This story in Buffalo’s Artvoice about “the Republic of Oldistan” (the Rust Belt) makes a lot of good points. But I also wonder: Doesn’t a rising birth rate make it more, not less, difficult to enact policies that support long-term solutions for sustainable living? Are old folks really the most indiscriminate consumers of resources? Do old or poor people living modest lifestyles agitate as much for the spending of blood to buy treasure? Isn’t it people in confident search of affluent lifestyles who are the most apt to support a slash-and-burn of resources, and belligerent foreign relations, as opposed to people who are mainly in search of affordable health care? What is the relationship between moral clarity and superior demographics?
“Right-sizing” a society is a wonderful idea, unless you are surrounded by others who are not interested in that idea at all. “Youngistan” (by this, I mean not individual Americans, but those regions of America deemed not to be “Oldistan”) is not really interested in that idea, I fear, despite many protestations to the contrary. It’s not as if Oldistan has nothing it needs to protect from greed and waste, such as Great Lakes water (see this unsettling article about a loophole in the Great Lakes Compact).
When you already divide your nation into Oldistan and not-Oldistan, that speaks volumes about a broken trust. In the 21st century, will corporate America make an all-out final assault on the maddeningly resistant pockets of unchange in the Rust Belt and Appalachia? Will Oldistan — and some of its hard-won wisdom — go gently into that good night?