“A billion fewer people is a great place to start”

From a Psychology Today blog:

Want to hear an unpopular opinion: I think we should put Nadya Suleman in jail. Perhaps you don’t recall the name. Perhaps you don’t even believe a crime has been committed. Perhaps you think I should be locked up along the way. Fine. But someone has to start saying things aloud, so here goes:
STOP HAVING CHILDREN.
Nadya Suleman had 14. And they should all be taken from her and raised by fit parents. Seriously, I could care less about the fact that she’s unmarried, unemployed, unable to convince herself that she’s not Angelina Jolie.
She’s a criminal. She’s a murderer. She’s not only guaranteeing her kids a very hard life, she’s killing all of us.
Not too long ago, one of my readers pointed out that I’m pretty good at pointing out what’s wrong in the world and lousy about pointing out solutions. So here’s my simple solution: Stop Having Children.
I call it the 5 Year Ban. For the next five years let’s not have any kids. All of us. The whole freaking planet.
I don’t think this should be a top down approach. I don’t mean a literal government ban. I mean a grassroots movement of responsible adults behaving like responsible adults. I mean a populist moratorium on childbirth.
Why 5 years? Because it’s a manageable number. Because it would mean a billion less people. Because a billion less people is a good place to start.
If everyone living on the planet today were really serious about, well, there being a planet left to live on, a planet left for our children to actually occupy, a planet that can actually sustain life. If we were serious then we would all be using birth control.
All the time. And we would never stop using it.

As always, the most entertaining part of this is the comments from people who believe the writer, Steven Kotler, is completely serious. (OK, so he should have used “fewer,” not “less,” in his post title; I fixed that here.) This one is my favorite, but the various hotheads that urge Kotler to kill himself because they equate a call for fewer new people with a directive to snuff out existing ones are fun to read too.
I see Kotler as mocking, in a timely manner, the banal hypocrisy of those who oppose birth control and abortion yet scream about Suleman. The latter’s addition of eight kids to a ramshackle and already oversized brood is–while unfortunate at best–a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of babies born into dire circumstances the U.S. every day, in large part as a result of backward religious “education” and related solecisms, including the logically indefensible idea that since each of us was given the “gift” of life ourselves, we “owe” it to…well, to something to keep the chain reaction going.
Why aren’t the same people railing against the Duggars? Is someone really going to claim that these kids, no matter well they may be provided for financially (and exactly how the family feeds these hapless crotch-crickets-Christ is unclear but seems to relate to a religious Tony Robbins-style DVD), are growing up in a nurturing environment? They certainly aren’t growing up bright or beautiful–at least these big-ass Mormon families generally have that going for them.

Advertisements
  1. #1 by Frederick Ross on February 9, 2009 - 5:14 pm

    Ah, but he unfortunately hasn’t reckoned with Darwin. The folks who would undertake such a ban are the very ones we *want* to reproduce. It’s all the other that are the problem!
    I liked Marvin Minsky’s estimate that 100 million people was probably the reasonable maximum human population for the Earth.

  2. #2 by B Bouwhuis on February 9, 2009 - 5:32 pm

    I consider it more in a Malthusian context: either we keep ourselves in check, or nature will do it for us.

  3. #3 by Julie Stahlhut on February 9, 2009 - 5:34 pm

    I agree that Kotler’s tongue is firmly in his cheek. Realistically, there can’t be too many people in the industrialized world who want to have 14 kids, or even six. A quick look around any somewhat affluent neighborhood in the U.S. proves that even a small family can overconsume resources without help.
    There are two big horrors about the Suleman case: First, it’s clear that reality and Nadya Suleman are complete strangers. (She’s counting on two million dollars in endorsements? And on a masters degree in counseling landing her a job that easily supports fifteen people, some of whom will probably have serious health problems? Why not a movie contract, a tryout with the WNBA, and the CEOship of a large corporation while she’s at it?)
    But, second and more disturbing, there’s the matter of the physician who implanted eight embryos into a delusional, impoverished mother of six. People are finding it easy to hate Nadya Suleman for her “irresponsibility”, but what about the alleged medical professional who failed at the most basic ethical responsibility of acting like an adult at a time when his or her patient was unable or unwilling to do so?
    If the cost of rearing Nadya Suleman’s kids were spread around every taxpayer in the U.S., it would amount to pennies per year per person. I don’t expect too many people to do what she did, and I don’t begrudge any of her 14 kids the health care and other necessities of life that they require. (I also hope their mother gets the mental health services that she needs.) But someone needs to out this “fertility specialist” as the irresponsible nincompoop that he or she is. This person risked the lives and health of eight children and their mother, as well as the finances of the children’s already-struggling grandparents. If I smoked, I’d be glad to light my cigar with this person’s medical license. Since I don’t smoke, I’ll celebrate when the California medical board lines a birdcage with it.

