September 04, 2009

Population-Control Weirdos

By Dr. William Luckey *

The population-control weirdos believe that people are a blight on the planet. (I am not being harsh calling them weirdos—wait until you see my argument). They think that all people do is use up resources, and eventually the planet will be void. In fact, as the late, great economist Julian Simon pointed out, national income accounting counts the birth of a calf as an increase in capital, but the birth of a baby as a decrease in capital. Those economists who worship mathematical methods divide amount of capital by population. So, if you have $1,000,000 in capital and you have 1,000,000 people, you have one dollar of capital for every person. But if you have $1,000,000 of capital and then give birth to 10 babies, you get $1,000,000/1,000,010, or .9999 cents of capital per person, clearly a decline. One thing that these folks never seemed to learn in Economics 101 is that everybody, except the most handicapped or the most lazy people, produce more than they consume. This is true even in less-developed countries.


These characters also believe that the amount of natural resources in the earth has already reached its limits due to population growth. For example, Paul Ehrlich, a professor of biology specializing in butterflies, wrote the book The Population Bomb in 1968, in the middle of the hippie revolution. In that book, he predicted that in the 1970s there would be worldwide famines and resources would run out despite any emergency programs that would be put into place. To show the nonsense of this, in 1970, Dr. Julian Simon, late economics professor at University of Maryland, bet Ehrlich that the prices of any ten natural resources Ehrlich chose would be lower in 1980. The bet was for $10,000. Simon won; the prices were lower. Why? The resources were more abundant, not less. Ehrlich’s theory of worldwide shortages was an Armageddon fantasy. Simon offered the bet again in 1980 to anyone, but no one took him up on it. Why was that? They knew they would lose, which meant Simon was right, but also they had too much invested in this fantasy. One needs character to admit that one is incompetent, didn’t do his homework, and sold a profitable book on a fraud.


But today the racket continues. It is said that we must cut down on population, especially in developing countries, so they do not have so many mouths to feed. But economists know better, and the studies are there to prove it.


In a very well-researched book, The Mystery of Capital, Latin American economist Hernando de Soto shows that there are two main (among many others, none of which is population) causes of poverty in developing countries. The first is bureaucracy. The charts in his book show that sometimes it can take 20 or 30 years to get a permit to run a business due to all the offices which one must visit and to which one must submit paperwork. This would and does discourage many people from becoming entrepreneurs. The other reason is a caste system. Many people in developing countries are not allowed to own property. Despite this handicap, they run businesses anyway, with the fear that the government would ask for a property title which they could not produce, and thus lose the property and thus the business operated out of it. Notice that this has nothing to do with population.


But the population weirdos will not go away. In 1977, when Paul Ehrlich was watching the prices fall on the resources he picked in the bet with Julian Simon, Paul and Anne Ehrlich wrote another great tome with a man whose name is John Holdren entitled Ecoscience. In this book, the three authors continued Ehrlich’s apocalyptic scenarios of death and destruction due to population burgeoning. They recommended required abortions, dumping infertility drugs in the water supply, and forcibly taking babies from teen and single mothers and giving them to couples to raise. But the big question is (drum roll), who is John Holdren? He is Barack Obama’s science czar! Despite all that has been studied by economists, not to mention the morality and constitutionality of this kind of thing, these people never go away.  Would you give a position of trust to someone who was dead wrong and never apologized for it?


This is what we are facing, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. If these folks who surround the president succeed in getting their plans into law, we will all be in danger, and by all, I do not mean just those now living, but the future generation as well, who may never exist.


Dr. William Luckey is the former chairman of the department of Political Science and Economics at Christendom College, where he is currently a professor.  He holds advanced degrees in Business, Economics, Political Philosophy and Systematic Theology. He was married in 1971, has four children and 12 (soon to be 13) grandchildren, and is a Lay Dominican.

You can visit his blog entitled Catholic Truths on Economics at:

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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