China has officially ended its barbaric ‘one-child policy.’ This policy resulted in coerced abortions on a scale that made the baby parts peddlers of Planned Parenthood green with envy. One would think that the end of this cruel and benighted policy would be celebrated but inside the halls of elite American educational institutions, there were tears. Much like most of American academia went into mourning at the fall of the Soviet Union and the overthrow of Khmer Rouge, the nostalgia for killing Chinese babies is hitting our universities.
A professor, Sarah Conly, at Bowdoin College has this to say:
China has just announced that it is giving up its infamous one-child policy. While the Chinese government has been creating more exceptions to the one-child rule in recent years, this is the first time officials have announced that all couples may have two children if they so choose. The change is being applauded around the world, but it raises the question: Is this really a good thing?
The most recent estimate from the United Nations says we’ll reach a population of 9.7 billion by 2050. And we just reached the population milestone of 7 billion in 2011, meaning it will take just less than 40 years to increase our population by almost 3 billion people All of this from a world population of about 1 billion in 1800. China now constitutes 19 percent of the world population, and so a change in the country’s fertility rate will likely bring about that 9.7 billion even sooner.
The sad truth is that trying to support this many people will bring about environmental disaster. We can see the damage that is already being done by our present population of “just” 7.3 billion. We all know about climate change with its droughts, storms, rising sea levels, and heat. But it’s also soil depletion, lack of fresh water, overfishing, species extinction, and overcrowding in cities.
We are using resources unsustainably, and despite the frequent cries for a cutback in the use of resources and release in greenhouse gases, nothing much has happened. Today we release more greenhouse gases than we did before the Kyoto accords. More people will mean more unsustainable resource use, worse climate change, and, eventually, wars over scarce goods or massive population displacement and migrations to places with remaining resources.
This is Paul-Ehrlich-bull****. Let’s look at the “overcrowding” problem. Suppose the entire world’s population was dumped into the United States. Don’t laugh. Under Obama’s immigration regime this could very well happen. What would that look like if the population density were the same as some major cities?
Likewise, the shortage of resources argument only works if you agree that nothing changes from today. Production of steel was an indicia of national power for about a century. Now no one uses such a measurement.
Conly goes on to wax poetic how wonderful it would be to reduce the human population and in the process she actually ends up supporting forced abortion while denying she does so:
If we say there is no moral right to have more than one child, do we pave the way for forced abortions and sterilizations? No.
We may well be able to reduce the fertility rate without using sanctions at all, and that would, of course, be best. Most of us do what is right because we think it’s right, not because we’re afraid of punishment. We think murder is wrong and so (most of us) don’t murder. The same could be true for limiting how many children we have.
First, we can educate people about the need to have fewer children. It’s a sensitive subject, and even activist groups have regarded population as the untouchable third rail of environmental preservation. This is a case where avoiding a sensitive subject will only come back to haunt us, though. We can learn the advantages of having only one child, and get rid of the myths that some people still attach to that. Some think that even with the new freedom to have two children, at least most urban Chinese will stick to the old policy, and of course if people do the environmentally right thing without being forced to, that is best all around.
Second, we can make it easy to control how many children we have. We could make contraception free and readily available. (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended that birth control pills should be available over the counter, which would certainly be a beginning.)
Or, we can go farther, and reward those who have fewer children, say with tax breaks. We know that in the past the fertility rate has been sensitive to finances, with fewer births in both the Great Depression and following the 2008 recession, so financial reward seems an effective mechanism. If, on the other hand, incentives aren’t enough, we can provide disincentives. Instead of tax breaks we can have tax penalties for those who have more than one child. In terms of money, receiving a tax penalty may be no different from failing to receive a tax break, but calling it a penalty can provide more motivation.
Lastly, if we ever did discover that we needed sanctions to get people to refrain from having an unsustainable number of children, they wouldn’t be physical in nature. Fines may be the best way to go, and again, there is reason to think suitable fines, fixed on a sliding scale relative to income, can be effective — not 100 percent effective, which no regulation ever is, but effective enough.
Note that in the first example she gives she lauds the idea that forcing women to have abortions and to be sterilized was actually a damned good thing because it taut those stupid creatures to do what was right. In her third example, she doesn’t explore what happens when a financial disincentive fails to produce the desired result. The fact that she is willing to get the IRS involved in your family life indicates that she probably would object to getting the CDC or the Federal Bureau of Prisons involved either.
The sad irony is that philosophers, while mostly very dysfunctional beings themselves, have been behind most of the great tragedies of mankind. Without Marx and Engels and without Nietzsche to give a rational sounding underpinning to the genocidal impulses of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, etc., much of the slaughter of the 20th century could have been avoided.
What Conly is proposing isn’t an intellectual exercise, it is evil. If there is one part of human existence that should be free from the prying eyes of the state and the demented ideas of academia it is family life. The profound evil that Conly proposes is no less abhorrent than those evils that starved, gassed, and shot tens of millions of humans.