Thursday, April 09, 2009

Population Control

I received the book, Perfectibilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati today. I made it to page 9 when I read this,

Thomas Malthus, born in 1776, a major influence on Darwinism, population control and the eugenics movement. Malthus became deeply concerned with the growing mismatch between people and resources and in 1798 put his thoughts to paper with his Essay on Population. This seminal work made him world-famous, and it has been studied and argued about ever since. To Mathus the greatest danger facing the human species was the difference between population increase and food production: "that the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man". Malthus argued that population grows via multiplication (even at a relatively low rate of reproduction, 2 make 4, make 8, make 16 etc.); on the other hand, food and resource production could only increase via addition (with the resultant pressure for tilage and arable land necessarily leading to catastrophe).

His gloomy forecasts called for "periodic wars, famines or plagues to reduce the surplus population, or we would soon be standing shoulder to shoulder".

Malthus promoted "hygienically unsound practices amongst impoverished populations," believing "that the undesirable elements of the human herd could be naturally culled by various maladies. The spread of disease could be further assisted through discriminative vaccination and zoning programs"

continuing to discuss the topic of population control, on page 11 there is this:

"One plan often mentioned involves the addition of temporary sterilants to water supplies or staple food. Doses of the antidote would be carefully rationed by the government to produce the desired population size".

Wow, that is a lot to think about!

After reading that I did some research and found this:

Will Malthus Be Right?
His forecast was ahead of its time, but nature may still put a lid on humanity

Malthus was right. So read a car bumper sticker on a busy New Jersey highway the other day, and it got me thinking about the Rev. Thomas Malthus, the English political economist who gave the "dismal science" its nickname. His "Essay on the Principle of Population," published in 1798, predicted a gloomy future for humanity: our population would grow until it reached the limits of our food supply, ensuring that poverty and famine would persistently rear their ugly faces to the world.

The most casual cruise on the Internet shows how much debate Malthus still stirs today. Basically, the Pollyannas of this world say that Malthus was wrong; the population has continued to grow, economies remain robust - and famines in Biafra and Ethiopia are more aberrations than signs of the future. Cassandras reply that Malthus was right, but techno-fixes have postponed the day of reckoning. There are now 6 billion people on Earth. The Pollyannas say the more the merrier; the Cassandras say that is already twice as many as can be supported in middle-class comfort, and the world is running out of arable land and fresh water. Despite a recent slowdown in the growth rate, the U.N. Population Division expects the world population to reach 9.5 billion by the year 2100.

What's missing from the debate is an understanding of the changing relationship between humanity and nature. For it is how humans fit into the natural world that will settle whether Malthus was right or wrong. He was wrong in 1798. But if he had been writing 10,000 years earlier, before agriculture, he would have been right. And were his book being published today, on the brink of the third millennium, he would be more right than wrong. Let me explain.

To read the rest of the article follow this link: Malthus

Thomas Malthus
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus FRS (13 February 1766 – 23 December 1834[1]) was an English scholar who did influential work in political economy and demography.

Malthus came to prominence for drawing attention to the potential dangers of population growth: "The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man". As an Anglican clergyman, Malthus saw this situation as divinely imposed to teach virtuous behaviour: he regarded optimistic ideas of social reform as doomed to failure.[3] He thus presented to the reader a dystopian, negative, view of the world, in contrast to the eutopias of writers such as Rousseau and William Godwin. A disaster occurring as a consequence of population growth outstripping resources is known as a Malthusian catastrophe.

Malthus placed the longer-term stability of the economy above short-term expediency. He criticised the Poor Laws,and (alone among important contemporary economists) supported the Corn Laws, which introduced a system of taxes on British imports of wheat. He thought these measures would encourage domestic production, and so promote long-term benefit.

Malthus became hugely influential, and controversial, in economic, political, social and scientific thought. Many of the later evolutionary biologists read him, particularly Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, for whom Malthusianism became an intellectual stepping-stone to the idea of the survival of the fittest. Malthus remains a writer of great significance.

Modern commentators generally refer to him as Thomas Malthus, but during his lifetime he went by his middle name, Robert.

Between 1798 and 1826 Malthus published six editions of his famous treatise, An Essay on the Principle of Population, updating each edition to incorporate new material, to address criticism, and to convey changes in his own perspectives on the subject. He wrote the original text in reaction to the optimism of his father and his father's associates, (notably Rousseau) regarding the future improvement of society. Malthus also constructed his case as a specific response to writings of William Godwin (1756-1836) and of the Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794).

Malthus regarded ideals of future improvement in the lot of humanity with scepticism, considering that throughout history a segment of every human population seemed relegated to poverty. He explained this phenomenon by pointing out that population growth generally preceded expansion of the population's resources, in particular the primary resource of food.

