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Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Zealots of Thomas Malthus Forging the finest print

Some time ago, I read and reviewed the manifesto of one Mark Bidrowski. I wasn't really taken with his Overpopulation Manifesto, and I expressed fault with it, as I often did with many essays last year.

A excerpt from his work:

Let’s take a look at the least developed countries. Many of those countries are in Africa. Family planning and sexual education are both very rare. Contraceptives are even rarer. Almost nonexistent in the least developed countries. Let’s get even more specific, and take a look at the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"This war torn land is now ravaged by AIDS. The population of the DROC is 60,085,804. AIDS is taken into account with this number. AIDS creates an excess of mortality, this lowers life expectancy, heightens infant morality and death rates, could lower population growth rates, and may change the distribution of population by age and sex (CIA.) Now, what is interesting is that the growth rate for the DROC has not lessened. It is at 2.98. This is because of the fact that there is almost no place to get family planning or contraceptives. Why is this?

It may be because President George W. Bush reinstated the funding ban for family planning programs run by all international agencies which also provide abortion services, even if the latter is done out of their own funds. Now, I do not want a woman to have to get an abortion, but it is not my place to interfere with said woman’s rights. That said I was glad to hear that the European Union said they will offset the cuts that President Bush reinstated (Black).

So, not only was family planning hard to find in the first place, because of President Bush’s convictions, it is even harder to find. So if a woman in the DROC gets pregnant, and wants to get an abortion, it is near impossible for that to be done. What can be done before that? Contraceptives. Where can you get these? Family planning centers. Also with contraceptives, such as condoms, you can prevent the spreading of STDs, one of which is AIDS."

You can read the rest of it via the link provided. The meat of my reply was this:
"The specter of a Malthusian crisis justifies the most abhorrent restrictions on humanity imaginable, and has been used to justify negative eugenics programs. Population and growth curves haven’t followed the predictions of Malthus or his contemporary nutcase Ehrlich, who predicted mass starvation and death in the United States by now."

The dictionary difines Thomas Malthus as so: "British economist who wrote An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), arguing that population tends to increase faster than food supply, with inevitably disastrous results, unless the increase in population is checked by moral restraints or by war, famine, and disease."

Please excuse the expletives, but I shouldn't edit the Bidrowski's email to me:

You mistake me. I am not atheist, nor was I trying to be cool or what have you. I just wanted to let people know that they weren't getting a Christian God ridden look at everything. I have no idea how fiction press works or how you apparent reviewing elites view my title. Sorry if I was mistaken.

Now, I must say, no shit that Thomas Malthus was wrong. He could never take into account of the technologies that would arise after his predictions, neither can I, but at least I have a better idea. I never used his name, or work in my essay. Please do not make that mistake again when reviewing, it makes you look bad. I used primarily 2 sources, one would be the World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision Highlights put out by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs - Population Division. The other is the CIA World Factbook. Not one of those, to the best of my knowledge was written by Malthus. Also, between you and me, Ehrlich doesn't have a good idea of what he is talking about.

So you say that NoTrust has me "pegged." I guess you are right, the jumbled review that consisted of the intellectual gems "the obvious solution to overpopulation is to nuke all the brown people countries. They're the ones that won't stop fucking." and " In the developed world, we only really need to kill the old people." really got me pegged. Oh dear, just how can I get out from this one? He defiantly has the factual evidence to back up those claims right? Right?

In case he hasn't shown you (I am assuming he did, and called you in for support, if I am wrong tell me) I told him this:

We "fuck" as much as the "brown" people. We just have better access to contraceptives. Contraceptives greatly reduce the chance of pregnancy, therefore eliminating the chance for a concentrated population (like Hong Kong or Taiwan.)

I also told him:

Overpopulation occurs when a species (in this case, humans) reproduces too much and puts a strain on resources. While it is true that there will be a point at which the population declines, this point happens well after the population reaches the point of sustainability. If it where true that the population would decline at the point of sustainability, it would have been declining years ago. Look at the fish trade right now if want to see what I mean about resources.
What I mean here is once the population declines, it will go from 9.1 billion to 2.5 billion. Think about that for a bit. Entire industries will be crushed, economies will pit fall. Not a pretty picture.


So, I am called an atheist because I said "I don't quite believe in this "God" fellow people are always talking about." so I think I have all the right to call you and NoTrust racists for saying "...nuke all the brown people countries." and "...while those brown folks..." Yes, lets call them brown, because we all know that they are inferior.

Yes, it will take the world's leaders to help stop overpopulation, it will also take us as well. Oh, I never said that "white nations" need to reproduce more. I just said there needs to be a way to level out population aging. Hell, Japan, which has "brown" people are in a bad place with population aging.

One more thought, read and reflect before you shoot off a seemingly cool headed on the outside, but foolish and error ridden on the inside review. I am not asking to agree, just to state facts, not opinions.

Oh yes, please don't come back at me saying my essay was full of opinions until you fully read (as I have) the World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision Highlights which can be found here: http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/WPP2004/2004Highlights_finalrevised.pdf

--
The Reverend Mark Allen Bidrowski

This rebuttal of his reminds me of those that come from the many that advocate command economies today in that they'll claim no inspiration from Lenin or Marx, and that their ideas are
newer and "totally different" from those of the socialists and communists. They’ll even accuse you of making a personal attack for drawing a parallel. This is complete foolishness, of course, because the assumptions of the UN that Bidrowski references are the same as the Neo-Malthusians. Doomed to repeat history, I guess we are.

You may wonder how I responded to his email. I'll show you, displaying the letter in bold text:

Dear Mr Reverend,

Ah! I 105 page reading assignment! I'm familiar with the data and arguments, however, for I'm an SA (Scientific American) subscriber, and am familiar with the works of environmental and resource economists and their close buddies around Jeffrey Sachs. I've been through twenty pages at this juncture, and have seen all this before.

“Please do not make that mistake again when reviewing, it makes you look bad.”

What mistake, Reverend? Your ideas unquestionably have the same shape as the Neomalthusians and their environmentalist cousins, I may draw an association if I please, and in my circles, it doesn’t look bad. Thanks for the advice, but no thanks, I have my thoughts fully settled.

This new branch of economics is founded on the faulty premise that classical liberal economics doesn’t account for finite resources, but the truth is as Tom Sowell said, "The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics." The concept is so integral to the mainstream of lazziz faire economic thought that the concept has been shrunken down to a well-know acronym, TANSTAAFL "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch." The solution to the finite resources problem has always been solved by the incentives mechanism and property ownership, historically, the places where resources are depleted are collectively owned, and therefore owned by no one.

Examples exist in the old west. There were open ranges where all were allowed to let their cattle graze. The land was expansive, and many thought this utopia of land open to all would go on forever. Settlers referred to the west as God’s Country, it was so nice. However, as more cattle came in, the grasses were eaten up. A battle arose between the herders of sheep and the cattlemen, for the sheep at down to the roots. Officials had to settle the problem. Did they rely on coercive population control? They did not, they used market incentive, selling plots to owners. When the plots belonged to people, suddenly, they became masters of their own fate. They could buy or sell their plots, fence it to protect from others, and most important of all, seed the land so that only their own cattle could thrive!

A parallel exists with the Great Planes buffalo. The Dakotas were open to all, for it was also a commons. Buffalo numbered in the millions. New settlers and hunters took advantage of this seemingly free lunch, but quickly, they cut down the numbers. As in the previous example, the answer wasn’t to restrict the human population, but to once again resort to property ownership. Today, the buffalo are once again thriving in numbers, and are far from extinct. They are now a part of agriculture. I like buffalo stew, it’s delightful.

Today, there is yet another expansive commons once thought infinite disappearing. Once again, the answer is not to deplete the supply of humanity. There are answers far less draconian than that. Some are even boldly suggesting it’s possible to fence the ocean!
http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/reg20n3f.html

I’d rather fence off grids in the ocean than go with this quota system. I consider it more likely fishermen will actually invest in improving the habitats if they actually own the space.

On another matter, Joshua Ridinger (No Trust) is not an associate of mine. He’s never contacted me directly, but I do know him well enough not to take his racial sarcasm seriously. He philosophically belongs to the Austrian School, and therefore believes in the sovereignty of every individual. Despite that, he routinely calls for the murder of soldiers and police officers and other crazy things. Those things aren’t worth getting worked up over.

“So, I am called an atheist because I said "I don't quite believe in this "God" fellow people are always talking about." so I think I have all the right to call you and NoTrust {sic} racists for saying "...nuke all the brown people countries." and "...while those brown folks..." Yes, lets call them brown, because we all know that they are inferior.”

How asinine. I’ll call it agnosticism if I’ve committed an affront, but I abhor this new trend of writers headlining their essays to declare how they aren’t allied with “those stupid fundamentalists” to score intellectual brownie points with their “Godless cult,” if you will. This growing trend is an appeal to bias and intellectually slothful in the extreme. Your theological views are irrelevant to your points, and no, my calling you on it grants no “right” to counter by calling me a racist. Yet, if you want to play that card, your ideas are the ones advocating a stealth genocide. You are the one advocating doctrine that would leave fewer people living in developing nations by…advocating that fewer of them should be around. This sure sounds like a new suit-and-tie version of stringing up Po’ Willie to me.

I, on the other hand, and yes, No Trust, would rather encourage an ownership society in the Equatorial Sphere. He’s an ancap (anarcho-capitalist), however, so he’d probably prefer the current regime of open oceans to giving government the power to issue property deeds in the sea.

This perplexes me:

“Yes, it will take the world's leaders to help stop overpopulation, it will also take us as well. Oh, I never said that "white nations" need to reproduce more. I just said there needs to be a way to level out population aging. Hell, Japan, which has "brown" people are in a bad place with population aging.”

Ideas have consequence. You may trust the United Nations to be a benevolent institution, but I don’t. If they genuinely see a Malthusian Crisis on the way and reject market reforms, their going to start taking seriously some strong measures. Think critically now. You don’t want developed nations breeding more young people to balance the demographics, but you and the UN see it as imperative that a balance is reached. Hmm, the elderly person question is so tricky, one may start wishing they just disappear…
We’ve dealt with eugenicists all over the world before. They’ve been in all stages of government and have killed “for the greater good.”

“One more thought, read and reflect before you shoot off a seemingly cool headed on the outside, but foolish and error ridden on the inside review. I am not asking to agree, just to state facts, not opinions.”

I’ve got one thought of my own. Think critically about why the UN refuses to consider reforms that worked in the American West before you commit to be an activist for that cause. You should also have a firm background in economics before committing to policies concerning resource allocation. You’ll find that non-corrosive solutions already exist for most problems faced today.

You may also consider that all tyrannies rely on false emergencies to justify wrestling economic controls from the private sector. These states of fear may include global cooling, global warming, the collapse of the capitalistic age, or a Malthusian crisis. The dreaded eschatological event could be anything.

Before closing, you’re welcome. Most people don’t appreciate receiving reviews that aren’t empty platitudes that offer no criticism or counterpoint to improve one’s writing. Then there are the few that actually care to appreciate detailed criticism. These writers actually improve over time. You may be one of those. You’ll want to talk to Le Creature. He’s the smartest writer on the site that believes that the economic pie won’t expand to save humanity (without government intervention). He’ll probably be willing to discuss the topic with you at length. (He has this funny idea that pesticides are destroying humanity)
Cheeky fellow.

I’ve overtaxed brevity at this point. Hope I covered everything for now. I’m interested in knowing how Joshua responds, if he does at all. He’s a strange character.

Sincerely,
Typewriter King

Now, he replied to this to recap his views that I’m the racist, and that I am a political extremist. I didn’t reply to that email.

DAVID FRIEDMAN, of all people, partially refutes my points...or does he? I was kind of surprised to see him conflict with my commons argument.

If anyone wants to join in on ths discussion, please leave a comment.

Published by Typewriter King | 11:22 PM
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