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Nov 03 2011

The Seventh Seal

If we agree to be arranged by a tetris player, then I am sure
we can fit a few more hundred people in here.

Humanity has crossed a very important landmark in our existence. As of this week, it is predicted that there are seven billion people on earth. Who the seven billionth child is? That isn’t important. What is important is that we tackle the issue of overpopulation across the world. But not everyone sees this as a real issue. The catholics have started declaring this a celebration in the fight against our “murder industry”. A good example is the pro-catholic Population Research Institute who celebrate this event.

We don’t wish to reduce the right of people to have children, it’s a universal right. What we do want is for them to have fewer kids, and treat the ones that they do have as cherished treasures regardless of gender, ability, mental and physical status or sexuality. We basically want the western ideal of 2 children to become the norm because it produces a relatively stable population that doesn’t grow or fall, a stable economy from the influx of people into it and a reduction of drain on natural resources since they are finite and the more we spread it out the richer we are as people and the more easier and comfortable our lives are. We want people to understand that they need to have as many kids as they can manage and for most it is one or two. 

Stephen Mosher of the Population Research Institute disagrees with this idea. But his argument is filled with ludicrous fallacy after fallacy. Of catholic rhetoric that may not work on non catholic governments that we are so proud to support, but will work on the millions of catholics who reside in Africa and parts of Asia like the Philippines.



In short, I am stating that Mosher lies about a variety of things in both posts. Either he is lying or is simply following church propaganda. 

“None of this matters,” the official responds. “The only relevant fact is that you are not married now. The rules cannot be bent,” she tells you. And the rules of China’s birth-control program absolutely forbid single motherhood.  
Under the double threat of losing your job and paying a huge fine (the first makes it almost impossible to do the second, of course), you report under duress to the abortion ward.  Because you are already in the third trimester of pregnancy, you are given a cesarean-section abortion.”

There is no rule about “single parents not being allowed to have kids”. It’s a social rule not a government rule. A quick check online specifically states that children born out of wedlock can be registered and stories abound of single mothers whose complaints are about chinese prudishness. Social pressure makes these women abort more for the same reason that single mothers all over the world abort more. The child is more prone to not having a good lifestyle, the child is prone to being stigmatised as a bastard and often there is a societal pressure to do so lest the mother be treated as a woman of easy virtue. The added unwillingness of unmarried men to take responsibility for their child adds pressure to this decision.

In china the benefits given to a single child are not applied to children born out of wedlock due to old rules that didn’t consider this. With the rise of single mothers the chinese government has begun to provide the same level of support to these children albeit at the social cost of disdain. People still maintain old prejudice and those old prejudices are what drives the discrimination against these women and children coupled with a society where boys are more valued and treated as Little Emperors. There are few little empresses, but they are more and more common in a society where most people have one or two children.


Awww!!!

The number of forced abortion has gone down each and every single year particularly as China has realised that the policy it pursued is untenable in two ways. The first being that it has encouraged a massive ageing population, while the sec
ond being that it has caused a hugely skewed gender ration resulting in a lot more boys than girls particularly with the issues brought about by sex selective abortion. But while this is a rather appalling use of abortion, it isn’t as bad as the alternative which was China’s phenomenal rate of female infanticide, which I am familiar with since I currently live in another country where female infanticide was acceptable and indeed normal despite massive programs by the government.

This example is a repeated one used by Stephen as seen here in an earlier article.

For me, such tragedies are not just morally repugnant; they make zero economic sense. After all, as our numbers have grown, incomes have soared. In 1800, when there were only 1 billion of us, per-capita income worldwide was a mere $100. Today, as we pass the 7 billion mark, per-capita income has soared to $9,000.

Stephen fails to understand economics as a whole. To him all items are the same value all over the world with everything translating into the same currency value. It’s a very childish look at the economy of the world considering the basis of economic trade is that different resources have different values in different countries and people inherently value things differently.