In evaluating Malthus one can usefully distinguish between his primary (and virtually irrefutable) axioms, and the consequences he drew from the axioms, which have not always met with consensus agreement.

Primary theory: the axioms
"The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison with the second."

Secondary theory: the consequences
"Yet in all societies, even those that are most vicious, the tendency to a virtuous attachment is so strong that there is a constant effort towards an increase of population. This constant effort as constantly tends to subject the lower classes of the society to distress and to prevent any great permanent amelioration of their condition."

"The way in which, these effects are produced seems to be this. We will suppose the means of subsistence in any country just equal to the easy support of its inhabitants. The constant effort towards population... increases the number of people before the means of subsistence are increased. The food therefore which before supported seven millions must now be divided among seven millions and a half or eight millions. The poor consequently must live much worse, and many of them be reduced to severe distress. The number of labourers also being above the proportion of the work in the market, the price of labour must tend toward a decrease, while the price of provisions would at the same time tend to rise. The labourer therefore must work harder to earn the same as he did before. During this season of distress, the discouragements to marriage, and the difficulty of rearing a family are so great that population is at a stand. In the mean time the cheapness of labour, the plenty of labourers, and the necessity of an increased industry amongst them, encourage cultivators to employ more labour upon their land, to turn up fresh soil, and to manure and improve more completely what is already in tillage, till ultimately the means of subsistence become in the same proportion to the population as at the period from which we set out. The situation of the labourer being then again tolerably comfortable, the restraints to population are in some degree loosened, and the same retrograde and progressive movements with respect to happiness are repeated."

Malthus also saw that societies through history had experienced at one time or another epidemics, famines, or wars: events that masked the fundamental problem of populations overstretching their resource limitations:

"The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world."

The following passage suggests that techniques of animal husbandry could apply to humans, anticipating the idea which, in 1883, Francis Galton called eugenics:

"It does not... by any means seem impossible that by an attention to breed, a certain degree of improvement, similar to that among animals, might take place among men. Whether intellect could be communicated may be a matter of doubt; but size, strength, beauty, complexion, and perhaps longevity are in a degree transmissible... As the human race, however, could not be improved in this way without condemning all the bad specimens to celibacy, it is not probable that an attention to breed should ever become general."

Proposed solutions
"Malthus argued that population was held within resource limits by two types of checks: positive ones, which raised the death rate, and preventative ones, which lowered the birth rate. The positive checks included hunger, disease and war; the preventative checks, abortion, birth control, prostitution, postponement of marriage, and celibacy."

In the second and subsequent editions, with his name on the title page, Malthus put more emphasis on moral restraint. By that he meant the postponement of marriage until people could support a family, coupled with strict celibacy (sexual abstinence) until that time. "He went so far as to claim that moral restraint on a wide scale was the best means—indeed, the only means—of easing the poverty of the lower classes." This plan appeared consistent with virtue, economic gain and social improvement.

This train of thought makes Malthus's stand on public assistance to the poor especially interesting. He proposed the gradual abolition of poor laws by gradually reducing the number of persons qualifying for relief. Relief in dire distress would come from private charity. He reasoned that poor relief acted against the longer-term interests of the poor by raising the price of commodities and undermining the independence and resilience of the peasant.[citation needed] In other words, the poor laws tended to "create the poor which they maintain".

It offended Malthus that critics claimed he lacked a caring attitude towards the situation of the poor. He wrote in an addition to the 1817 edition:

"I have written a chapter expressly on the practical direction of our charity; and in detached passages elsewhere have paid a just tribute to the exalted virtue of benevolence. To those who have read these parts of my work, and have attended to the general tone and spirit of the whole, I willingly appeal, if they are but tolerably candid, against these charges ... which intimate that I would root out the virtues of charity and benevolence without regard to the exaltation which they bestow on the moral dignity of our nature...

Some, such as William Farr and Karl Marx,argued that Malthus did not fully recognize the human capacity to increase food supply. On this subject Malthus wrote: "The main peculiarity which distinguishes man from other animals, is the means of his support, is the power which he possesses of very greatly increasing these means.

You can read the entire entry at this link: Malthus

Here is a link to the books about population by Thomas Mathus: Books

More books: Population Control

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 8:25 PM   2 comments links to this post


At 1:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Famine in other countries is due to corruption. Same is true in our country. The Kennedys of the world think they are the best of the best, and ration their resources without real regard to the starving.

At 1:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And who could have ever imagined the reality of the world we live in, instant communcation and broad transfer of food and goods....The response to Katrina by Wal-mart was something amazing.


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