Minnesotans For Sustainability©
Sustainable: A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.
U.S. Population Growth and Mass Immigration
Part 2 of 3
Alternative to Immigration to Help the World's Poor
An Alternative to Immigration to Help the World's Poor
Few public policies are as emotionally charged as that of immigration. While working as a consultant to the Office of Management and the Budget, I also had responsibility for implementing an executive order requiring an urban and community impact analysis for any new law, agency policy, or major budget initiative. When I indicated that I believed immigration policies should be reviewed to determine their impact on America's cities I was branded by one young lawyer as a racist. For someone who was active during the civil rights movement of the 1960s and worked in support of Cesar Chavez's efforts to organize migrant farmworkers, this came as quite a shock. I explained that Canada had virtually shut down the immigration of U.S. citizens in the 1970s to protect job opportunities for Canadians, yet no one claimed that their policy was racially motivated or unfair. “That's different,” was the retort, “they were only excluding whites.” This person also had no complaint against Mexico's strict prohibition of immigration from Guatemala, I guess because Hispanics can't be construed as racists for discriminating against other Hispanics. Those with an ounce of common sense will realize that it is not racist to try to improve job opportunities for America's own poor. There are better ways to help the poor of other nations than by permitting unsustainable rates of immigration.
Japan demonstrates a more pragmatic practice with regard to immigration which is, at the same time, more just. Instead of encouraging immigration, which would not be feasible in a country as small as Japan, they export jobs by investing abroad. This not only benefits the Japanese culture and economy but has the advantage of improving the lives of other cultures while avoiding the necessity of indigenous populations leaving their families and societies to migrate to Japan.
Lowering trade barriers also allows poor nations to increase their exports to the United States while at the same time allows U.S. citizens to buy more goods at lower prices. The problem is that lowering trade barriers also threatens the jobs of employees in the U.S. industries that are affected by the lower cost of imports. This issue will be discussed at length in chapter 7.
in the last chapter, the best and least costly action the United States can take
to aid the world's poor would be to provide family planning assistance to help
reduce their population growth. A $1 billion dollar investment toward
international family planning would go far in providing the contraception
necessary so women of the LDCs can control their birth rates. It is tragically
irresponsible, therefore, when the Republican party caves in to the religious
right and continues to oppose aid to international family planning.
Controlling Immigration: What Must be Done
Every government commission since the time of the 1951 Truman Commission on Migratory Labor has concluded that too much immigration will work to the detriment of America's future. Nixon's Commission on Population Growth and America's Future concluded that there were no benefits from further growth in population.159 The 1979 Congressional Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy found that immigration was “out of control” and should be scaled back to 350,000 a year.160 Most recently, Clinton's U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform chaired by the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, also recommended significant cuts in immigration.161 Unfortunately, in each case the analysis and logic of the Commission was overruled by special interest groups who persuaded spineless presidents and congresspeople to avoid taking the actions necessary to ensure the future health and well‑being of America. When faced with the future of America or their own political future, it is obvious which they felt was most important.
It is time to slow immigration so we can assimilate the millions of immigrants that have entered our country in the last three decades. Because of the pause following the Great Wave, by World War II the children of the immigrants who came at the turn of the century were successfully assimilated into the American society. This does not mean they gave up all of their traditions or that there were no ethnic neighborhoods. It did mean, however, that the majority saw themselves as Americans first and foremost. They felt obligated to learn the language (without bilingual education) and sought no special status or social benefits.
The American public is once again ahead of their political leaders on this issue. Polls continually show that 75 percent to 80 percent of Americans want to see immigration reduced. Surprisingly, and to the credit of Hispanic Americans, the Latin National Political Survey poll found that 79 percent of Mexican‑born U.S. residents also recognized that there are too many immigrants.162 There are several immigrants groups, however, such as the National Council of La Raza, that lobbied to increase the immigration rates in 1990 and will fight any new restrictions.
In 1996, the Simpson Bill, which proposed cutting immigration by only 10 percent, was defeated. Lobbyists opposing reduced immigration swarmed all over Capitol Hill. They represented religious organizations that receive tens of millions of dollars from the federal government to aid refugees and immigrants, businesses that seek cheap labor, and ethnic groups such as La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) who are liberally financed by philanthropic trusts such as the Ford Foundation.
Legislators know that their reelection depends more upon the support of special interest groups than the majority of Americans who, although opposed to the current levels of immigration, do not place immigration high enough on their list of issues to determine their vote.
Charges of xenophobia or racism are a smokescreen to hide the lack of substantive arguments against controlling immigration. The proponents of today's immigration policies often like to truncate the immigration debate by charging that any one who seeks to reduce immigration or wants to change the rules is a racist or xenophobe. Name calling is often an effective ploy to stifle discussion in the absence of logic and facts.
Let's put the demands of the immigration lobbies in perspective. Suppose I decide I'm fed up with America and want to immigrate to France. Although they are under no obligation to do so, the French people generously agree to let me immigrate and offer me the opportunity of becoming a citizen. Rather than being grateful, a few weeks later I go to the appropriate ministries and present a list of my demands:
· I want the right to put my wife, parents, children (both underage and adults), brothers, and sisters all at the head of the list of future immigration applicants.
· I object to the French requirement that I be able to show that I have the means to support these relatives.
· I want my children educated in French schools at taxpayers expense and I insist that they have special English‑speaking teachers and courses in English for an unlimited transition period while they learn to speak French.
· I want the French people to pick up any emergency medical costs.
· I demand that I and my American relatives be given priority in job hiring over French people.
· I want my relatives to be eligible for welfare if they can't find jobs, and my parents to be eligible for social security benefits. (These last two requirements are denied and I grumble that it is typical of the meanspirited French people.)
