Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why We Don't Need Population Control: Criticisms and Responses

My article on population, originally posted as a facebook note, brought some interesting responses. The names of those who commented shall remain secret.

Comment: Very good points although I don't think it puts a focus on the Philippine context we have to acknowledge differences in cultures across countries. Yes lower population doesn't equal more wealth but don't you agree a high population that can...not be controlled by the government and cannot be provided for is a bad thing even in a economic standpoint. Lastly we have to understand simply adding to the workforce will not have a great increase to the economic pie to oversimplify this we can put this into the context of law of diminishing returns the more you add to the workforce with a limited set of capital the increase to productivity will be very small; take account of empirical data such as unemployment and poverty.

Yes I agree only through modernization of different economic sectors will the Philippines prosper but I believe we shouldn't put the burden to the gov't but to ourselves. (cause i have zero faith in the gov't :))) for what class is this???

My Response: An increased labor supply does mean lower wages. Ignoring licensing requirements, more doctors mean lower wages for all doctors. But this also means lower prices for medical services, which benefits us all. Moreover, economic value is subjective. Diamonds are not valuable because it is costly to mine them. We mine diamonds because they are valuable.

Further, there is as much demand for human labor as there are unfulfilled desires. It is a myth that jobs are limited and should be rationed by government. Primitive societies start off with agriculture and, with an increase in the population, increase in labor force. It doesn't mean they are worse off because now they can consume more as well. Eventually, the peasant farmers will move into new industries and fill demand for other services. It is a win-win situation.

If we take your assumption to be correct, then no civilization would have ever gotten out of subsistence agriculture.

Comment: the main argument for population control is the limited amount of resources we have to go about. Given your argument that production can only increase with an increase in labor input, whether manual or capital. However, you must also c...onsider the materials and resources needed for production. We may have the workforce necessary to produce 2,000,000 tonnes of food, but without the requisite resources we will not get very far. Let us take money out of the equation as money is merely an idea. All the money in the world cannot buy food when there is none to be bought.

You may argue that this threat to existence may force mankind to develop new technologies to look for resources elsewhere or to adapt biologically, thus moving us forward, but I will ask you - forward to what? It has been said that we are beings of infinite needs and wants living in a finite reality. More will only make us want more.

My Response: Let us assume you are correct. How is the RH Bill supposed to solved this problem? If having more children is advantageous to those living in rural areas, then they will not participate in the population control program. Hence, th...e RH Bill becomes another government boondoggle by creating a gigantic commission has no practical use.

Now to the main point. The law of scarcity in economics is often misunderstood. Mankind was more of a burden to nature 2000 years ago because they did not know how to transform nature-given goods efficiently. Cattle were hunted down and were replenished only by nature, unlike now with cattle farms that replenish the supply of cattle faster. Whereas it took 200 hectares of land to produce 200 tonnes of food before, now it only takes a tiny fraction of land to do that.

Also, the economically usable supply of resources today is far greater than that 1000 years ago because of technology. We can now mine in areas where it would be impossible to mine 100 years ago. And the economically usable supply of goods today is still a tiny fraction of nature's raw contribution since we are unable to mine in asteroids and stuff.

Yes, we do have infinite desires but that is the reason money and prices exist to help us decide what is best. If money and prices disappeared tomorrow, then no consumer goods will be left after a week and after several months, 90% of humanity will die off.

The price system, even in its debilitated state today, by guiding the activities of 6 billion people in an economically rational way, supports life.

Comment: Wait a second. Are you talking about "House Bill No. 5043 (Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008)"?

Have you read it? There is nothing there about population control measures (at least in the way that you hint at). It is... about access to information and services related to reproductive health.

Setting aside the idea of needing more laws in the first place, what exactly is wrong with allowing people access to something?

My Response
: There are many reasons and it is indeed coercive in the same way as SSS and PhilHealth are. I'm surprised, I thought your siding with me on this issue.

1. Unnecessary (read article above)
2. Creates massive bureaucracy
3. No Certificate of Compliance, no marriage license(Sec 14)
4. Forces employer to pay (Sec 17)
5. Affirmative action law (I think you know how this works out) (Sec 17)

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