Madeline Weld wrote,
"The population was 60 M when I was there in the 1960s (my dad was a diplomat), 180 M now and headed for 335 M by 2050. Two-thirds of the country is less than 30 years old, fewer than 30 million of 70 million kids between 5 and 19 in school, and a female illiteracy rate of 60% (male 32%), desired family size 4.1, 22% of married women use birth control and only half of the non-users would like to use it in the future."
Would you give money to a drunken panhandler or a drug addict? Would you continue to feed a man who has sired 6 kids despite having no means to support them? Is open-ended charity a virtue---or a vice?
If your object is to actually solve the problem of poverty, then you must focus on the consequences of your charity. But if your object is to perpetuate and worsen the problem and inflict misery and hunger upon the next generation in even greater proportions, then by all means, wear a blindfold and keep on giving. Keep giving to Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Phillipines, Haiti and Central Africa. Follow Sir Bob Geldoff's example and feed a young generation of potential people-breeders in the mid 1980s and then see Ethiopia double its population in 25 years with three times as many people stalked by hunger now as then. After all, this is really about White Guilt and salving a Christian conscience, isn't it? It is not about addressing root causes but feeling good about yourself. If you may not get a knighthood out of it, but maybe you'll collect enough brownie points with the Big Guy in the Sky. That way, you can sit back into your 4 bedroom home with its two car garage and feel that you have paid your dues. Congratulations, you are a Good Person. You are off the hook.
Moral of the story? I can live a middle class lifestyle with all of its entitlements- the two kids, the Mexican vacations, the cottage in the country--as long as I have paid my indulgence and been granted dispensation for my charitable donations and cosmetic green living habits, habits that don't represent any real sacrifice or challenge to my middle class station. Lenin said it more than a century ago. Philanthropy is just a cheap ticket to heavenly bliss for the bourgeoisie, a class that will never threaten to undermine its privilege with fundamental structural change to society. Bill Gates has challenged the world's billioniares to match his ambition and donate half their wealth to charity. A bold and magnaminous gesture to be sure. Now, let's see him challenge billionaires to give up the system of economic growth that allowed them to generate that wealth at the cost of our life support system and the well-being of so many who cling to it. Don't hold your breath. Charity is a small premium to pay to keep us in the cockpit. So let's keep our guilt-trip alive. Ready? Now repeat after me:
" We're white and we're guilty. We're the irresponsible consumers on a oil-fueled binge who have imposed climate change on the hapless billions who must survive on $2 a day.We're the junior partners of global corporations who have fattened our portfolios with the dividends and profits made from their despoilation of the developing world. One quarter of the world's natural capital has been liquidated with little recompense to those who live at the scene of the crime. Most of the wealth has flowed north. Yep, we're guilty as hell." Alternatively, "Here in Canada, where charity is bred in our bone, we must set those optics aside, give as best we can, and therefore provide the Taliban and al-Qaida no room to take credit."
But throwing money at the symptoms of overpopulation---mass starvation and displacement---will not cure it but promote it. And neither will opening our borders to what can only be a fraction of those affected. There is not a shortage of food, water and housing but as Garrett Hardin would say, a longage of people. Few ever ask, "Why have so many people chosen to live on a flood plain?" And even fewer people ask, "Why is there no room to live elsewhere?". If making foreign aid conditional on family planning is playing God, is not growing misery by unconditional aid not also playing God---but on a much more grandiose and egregious scale?
Overpopulation is one problem that where, ultimately, the ball is their court as well as ours. There is enough guilt and irresponisbility to go around, and it is high time that those who are breeding themselves into an even deeper hole shared a slice of it. Habitat destruction, deforestation, poaching, pollution from cook-stoves and the reckless fecundity that drives much of it--- is not all down to us and our corporate proxies. In its quest for a subsistence, humanity's bottom billion has accounted for much environmental damage, even enough perhaps to offset our sins of emission. If they are to free themselves of this vicious downward cycle, it is imperative that they take charge of their numbers----and it is imperative that they not be encouraged to avoid doing so.
As they say in the Self-Help business, to be helped, you must first be willing to help yourself. Birth control begins at home. Need help in that? Then my wallet's open.