The invisible hand

I’ve often loudly proclaimed myself as a “born-again Agnostic,” and I hold that belief pretty firmly. But of late I’ve noticed a certain tendency towards self-correction in the way the world works that is giving me some serious cause for doubt.

The current mess involving social security is one. The main push towards reform is demographic — the population is, on average, getting older. People are living longer, and fewer and fewer workers are supporting more and more retirees. If demographic trends continue, proponents say, the system will inevitably go bust.

But a while ago, someone else brought up another interesting point. Our society is suffering from an epidemic of the diseases of affluence. We are, as a group, more obese, more diabetic, and host to a horde of other afflictions. Our passion for eradicating disease has led to the overuse of antibiotics to the point where we are breeding new strains of antibiotic-resistant diseases. And our rampant freedom in matters sexual is giving us new rises in STDs. With all these, the chances of that many of us surviving to collect that much in social security is markedly less — perhaps even enough to ease the burden. How Just.

A while ago, the topic of abortion was kicked around here. Some commenter pointed out the obvious: people who are pro-choice tend to have fewer children, while those pro-life tend to have more. It’s a simple fact of statistics: even presuming that there are an equal number of pro-lifers and pro-choicers, and that both sides get pregnant equally often, eventually the pro-lifers will out-produce the pro-choicers, simply because some of the pro-choicers will choose to have abortions.

Since Roe V. Wade was about 30 years ago, a whole generation has been born and grown up, and I think it’s fair to say that a majority of those youngsters have pro-life parents. There’s no guarantee that these young folks will adopt their parents’ beliefs, but it’s certainly a factor. How Just.

I, personally, am emblematic of these situations. I am overweight, and have several medical conditions that are related to that. I am pro-choice, and have taken steps to make sure I never father children. And while raised Methodist, I haven’t belonged to an organized church in roughly 20 years and proudly proclaim myself an agnostic (not quite confident enough to say “athiest”), I look at this tendency for the world to right itself in amazing ways and find myself doubting my doubts.


Evolution Stood on its Head?
A crappy budget decision


  1. Beck March 23, 2005
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