Its time for
the majority of Americans to say “enough” to these absurd charges of xenophobia
leveled at the most generous nation in the world and take control of our
Steps to Reduce Immigration to Sustainable Levels
If we are to save the United States from duplicating the plight of other societies overwhelmed by mass immigration, the following steps must be implemented immediately. Some of these proposed actions were included in the bills presented to Congress, but were defeated by the pro‑immigration lobbies. Several of these recommendations were also made by Lutton and Tanton in their book, The Immigration Invasion.
1. Determine the Long‑term Population Goal for the United States that is Commensurate with Environmental Sustainability
Eventual zero‑population growth should be the goal. The only real issue is how fast we should achieve it. Even if we were to halt all immigration tomorrow, population will continue to grow for the next fifty years since there are more women of child‑bearing age than old people. In addition, the 25 million immigrants admitted during the past fifty years will generate 70 to 100 million grandchildren.
2. Determine Immigration Quotas Based upon Long‑term Population Goals
If the fertility rate were less than the 2.1 children per family replacement rate, immigration of about 250,000 to 300,000 per year would be sustainable and permit modest gains in the standard of living for all Americans over the long run without destroying our environment. Such a quota would be in line with the average immigration rate of 230,000 from 1776 to 1965 and leave America as the most generous nation in the world in terms of immigration.161 Beck recommends a goal of 235,000, which would be sufficient to allow entry for adoptees, wives, and underage children of recent immigrants (200,000), refugees (30,000) and a small number of “brilliant workers” that U.S. businesses allegedly require (5,000).164
3. Eliminate the Employer Skill‑based Set‑asides for Immigration
Allowing employers to request immigrants with certain skills is the same as bringing in scab labor. It undermines the wages of American workers and robs developing countries of their best talent. Some businesses may not find the amount of skilled labor they need. They may have to relocate their operations abroad or even be forced out of business. There is no reason that we should seek to guarantee success for every person who would rather have their own business than work for someone else. Further, once we close the door to the smartest and best from other countries, they will seek opportunities commensurate with the needs of their homelands. This will certainly be better for developing nations than American foreign aid, which has been a dismal failure at improving the plight of the LDCs.
Beck provides a succinct summary of the results of current U.S. immigration policy: “By providing unending labor‑force growth and population growth for thirty years, immigration has rewarded sweatshop owners, unscrupulous developers, and other environmental marauders, while disadvantaging business owners who have tried to be caring employers and good corporate citizens.”165
4. End Chain Migration by Granting Preference Only to Underage, Unmarried Children, and Spouses of Legal Immigrants
This is another sensible recommendation of the Jordan Commission. Making family reunification a primary goal of immigration has resulted in a shift in the composition of immigrants since 1980 to about 85 percent Hispanic and Asian. The present nepotistic policy of granting preferential immigration to parents, brothers, and sisters, in addition to spouses and children, will continually skew the distribution of future immigrants in favor of Asians and Hispanics. It was wrong to give preferential treatment to Northern Europeans in the past. It is wrong to give preferential treatment to Asians and Hispanics today.
5. Establish an Employment Eligibility Verification System
About 40 percent of illegal immigrants do not sneak across our borders. Most illegals from Russia, Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East enter our country legally, overstay their visas, and obtain false identification.
The only solution is a job eligibility verification system. A national citizenship and legal immigrant verification system is no different than the system of social security cards or driver's licenses. You would not let someone buy a television on credit without an identification card (credit or debit card); why should someone be allowed to collect a paycheck or welfare check without some form of relatively secure identification? As of this writing, a few states are taking part in verification trials, however, business participation is on a voluntary basis. Those businesses that deliberately hire illegals obviously will not take part in such trials.
The Jordan Commission recommended that a national registry of Social Security numbers be created that an employer could consult to determine if a prospective worker had a valid number. Although any form of verification system is anathema to civil libertarians, they are responding with a knee‑jerk reaction that both ignores the need and grossly exaggerates the potential problems of verification. Unless we have an enforceable verification system that includes all employers, we effectively have an open invitation for aliens to illegally enter our country. Virtually every country in the world has such a system except the United States. Are the liberties of the English, French, or Canadians impaired because they have systems to determine who are legal immigrants and citizens? Of course not.
6. End Affirmative Action for Immigrants
It makes absolutely no sense to grant preferential hiring status to an immigrant from Mexico or the Philippines over an immigrant from Poland or an indigenous American from Appalachia. There are more whites living in poverty than all other minorities. And, as we have seen, affirmative action has resulted in the hiring of immigrant minorities over African‑Americans.
7. Eliminate All Benefits to Illegal Immigrants Except Emergency Medical Treatment
The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 was a step in the right direction but is slowly being eroded by a backpedaling Congress more interested in gaining the votes of immigrants than the welfare of present and future Americans.*
* The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 required welfare recipients to find a job within two years or lose their benefits. Generally they would be limited to five years of assistance during their lifetimes. The act placed further restrictions on immigrants, cutting off all welfare assistance, including food stamps. However, food stamps for out‑of‑work immigrants and welfare for disabled and elderly immigrants were reestablished in 1997.
system acts as a powerful incentive for immigrants who cannot find employment in
the United States to remain here rather than returning to their country of
8. Eliminate Automatic Citizenship for Children of Illegals
In 1994, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 503,000 births were to women who were not citizens.166 National estimates of births to illegal immigrants is not known, but in California alone there were 78,386 births to illegals in 1995. The cost was estimated at $206 million, nearly 40 percent of the total childbirth costs covered by California's Medicaid system of healthcare for the poor.
