Tag Archives: population

Too many customers?

Steve Mosher writes about the overpopulation myth, still popular in some circles . . .

Steven W. Mosher

Warren Buffet apparently thinks you can have too many customers. Several years ago, I went toe-to-toe with Buffet — and won. The occasion was the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. I had introduced a resolution designed to stop company funds from being spent on population control and abortion campaigns.

Buffet, you see, was convinced that there were too many people on the planet and, as the company’s majority shareholder, he was using company money to try and reduce their number. Buffet is not a religious man, so I made the argument in economic terms that any businessman could understand. The Omaha Civic Auditorium was packed with over 10,000 shareholders when I arrived, many of whom Buffet had made wealthy over the years. I was a little nervous about how they would respond to my suggestion to end their chairman’s private war on people. I needn’t have worried.

I told them how the Population Research Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the case for people as the ultimate resource. “The population bomb was one of the myths of the 20th century,” I said. “Our long-term problem is not going to be too many people but too few people.

“It should be self-evident that Berkshire-Hathaway, like the economy as a whole, is dependent upon people,” I explained. “It’s people who produce the products and services of the various companies we own, and it’s people who buy them. Now you may think that there is a superabundance of people and that we’ll never run short, but this is not true. Europe and Japan are literally dying, filling more coffins than cradles each year.

“Charitable contributions to simple-minded population control programs are not ‘investing in humanity’s future.’ They are compromising humanity’s future, and putting a roadblock in the way of future economic growth. There is no ‘global share buyback’ in store for those who fund population control programs, because such programs will rob the world of future consumers and producers and threaten to shrink the economic pie.”

I had won over the crowd, which erupted in sustained applause. But Buffet cast the deciding vote, and my resolution went down to defeat. Still, I count it a victory because not long afterward Berkshire Hathaway announced that the chairman would henceforth be donating his own money, rather than the company’s, to his favorite causes in the future. Buffet, along with other true believers in the overpopulation myth, remains convinced that population growth is the root of all our problems. Is there overcrowding and air pollution? Blame it on too many people. Are there food shortages and urban poverty? Again, blame it on too many people. In their dismal calculus, more people equal less prosperity. The world, in their view, is simply too crowded; their solution to its real and imaginary woes never varies: reduce the birth rate.

In fact, population growth has been the primary driver of progress throughout human history. While it’s true that a growing population leads to shortages of certain raw materials, goods and services, these will always prove temporary in a free market economy. Innovators will come forward to extract more raw materials or find cheaper substitutes, while entrepreneurs will find ways to produce more goods at lower costs and to distribute them more efficiently to the public. At the end of this creative process — if it’s not interrupted — you will have more goods available at lower prices precisely because you have more people.

Dying populations have the opposite effect. Japan has been languishing under a demographic recession since the 1990s and the government has run up the national debt to 200% of GDP, while deflation is eroding the value of real estate, stocks and other forms of property. There are simply too few customers for all of the goods and services that Japan is producing.

Europe, too, is looking less attractive to investors because populations are dying there as well. Greece is on the verge of bankruptcy because it has fallen over a demographic cliff.

There is an old book, written in the 1920s by an American businessman, called 400 Million Customers. The author saw China then, as many people still do today, as a huge, untapped market. Ironically, the Beijing regime was bragging recently about having reduced China’s population growth by 400 million over the last 30 years. Let’s leave aside the fact that these numbers were achieved by forced abortions, sterilizations and a massive contraceptive campaign.

Think about China’s astonishing economic performance (its annual GDP growth over the past three decades is close to 10%) once the Communist Party stopped trying to control all economic activity. Think of the tremendous work ethic of the Chinese people and their dedication to educating their children. Think of the labor shortages that are now cropping up across the country because of the cruel knives that have taken the lives several hundred million unborn children in recent decades.

Think on these things, and then ask yourself: Is China really better off because it has eliminated 400 million of the most intelligent, hard working, and entrepreneurially minded peoples the world has ever seen? Has China’s Communist leadership lost its collective mind? They have eliminated 400 million customers.

Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of “Population Control: Real Costs and Illusory Benefits.”

Hope in the developing world

Fr. Thomas Euteneuer says transformation happens by living the Gospel . . .

In his 2007 encyclical Spe Salvi, the Holy Father articulates the true nature of Christian mission: to change hearts and minds in order to change society. The Gospel message is not simply a comforting story intended to put us at ease, but a consuming fire that can transform and purify our souls and the soul of our nation. In order for this transformation to take place, however, the Gospel must be truly lived.

Unfortunately, the purveyors of the culture of death also know how to actively transform society. They know that policies and documents, laws and conventions all mean something more than just words. These are the instruments whereby they bring about their desired transformation in society and the world.

A recent high-profile example of this is the rescinding of the Mexico City Policy by President Obama who, only three days after his inauguration, released millions of dollars of funding for organizations whose primary purpose is to promote abortion around the world. The Mexico City Policy was first instituted by President Reagan and upheld by both Bushes (though rescinded by President Clinton) as a restriction on funding groups that promote abortion. Obama reversed this policy, and now the American taxpayer is once again paying to undermine the sovereign pro-life laws of poor pro-life nations.

In February, I saw the effects of such meddling firsthand during a trip to southern Africa. Swaziland is one of the poorest but most pro-life countries in the world, and their population almost universally rejects the whole idea of abortion. You should see all of the children and the hope in their eyes! Like all children, they are the embodiment of hope for their nation. Yet this is a truism that seems to have been forgotten in most “developed” countries that have embraced the ideology now sold under the name “reproductive health.” The dearth of children in our supposedly advanced Western culture speaks more eloquently about our dwindling hope than any survey could.

Yet, during my week-long stay among the beautiful Swazi people I saw how Western money fuels the country’s Planned Parenthood affiliate, the ironically named Family Life Association for Swaziland. They have loads of Western financing to promote the culture of death in a land in which these are foreign concepts — financing that we, as American taxpayers, are now contributing to.

In one meeting I asked a group of Swazi youth leaders: Do the terms “reproductive health” or “gender equity” have any equivalents in the Siswati tongue (the country’s official language)? Where exactly did these words come from and why are they found in the constitution and national policy of Swaziland? Furthermore, why does Swaziland have an official population (reduction) policy when the population is already being ravaged by the highest HIV-AIDS infection rate in the world? No one could answer these questions, but they did begin to realize that these are non-native intrusions into their culture and politics from well-financed and powerful groups.

That is the way of population politics, and what is true of a small country in southern Africa is true in every part of the developing world. American dollars are already dedicated to population control at all levels — from the teaching of hedonistic sex education in the schools to abortion advocacy and population reduction quotas. The reversal of the Mexico City Policy is designed to fill the coffers of those international organizations that advocate the intrusion of the culture of death everywhere.

In keeping with the consistent teachings of the Church, Pope Benedict XVI has been adamant in challenging us to actively resist the culture of death — and not just to talk about it. Our faith is “performative” in the most real sense, whether we are missionaries to the developing world or “ambassadors” to our co-workers and society.

Of course we can affect to some degree the changes we want to see by voting and by supporting organizations that try to stop this assault on the people in the developing world. But the deepest level and most universal means of addressing this problem is always prayer. Our hope is not in the knowledge of this world but in Christ’s infinite mercy. Only our Lord and his Church can ever fully marshal the spiritual strength to make a difference against the culture of death. Prayer still moves mountains!

We can all pray and support various initiatives to fight the culture of death, even if the evils are given endorsement by the powers of this world. We do this with the conviction that evil is never more powerful than the innate gift and force of life. Faith and hope, virtues that allow the Gospel to become performative in our lives, provide our grounding for living the Gospel of Life — and ensure that life will be victorious.

Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer is president of Human Life International, the world’s largest pro-life organization with affiliates in 75 countries.