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From dKosopedia

Let's postulate that, to a first approximation, the purpose of government is to resolve, suppress, or otherwise manage disputes between people. Well, the mathematical fact is that the number of potential disputes between pairs of individuals increases as the square of the number of people in any jurisdiction. When the population doubles, the number of possible arguments doesn't double: it increases by a factor of four. Ten times the people, 100 times the dispute potential. (Actually it's considerably worse, because I'm not counting conflicts involving three or more people—and because physical crowding further exacerbates tensions and perceived provocations.)

That's why people who think there's any realistic prospect of "shrinking government" in the face of rising population density are simply dreaming. It ain't going to happen. In fact, the role and responsibility of government must inexorably increase.

"Freedom" is easy to get: just shrink the population. So naturally, people from the sparsely-populated West tend to be rugged individualists, while those from the more densely settled East are more cognizant of their interdependence (and limits to their freedom). I don't know which horse you're betting on, but population trends certainly favor Kerry over Bush.

As humans we can, at least in principle, choose our future. It's been pretty well documented that the current human population well exceeds the carrying capacity of the earth. As with most of these looming problems, our choice is between smart, sensible, planned responses (requiring, dare I say, a strong government!) and a panicked, chaotic endgame the result of which will be untold human misery.

(Written to NY Times columnist David Brooks in response to his 10/11/04 column "Not Just a Personality Clash, a Conflict of Visions" in which he "discovers" that Bush and Kerry have conflicting ideas about how society should work. I have been promoting this idea—the mathematics of sizing the government—for several years now.)

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This page was last modified 04:47, 13 October 2004 by dKosopedia user RobLewis. Content is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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