France has repealed its law that automatically made every child born in France a citizen. The French realized that the higher birth rate of Moslems living in France threatens the French cultural traditions. Fundamentalist Moslems insist on female circumcision, polygamy, instantaneous divorce, and abolition of mixed sexes in the work place. Some Moslems were even calling for a separate Muslim state within France.167 A similar situation is developing in the United States, where Hispanics are demanding bilingual education, bilingual publication of all public documents, special set asides for jobs, more subsidized housing, and ―for the more radical Hispanics― a separate nation of Aztlan.
Some have argued that restricting automatic citizenship to children of American citizens is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. This is clearly not the case. The purpose of the 1866 amendment was to guarantee citizenship and the rights thereof to American blacks recently emancipated from slavery. It was never intended that the 14th Amendment would apply to foreigners as is clear from the Congressional Record of the time. In presenting the 14th Amendment, its author, Senator Jacob Howard (Michigan), specifically told Congress that it “will not, of course, include people born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of embassadors (sic) or foreign ministers . . . .”168
9. Increase INS Funding and Border Patrol Policing
The INS contends that Operation Gatekeeper, which installed a steel fence along the fifteen mile border near San Diego, cut the inflow of illegals in half. The evidence suggests, however, that it only pushed the immigrants further east. The fence needs to be extended along the 200 miles of border where 90 percent of the illegals cross. Call it a wall if you wish, but it cannot be compared to the Berlin Wall that kept people in, not out. A better analogy would be the Great Wall of China that was erected to protect China from the conquering hoards of Mongols.
The 1996 Immigration Reform Bill calls for increased INS funding and the addition of triple fencing to a small segment of the Mexican border. To effectively deter immigration we should divert at least one billion dollars from the $260 billion defense budget to defend against the most pressing threat to the future welfare of America.
10. Strengthen Border Patrols with the Use of the Armed Forces if Necessary
Why have armed forces in Europe or Japan when an invasion is occurring along the American border? If a million Mexicans amassed there tomorrow with the announced intention of invading, we would no doubt call out the army. But because they slip in over the course of several years, we fail to recognize the problem. Since the amnesty of the late 1980s, 2.3 to 2.4 million Mexicans have illegally taken up residence within our borders.169 How ironic that an invasion that could never be achieved by force of arms, might be achieved by having thousands storm the borders every night for years.
Following America's Civil War, Congress felt that federal troops had become too deeply involved in law enforcement in the South and so passed the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. The act forbids the use of federal troops to enforce the laws of the United States. The rationale for maintaining the law today is to avoid having military personnel, who are trained to operate under conditions in which constitutional freedoms do not apply, enforce laws within our borders, where such freedoms must be maintained. While recognizing this danger, unless other measures can be enacted to slow illegal immigration, we will have to repeal the Posse Comitatus Act to prevent a greater threat to our security of a continued invasion.
11. Deny Federal and State Funds to Municipalities that Refuse to Cooperate with the INS
Some cities, such as Chicago, Milwaukee, and San Francisco have declared themselves sanctuaries for illegal aliens. While Chicago is inviting tens of thousands of illegals to take residence, it is also begging the state and federal government for more aid for its schools and other public services. If Chicago wants to be a sanctuary for illegals, it should not make the rest of the state's taxpayers pay for its ill‑conceived policy.
12. Establish Refugee Centers within Warring Nations or Their Neighboring States Under the UN High Commissioner on Refugees
Providing food and housing for refugees in or near their home countries costs only a fraction of what it does to house them here and offers assurance that they will be repatriated when hostilities cease. One day's expense of settling a refugee in the United States would cover the needs of 500 refugees abroad.170
13. Sharply Delimit Who Qualifies as a Political Refugee
In 1975, at the height of the cold war, America received 2,432 political asylum cases. By 1996, expansion of the definition of what constitutes a political refugee encouraged 128,190 people to claim asylum. Only 13,532 cases were approved and 2,504 were denied.171 The rest are pending, and most of these will never be resolved, but the claimants will just meld in with the other hundreds of thousand of illegals. Many of the LDCs have cruel and oppressive governments; unfortunately they account for 2 to 3 million people. It is tragic, but the American government has to draw the line somewhere. Our inner cities are not much better off than an LDC. A ration's primary obligation is to its own citizens.
14. Return Refugees to Their Home Country after the End of Hostilities
About 17 percent of the total population of El Salvador were granted asylum during the many years of conflict there. Few have returned. The same situation occurred in Nicaragua. Refugees are never forced to return home. This laissez faire policy with regard to asylees encourages anyone who can't get into the United States through normal immigration channels declare themselves a refugee.*
* The 1998 hurricane that devastated Honduras and Nicaragua might justify temporarily delaying the deportation of illegals from these two countries, but some immigrant rights groups are trying to exploit these calamities as a way of seeking permanent amnesties for illegals from these nations.
15. Increase Aid for Family Planning to All Countries Seeking to Control Their Birth Rates
In 1996, Republican congresspeople introduced a bill to cut off all aid to international population programs and to eliminate the Agency for International Development which is responsible for administering U.S. support for population and family planning programs in the developing world. This is insanity. We should provide at least $2 billion for these programs. This is the price of just one of the B‑2 bombers that the Pentagon says it neither wants nor needs, but that Congress insists on funding anyway.
Family planning is the most effective defense against the unrest that threatens every LDC. Ironically, and tragically, we give billions in military aid to LDCs, which only serves to increase their instability, and a pittance to assist them in coping with their overpopulation. Unless countries such as Mexico reduce their population growth, no amount of economic assistance will have any impact. Just to maintain their status quo, Mexico and Central America will have to create more jobs than America has created in the 1970s and the 1980s and achieve this in economies that altogether are only about 5 percent the size of the U.S. economy.172
Every country in the world is reassessing its refugee and immigration policies. Let's hope that the United States will have the wisdom to do likewise.