  4. #4 by jay on February 9, 2009 - 6:41 pm

    banal hypocrisy of those who simultaneously oppose birth control and abortion but scream about
    or those obsessed with their own and everyone else’s carbon footprint while having 3 kids and 10 grandchildren (hint: NO amount of scrimping in your life compares a whit to the amount your offspring will consume.

  5. #5 by jay on February 9, 2009 - 6:41 pm

    banal hypocrisy of those who simultaneously oppose birth control and abortion but scream about
    or those obsessed with their own and everyone else’s carbon footprint while having 3 kids and 10 grandchildren (hint: NO amount of scrimping in your life compares a whit to the amount your offspring will consume.

  6. #6 by Julie on February 9, 2009 - 7:29 pm

    I’m glad I don’t want kids anyway. It’s yet another area in which I can be morally and ecologically superior.

  7. #7 by TheEngima32 on February 9, 2009 - 11:32 pm

    At the risk of being the only one, I don’t think the woman needs to be thrown in jail. She needs to be put on meds and locked away inside of a secure facility. The person who belongs in jail is the “fertility specialist.” People should undergo psychiatric evaluations before they undergo fertility treatments, and they should never be allowed to have more than 4 kids. Hell people, there’s more than enough children out there to ADOPT! Adopt a kid if you want a large family – you’ll be doing everyone a favor!
    Just my two cents, tho
    Enigma

  8. #8 by Kevin Beck on February 9, 2009 - 11:56 pm

    “At the risk of being the only one”
    Not at all. Stripping away all the sarcasm and bullshit, I think everyone here feels the same way. Suleman is bonkers; the “fertility specialist” is ethically on a par with a psychiatrist who prescribes a wealth of Dilaudid to a known heroin addict more or less just to see what will happen.

  9. #9 by Crudely Wrott on February 10, 2009 - 1:09 am

    An AP article from today identifies the doctor as Michael Kamrava of the West Coast IVF Clinic of, where else, Beverly Hills, California.
    From the article:

    Some fertility specialists said Kamrava is a controversial figure in the field.
    “He’s tried some novel techniques and some of those methods have been controversial,” said Dr. John Jain, founder of Santa Monica Fertility Specialists.
    Jain criticized the decision to implant so many embryos, saying: “I do think that this doctor really stepped outside the guidelines in a very extreme manner, and as such, put both the mother and children at extra high risk of disability and even death.”
    Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, a professional acquaintance of Kamrava’s, said Kamrava worked to develop an embryo transfer device that allows doctors to implant an embryo – or sometimes sperm with an unfertilized egg – directly into the uterine lining.

    snip

    She [Suleman] also told NBC that she does not intend to go on welfare, though her publicist confirmed Monday that Suleman already receives food stamps and child disability payments to help feed and care for her six other children.
    Suleman’s publicist Mike Furtney said she receives $490 a month in food stamps. Furtney said Suleman did not want to disclose the nature of her children’s disabilities or the nature of those payments.

    I see a classic story in the making. Naive consumer meets aggressive marketeer and makes a large purchase only to later realize that that she is owned by her possessions progeny. This could get interesting in just a few years.

  10. #10 by Crudely Wrott on February 10, 2009 - 1:09 am

    An AP article from today identifies the doctor as Michael Kamrava of the West Coast IVF Clinic of, where else, Beverly Hills, California.
    From the article:

    Some fertility specialists said Kamrava is a controversial figure in the field.
    “He’s tried some novel techniques and some of those methods have been controversial,” said Dr. John Jain, founder of Santa Monica Fertility Specialists.
    Jain criticized the decision to implant so many embryos, saying: “I do think that this doctor really stepped outside the guidelines in a very extreme manner, and as such, put both the mother and children at extra high risk of disability and even death.”
    Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, a professional acquaintance of Kamrava’s, said Kamrava worked to develop an embryo transfer device that allows doctors to implant an embryo – or sometimes sperm with an unfertilized egg – directly into the uterine lining.

    snip

    She [Suleman] also told NBC that she does not intend to go on welfare, though her publicist confirmed Monday that Suleman already receives food stamps and child disability payments to help feed and care for her six other children.
    Suleman’s publicist Mike Furtney said she receives $490 a month in food stamps. Furtney said Suleman did not want to disclose the nature of her children’s disabilities or the nature of those payments.

    I see a classic story in the making. Naive consumer meets aggressive marketeer and makes a large purchase only to later realize that that she is owned by her possessions progeny. This could get interesting in just a few years.

  11. #11 by Ian on February 10, 2009 - 7:37 am

    ‘A billion less people’ would also work if they were less their ability to reproduce…!

%d bloggers like this: