L’egoismo di chi non fa figli

People Wanted – Fair Play: What Your Child Can Teach You About Economics, Values and the Meaning of Life – Steven E. Landsburg

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 Trigger warning: – tanti bimbi tanti cervelli – il motore della prosperità – circolo virtuoso – il ruolo della domanda – rivoluzione industriale – il limite della crescita – i torti di malthus – inquinamento al contrario – l’inconcepito e le generazioni future –

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TED BAXTER, THE ANCHORMAN ON THE old Mary Tyler Moore show, planned to have six children in hopes that one of them would grow up to solve the world’s population problem. …People solve problems, and when there are more people, more problems get solved.

Note:TANTI BIMBI… TANTI CERVELLI

each generation free rides on the inventiveness of its ancestors.

Note:PERCHÈ SIAMO RICCHISIMI?

The engine of prosperity is technological progress—not just feats of engineering but also the design of new insurance contracts, better legal systems, and improved patterns of crop rotation.

Note:IL MOTORE DELLA PROSPERITÀ

Ideas come from people. The more people, the more ideas.

Note:IL MOTTO

population growth drives technological progress, technological progress drives economic growth,

Note:KREMER: UN MILIONE DI ANNI DI STORIA UMANA

a world with twice as many people will have twice as many natural-born geniuses.

Note:L‘ASSUNTO DI KREMER

the same reason that the biggest high schools usually have the best football teams.

Note:FOOTBALL TEAM

geniuses tend to inspire each other,

Note:CIRCOLO VIRTUOSO

a larger population means a larger market for inventions,

Note:PIÙ DOMANDA… DI IDEE

Industrial Revolution—and the massive ongoing growth spurt that it triggered—had to wait until world markets grew big enough to reward large scale innovation by entrepreneurs.

Note:RIVOLUZIONE INDUSTRIALE… TEORIA RICHMOND

In the first century A.D., Julius Frontinus wrote that “Inventions reached their limit long ago, and I see no hope for further development.”

Note:PRONOSTICI SUI LIMITI DELLA CRESCITA

One hundred years ago, the average workweek was over sixty hours; today it’s under forty. One hundred years ago, only 6% of manufacturing workers took vacations; today it’s 90%. …One hundred years ago, the average housekeeper spent twelve hours a day on laundry, cooking, cleaning and sewing; today it’s about four hours.

Note:PROGRESSI

The average middle-class American might have a smaller measured income than the European monarchs of the Middle Ages, but that does not prevent the American from leading a more luxurious lifestyle.

Note:UNA QUALITÀ DA RE… IL REDDITO NON È TUTTO

A skeptic could easily point to countries where large populations coexist with abysmal economic conditions.2 But without exception, those are countries where the natural advantages of population size—a larger pool of geniuses and an abundance of trading partners—are undercut by government policies

Note:SOVRAPOPOLAZIONE

A large population brings many blessings besides prosperity. …We value our children for reasons that have little to do with their earning capacity.

Note:OLTRE LA RICCHEZZA

A world with more people is a world with more diversity. Chamber music, parasailing, and Ethiopian restaurants can survive only where the population is large enough to support them.

Note:DIVERSITÀ

Parents who love their children face a tradeoff: The more children you have, the less you can give to each of them. Reasonable people disagree about how to resolve that tradeoff. Some find poverty an acceptable price to pay for a large family; others prefer fewer children with a higher living standard. That’s not a conflict that needs to be resolved; it’s an opportunity to celebrate diversity.

Note:NESSUNA ESTERNALITÁ TRA FAMIGLIE… MALTHUS HA TORTO ANCHE IN CONDIZIONI STATICHE

They’re unlikely to have overlooked many costs, because the costs are concentrated in your own family:

Note:I GENITORI CHE HANNO DECISO LA VOSTRA NASCITA

The benefits are more diffuse. The clearest benefit of your birth is that it brought your parents much joy; they didn’t overlook that one. But the remaining benefits are spread far and wide.

Note:I BENEFICI SONO PIÙ DIFFUSI

When a decision maker is more conscious of costs than of benefits, he tends to make decisions that are overly conservative.

Note:TROPPO POCHI FIGLI

Population growth is like pollution in reverse.

Note:INQUINAMENTO AL CONTRARIO

Somewhere there is a young lady whose life has been impoverished by my failure to sire the son who would someday sweep her off her feet.

Note:I DANNEGGIATI INCONSAPEVOLI

In other words, I was being selfish when I limited the size of my family. I understand selfishness. But I can’t understand encouraging others to be selfish,

Note:EGOISMO

A second, completely separate, argument says I should have had more children for the sake of those children themselves.

Note:GIFT OF LIFE

Do living people have any moral obligation to the trillions of potential people who will never have the opportunity to live unless we conceive them? …if the answer is not yes, then it’s no, and if the answer is no, then it seems there can be no moral objection to our trashing the entire earth, to the point where there will be no future generations.

Note:I DIRITTI DEL NON CONCEPITO

to admit that we’re incapable of being logically rigorous about issues involving the unconceived.

Note:PROBLEMA IRRESOLUBILE

Surely you know couples like this: They already have two children, and they’re undecided about whether to have a third. They waver back and forth; they lean one way and then the other; they weigh the pros and they weigh the cons. Finally they decide to go ahead. And from the instant that third child is born, the parents love it so deeply that they’d gladly sacrifice all their assets to preserve its life.

Note:NON CI SI PENTE DI AVERE UN BAMBINO IN PIÙ

equivalent of an addictive drug. People hesitate about whether to try heroin; once they’ve decided to try it, they become addicted and can’t give it up.

Note:BAMBINI COME UNA DROGA

Parents know in advance, and with near certainty, that they will be addicted to their children. …parents know in advance, with near certainty, that they won’t want to break their addiction.

Note:DIFFERENZA

I know that my unconceived children would be my most valuable “possessions”

Note:PARADOSSO

Economist Peter Bauer has pointed out that if per capita income is the right measure of human happiness, then the birth of a farm animal is a blessing and the birth of a child is a curse.

Note:LA MALEDIZIONE DELLA NASCITA

Other people—our friends and our children and sometimes even strangers who do us unexpected kindnesses—are among the luxuries that make life worth living.

IL NOSTRO LUSSO

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