Europe is taking down its borders, but only for the countries of the European Community, all of which have already brought their population growth under control. They are not opening their borders to immigrants from the LDCs. In contrast, almost all the immigrants coming to America's shores today are from the LDCs.
For those who worry about what this means for the ideal epitomized by the Statue of Liberty, they should remember that the original name for the statue was “Liberty Enlightening the World.”173 Today the message of enlightenment for other nations is that the United States recognizes the need to reduce our population growth to sustainable proportions, and it is time that every other country does so as well.
We must act
quickly. Each day the immigration lobby is gaining strength. In places like
Chicago immigrants represent the swing vote. As a result, Mayor Richard Daly
will take no action that might jeopardize the immigrant vote regardless of the
negative impact on the city. Instead he demands the state and federal government
provide the city with more money that he can use to support immigrants. At some
point the immigrant population will become the swing vote nationally and
neither party will have the guts to take the action necessary to stop the
immigration invasion. I only hope we haven't already passed the proverbial
point of no return.
To stabilize the population at about 285 million by 2050 would require limiting net immigration to 350,000 a year and reduce the total fertility rate to 1.9 children per woman.174 But the 1996 average fertility rate was 2.059 and has been rising for the past decade.175 The increase was due to two factors. First, women are, on average, having children later in life, which resulted in an artificially low rate of birth in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Second, immigrants have higher fertility rates than native born Americans. This is especially true for Hispanics. (Hispanic‑Americans average 2.9 births per woman. Hispanic immigrants have an even higher birth rate.)
It should be noted that the growth in population in the United States is not among the affluent or even the middle class. Population growth is driven by the higher‑than‑average birth rates of the poor, but it is not primarily due to unwanted and/or teenage pregnancies. Contrary to popular belief, the teenage pregnancy rate in the United States was in a steady decline for nearly twenty‑five years until it increased slightly after 1985. The decline was due to the greater availability of contraceptives and abortion as well as an increase in the average age for marriage as more young women sought to go to college.
Nevertheless, according to International Planned Parenthood, despite the twenty‑five‑year decline prior to 1985, the U.S. teenage pregnancy rate is still the highest of developed Western countries. Almost 75 percent of children born to teenagers will be raised solely by their mothers. The vast majority will also be raised in an environment of poverty and crime with little opportunity for achieving a happy life. Teenage pregnancy remains a problem of epidemic proportions, particularly among the poor, and must be addressed with strong sanctions.
The overall birth rate could be reduced even further ―down to a level that would yield no further growth in population― by significantly cutting immigration and reducing unwanted births. As shown in the table below, in 1995 there were over three million unwanted births in the United States. These do not include unintended births, where a woman might have wanted a baby but just not at the time pregnancy occurred.
The number of unwanted births remains unacceptably high in part due to the efforts of religious fundamentalists in pressuring the federal government to reduce the availability of free contraceptives and family planning services. For example, cuts in Title X Federal Funding resulted in a steady decline in family planning clinics since 1981.177 Contrast the U.S. policy to that of Sweden, which supports a network of centers that provide contraceptives to school children. The result is a teenage pregnancy rate that is two‑thirds less than the United States and far fewer abortions.
In the United States, if only the women who wanted to get pregnant actually got pregnant and gave birth, it would mean over three million fewer births annually.178* This would eliminate any increase in population due to natural growth (births minus deaths). Reducing federal financing of family planning services does not save tax dollars in the long run. A 1989 study showed that we spent $21.5 billion on families headed by teenage mothers.179 There is no reason to believe that we are spending less today. The reason for limiting family planning availability is religious, not economic.
* The three million unwanted births have caused the proponents of mass immigration to argue that if we could eliminate all unwanted births, we could continue the policy of mass immigration without increasing total population. This simply isn't true. First, we don't have any good estimate of how many unwanted births would be eliminated by greater availability of family planning services. Certainly, despite the availability of contraception, the spontaneous nature of sex and religious taboos against contraception would still result in many pregnancies, and many women oppose abortion. Secondly, Hispanics are above the national average in unwanted pregnancies; but even subtracting unwanted pregnancies, their birth rate is 50 percent greater than whites. Therefore, not only will the number of immigrants swell the total population, but because over half of all immigrants are Hispanic, they will result in pushing up the overall birth rate for the nation.
Of course the greater availability of contraceptives, by itself, will not solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies. A study based upon 9,480 abortions revealed that half the patients had used birth control during the month they conceived.180 The same study showed that 82 percent of the women were unmarried, 75 percent were over the age of twenty, and 33 percent had an income under $11,000 as compared to 15 percent of the general female population who have an income below this level. In other words, unwanted pregnancies are not just a teenage problem. There are many women who take the proper precautions but still get pregnant, and many of these cannot afford to raise a child. It is futile to say that these women should simply refrain from sex. That will not happen. We can, however, prevent the population from surging due to millions of unwanted children born into impoverished conditions.
Despite the number of abortions performed each year in this country, the rising number of unwanted births is also due to the increasing difficulty in obtaining abortions, especially for poor women. Trends in state laws toward greater restrictions for abortions will have a significant impact on population growth, especially among the poor. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, there are presently about 1.6 million abortions performed in the United States each year. If it were not for the availability of abortions during the past thirty years, there would be over 40 million more people in this country today. Adoption would have accommodated only a small fraction of these children. A much larger proportion would have been born into poor families where their chances of living a happy, successful life would be minimal at best.
All of the problems facing our society such as crime, unemployment, overcrowding, higher welfare costs, etc., would have been greatly exacerbated by millions of additional unwanted, and oftentimes neglected or abused, children. Conversely, all of these problems would have been ameliorated if fewer women were forced or persuaded to have children that they didn't want or were unable to care for.
Abortion is now legal for two‑thirds of the world's population.181 It is almost unimaginable that many United States states would seek to turn back the clock on women's rights at the behest of religious fundamentalists, papal authority, and political conservatives. To force women to bear children by granting rights to a preconscious organism is absurd and unjust. It is little note than theology and superstition dictating social policy.
In The Science of Morality, it was argued that there is no reason why rights should be symmetrical. It is reasonable and proper that women have the unrestricted right to avoid having babies they do not want, but women should not have the right to have a baby irrespective of their circumstances. The basis of this dichotomy is that since a fetus is not a person, it has no rights and can be aborted upon demand. On the other hand, intergenerational equity demands that future people should be guaranteed certain rights, such as, whenever possible, responsible and caring parents. These dichotomies may at first seem counterintuitive, but can be justified logically and empirically as being consistent with the goal of increasing human happiness.*
* Anti‑abortion groups want to create a right to existence for fetuses. But fetuses are not people: they possess no sense of self‑awareness. It is therefore impossible for a fetus to regret having its existence terminated. And if it is aborted, there can be no future person to regret not having existed; hence there is no person who could demand certain rights. On the other hand, in cases where the fetus is carried to term, there will be a future person who could regret being born in a situation where the possibility of happiness is extremely unlikely. We can imagine what it would be like being born to a women totally unequipped to provide for our basic needs. Therefore, in the interests of intergenerational equity we can decide to create rights for future people. For a complete discussion of this complex issue, see The Science of Morality, chapter 14.
Aside from the problems of unwanted pregnancies, there is still a major problem of childbearing by teenagers and others who have neither the economic nor emotional wherewithal to provide for a child. Heretofore, most societies have taken the position that it is too dangerous to let the state interfere in such an important personal decision. For the state to direct whether or not a woman may have a baby is certainly a serious infringement on personal liberty. At the same time, most people would consider it wrong for a person to undertake a decision that has the ultimate result of bringing a child into the world with no thought or capability of providing the minimum support necessary to offer the child a chance of being happy. It is absurd that it is easier to have a baby than to get a driver's license. It is also paradoxical that society does a rigorous investigation of potential adoptive parents as to their capabilities, but tells a fourteen‑year old girl that society has no interest whether or not she decides to have and raise a child.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence to support the generalization that women have babies to obtain additional welfare payments. Far more important than the tangible incentives are the biological and psychological motivations. In addition to the biological instinct to procreate, for many young women having a baby is mistakenly thought to be a sign of maturity, and oftentimes about the only thing that an uneducated, unemployed women can take pride in. Other young girls share the mistaken notion that a baby will provide someone who they can love and who will love them in return.
Although young women do not get pregnant to obtain welfare money, the availability of welfare removes one disincentive to getting pregnant. Providing welfare is society's way of condoning their getting pregnant; denying welfare is society's way of showing disapproval, saying in effect, what you did is wrong and cannot be condoned.
Another consideration that cannot be ignored, although liberals often tend do so, is the cognitive capabilities of the groups with the highest birth rate. The evidence appears overwhelming that, on the average, people with lower intelligence are having more babies: there are 71 percent more babies among high school dropouts than among woman who have graduated from college.182 If we could reduce the fertility rate of those without a high school degree to the rate of those with a high school degree, the overall fertility rate would drop to below the replacement rate (assuming no further immigration). Conversely, if we fail to reduce the birth rate among people of lower education and cognitive abilities, not only will population continue to increase, but it will gradually depress the average educational level and cognitive abilities of the population.183 The result, as demonstrated by the evidence in later chapters, will be to exacerbate every social problem now facing our nation.
Everyone agrees that something must be done to discourage women from having babies which they cannot care for properly, but we seem paralyzed as a society to do something about it. During the Eisenhower administration, a judge in Maryland promoted a plan to jail unwed mothers after their third child.184 Many people might consider this a serious attack on a women's rights. But what about the right of a child to be brought into this world only when it has at least a minimum chance for happiness? All people, present and future, should at least have some minimum hope for success in the pursuit of happiness. This requires that they will receive a decent education both at home and at school. It also means that they will not be abused, and that there will be some minimal level of physical security. It means that they don't have to run the risk of birth defects by being born to women addicted to drugs or alcohol.
When the community must bear the burden of supporting potential children, the community should have a say in the conditions under which pregnancy should occur. As previously stated, women should have the right to refrain from having children. But the privilege of having a child must balance the interests of the mother with the interests of the future child and the interests of society, which shoulders so much of the costs of child bearing. It might seem that enforcement of such a principle jeopardizes the freedom of women. This need not be the case.
In the first place, efforts to reduce the number of births to women who are unable to adequately care for their babies does not necessarily imply an outright prohibition. A reasonable approach to discourage undesirable girths utilizes positive incentives and social conditioning. For example, public service messages should be aired which effectively discourage girls under the age of eighteen from having children. Having a baby under age of eighteen should be socially condemned as a form of child abuse. Having a baby at any age simply because “I want one,” or “I feel a need to be a mother,” without regard to the needs of the child should be exposed as a selfish act of self‑gratification. “If you do not have the means to provide basic physical and psychological care for a child, don't have the child” should be the message conveyed to all women.
Similarly, the myth that getting a girl pregnant is a sign of manhood must be shattered. “Real men don't father unwanted children,” and “Only cowards run from responsibility,” are new messages that must be conveyed to teenage boys. The schools should inculcate this message from the earliest grades. (The responsibilities of men with regard to fatherhood is further discussed in chapter 9.)
Next, society must provide free and readily available birth control and, since there is no fool‑proof contraceptive, the RU‑486 pill or its equivalent and abortion should be available through Medicaid. In 1993, Congress once again upheld the Hyde amendment that banned federal funding of abortions through Medicaid except in cases of rape or incest. The argument in support of the ban is that using federal funds in effect forces those morally opposed to abortion to provide funding for abortions. By this criterion Congress should eliminate the entire defense budget since some pacifist groups oppose such spending on moral grounds. In effect, we have Congressmen such as Henry Hyde and his colleagues on the religious right enforcing their theological views on poor women.
The year prior to the Hyde amendment there were about 275,000 federally funded abortions. So, from the time that abortion funding for the poor was cut off there have been millions of additional unwanted and frequently neglected and abused children born that society will end up subsidizing through welfare and, all too often, the costs of imprisonment as well. Ironically, those who oppose funding for abortions will frequently complain the loudest at the additional social costs that the unwanted children will cause.
Although it is impossible to precisely estimate the total number of unwanted children born to poor women because of the elimination of federally funded abortions, if the 275,000 federally funded abortions that occurred prior to the Hyde amendment dropped by only half there would be an additional 137,500 unwanted poor children born each year; that amounts to over one million per decade. The cost of subsidizing these children could be conservatively estimated at $50 billion over the decade. Let's take the analysis a step further. The right‑to‑life supporters want to halt all abortions. If abortion had remained illegal, there would have been 40 million additional unwanted children since the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.
If we apply the ratio of prison inmates divided by the total population to the number of unwanted children, eventually it would result in at least 170,000 more prison inmates at a cost to the U.S. taxpayer of $5 billion a year. But of course we could expect a much greater proportion of unwanted children to wind up in prison. Assuming only 5 percent of unwanted children end up in prison for an average of eight years, would cost $480 billion to incarcerate them. Maybe this estimate is high, but it is only a small part of the social burden. We must add in the education and welfare costs of caring for millions of additional unwanted babies. Even if we were to assume that the vast majority of additional unwanted children would not wind up on welfare, a conservative estimate of all the social costs of the 40 million unwanted children who would have been born since 1973 would be over several trillion dollars.
But the real tragedy is that a large number of unwanted children will be subject to abuse and neglect. When the right‑to‑lifers scream “adoption not abortion,” the response should be, “Fine, we are looking to place about two million unwanted children each year, so either sign up or shut up.”
The opposition to abortion clinics is similar to the hostility that Margaret Sanger encountered in 1916 when she established the first family planning clinic to provide contraceptives. The religious zealots are more successful in their fight against abortion because they are able to confuse the general population by equating human life with personhood. By attributing properties of personhood such as self‑awareness to the fetus they attempt to create the illusion that there is some little person in the uterus who is just waiting to grow large enough to emerge.185 However, neuroscience has determined that brain neurons do not even exist prior to four weeks in utero, and that brain synapses that make brain cell communication possible do not begin until the third month, and most are formed after birth.186
Purpura, Dean of Albert Einstein Medical School who has been studying human
brain development since 1974, emphasizes that the minimum number of neuron and
synaptic connections needed for the qualities of personhood does not even
begin to occur until the middle of the last trimester.187
Thus, the reaction of a fetus to an abortion is simply an involuntary muscular
* In October 1998, Dr. Barnett Slepian became the latest physician to fall victim to anti-choice rhetoric. Dr. Slepian was gunned down by a sniper's bullet while standing in the kitchen at home with his wife and four children. Shortly thereafter, an anti-choice web site drew a line through Dr. Slepian's name on its list of doctors and their “accomplices” who perform abortions. Although most anti-choice organizations disavow murder as a way of achieving their objectives, as long as they describe abortion of fetuses as the murder of “babies,” it is inevitable that some people will believe that it is morally justifiable to kill doctors who perform abortions. The anti‑abortion assassins will argue that they are seeking to protect the lives of innocent "babies" just as an army can morally wage war on an aggressor. The failure in their logic, as explained in The Science of Morality, is that (1) fetuses are not people and hence have none of the rights of a person, including even the right to life, and (2) if a society is to be preserved from anarchy, people cannot take the law into their own hands.
As a consequence, the number of unwanted children has been increasing in recent years. (It also sends a message to other extremists: “terrorism can work!”)
Evidence that the anti‑choice advocates are
reflecting a theological position rather than any concern over human suffering
is apparent from their hysterical response to the French abortion drug RU‑486.
The drug has proved 96 percent effective when used up to three weeks after the
women's first missed menstrual period. At this stage, the embryo is no more than
a microscopic collection of cells, bearing a resemblance to a fertilized chicken
egg. The benefits of RU‑486 are inestimable. Not only would it be a major factor
in reducing unwanted pregnancies and population growth but, according to Dr.
Banoo Coyagi, the availability of RU-486 could substantially reduce the
estimated 200,000 or more annual deaths in the Third World due to botched
Despite such advantages, Senator Jesse Helms and members of the religious right
have succeeded in delaying the availability of RU‑486 in the United States by
almost a decade. Even worse, the anti‑abortion lobby has persuaded the World
Health Organization to withhold approval by threatening that the U.S. would
retaliate by cutting contributions to its budget.
Estimates of the optimal population for the United States range from 100 million to 200 million.189 Note that this is not the maximum population the United States could support. Reducing consumption per capita would allow for higher population. We could support over one billion people if we wanted to reduce our consumption to the level of the Chinese. However, as will be shown in the next chapter, America must reduce consumption levels in any case if we are to maintain our environment.
To reduce population to a long‑term sustainable level, it is not enough that we promote the ethic that people should not have children they cannot afford. We must insist that people do not have more children than the environment can adequately support. Wealthy people sometime argue that since they pay more in taxes than they receive in social services, there are no constraints on the number of children they decide to have. This is patently false. Each additional person has an environmental cost that is rarely reflected in the traditional market costs. For example, each incremental person requires housing. The true cost of the dwelling is the long-term alternative use of that land. In the case of prime farmland, the true economic cost of the house and property is the lost capability of the land to produce food in perpetuity. Obviously, if society tried to levy such a price, conversion of farmland to housing developments would be prohibitively expensive.
