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Sustainable Society:  A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.







National Optimum Population Commission-NOPC-proposal

IDS: Why Discriminate Against Jurisdictions?

M. Boyd Wilcox, Founder

August, 2001

A powerful concept, it is one that individuals and families have fully exploited with unflinching support by our nation's moral and legal authorities. While not an official term, it is —operationally speaking— a "household" phrase. Yet few US citizens could define the acronym.

What is "IDS?"

Individual Demographic Sovereignty (IDS) is the exclusive right we give to individuals as they freely choose the size of their families. It is a freedom we take for granted. By comparison, we look askance at any nation (or jurisdiction) that has been forced to take a different path, China being a recent example.

There is an unacknowledged hitch; the sum total of all IDS decisions made (coupled with people's actions regarding migration) constitutes the number and composition of any given jurisdictional population. A result is that the effects of IDS extend far beyond the family, with consequences for societal and jurisdictional resources, how they are to be provided, managed and distributed. Think of water, sewers, parks, schools, police and fire protection, libraries, roads and access to representative democracy as primary examples.

The continually growing resource ramifications of IDS raises a key question: Does IDS embody an individual exercise without limit, or do jurisdictions have an equal moral/legal right to set boundaries? An Oregon Supreme Court ruling may offer guidance. [1]

Discussions before this Court regarding the wording for a ballot measure of Universal Human Rights included a statement by Justice Gillette commenting on Provision Number 8. This provision in the proposed declaration states that in an equal contest between the rights of the community and the rights of the individual, the rights of the community will usually be superior. Gillette said, "...this principle lies at the heart of American foundational law..."

While not claiming an option for superiority, it is time to give jurisdictions the same right as individuals, when it comes to matters of "demographic sovereignty." What is fair, moral and legal for the smallest demographic unit in our society should be equally applied to jurisdictionally-established larger units.

One more plea for equal treatment; Society does not ask individuals to explain or justify why they might choose to have 0, 1, 2, 10 or 20 children. Likewise, a village, town, city, state or nation should be equally free to choose the criteria for setting an upper size of 500, 5,000, 50,000, 5 million or 50 million respectively, as each struggles to put itself on the pathway to a stable population. Families make these decisions all the time. Those that don't are considered "irresponsible." Jurisdictions should be able to exercise the same level of maturity and wisdom.

Up until now, there has been no widespread, public scrutiny of IDS. There has also never existed before in the history of humankind 6 billion people on the Planet, almost 300 million (285 million to be more exact) in the United States, which has the dubious distinction of being the "fastest growing developed nation" on Earth. Current projections indicate 500 million or more by the end of this century.

There is a larger and historical public-policy matter connected with this search for equity. We must recall that the 1972 Rockefeller Commission concluded there would be no benefits to further growth of the nation's population. This was offered over 29 years and 75 million people ago, with the admonition and assumption that a National Population Policy (NPP) would be forthcoming. I would add that such a policy should "place this nation on the pathway to a stable population, at a level or range deemed sustainable for the long-term future," especially because it is dear that this policy is long, long overdue.

Many jurisdictions in the United States, because of the lack of a NPP, are being forced to grow beyond what they would freely choose, because they are essentially being forced to accommodate more and more people. But if jurisdictions are allowed the same power that individuals now enjoy, it will give them a local tool that the Feds have so far failed to provide at the national level. Local actions, fully sanctioned by the force of moral/legal principles, should be a stimulus...finally...for the establishment of a NPP.

When and how will jurisdictions be given equal footing with IDS? What shall we call it? How about "JDS"...Jurisdictional Demographic Sovereignty. Let the debate continue.



[1] The Mid-Valley Sunday newspaper, Albany-Corvallis, Oregon, 12-19-99.
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