In a recent column (Maine Voices, “Fill skills gap with people from away,” Oct. 1), former state economist Michael LeVert says that the state is demographically challenged when it comes to the age groups and backgrounds it needs.

LeVert asserts, “We’re the oldest and least racially diverse state in the country. In less than 20 years a quarter of our population will be in retirement.”

Turning from facts to value judgements, he suggests, “We cannot grow the economy with these demographics,” and offers this prescription: “To solve Maine’s skills gap, we need a new and thoughtful population growth strategy for Maine.”

But shouldn’t any such “thoughtful” focus on demographics not be blinkered by anyone’s cultural attitudes (including those of mainstream economists)?

By embracing intellectual diversity, maybe we’d free public discourse from the formulaic and cliched-ridden and find a candor and open-mindedness equal to the challenge of optimizing our future locally and globally.

Then maybe we’d see courage and originality in opinion pieces equal to the moral implications of global realities that a bright 10-year old can see are being played down for the sake of morale.

Economists’ simpleminded hankering for growth reminds me of a dog chasing its tail.

Population growth brings demand for goods and services, but jobs must also expand to keep pace. Slow population growth, and you reduce unemployment by the same ratio. Note how we talk of “job,” “food,” “housing” or any other kind of a “shortage,” rather than of a “human surplus.”