May 21, 2008

People, Who Need People...

Carroll Andrew Morse

Monday's call from the Projo editoral page for worldwide population control…

There are just too many people in the world, and there are, of course, more every day — and 80 million more each year. The effects, in declining standards of living in many places, as well as in environmental degradation, are obvious. The increase should be sharply slowed and then halted.
...returns me to Spengler's explanation of global finance in his Asia Times column from yesterday. According to Spengler, the basic division in the world is between an older generation in search of a stable and comfortable retirement and a younger generation seeking growth and opportunity. The system works for everyone when the older generation loans part its wealth, accrued over a lifetime, to the younger generation who combines the borrowed resources and their youthful energy to create new value, a piece of which is then returned to the oldsters, helping to fund their retirement.

But if a new generation is discouraged from ever coming into being, it will not be as easy as the Malthusians on the Projo editorial board and elsewhere assume it will be for current and future retirees to find the resources needed to maintain the standard of living they're expecting to have. Standards of living, as Spengler explained, depend not only on material resources, but also on complex interconnections to a world full of energetic, creative people. To believe that bureaucratic planning can be used to limit the number of people and their associated energies, without major impacts on financial and government systems built on the assumption of dynamic human growth, is sheer folly.

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"The increase should be sharply slowed and then halted."

Kindly advise how this would be done.

Posted by: Monique at May 21, 2008 6:21 PM

For the sake of discussion, there is some validity to the issue raised by the Pro-Jo.

The reality is that we humans have in many ways outsmarted nature ...for a period of time.

We have drastically increased life expectancy and found ways to avert pandemics, plagues, etc. that once "culled the herd" so to speak.

As a result, the world's population is soaring. Along with that is a concievable strain on our natural resources. And perhaps, that is where nature catches back up with us.

I did not interpret the Pro-Jo's editorial as saying that we needed "bureaucratic planning" to limit the number of people. Rather, I read it as "give people the choice ...make such things as contraceptives available to people".

I also didn't interpret it to mean that people would / should stop procreating entirely.

And yes, there is a certain cycle that is required to keep the wheels spinning. But, if you have a system that keeps feeding on itself as described by Spengler, then you eventually have the bubble described by Spengler, which eventually collapses on the weight of itself.

I'm sure if I think about this issue a bit more, I can some how tie the problem to the RI Public Employee Unions ...

Posted by: George Elbow at May 21, 2008 9:41 PM

Like Monique pointed out, a two step plan to first "sharply slow" and then "halt" population growth is going to take more than just making contraception available.

Posted by: Andrew at May 21, 2008 11:02 PM

In first world nations, the number of children that must be born per woman to maintain population is (2.1).
The U.S. is currently at (2.1). The Western European nations range from about 1.2 to 1.9. Canada is also in this range. The reality is that the world is more likely to de-populate itself than to over-populate. See Mark Steyn's "America Alone". Over population is one of many myths that the Left propagates.

Posted by: SeanO at May 22, 2008 12:59 AM

Let's ask the communist Chinese government for advice; they seemed to have gotten the knack of that whole "population control" thing. Who needs girls anyway (sorry, Monique).

Much like the free market, Earth will generally support as much population as it's capable of doing, and nature will naturally limit that over time. We may have gotten a little better at dealing with diseases, but we still don't control nature (earthquakes, cyclones, etc.).

I don't think Earth's population is anywhere near too high. If anything, it's just too concentrated in certain areas.

Despite it's name, "population control" isn't really about controlling the Earth's population. It's simply about control (i.e., that of the individual over their own affairs -- or of the State).

Posted by: Will at May 22, 2008 1:09 AM

No, no, say it, Will. Talk about the ultimate act of sexism ...

Posted by: Monique at May 22, 2008 12:54 PM


You figured it out quite well. "Population control" almost always means control of the female population, since (as is the case in China), couples are officially limited to one child (if they have more than one, they are burdened with onerous additional taxes). Since they are limited to one child, and are still largely agrarian societies, they tend to go with the child which will be able to do better financially for the family in farming or trades.

Of course, females are also those who give birth to additional children over time, so if you prevent them from being born (or continuing to live), you're also preventing their potential progeny from being born as well. That "control" doesn't happen by magic, but rather by government enforced coercion, through such means as forced sterilization, forced abortion, and outright infanticide, amongst other things. Sure it's sexist.

Posted by: Will at May 22, 2008 4:46 PM
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