He also fails to understand the value of currency has changed over time and that $100 in the 1800s probably would not have the same value as $9000 today. And as many american readers can point out that the $9000 figure is incredibly tiny for most first world nations and indeed would be considered a medium to low wage in many third world nations.

And this is without the obvious logical disconnect in assuming that everyone earns the same amount of money. We in the west take the lion’s share of that money both as normal income (Minimum wage at 40 hours a week is above $9000 a year) and indeed as wages in our middle class and upper middle class (who do work for a living) not to mention our entrepreneurial class. All this is without mentioning our super rich whose earnings are phenomenal or indeed a certain virgin with a big hat who happens to have a lot of bling.. 

All in all he paints a very rosy picture of the world, failing to realise that there are people in Africa, India and China whose poverty is heart rending. The issue is not that of money, it is of producing sustainable growth and value that brings money in. Money doesn’t solve the problem if you simply give it to people. Money has to be earned, the value money has is in it’s earning. It sounds incredibly harsh but what you want to produce is sustainable and steady growth across the board. Simply giving people money ACTUALLY stymies that growth since it doesn’t encourage actual growth. Money can provide expertise, training and infrastructure but it is the people who pull themselves up. We can provide infrastructure and the training, but a lot of improvements need to be made INCLUDING the birth rate which needs to plummet like a rock if we are to produce sustainable growth. 

If we really were “breeding ourselves off the face of the planet,” as the other side likes to claim, mortality rates would be climbing and life spans would be shrinking. Instead, we see the opposite

Evolution and Rats!

The highest estimate for tigers in the wild is 5066 individuals. That is a species that is “disappearing from the face of the earth”. There are 7 billion human beings. Humans are not endangered, not by a long shot. We are as tough and as survivable as the cockroach or the rat, but so intelligent that we have produced a method of development as a species that ignores evolutionary pressure. By our use of tool making we have subverted the natural pressures on us to become the dominant force we are today and that is amazing. 

Stephen doesn’t understand that in the west with low mortality rate and high lifespan we have increased individual productivity to a point where most of us have realised that fewer children are better and have willingly applied our own pressure to reduce our populations. We would rather have one or two children and make sure they get the very best in life rather than have more children than we can feed. And population control basically boils down to this very simple point. When you have more children than you can feed, then you become a liability. The rest of the productive members of society have to weigh in for you. This is available in the west but not in Africa where there isn’t the resource or the drive for the middle and upper classes to bail out the poor and definitely not in India where nearly 600 million people exist at or below the poverty line. Sustainable growth isn’t madness, it’s common sense. 

Yet crop yields per hectare have more than kept pace with population growth. Enough grain is produced for every person on earth to consume 3,500 calories daily. There is no need for anyone to starve in the midst of this plenty.  

Economies continue to expand, productivity is up, and pollution is declining. Life spans are lengthening,
poverty is down, and political freedom is growing. The human race has never been so well off.

Marasmus Starvation. The potbellied appearance is due to
oedema rather than fat. There is no protein to maintain
osmotic pressure to reabsorb water. 

Crop yields in the west do not translate to crop yields in Africa. For starters we have technology that not only costs a lot but we also use subsidies to encourage this kind of production to the ACTUAL detriment of third world farmers. This subsidised bounty ensures we have cheap food produced locally but also food for export. This drops the international price of food often beyond what farmers in the third world who often don’t have the seed quality, the infrastructure and the technology to produce a similar yield. Actually taking food from the west and giving it to Africa is a short term measure. It doesn’t solve the problem of sustainability. And this logic assumes that you can live solely on grain. One of the biggest problems in Africa is Marasmus and Kwashiorkar which are protein deficiency starvations. Plenty of calories, just no protein in their diets. The issue of supply of food is a complex one. And indeed this involves freighting tonnes of food over months to Africa when we should be encouraging local growth. The issue of this “bounty” is so bad that it is the direct cause of many suicides across asia and china as local farmers simply cannot afford to farm their ancestoral lands.

The part about economies is particularly stupid considering we are in a recession. And it’s not like it’s a small piece of news what with all the misery we are being put through. Pollution is declining because we have moved all the polluting industries to third world nations while we enjoy clean fresh air. Stephen is well off, humanity is not.

