart from these absurdities, let us test, whether, the formula has worked over any part of mankind’s history. If indeed population depresses our material well being, then mankind should be worst-off now with its record six billion plus population than in any earlier period when we were fewer in number. Is that the case?

The fact is that, with the passage of time, we have become progressively better-off even as there are more of us. So closely has our material progress coincided with the increase

in our numbers that the evidence conclusively proves the contrary case: population causes prosperity.

Many will not buy this reasoning, so ingrained is the concept of a ‘population problem’. Haven’t we always been told that if only we were fewer in number, we would have progressed that much more.

Just keep an open mind, and checkout the following facts: Between 1961 and 1998, in a mere 37 years the world’s population doubled. In this short period we added as many people onto our planet as had happened in the entire history of mankind — starting from the first appearance of man. Did this result in widespread shortages of food and famines as had been widely forecasted. No. The average calorie intake increased from 1931 to 2650 during this period. In fact the problem I personally face is what most of the world is facing; how to keep our weight in check, with an abundance of goodies to eat all around us.

What about famines in Africa and elsewhere? Let us look at the figures. There were 920 million people considered as starving in the world in 1971, by 1997, despite a rapid increase in our numbers, the corresponding number of starvations had fallen to 792 million — a decline not only in percentage but in absolute terms as well. By 2030 this figure is estimated to fall further to 400 million.

In fact the reason why we have multiplied so fast is not because we are breeding like rabbits, but because we have stopped dying like fleas.

Are we running out of natural resources to take care of our increasing numbers? Again the picture is bright, and, conclusively disproves prophets of doom. Minerals are more plentiful now than they ever were in history.

Comparing prices with an earlier time will prove it. By 1990 the number of minutes of work it took to buy one pound each of copper, lead, and mercury had declined to less than 200 from over 3000 a 100 years earlier in 1890. The price of petrol, after adjusting for inflation, is less today than it was 30 years ago.

How has this happened? Isn’t it counter-intuitive? Our earth should be getting scarce in raw materials as we use more of it. It hasn’t happened, because technological improvements have so lowered the costs of production, that producers of basic materials are facing a problem of plenty – too much supply and not enough demand.

We, human beings, are not the problem. The world would not be better off if we die. Nepal’s people with economic freedom, can and would bring undreamt of prosperity to this nation.