Response to the Population Bomb: The Richie Rich Principle
In 1798, Thomas Malthus predicted that population growth in England would soon outstrip natural resources. Widespread famine would result, and hundreds of thousands would die until resources exceeded the population again. Malthus was wrong, of course, but according to some scholars, the “population bomb” is still ticking. The people of the Third World, they say, don’t know what they’re doing. They keep on having children when they clearly can’t afford them. In the poorest countries in the world, birthrates are the highest.
Scholars suggest that we solve this problem by promoting abortion and contraception in Third World cultures. Some nations had condom Christmas trees. The UN and EU strongly promote “humanitarian” population control policies, as well. Communist China provides the most extreme example of all. In the 1990s, the government had vans which traveled the countryside, aborting second and third children against the mothers’ wills.
In my opinion, such programs are costly, ineffective, and morally wrong. Never fear, however! There is a much simpler and more elegant way to defuse “the population bomb.” It might take some time, but it cannot fail. So, without further ado, I present to you the Richie Rich Population Principle:
The richer you get, the less children you can afford.
Richie Rich is the wealthiest child in the world. Yet, he does not have any brothers and sisters. There are two possible explanations for this: (1) Richie’s mother was too busy pursuing her career to have any more children; (2) putting Richie in the best schools and fulfilling his every desire has been so costly that Richie’s parents don’t want to do it again.
Solution (1) is feasible. There are many couples who do not have children for this reason. We must remember, however, that mothers with many children also work hard, whether it is in the home or in the marketplace. In agrarian societies, farmers’ wives had many children while also working in the fields. The same was true during the Industrial Revolution.
I think that Solution (2) is much more common, however. People in the West think that raising a child is such a big time commitment that they can’t handle more than two. Often, the wife does not work, but she still has only one or two children. In magazine articles and in my own experience, I’m always hearing middle- and upper-class families proclaim that they can’t afford another child, but they can afford another Lexus.
We live in curious times. The people who “can’t” afford to reproduce do. The ones who “can” don’t. Consequently, when the baby boomer generation retires, there will not be enough new workers to replace them. Less people working means less tax revenue. The welfare states (social security, Medicare, etc.) in the U. S. and Europe may not be able to handle the strain. That is the real “population bomb.” I don’t know how we can solve it.