Gov't sanctioned population control...

This is this week’s debate in Intro to Social Sciences. Is it good? Is it bad? Would it be possible? Would it be effective? How would you do it?

Define “population control”. Like “everybody has 2.5 children or a bullet hole in the back of the head”? Or like “the government helps parents by providing day care centers and free schools”? There’s quite a difference.

A method to help keep the world population from balooning in the near future. Be that execution, mandatory birth control, IQ tests for having kids, whatever…

The best method seems to be economic development because developed countries have pretty much reached zero growth.

There’s no way for governments to curtail population growth without resorting to utterly draconian tactics. It might not be possible even then. People can’t seem to fight the urge to have kids.

It would be interesting if movements like voluntary human extinction suddenly grew in popularity, but that’s not terribly likely.

**Originally posted by Chekmate

I think Gov’t-sanctioned population control (GSPC) is a good thing in theory, but the problem here is that I think it would be good for areas that need it, not necessarily North America. How do you go about telling other countries that they need to cut out the baby-making, while people in your own country (Canada, in my case, which has a negative population growth) are free to have as many as they choose? I think sailor might be onto something there; help other countries catch up in economic development, and as they become more educated and affluent, the need and desire to have more children seems to subside. Of course, then they have all the problems that North Americans have that come along with economic development (pollution, capitalism, loss of unique culture, rich getting richer, poor getting poorer, etc.).

Back to the idea of GSPC, people who don’t think this is a good idea seem to be forgetting about Mother Nature, and how brutal she can be with population controls. Overcrowding breeds disease, and the overcrowded conditions ensure that the maximum number of people are infected, and poverty ensures that they are not adequately treated, and so the death tolls mount. And this can affect the entire planet, not just the areas that are most affected by overcrowding and poverty.

This is not a General Question, but rather a Great Debate. Off it goes.

In my sociology class we were taught that in developed countries the population growth slows because large numbers of children gradually change from being an economic assent to an economic liability. They, under normal circumstances, don’t help alleviate some of the burden of work from the parents (as field hands, etc.), but instead become one more person to educate and provide for during a normally unproductive youth. Also large numbers of children are not needed as a hedge against a high rate of mortality.

Probably the biggest example is China’s one-child policy, which was introduced in the late 70s, around the same time as economic reforms.

China’s government works by issuing orders - “we require this result” - and then relying on threats and punishments lower down the chain of command to bring the result about. By the time you get to local government level, policies are implemented ruthlessly and harshly, as the officials at the bottom will lose their jobs if they don’t deliver results.

The outcome has been forced abortions and countless other horrors. Women have to prove they were menstruating every month. They need permission to have a child. If it was a girl, they would often drown the baby in a bucket. Many female births went unreported.

In farming and ethnic minority communities, the policy was loosened. Farmers can now have a 2nd child if #1 is a girl.

The long-term impacts are interesting:

  • a serious imbalance in the ratio of males to females. This will leave millions of men without wives (it is almost as unthinkable in Chinese culture not to marry as it is not to have a male heir). Already, the kidnaping and trading of women is common. However, a shortage of women might also increase women’s power in society.
  • a generation of extremely spoilt, only children. Little emperors. I’ve read 2nd hand reports that the army is very unhappy with the self-centered and undisciplined qualiyt of recruits.
  • the population is 250mn lower than it would otherwise have been. A serious consideration when you have close to 25% of the world’s population and around 7% (and falling) of its arable land, and not a lot in the way of natural resources.

There has been talk of the policy being relaxed, but the last I heard it’s still going on.

The main problem is that forced population restrictions are typically so piss poorly implemented.

If I was in charge of some nation wanting to curtail their population, I would just have an edict sent out that would irreversibly neuter every other human between the ages of 16 and, say, 32 or some such. (powers of two rock).

No other criteria would be established, just every other person. At pure random.

Yes it would do hell with the sociology of the society (I could just imagine the suicide rate skyrocketing) but hell, it would solve the problem.

(You don’t want to hear my idea on how to win the war on drugs. Trust me, you don’t. :slight_smile: )

Hemlock - I didn’t know that there was already trading and kidnapping of women in China? That’s shocking - do you have cites?

I have also read about the “Little Emperor” thing.

I wonder if the male/female ratio would end up so imbalanced in western countries if one child policies were introduced.

Featherlou, crowding doesn’t neccesarily breed disease. Just look at the most crowded countries in the world: Japan and the Netherlands. Are they disease-ridden hellholes? Modern public health measures are more than sufficient to prevent epidemics of communicable diseases.

