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Taking on the overpopulation myth
Question of the Day
REAL COSTS, ILLUSORY BENEFITS
Transaction, $29.95, 300 pages
REVIEWED BY JOSEPH A. D’AGOSTINO
“‘Our health care sector is collapsed,’ Kenya obstetrician Stephen Karanja says simply, opening his hands in a gesture of hopelessness. ‘Thousands of Kenyan people will die of malaria, the treatment for which costs a few cents, in health facilities whose shelves are stocked to the ceiling with millions of dollars worth of [contraceptive] pills, IUDs, Norplant, Depo-Provera, and so on, most of which are supplied with American money.’”
This one quote from Steven W. Mosher’s “Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits,” from the former secretary of the Kenyan Medical Association, summarizes the state of Western-funded population control programs in the Third World. Just as Planned Parenthood, founded by eugenicist Margaret Sanger (who said she wanted “to create a race of thoroughbreds”), still has 70 percent of its clinics located in minority neighborhoods, foreign aid for health programs still target the black, brown, and yellow populations of the world for reduction. Now called reproductive health or maternal health programs, these efforts - which continue to receive billions of dollars a year from the United States and Europe even as birthrates decline to below replacement level in most regions of the world - began as population control and still have that effect.
Unlike almost all other American scholars of the subject, Steven Mosher, president of Population Research Institute and a China expert, does not consider population control to be a worthy goal. Nor does he think population control programs were a necessary expedient whose time has now passed, or believe the concept was fine in principle while deploring the forced sterilization and abortion campaigns conducted in the Third World as part of the postwar global population control effort. Using plenty of anecdotes from the lives of people in poor countries and a popular, nonacademic style, Mr. Mosher documents how population control has crowded out many of the resources needed for disease prevention and treatment and has often led to massive human rights abuses by governments eager to meet their population reduction goals. (Full disclosure: I used to work at PRI.)
In “Population Control,” Mr. Mosher incisively explores the history and effects of the population control movement from a pro-people perspective, based on the belief that because each person has unique value, more people means more for all of us — more economic production, more potential for artistic and scientific achievement, more innovation. Another recent book on population control, “Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population” by Matthew Connelly, a professor of history at Columbia University, criticizes the human rights abuses committed by population controllers but also criticizes efforts by the Catholic Church and others to increase fertility in a world threatened by anti-natal forces.
Not only have the facts proved Mr. Mosher’s Christian-derived beliefs true — the tremendous increase in global population since World War II has been accompanied by tremendous increases in prosperity and scientific achievement instead of the mass starvation and other disastrous consequences predicted by population controllers — but he sounds the alarm about the coming underpopulation crisis.Population control, including its First World variant of anti-family materialism, has become far too successful.
The world’s population growth rate maxed out in 1965 and has been in sharp decline.”The unprecedented fall in fertility rates that began in postwar Europe has, in the decades since, spread to every corner of the globe, affecting China, India, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America,” says Mr. Mosher. “The latest forecasts by the United Nations show the number of people in the world shrinking by midcentury, that is, before today’s young adults reach retirement age.” The birthrate of Europe taken as a whole, from Ireland to Russia, is only 1.5 children per woman in her lifetime, far below the minimal replacement rate of 2.1. Latin America’s is down to 2.4 and dropping fast. China’s is 1.7. South Korea’s is a mere 1.1. The United States is the only developed country at or above replacement rate; we’re right at 2.1.
It used to be that folks relied on their children to help them on the farm or in their businesses, and especially in their old age. Economic incentives encouraged childbearing. But now socialism has taken over that role of families. “As [demographer] Phillip Longman has remarked, the modern nanny state has created a strange new world in which the most ‘successful’ individuals in material terms are the most ‘unfit’ in biological terms,” Mr. Mosher writes.”In all previous ages of human history wealth and children went hand-in-hand.”
This brave new world in which children are both culturally and economically undesired could lead to the dissolution of whole societies, particularly Western ones, as they age and their social security systems go bankrupt through a dearth of taxpaying young people, Mr. Mosher suggests. The abandonment of biblical values, led by the Church of England in 1930 when it became the first major Christian denomination to endorse contraception, is in this area, as in so many others, leading the world down a self-destructive path.
At least Western societies are rich. Other nations facing rapid population aging, from China to Mexico, are still poor on a per-capita basis. This population bomb could become the greatest cost of population control.
Mr. Mosher provides the material to counteract the overpopulation myth still dominant in the mainstream media, and peppers his straightforward text with illustrative stories from real people’s lives. Ever since he became the first Western social scientist to document the forced abortions going on as part of China’s Western-supported population control program 30 years ago, Mr. Mosher has been waging a campaign against the population controllers of the Earth.
Cracks in the facade of the overpopulation myth have been growing in the past few years as liberal experts and a few mainstream journalists have recognized the dangers of plunging birthrates and the harm done to millions of forcibly sterilized Third World women. Though these latecomers may never admit it, Mr. Mosher’s has been one of the voices crying against the anti-people movement for a long time, and his latest book should be read by all those who want to know why thriving human populations are reasons to rejoice rather than fear.
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