There are many other ecological costs that are never imputed to the monetary costs of added children, nor is it feasible to do so. Therefore, the problem should be worked backwards, i.e., we should first determine the ecologically optimum population as best we can and then develop policies to reach that population. If, as appears likely, we are near or above the optimal population, we should seek to reduce population growth by promoting the two‑child family as the desirable norm. Hence “two is enough” should be the goal not only of the less developed countries, but for all countries, including the United States. Having more than two children should be viewed as unethical. Those who wish to raise more than two children can always adopt. The ease of international adoption should be facilitated in this end.
A bill to stabilize the U.S. population was introduced by Richard L. Ottinger in 1981. This was before the myths of supply side economics and the possibility of unconstrained population deceived an economically and ecologically naive public. As the environmental and social costs of our current population policy becomes apparent, it is hoped that there will be renewed interest in slowing and even reversing the present ruinous population trend.
Demographer Anseley Coale suggests three preconditions for a sustained decline in fertility rates:
· the acceptance of rational choice as a valid element in fertility decisions;
· the perceptions of the advantages of reduced fertility; and
· knowledge and mastery of effective techniques of birth control.190
Coale's recommendations are useful but they do not go far enough. There are both direct and indirect ways to implement additional policies to reduce fertility.
1. Educating Women
One of the least coercive and best ways of lowering birth rates is to improve the education of women. As John Weeks explains, “virtually every study ever done on the topic has revealed that higher education is associated with lower fertility, no matter what the cultural setting, geographic region, or religious preference of the respondents . . . .”191 Of course, this means true education, not just passing time at school. (The issue of improving education in general is taken up in chapter 10.)
In addition to improving general education, sex education needs to be totally revised. In most schools all that is taught is basic plumbing ‑the biological facts of life. Little or no time is spent in addressing the psychological and moral dimensions of sex. Sex education mostly involves how to make babies rather than how to avoid making them. Even discussing the need for condoms to prevent venereal disease and AIDS was prohibited in most public school districts until recently, and it is still opposed in many areas. It is a small wonder, then, that a 1991 poll conducted by the National Council of Negro Women and the Communications Consortium Center of 1,100 black, Latino, Asian, and Indian woman reported that 60 percent indicated that they never used any kind of birth control, and yet they believed they had no chance of contracting AIDs.192
2. Improving job Opportunities for Women
Nobel prize winning econometrician Gary Becker offers evidence that as job opportunities for women increase, their propensity to have additional children decreases.193 Moreover, investment per child in terms of education and training increases. Thus, increased job opportunities for inner city women would decrease both birth rates and welfare dependency for themselves and their children. During the last three decades, however, there has been a continued migration of jobs to the suburban rings of major cities. A primary reason for urban sprawl and the loss of job opportunities in the inner city has been federal and state subsidizing of inter‑ and intrastate highway systems. At the same time, no effort was made to build a public transportation system to take the inner city's work force out to the suburbs. The cost of owning and operating a car, plus the cost of day care for children, make working in the suburbs for minimum wage economically irrational.
Therefore, if we are to reduce welfare roles by enabling women to take low‑paying jobs, then the temporary expedient must be a combination of federal subsidies for day care and the provision of more low‑cost housing in the suburban ring. Yet, the cost of building an adequate public transportation system to provide access to and among the far flung suburbs is prohibitive. There is a better solution that would minimize additional government expenditures. Stopping the flow of cheap immigrant labor would drive up the wage rate to the point where it would be economically worthwhile for the inner city mother to either move to the suburbs or pay for her transportation expenses. Some businesses might find it more economical to move back to the city in search of available labor. A total ban on funding new highway construction and diversion of those funds to more cost effective mass transit systems into the central cities would also open new job opportunities for the inner city poor.
3. Denying Children the Right to Raise Children
Children under the age of eighteen who become pregnant must be told that they cannot keep their babies. They have only two choices: they must either have an abortion or find someone else willing to adopt their baby. This will, of course, offend those who believe that there is some God‑given right for women to have babies. There is no such right nor should we create one. Our primary concern should be for the well‑being of future children. Court‑ordered subdermal contraceptive implants could also be used for seriously retarded individuals.
This appears to place all the responsibility for pregnancy on women. Where does the man's responsibility come in? The responsibility of men is discussed more fully in later chapters, but basically, men must be made to realize that if they get a woman pregnant, they have a moral and legal responsibility for sharing the burden of caring for any resulting children. Recent efforts by states to establish the paternity of children born out‑ofwedlock, and then garnishing the wages of fathers who refuse financial support, is a step in the right direction. A man might argue that a woman tricked him into getting her pregnant by saying that she was taking contraception drugs when she wasn't. Too bad. The children should not be made to suffer for the lies of their parents.
More importantly, if both men and women must bear responsibility for conception, then both men and women are more likely to take the appropriate means to avoid unwanted pregnancies. However, as a practical matter, women should understand that regardless of the law, it is relatively easy for a man to run from his responsibilities regarding a child and, hence, women may still be left with the burden of primary provider. The moral dictum we want to encourage is that children should not be born out of wedlock. It is the marriage contract that establishes the rights and responsibilities of men with regard to childraising.
4. Eliminating Tax Deductions for a Third Child
To maintain lower birth rates among all groups, there should be no tax deduction for dependents after the second child, except in the case of adoptions. Donald Mann suggests that the Earned Income Tax Credit be granted only to those parents who have no more than two children.194 Increased tax rates for more than two children might even be considered, again exempting adoptions.
5. Encouraging Women Not to Have Children
There are a wide range of incentives for not having children that might be considered. They include direct payments to women or couples for not having a pregnancy during a certain period of time, or payments to individuals who undergo voluntary sterilization. Ecologist Raymond B. Cowles suggested paying adolescent females not to have births.195 According to the Urban Institute, the cost of raising a middle‑class child is about $100,000, so a cash incentive could be a considerable amount and still save society money in the long run. A $5,000 payment to a teenage girl for a subdermal implant would not prevent her from having children later in life when she is more likely to be a suitable parent. Noncash incentives might include priority for subsidized housing for women with two or fewer children.196
Payment for voluntary sterilization would be the most effective and easiest policy to implement. Admittedly, however, it is not without its difficulties. If sterilization were offered to women who have no children, they might later regret their decision. If it were only offered to women with two children, there might be some women who would have two children just to qualify, but I think this is highly unlikely. To avoid the problems that India experienced with its sterilization program (many people apparently did not understand the procedure or its consequences), we would have to ensure that any such program involve informed consent.
The primary obstacle to implementing such a policy would be opposition from most organized religions. Also, certain minority group organizations would raise the hue and cry that this is a form of racial genocide. Since any sterilization program would be voluntary, such a charge is groundless. In addition, since the present population growth rate of blacks is twice that of whites, and the growth of Hispanics four times the increase in whites, such an allegation is ludicrous.
6. If All Else Fails, Explore the Concept of Licenses to Bear Children
concluding the topic of population control, I would like to mention a
recommendation made by Kenneth Boulding some years ago. Boulding suggested that
licenses to have children be issued to individuals permitting 1.1 children (or
2.2 at marriage).
Making a decision to have a child based upon economics rather than only love for a child may sound cold and calculating. There is ample evidence, however, to show that the decision on how many children to have is based in large measure on economics anyway, or what is perhaps worse, simply filling a basic biological drive to procreate. How often do you hear a woman say “I want to have a baby,” or a man say “I want a son”? This isn't just linguistic carelessness. These are very real biological and, to some extent, culturally determined needs. Although the feeling expressed is certainly understandable, it reflects the needs of women and men., not the needs of the future child. Having a child that cannot be cared for, or, as in the case of so many men today, fleeing from the responsibility to care for the child, is a despicable act and must be depicted as such in our social norms. Love is expressed by having children only when we can ensure that the child has the opportunity to become a happy and socially responsible individual.
I have not studied the issue of birth licenses sufficiently to have an opinion. However, the concept seems worthy of further consideration and should not be dismissed out of hand. It would be interesting to study the impact of such an experiment. But it is difficult to see how such a study could be designed since, unless it is nationwide in scope, people who want additional children could simply move to another locality to have them.
The United States has the highest population growth rate of the industrialized nations. It is likely that we may have already exceeded the optimum population size in terms of long‑term environmental sustainability. Today's excessive population growth is due to the lack of effective immigration policies and unsustainable birth rates, particularly among minorities. The influx of 1.0 to 1.3 million immigrants (legal and illegal) a year results in lost job opportunities for Americans, depressed wage rates, and higher social costs. Even reducing the number of legal immigrants to 550,000 a year as the Jordan Commission proposed will not solve the problem.
The present policy of relying on a constant source of cheap labor to hold down wages is nothing more than a pyramid scheme requiring an ever‑growing population and all of its associated ills. The interaction between the supply and demand for any commodity will determine its price. This is probably the best known law of economics, yet it is amazing how often it is ignored in discussions of unemployment and wages. During the 1970s and 1980s, discussions about the cause and cure for the rising unemployment and falling real wage rates generally focused on the demand for labor (creating more jobs), while ignoring the demographic factors affecting the supply of labor, which, of course, is difficult to affect in the short run. However, to ignore the long‑term supply of labor when formulating government policies is a serious mistake. To slow America's population growth to a sustainable level we must cap immigration at 250,000 people annually; strengthen the border patrol; create a secure method for identifying who is eligible to work; and eliminate most welfare benefits for illegal immigrants.
We must reject the siren song of multiculturalism and return to the proven concept of the melting pot, no matter how far short of that ideal we might fall. As Woodrow Wilson said, “You cannot become thorough Americans if you think of yourself in groups. America does not consist of groups. A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group in America has not yet become an American.”198 This is not to say that people cannot take pride in their ethnic heritage. It is just that they must first identify themselves as part of a larger community of Americans. In other words, it is time to drop the notion of hyphenated Americans.
There are only Americans.
To reduce fertility rates, particularly among teenagers and unwed mothers, we need to provide even greater access to contraception and abortion. At the same time, teenagers should be offered both positive and negative incentives not to have children. Teenagers who have children should be denied welfare support; their only options should be adoption or abortion. Teenage boys should be impressed with the notion that getting a girl pregnant is a cowardly and despicable act. On the more positive side, fertility among the poor can be reduced by better education, more job opportunities, and both cash and noncash incentives.
It is not only the poor who must control their birth rates. Ecological constraints require that all people adopt the norm that two children is enough. Those who wish to raise more than two children should consider adoption. The tax deduction for more than two children should be eliminated (except for adopted children).
Finally, we should bear in mind that a growing population results in vote depreciation, i.e., the vote of each person counts for less. During the course of the twentieth century a tripling of the population has resulted in each of our votes being depreciated by about two‑thirds. There was a time in this country when almost anyone could see the president. There was a time when people could at least meet with their senator. Now it is getting difficult to meet with even a representative. As we become more populous, the ideal of a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people recedes.
neither Republicans nor Democrats are willing to take the bold steps necessary
to solve the population problem. Once again there is an acute need for
pragmatists to take control of their parties political agenda or else begin a
new party that will reflect the needs of the twenty-first century.
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