What Brooks shows is that a relatively brief halt in the relentless decline in fertility has long ended, and that Europe, like Japan since the 1990s, is likely to suffer a continuous economic decline as its aging population prevents investment for future generations. The most telling fact that Brooks finds is that fewer than half of all adult males are looking for work in Italy, which suggests simply that Italy’s welfare state – unaffordable with predicted old-age dependency ratios of one-to-one in 2050 – is basically making the youth not wish to work but simply to have as much leisure as possible.
They do not wish to ask whether they can do anything for society, but how much pleasure they can get. Governments, unable due to union power to lower wages to more economically and ecologically realistic levels – in fact Northern Europe’s wages and prices would in these terms be the lowest in the world rather than the highest – simply meet the demands of an extremely selfish youth. From this perspective, people are liabilities in the quest for more leisure because of the care they demand vis-à-vis machines that inherently lack emotional sensitivity. Thus, in Europe and east Asia both the young and the business community prefer machines to people on both financial and emotional grounds.
I can testify from forty years of wanting to get everything from a nation whose mineral resources allow it to actually give this that a life of welfare is pure narcissism, because the motives I gained were to do nothing but play and get what would give me the shortest-term pleasure but numerous long-term pains, from:
- a broken-down house and even badly-damaged books and machines
- little hope of obtaining useful employment
- obesity that costs me a lot in clothes and even bike repairs
The fact that people prefer to move to Australia with:
- exceedingly bad environmental and transport policies
- the threat of climate change making its cities and farmlands into deserts as is already happening in Perth
- a limited welfare state, and
- poor quality of life especially on hot days