What Have We Lost?

Job lived 140 years after this, and saw his children and grandchildren to the fourth generation. Then Job died at an old age, having lived a full life.

Job 42:16-17 (ISV)

The global population continues to grow. The rate is slowing, and that’s probably a good thing. The earth is a finite resource and also our home.

I live in a small city (less than 13K). As it is elsewhere, the housing supply is an issue here, and the costs go with it. Through God’s blessings, we were able to buy a home here. If it wasn’t for the outlandish equity of our previous house, we wouldn’t be able to live in the town our church is in (a big issue to me).

I’ve been attending meetings about housing and general development and the future of the city. We have a conundrum. Our elder citizens want to stay but are getting priced out. We have puerile moving in with kids, but the kids can’t stay because they cannot afford a house.

The extra development required to lower or stabilize pricing means the city grows far beyond what it can withstand in regard to infrastructure and ambiance. It also requires all the municipalities around us to grow at an equal pace.

Grandchildren and children are likely to not be part of the community.

I can’t point my finger at anyone else. My grandparents always lived in a different state. I live in a different state than my parents. I know this struggle.

My wife and I would love our kids to stay near us, as I’m sure my parents, too, would have preferred. We’ll see what happens. It is far too soon to know.

This, I think, is a consequence of both the quest for the stereotypical American rugged independence and the massive national disruption that the military-industrial complex buildup required, which also wasn’t helped by the Dust Bowl.

Moving across country was became normalized. Travel was easier and it was thought would keep us all together. It didn’t happen. In fact ease of travel became its own trap contributing to this.

Not Just Housing and Travel

I wonder if it is also our devaluing of human life, and, in particular, family life. This isn’t inherently about abortion. While I am pro-life, I struggle with forcing women to go through pregnancy for and then bear a child they didn’t want. Yes, I get the reasonable argument that they have all gone through sex education and should know better.

The truth is, it wasn’t that long ago that parents had sex in the same room as their kids. Sex still happened, and there were not the precautions or medical science as available (herbs and unhealthy practices did still occur). So, this is really new.

Our society doesn’t have the ability or capacity for adequate foster care and adoption. Much of this is the hurdles that the government puts in place for local adoption, leading folks to adopt outside of the country. We also, societally, don’t value it, and I’m not innocent, either.

It’s Weird

According to the Census Bureau, the US Population Grew 0.1% in 2021, Slowest Rate Since America’s Founding. Was the 0.1% the proverbial limit breaker? Was it the so-called pent-up demand from the previous 2008 real estate crash, along with the lack of building that was a consequence?

I’m sure an economist could explain this better than I can, but the numbers are adding up in my head.

The other part of this reality is that people are moving to places that are accumulating people. There are places with empty houses that no one wants to move to.

What is the End?

As cities, counties, regions, and states all try to respond, perhaps they/we ought to ask, to what end? I’m not a zero-growth person, but I do sympathize with their thoughts. Do we want to change? Should we want to change?

Change isn’t always good. While there are costs for not changing, there are also costs to changing.

What are we willing to lose?