Friday, March 25, 2011

Burying the RH bill


After reading the comments of this blog post criticizing the hero of the pro-RH bill (reproductive health bill) movement, I was disappointed at closed-mindedness of the commenters in denouncing an opinion which they most likely have never heard. It is my observation that RH bill supporters pride themselves in thinking independently and practically about social issues, particularly such issues as overpopulation and its relationship with poverty in the Philippines. But after reading the comments, it seems like RH bill supporters’ ardor in activism is based on feelings of self-importance rather than reason and experience. Their opposition to the Catholic Church is similar in nature to that of the atheists. That is, they like to sound as if reason in on their side just because the opposition's views are founded on religious doctrine or theological propositions (which is even ridiculous since theology involves complex reasoning much beyond the grasp of your average pro-RH bill dolt).

If this is true about RH bill supporters, then it makes no sense arguing with them at all since their main motivation is not truth but a shallow and false sense of satisfaction and worth that comes from a naive view of the world. Carlos Celdran fans think of themselves as 'progressive' in opposing what is stereotyped as and old and inflexible institution, the Catholic Church. But if there are RH bill supporters who actually care about truth and morality then it is advised that they continue reading.

Taking Your Naive Assumption

In arguing for or against something, it is always better to have fewer assumptions than more. So I will not anymore make the case that overpopulation is a myth, I will rather borrow the assumption of my opponents that overpopulation really exists and contributes to poverty in the Philippines. Then I will argue that the RH bill should be rejected even with this assumption.

So if indeed the way to solve poverty, according to 'progressives', is to curb population growth then clearly the solution is to provide condoms and such contraceptive items to the public. It does not follow, however, that the government should provide such items. Indeed, economic theory shows that the government is the worst agency to use when solving social problems. What RH bill supporters commit is the red herring fallacy. It is defined as introducing facts or arguments that are irrelevant to the issue at hand.

What is being debated is the issue of 'overpopulation as the cause of poverty and how to solve it'. But RH bill supporters center the debate around the RH bill without considering possible alternatives. That is why opposition to the RH bill is immediately branded as either a religious dogmatist, apathetic, or ignorant. The belief is that without the RH bill then RH (reproductive health) services would not be provided at all. Again, no non-government alternative is even thought of.

To illustrate my point is a made-up dialogue between two persons standing in line for bread during the time of the Soviet Union.

Yago: I'm hungry. Why can't this line move faster?
Vlad: We're all hungry, but we won't be able to eat if we don't wait.
Yago: This system is so inefficient!
Vlad: Hey, we have to be thankful. I heard that in a capitalist society, the government doesn't even provide the bread. Can you imagine how worse it would be?

Condoms and contraceptive items are just like bread or any other good, they are most efficiently provided under the conditions of economic freedom. Private firms always outperform government when it comes to quality, cost and safety. Projects are usually twice as expensive when done by the government than by private firms because the latter is subject to profits and losses.

Government is not a productive entity and operates by taking (by force) money from some to give to others. So it is not actually the government that provides reproductive health products and services but a contractor of the government, a formerly private firm. The extent to which a private firm earns its revenues from the government (really the taxpayers since the government has no money) is the extent that it is not a private firm and is part of the government and therefore becomes a parasite itself on productive activity.

So the RH bill is not really about the ‘people’ but about the wishes of certain moneyed interests to become a monopoly provider of ‘reproductive health’ in order to shield itself from market competition. After all the shameful government failures we have witnessed in the past, it is imperative to consider a way of looking at the government that is different from what is taught in high school civics class. As I have said before, the government is the worst agency to use when trying to solve social problems.

Some might object by saying that private firms, as they function right now, do not cater to the poor or that the poor are not educated about such things or are too poor to buy condoms and contraceptive items. Notice the absurdity in saying that the poor cannot afford condoms when those who make this claim have seen that the poor are able to feed children. But regardless, if curbing population growth via reproductive health is really so important then for more reason we should not use the government because we know that many people are willing to fund it voluntarily. It makes no sense to force people into paying for what they already deem as important. A likely explanation for such behavior is a fear that the ‘people’ are actually not on one’s side and a desire to impose one’s values on others.

Now here lies the hypocrisy of the RH bill movement. They spend a huge amount of time and energy protesting against the Church and pushing for reproductive health services through political means but I see no voluntary collective action to distribute condoms to the poor. I only see political bickering and smug preaching of an economically illiterate position. The only way to test if a person really wants something is to make him spend his own money (the rewards of productive use of time and effort) on a venture he believes in. Effort should not be spent on trying to influence the government to impose one’s values on others (taxpayers) but on persuasion and voluntary measures such as fundraising.

Lastly, it should be pointed out that there is simply no distribution of goods in a predominantly market society like the Philippines. Only in a socialist state does a bigger population mean less resources distributed per person. Only in a socialist society is population a problem. The cognitive dissonance observed in our automatic thinking that resources are distributed (or that one man's gain is another man's loss) can be explained by sociobiology. The advocate of the RH bill must choose between capitalism and socialism before his judgments about population become even relevant. But that's another matter altogether.

Here are examples of statements by RH bill supporters along with my commentary.

Do you even know what you are talking about? Obviously you are not a woman. I wonder if you even have a mother, a sister or a grandmother. A daughter perhaps? Reproductive health is everything that makes a woman -- her vagina, her ovaries, her breasts.

Red herring fallacy, you assume that I am against reproductive health just because I am against the RH bill. One can be against the RH bill precisely because of the desire to slow down population growth by promoting reproductive health practices.

And by the way, if you don't believe in this how about sponsoring at least ten poor children in Payatas and send them all the way from grade school to college. Walk the talk.

Again, you commit the red herring fallacy. But aside from that you are a hypocrite. If you really believe in stopping overpopulation then you go to Payatas to distribute condoms to the poor. If you are tactless enough not to feel guilty of minding others’ sex life no one will stop you.

RH bill supporters also hold false philosophical views

Can you even imagine if your mother had 12 other children and you did not even finish high school because your parents can not afford it? You would even be probably wearing a toothless smile by the time you are fourteen because your parents can not afford dental and medical attention

That would be a sad state of affairs but then I do not assume that the government or society has the obligation to take care of me. The world is not perfect (although the notion of perfect is questionable) and we are all born under unequal circumstances. Trying to change the rules of nature cannot work because man is unable to go outside his relationship with reality. New rules entail rule-makers who are subject to the very rules they are trying to change. More importantly, real freedom is not about the quantity of choices but the quality. One can be born physically weak, ugly and dull but can end up a very happy person by realizing his full potential. Leftism is a dangerous ideology which propagates collectivized ethics and a victim mentality that prevent man from standing up on his own two feet and realizing that only he can improve his lot in the world.

The government provides free education. The Church does not. They even charge the most exorbitant fees and are the most expensive schools in this country.

No. Government is a parasite on the productive class. It is the government which charges exorbitant fees (taxes) for mediocre education. Catholic schools train the youth to become upstanding individuals with moral integrity. Catholic organizations used to do a lot more charity work for the poor and sick but that relied on patrons’ capital accumulation which has been discouraged by taxes and inflation.


We reject the RH bill even if we take the false assumption that a lower population equates to better economic conditions. We reject it on the basis that statist solutions to social problems are worse than voluntary ones.

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