Fixing a world in poverty

GVL/Michael Dykstra
Herb Meyer Lecture

GVL/Michael Dykstra Herb Meyer Lecture

gabriella patti

Herb Meyer, a Reagan administration intelligence official, believes we are living through one of the greatest times in history.

Meyer, known for predicting the collapse of the Soviet Union, shared his predictions for the future with a crowd at Grand Valley State University’s Eberhard Center on Tuesday night as a part of the Hauenstein Center’s American Conversations series.

Meyer said that despite the difficult times we are faced with, he believes that there is a bright future down the road.

“It is easy to be frightened, and it’s easy to be a pessimist,” Meyer said. “Don’t let the pessimists get you down. Here’s the world that is waiting for you on the other side of the turmoil that we are going through.”

Meyer’s positive outlook was accompanied by words of warning, however, as to the burden this generations’s college-age students will be taking on.

Meyer said one challenge the United States has to face is the aging of the population as a whole.

“When your birth rate drops below the 2.1 replacement level, the entire population is aging because you don’t have enough young people replacing older people,” Meyer said.

Meyer said that in the United States the birthrate is currently 1.9.

“When you put all the numbers together, the world population is continuing to increase, but it has decelerated,” he said.

Meyer believes the core of the economic problems of today, and those of the future, is people are living longer and having fewer children, leading to the aging population.

“Every year from now on there will be more and more and more older people until about 2045. There are actually more older people than younger people,” Meyer said.

He added this is important to the younger generations because elderly people do not spend as much as younger people.

“This is why so many of you who are students are having a hard time getting going and getting jobs,” Meyer said.

He said it is the first time in history that the economy is not getting a good take-off. He addressed students saying that this generation is faced with a dilemma.

“The trick is this, to bring the world out of poverty and to do it without trashing the planet,” Meyer said.

Meyer believes the solution will be to create products and services that are clever, inexpensive and green.

“The growth industries of the twenty-first century are energy, food, infrastructure, healthcare, education and entertainment,” he said. “That is how we create jobs for an entire generation of young Americans.”

Meyer predicts that if this is done, the economy will see a sonic boom.

In his final words, Meyer said to the students that the greatest question for their generation is what are they are going to do in order to bring the world entirely out of poverty while saving the planet.

“My generation won the Cold War,” Meyer said. “My parent’s generation won World War II. For the first time now we can see a job for a people who are students tonight. Take the world over that line.”

For more information on the Hauenstein Center’s lecture series, “American Conversations,” visit