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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Malthusian Idiots Still Out There 
12th-Dec-2009 06:27 am
Despite the fact that Malthusian thinking has almost no relationship to reality, it can be an interesting proxy for finding out if someone is trustworthy on policy matters.

Here, for example, we have Diane Francis dutifully echoing the line about one child per couple.

The easiest response to her would be this: "Mrs. Francis, you have two children. Which one should we kill so that we can help trees?"

Of course, asking that question, with a gun in hand, two children present, and a certain deadness of tone might be stressful for Mrs. Francis. And it would be even more useful to ask her why that was, and whether that gives her any insight into the thoughts of others who might object to her one child policy and the coerced abortions that lie behind it.

What I'm afraid of is that she won't understand the question. And that is where I ask myself if she's worth paying attention to on matters of policy, or whether a vote is the most she should have in public discourse, not a newspaper column. What do you think?

UPDATE: As pointed out, Not even the Chinese are stupid enough to keep this policy.
12th-Dec-2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
You are quite right. And at any rate, demography is a self-correcting process. (After all the yelping about Europe breeding itself out of existence, it turns out that birth rates are rising across Europe, AND that abortion rates are falling. And that is excluding those immigrant minorities that the be-afraid-be-very-afraid version of history told us would replace us - in many of whose home countries natality is now plummeting, and even downright negative.)
12th-Dec-2009 04:26 pm (UTC)
In fact humans tend to have children based upon what they perceive is their expectation of gaining enough resources to assure their children what they consider a good upbringing and hence a good life. What Malthus missed when he looked at what he considered "overpopulation" was nothing short of the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, to which the great population boom of the 18th-19th centuries was a quite rational response. More fundamentally, he missed the fact that the lower classes were capable of rational planning for their future, despite their inability to speak to him in a tone and jargon that he respected.
12th-Dec-2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
Quite. Sooner or later I have to write something on the nineteenth-century European demographic explosion.
12th-Dec-2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
Check out the update on the message: not even the Chinese can escapte the consequences of this ridiculous policy.
12th-Dec-2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes. I would not invest in China long term, for a number of reasons, of which the long-term effect of this insanity are not the least.
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