Less = More: A New Equation for Lasting Abundance

The Industrial Revolution of the 1800s kicked off America’s race to automation and gave us the gift of gadgetry. Yet, despite exponential advancements in technology, we continue to lose the lifeblood of this system – affordable housing, efficient transportation, available land, and other means of production.

“But can’t we just make more stuff, find more land, and regrow the economy the old-fashioned way, until everyone has what they need?”

Nope, not this time.

There’s no growing our way out of this quagmire. We need a new way entirely, one that acknowledges – and eliminates – the logical flaw of expecting infinite growth in finite conditions with finite resources.

We realize this is no simple task, but every complex project starts with small, attainable steps in the right direction.

Those with the family-planning resources – and luxury – to do so can start by having fewer biological children. According to a new study by Lund University of Sweden, “having children is the most destructive thing a person can to do to the environment.” By having fewer kids, we can stretch the value of our legacy – our family wealth and resources – so that the next generation has a fighting chance.

Slowing population growth also helps redress the issue of inequality. In even middle-class families, it’s too common to find parents struggling to get by paycheck to paycheck. Every generation basically starts from scratch each time, with minimal access to higher education and no financial resources to ease the transition into adulthood. Inheritances are modest, rarely stretching past the adult children to the grandchildren, and saving for retirement is always too little, too late.

Currently, only the wealthiest families can get ahead. They can afford the best housing, food, healthcare, and transportation. Their children can enter adulthood unencumbered with higher-education debt and free to explore family-funded entrepreneurship. It takes money to make money, and these powerful dynasties continue to gain the upper hand.

The deck may be stacked against the average family, but we can play our cards smarter. We can make better, more realistic decisions. Until money grows on trees, our best bet is to reduce our expenses by having fewer children and investing more in the ones we have.

This 21st, start a dialogue with your family about the benefits of pooling our resources. The isolated nuclear family of the ‘50s has proven to be a total bust, and it’s time to bring our “extended” family back into the fold.

By limiting population growth and uniting our families, we have more time, money, and energy to dedicate to our entire clan, immediate and extended alike. We can create culturally rich networks of family members who can support, raise, and teach each other.

  • Are you a parent? You can discuss how the pooling of limited resources – when combined with reduced demand for those resources – provides much more leverage against the current dynastic system and offer greater returns.
  • Are you an aunt or uncle without kids? You can talk about the importance of the special parenting role you play, and about the ways you can financially and emotionally contribute to the next generation’s success.
  • Are you a grandparent? You’ve survived so much and gained so much wisdom, and you’re in a great position to give your time and teach good life skills.

We realize that there are tax considerations for having children, and not all families get along. However, the fact that something may be challenging doesn’t mean that it can’t be the most worthwhile decision of your life.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime gift. You have an opportunity to teach money-management skills to your family’s youngest – and most vulnerable – generation. You have a chance to strengthen or rebuild your entire family network, opening new lines of communication, trust, and familiarity. You have an excuse to finally turn those relative strangers into your closest-knit kin. And you have a reason to support the development of better policy that rewards sustainable family-planning decisions.

If saving our planet doesn’t light a fire under you, let your bottom line motivate you. Put a unified plan into motion today. Take that first step toward creating and securing your family’s dynasty and empowering those kids – while enjoying the perks of having more by doing less.

The Leisurely Revolution

What is growth? And is it good?

As with most things, growth is relative: some of it is very good, and some of it is, well, very bad. Growing our talents, skills, abilities, and knowledge—these are examples of good growth. But our economy, rooted in consumerism, too often promotes the pursuit of nonessential, single-use, throwaway items. This kind of growth is a mathematical formula for disaster.

This kind of carbon-based, perpetual-growth economy is not only unsustainable, it’s impossible. They say that something is going to give—but it’s already giving. We can either wait until it’s too late and let the inevitable math dictate our behavior, or we can step up and adopt lifestyle changes that help us walk to the beat of a new and better drum.

Let’s start by examining some important assumptions:

  • We must—and will, by choice or by natural selection—reduce the human population
  • We want to live in a state of abundance and peace
  • We know that there are billions of people without enough food, and many lack shelter
  • We see that the resource-heavy US lifestyle is untenable for the world population
  • We benefit from leisure time and opportunities to gain knowledge
  • We believe that it’s healthful to devote time to personal growth

The Industrial Revolution changed everything—but not always in the best way. We owe it to the labor unions and other workers’ rights activists, who fought hard to protect the working class by eliminating child labor, limiting the workweek to 40 hours, creating the concept of a weekend, and increasing workplace safety.

After all their effort, why does it seem like we’re working harder than ever before? Why, with the marvels of automation, are our basic needs harder to meet? Why are fewer “haves” continuing to benefit from unimaginable wealth, while the growing population of “have-nots” is struggling to do more with even less?

The answer to all these questions: the carbon economy is unraveling.

Solutions

We must redefine what it means to be human, and that starts by redefining our needs. Do we really need to rush around buying a lot of things during the holidays? Do we really need to always have the latest gadget or device?

The truth is that we can make do with less stuff. We can share more, buy less, and buy used. With less stuff comes less expense, with a wonderful byproduct of having more leisure time.

We can also work less. What if, instead of a 40-hour workweek, we worked 30 hours a week, or even 21 hours a week? There could be more available work for the unemployed and underemployed. There could be more time for self, community, and family, and more space for personal exploration.

We’re not naive—working less can be challenging to put into action, given how expensive housing and basic necessities have become—and we’ll explore this further next month. Nevertheless, it’s possible with the right trade-offs: instead of valuing having a lot of things, we can value having a lot of low- or no-cost experiences.

Others have already set good examples that we can follow. We can be like most Europeans and take more vacation time each year. Imagine if the world’s population were to spend three months each year to live lightly on the land. Fewer resources would be used, and more art and music would be created. We would talk more, use less energy, and find time to better connect with our fellow humans and Mother Nature.

Imagine this slower-paced life, one in which we aspire to grow in healthful ways—and have the freedom to do so. Would you trade all that superfluous stuff for a life of leisure, personal growth, and knowing that you’re a part of the solution?

Being a part of the solution is as simple as taking time off regularly and using fewer things. This seems like a plan that most people would love to get behind.

So hurry up and relax!