So, they continue to raise funds by frightening people with the specter of overpopulation. They continue to claim that too many babies are being born to poor people in developing
countries. This is tantamount to saying that only the wealthy should be allowed to have children — and is a new form of global racism.

No. We are saying that you should have as many children as you want and should be responsible for maintaining them at a good standard. The basic rights of a child state that a child should be brought up in a world where they can get education. Where they do not fear for their lives and can achieve anything they want. Where they are provided for. We can soften the blow in first world nations because the vast majority of us are productive to the point we can afford to have a dole.

This isn’t racist, this is just common sense. Telling people that they would have more money if they had fewer kids and provided them with a good standard of care is logic. Dropping the populations of India and China will have positive effects on their economy and provide a stable society for the children being born in the future not to mention sustainable growth.

The Catholic church doesn’t feed these extra mouths, it is us. We have to take food there and feed people who technically would die without us to the point that many africans rely on us to survive (all the while the Catholic church treats this as a blessing from a mythical entity rather than the sweat of humanity). The church isn’t helping by encouraging these people to have more children making us provide more food and further curtails any effort to be self sufficient.

What he doesn’t realise is that the industrialisation of most countries is often held back by such population booms where resources are wasted trying to feed people who aren’t self sufficient. Family Planning is vital in ensuring the offspring of these children grow up in a world where they aren’t subject to the same pressures as their parents and indeed to produce a society where resources are plentiful and where environmental damage is low. In India where I live there are so many people that nearly every source of water is either being used up faster than it can be resupplied or worse polluted by sheer population density. The environmental effect of 1 billion people is not to be sniffed at. Had India’s population remained at the 400 million individuals it had during the partition it would have been able to feed every single person in it and be easily capable of making the crossover from developing nation to a developed one. Instead the birth rate has ensured that a lot of issues are that much harder to solve because so many people are involved.

We should stop funding population control programs, and instead turn our attention to real problems, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and infectious diseases. As mortality rates fall, so will birth rates.

Here he shoots himself in the foot, in typical Catholic fashion he forgets two important things. Condoms stop the spread of HIV and therefore it reduces the amount of AIDS. Despite HIV/AIDS still being rife in the Men who have Sex with Men community, it’s not as bad in the 80s and 90s when the disease spread as few of these men used condoms. Now with the rise of condom usage amongst gay men the rate of HIV has fallen. While MSM still form the bulk of new cases well above their proportional demography, their number is falling rapidly all the time due to the adoption of condoms and the increasing adoption of them. And this is ignoring the stellar work done by vaccination drives and anti-malarial measures that are slowly being implemented.

And Stephen forgets the most important way our birth rate fell. Our birth rate fell due to the cheap and easy access to condoms, the education that goes with condoms and the empowerment and continuing empowerment of women and men to insist that a condom be used for non-procreational sex. In short our birth rates dropped by birth control.

In short people are our greatest resource. But only if given the space and resources, to be slowly nurtured to become productive members of society. Without education, infrastructure and indeed independence people cease to be a resource and become a burden that needs baby sitting. Yes, I understand that it sounds like white man’s burden at this point but hear me out. If we could provide some slum dwellers with the means and the monetary support to break out of the slum and be self sufficient, is it not better than simply giving him rice? Have we not turned someone who wastes his life into a positive force, both for himself to escape poverty and increase self sufficiency to provide a role model for other people in the slum he left to do the same.

That is real charity. Even the most powerful of western ch
arities such as the Red Cross or Medicin Sans Frontier understand this. They don’t send doctors and nurses JUST to work there and make life better for the locals. They also send them to teach locals the skills needed so that the Red Cross and MSF don’t HAVE to send doctors there. They help them with education, infrastructure and sustainability. The most important things you need as a charity. In short the most important point of charity is to ensure that people don’t need charity. The point of us encouraging family planning is so that people in poor countries don’t need hand outs to keep their families from starving. 

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