The places that have epidemics are third world countries that have no public health infrastructure…no running water, no sewage treatment, shortages of doctors and nurses, no mandatory immunization programs.

If we look at all industrialized countries we find that all of them have near zero growth rates. Many countries such as Japan and Italy have negative growth rates…the population is shrinking. Even the United States would have near zero growth if we stopped immigration. (Note: I’m not saying we should stop immigration).

Global population growth is taking place in third world countries. But when we look at demographic trends, we see that the rate of increase in most third world countries is decreasing. And there is every reason to believe that those growth rates will start to match industrialized growth rates when those countries have comparable development levels.

We don’t NEED government sanctioned population control. What we need is economic development, and gender equality. If you are concerned with overpopulation the best…the absolute best, the most effective thing to do…is to work to improve women’s rights in third world countries. Notice that this is not just good from a population control standpoint, but has many other good effects. Gender equality. It’s not just good, it’s good for society.

The preceding slogan brought to you by “Wheaties, The Breakfast of Champions!”

The very idea of GSPC should have all pro-choice people up in arms. If it is truly about a woman’s right to choose what happens with her body, then she should have the freedom to also choose to HAVE a child if she so desires. GSPC interferes with that right, it is making the choice for her. Over-crowding or not, a woman should not be told what to do with her body. Any other stance would be hypocritical.

On the other hand, pro-life people should be against this as well. Forced abortion is still abortion, and not letting people have children is denying the right to procreate and a right to life (not to mention the RCC and other’s stance on birth control).

So how can ANYONE be in favor of GSPC?

People like me who don’t see the world in black and white, I guess, ThunderBug. I’m pro-choice, but anti-abortion. I think people should be allowed to live their lives, but if what they’re doing affects the entire population of the planet, then I think there may be a need for controls to be imposed on them. I don’t see these things as absolutes. I think every situation needs to be evaluated on its own merits.

(Lemur866, you are right of course that it is the poverty that breeds disease, not simply overcrowding. Although I might argue that sociological/psychological problems can come from overcrowding regardless of the conditions.)

There’s also arguments (found on the VHEMT site, of all places) that countries like the USA are better candidates for population control, because from a pure use-of-natural-resources standpoint, Americans use a lot more stuff per person than your average 3rd-world resident. One person in the USA uses as much stuff as 60 people in Somalia, or something like that.

Here’s how I plan to fix things when I become Empress. Put birth control in the water, and let anyone that asks have the antidote (meaning both potential parents so no ‘oopsing’ occurs). I suspect a lot of births in the US are accidental, and this would fix that. This nullifies arguments of eugenics or whatever, just give it to anyone. For 3rd world countries I agree with women’s rights and education.

Yes. You can read about the size of the ‘ecological footprint’ of different nations here.

This Washington Post story gives the background. A Google search for “China kidnaping [or trafficking] women” will bring up a lot of material. Reports of people being executed for trading in women are pretty routine in the newspapers here.

You are pro-choice, but it’s ok for the government to tell a woman what to do with their body. So the government can suspend reproductive rights if it is good for the society at large as perceived by people other than those whose bodies are effected? Do all personal liberties get to be suspended this way then?

But on the other hand, you are anti-abortion. However, you seem to be in favor of the goverment steping in and terminating a pregnancy as they see fit. Those who are anti-abortion see that abortion is murder, it takes the life of one who can not defend themselves. So government sanctioned murder is acceptable because it may effect others? Should we extrapolate that to political leaders that are potentially a danger to the people they rule or to the population of other people around them?

So you are anti-pro-choice but pro-anti-abortion. Interesting stance, if you can call it that.

I never said that I considered abortion murder, and that was why I am opposed to it. I am opposed to abortion because I don’t like it; it is a nasty, distasteful idea to me. I should also say that I’m not going to tell anyone else whether they can or should have abortions because I personally don’t like the idea of them. There are much better solutions for birth control than abortion. It would be short-sighted of any government proposing GSPC to use only abortion as its means of controlling population. Education and free birth control would be much better tools, IMO.

I don’t see GSPC as suspending reproductive rights of women. Allowing a couple only one or two children doesn’t seem like a horribly Draconian measure to me. It sounds more like common sense - breed only to replace yourself and your spouse. As for personal liberties being suspended, if humans on Earth continue to breed unchecked, we may all see our liberties like fresh air, fresh water, food to eat and space to live encroached upon. I would rather see some steps taken now that affect people’s breeding than see everyone negatively affected in the future by starvation and disease. The solution to overpopulation problems to deal with the problems after the fact are much harsher than controlling population growth now.