July 20, 2013

Population policy and coercion

In Critical need for modification of U.S. population policy, published in Conservation Biology, Stuart H. Hurlbert offers six "ideas that might be considered in the development of a coherent population policy."
None involve moving in the direction of policies that would be coercive or violate the civil rights of individuals.
Hurlbert calls his favorite civil rights "the" civil rights. And he needs to specify they are the civil rights of individuals because he thinks that nations, to which he attributes feelings and thoughts, have rights too. But I don't want to focus on his philosophy of rights or his nationalism, but on coercion, which is a much easier matter. Despite his promise, three of his proposals increase coercion.
Annual legal immigration has been more than 5 times greater over the past decade than it was from 1930 to 1970. No approximate estimate of an optimal U.S. population is needed to conclude that gradual reduction of immigration rates to the low to moderate ones that prevailed during much of the 20th century should begin soon. Without this reduction any national population policy will remain chaotic and lead to one environmental, economic, and social crisis after another.
The present immigration policy of the U.S. is coercive and a policy of reducing immigration rates is even more coercive. These policies are coercive both to those U.S. citizens who want to hire, or lease a home to, or have a romantic or whatever other peaceful relationship with, a foreigner on U.S. soil and to the foreign people who would accept those relationships but can't because of the law.
Why not establish a mature mom bonus that would give, say, $3000 to any woman who by her 22nd birthday had not yet had a child.
This is a policy that coercively takes $3000 from another person or persons. If the $3000 were voluntary donations then it wouldn't be a policy.
On both ethical and self-interest grounds, the United States would do well to contribute more generously to international family-planning efforts.
Again, if the contribution is voluntary it is not a policy. If it is a policy, it is coercive on innocent taxpayers.

Another of his proposals, changing the income tax credit per child, does not increase coercion. And the remaining two, eliminating government welfare checks to families based on the number of children and removing religious doctrine from contraceptive legislation, would actually decrease coercion.

Being right about coercion 50% of the time is enough to get published in Conservation Biology.

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