A Halloween Question: Who Is Afraid of Seven Billion People?

4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.

– 127th Psalm (4,5) (HT:Biblegateway.com)

I came home a little late from my morning jog this morning and later slammed down that cup of morning coffee before rushing out the door to work. As I drank, I watched a snippet of the morning news show of WAFF – 48. Sometime today, the Seven Billionth human being will be born.

I consider this a remarkable victory for mankind. As late as 1900, we were unable to support a single billion, let alone seven! I see the fact that seven billion people are able to coexist as an ultimate triumph of science, ratiocination and goodwill. I am a believer that more people are a solution; not a problem. We have always succeeded at feeding and watering them in the past. We will succeed again. We will succeed forever more.

Others do not share my optimism and fear this many people. This has presented a conundrum to anyone who accepts the Gospel of Malthus. Complaining about there being too many people is one thing; doing something about it leads us to a serious thicket of problems. Throughout the 20th Century, societies have struggled against the basic biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply and have thereby added unnecessary tyranny and murder to the stock of human misery.

Thomas Malthus formally kicked-off the movement to control world population with his 1798 text An Essay on the Principle of Population. Malthus argued therein that population grew exponentially. He claimed agricultural productivity could only increase in a linear fashion. This led Malthus to the logical extrapolation that man would overpopulate any constrained area and fall victim to war, disease and famine.

Malthus falls into the category of men proved intelligent, articulate, but wrong. Assuming Malthus’ exponential theory of population growth is accurate; man’s population doubled twice since 1900 and is ¾ of the way to a 3rd doubling. Our food production is such obesity has become a major health problem in much of the developed world. Malthus was wrong; but Malthus was persuasive and quotable. Many disciples of Malthus arose to contribute greatly to all that is wrong in the modern world.

The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, believed strongly that human population should be limited. That soon led her to wrestle with the unavoidable question of just which reproduction had to be prevented. She elected to advocate eugenics, so that she could improve the overall quality of the human race by not having unfit individuals breed. In her tract “My Way to Peace,” Sanger made the following recommendation.

. . . keep the doors of Immigration closed to the entrance of certain aliens whose condition is known to be detrimental to the stamina of the race, such as feeble-minded, idiots, morons, insane, syphiletic, epileptic, criminal, professional prostitutes, and others in this class . . . apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization, and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.

(HT: NYU.edu)

As WWII discredited racial eugenics, the Human Population Movement was forced to find a different justification under which they could peddle their sadism. In the late 1960’s and Early 1970’s, they joined forces with the growing environmental movement. Paul and Anne Ehrlich made this Neo-Malthusian Movement famous with the publication of The Population Bomb. This irrational 1968 screed predicted that society would break down in the 1970’s and 1980’s and that starvation would ravage America!

Yet even today, after over 200 years of scientific inaccuracy to their credit, the alarmists still sound the alarm. This piece by Steven Earl Salmony gives us the typical tenor of how Human Population Activists think.

Tomorrow we will become a species of 7 billion overconsumers, overproducers and overpopulaters on a finite and frangible planet where resources are dissipating and environs degrading rapidly.

(HT: Countercurrents.org)

This perhaps deliberately misses the real problem the world is going to have with respect to population. This problem consists of a lack of working age people in developed world countries. Plans such as Medicare, Social Security, and much of the rest of America’s social welfare state involve transfer payments from working age taxpayers to elderly recipients. What will happen when there are more recipients than donors? A Reuters article takes up this question.

Many demographers and long-term planners say the challenge for the next century will be less dealing with growing numbers of people and more managing the much larger population of aged and perhaps dependent people while finding new strategies to deliver prosperity, jobs and essential services. The trend has already contributed to the current global financial crisis by driving up health and social care bills and perhaps also undermining productivity.

So the question I posted atop this article can be answered as follows. People who do not believe we can solve our future problems do not believe people should continue bringing children into the world. The Human Population Movement will cloak this pessimism and fundamental anti-humanism in terms of eugenics, environmentalism or concern for the economic well-being of the working classes.

However, what the poor, the enfeebled and the dirty environment needs right now are more intelligent minds, strong backs and well-lined wallets. We need more people to do work necessary to keep Earth an inhabitable planet. We need new ideas to fuel the continued technological improvements that make our lives possible and fulfilling. We need more working people to be able to afford the continuance of a law-giving state.

Children are indeed a heritage of the Lord and a blessing. This Halloween, do not be afraid of 7 Billion people. Be very afraid of those who tell you not to breed. Someone who tells you that is definitely not your friend.