© Jerry Russell
The "birth dearth" notion currently being peddled by neoconservative Ben Wattenberg, and gladly bought and re-sold by the media, is just another gnat in need of swatting by people of conscience.
How absurd to suggest that a smaller human population would have negative impact, or be "bad for the economy." Whose economy? Certainly not that of the growing numbers of sick and starving masses for whom any fruits their paltry economies might bear are well out of reach.
If developed countries want to control their populations to match their economic aspirations, the answers do not lie in encouraging more births to add population or in walling people out (laughably, Newsweek‘s September 27 issue referred to those already in the U.S. as "indigenous") to reduce numbers, all the while ignoring desperate overpopulation problems in other countries. We need to enact global policies that promote economic equality, that lead people to want to stay where they are if that’s what is needed. Or, if a nation’s economy is suffering because of too few people, we should encourage migration where it can ease the burden in one place and promote prosperity in another.
Only economic fairness, coupled with policies that respect the carrying capacity of all regions of the world, will cool heated global tensions, promote economic achievement and optimize both environmental and human health.
And if young people in so-called "birth dearth" or negative population growth countries do have a larger burden on the horizon in caring for their elders because of changing age demographics, so be it. Their governments have the ways and means—just not the will in many cases—to make economic adjustments that could lessen that burden. That is exactly what a government’s role should be—not to use tax dollars to underwrite the private disputes of a global Mafia (while tapping our youth for cannon fodder), but to use them for just such kinds of insurances or "safety nets."
As to the issue of labor, all over the world there are fewer and fewer workers needed to drive the wheels of the economies. Ever-advancing technologies in our global capitalist model tend to enrich the owners of industries and send the workers packing (instead of easing workloads across the board). Smaller populations, not larger ones, are needed if the majority of people are to be able to find a role in this fast-emerging new world order.
And the notion of encouraging more births in negative population growth countries when there are millions of people elsewhere who would gladly come and be a part of an economy in need of more hearts, minds and hands is just patently cruel. It further shows how racist and xenophobic we have allowed ourselves to become. I can only compare it to the calloused pet-breeding industry that keeps cranking out purebreds while there are thousands of dogs and cats stranded at pounds and shelters waiting for loving homes.There’s no people shortage, folks. They’re just not the variety that some very powerful people want living next door.