Rationalizing Overpopulation
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Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 27, 2006

Do you think a stem cell injection might help our fearless president get the message on what his errant policies have brought onto the world? The current crisis in the Middle East, exacerbated by his pre-emptive strike policy in Iraq, not only threatens an immediately more extensive conflagration there, but, worse, elevates the likelihood of more terrorist attacks in America.

Doubt it, but then President Bush is far from alone in comprehending the breakdowns around the world due to that old, too often unaddressed bugaboo, overpopulation.

This phenomenon began to vastly accelerate after World War II when so-called wonder drugs like penicillin were able to reduce the death rates in both developed and underdeveloped countries, causing what was then deemed "a population explosion."

Since then, despite sizable efforts to provide birth control to those who wanted it, almost half the fertile couples in many developing countries do not have access to modern methods of contraception. As at least half the births of the last century were unintended, it should come as no surprise that in slightly over 100 years world population has tripled to 6.4 billion, with 75 million net new beings added yearly. By 2100 experts project total population at between 8 billion and 10 billion.

This of course gives other issues such as the now prominently debated U.S. illegal immigration fiasco another dimension. Massive immigration is occurring worldwide, as desperate millions seek safety and better lives. The pressure from Mexico and other nations on our borders is all part of this broader trend.

Failure of most of our leaders from both parties to see this connection has led to their fuzzy calculation that the importation of endless numbers of low-wage slaves will be to America's long-term benefit, but certainly will keep the cash flowing from corporate supporters who want these cheap bodies.

Worse, the solution offered by policy wonks like Ben Wattenberg and the late Julian Simon have often minimized these rising numbers, claiming that technological advances and better planning will smooth the demographic transition in this century. Environmentalists offer stern warnings about the absurdity of expecting these nostrums to keep all the complex elements of a limited planet in balance, but are largely ignored by world leaders.

The trouble is that so-called world leaders are becoming less able to bring the unruly masses into sanitary containment. Keeping America safe from terror has been the constant mantra of the current Bush administration. Now we realize, even if our president does not, that the power of the U.S., for example, to stop what it instigated in Iraq, is now highly limited. A long-term civil war is in progress.

Even the more stable African nations, such as Senegal, which I just visited for the third time in May, have populations where the average age is about 20. That these young people can be recruited easily by extremist causes has been demonstrated too often to argue about and they are being indoctrinated by the millions in the Middle East. Shortly, to be young and pro-American there will not be a safe stance.

The question of whether or not to emphasize family planning in every health program has been discussed often by policy-makers at several major U.N. conferences over the past 30 years with the nearly uniform conclusion as to its effectiveness in providing better health and governmental stability.

Fortunately, despite unenlightened Bush policies toward providing urgently needed funding for contraception programs, many European countries have given high levels of foreign aid for family planning. But the total amounts provided are still far from adequate.

It is certainly not too late to change U.S. policies. However, the clock is running.

As fears properly arise as to whether Lebanon and others in Africa will become "failed states" that harbor Taliban-type regimes, we must rethink our own worldviews. The growth of unintended numbers of unfed, uneducated, unsocialized young people can only mean a continuance of the escalating turmoil abroad and increasing pressure on America from unwanted immigration.

Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.

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