By Robert Wallace
Diane Francis makes a bold claim in Canada’s Financial Post:
A planetary law, such as China’s one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate currently, which is one million births every four days.
There are so many things wrong with the article that I don’t know where to start. Francis ignores basic concepts of human rights, spreads lies about major world religions (the Catholics, by implication, take the brunt of it), and gets simple, objective facts completely and utterly wrong. I’m like a kid on Halloween examining my new Trick-or-Treat stash: where should I begin?
Francis can’t say enough good things about China’s one-child policy. According to her, China “is the world’s leader in terms of fashioning policy to combat environmental degradation,” and:
China has proven that birth restriction is smart policy. Its middle class grows, all its citizens have housing, health care, education and food, and the one out of five human beings who live there are not overpopulating the planet.
Right, I’m sure China’s embrace of capitalism has nothing to do with it. The fact that they force women who get pregnant with a second child to have abortions (no matter how late-term), that is the reason for the growing middle class. Also, isn’t it ironic that liberals seem so dedicated to the ideals of freedom when they want abortion to be legal, but toss freedom out the window when they want it to be compulsory?
Make no mistake — the only way to enforce a law against more than one child is to kill additional children. Why waste time? We’ve got nukes, right? And biological weapons? If that sounds too extreme, we could always just step back and let malaria and AIDS do their work they’re supposed to, right?
Francis also ignores some of the other drawbacks to China’s one-child policy, such as the missing women of Asia: the girls that would have been allowed to live if it were not for sex-selection, abortion and female infanticide. The sad fact is that, in a society where you only get to have one child, many people prefer having a son even if that means a daughter or two has to die.
Francis states that humans don’t limit their own reproduction, and thus aren’t genuinely rational. Of course, I have no idea how some humans forcing other humans not to have children is any more rational, but the fact is that she’s dead wrong. She writes:
Medical and other scientific advances have benefited by delivering lower infant mortality rates as well as longevity. Both are welcome, but humankind has not yet recalibrated its behavior to account for the fact that the world can only accommodate so many people, especially if billions get indoor plumbing and cars.
The fact is, in every developed society the rate of population growth has already flatlined. From Wikipedia:
Many nations in Western Europe (and the EU as a whole) today would have declining populations if it were not for international immigration. The total population of the continent of Europe (including Russia and other non-EU countries) already peaked around the year 2000 and is currently declining. Japan began depopulating in 2005; Japan’s situation is related to low fertility rates and an extremely low level of immigration.
The list of countries that have negative population growth (excluding immigration) includes Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania and Russia. You can see that Europe–even with immigrationhas flatlined and the overall world population growth has been falling since the 1960s.
Here’s the really simple take-away: China’s one-child policy has not had a single ounce of impact on their economic growth, but their economic growth will in time lead to stagnant population growth all on its own. For better or worse, that’s the universal experience in human society. Once a society reaches a first-world standard of living, they stop reproducing.
In comparison to the other whoppers this one is relatively minor, but it’s worth bringing up. She writes: “Leaders of the world’s big fundamentalist religions preach in favor of procreation and fiercely oppose birth control.” I’m not sure what she means by “fundamentalist religions,” but I can only assume that she’s including Catholicism in the mix. I’m not a Catholic, but it ticks me off when people have a go at the religion based on misconceptions and falsehoods. The Catholic Church forbids the use of artificial contraceptives, but they don’t forbid birth control. They just insist that their members should practice it through natural means.
I’m aware that there are complications in this method of birth control and I don’t want to get distracted from the main point which is that no major religion I know of would oppose parents choosing of their own free will to only have one child or to have no children. What they would oppose is a government with the power to dictate how many children people are allowed to have, not to mention the inevitable forced abortions what would come with it. And not just “fundamentalist religions,” but everyone who has any notion of human liberty, dignity and equality would oppose this outright tyranny.
The Last Laugh
I’m not familiar with the Financial Post. The name of the paper sounds credible enough, but this piece of hyperventilating proto-fascism is not what I would expect from even a heavily left-leaning paper that had any intention of being taken seriously. Of all the inconsistencies and inaccuracies I’ve covered so far, however, I’ve saved the best for last. As the National Review Online put it:
What I Meant Was You People Should Only Have One Child
“The whole world needs to adopt China’s one-child policy,” writes Canadian journalist Diane Francis, mother of two.
What, did she think no one was going to check that? And you have to wonder: what must it feel like to be Diane Francis’s younger child today?
Robert Wallace is classical liberal studying economics in graduate school. He and his wife work as business analysis consultants, and they live as undercover conservatives with their two small children in a socialist bastion of a college town. He has been writing for America’s Right since December 2008.