“The War Against Population

The Economics and Ideology of Population Control”

Jacqueline Kasun

Ignatius Press

San Francisco

“Overpopulation” is one of the most devoutly held dogmas of our time. The government, the media, the education system periodically issue stern forebodings of the economic, ecological and personal disasters that are just around the corner if we do not act immediately to control the proliferation of people, people, people.

Occasionally we note contradictions in this tide of information. The same groups insisting on “choice” and “freedom” domestically are equally demanding that foreign aide be tied to coercive birth control programmes abroad; the food supply is said to be imperilled yet enormous agricultural subsidies are required to support farmers failing from lack of demand; oil and mineral resources are supposedly rapidly being depleted yet the prices of these commodities keep falling. Something’s out of whack but it’s tough to say what.

Jacqueline Kasun, professor of economics at Humboldt State University in California and contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Public Interest and other publications, has provided the solution. Her The War Against Population is a doggedly researched empirical analysis of the arguments of the overpopulation apologists and an explosion of their claims. As it reveals the astonishing extent to which sex education and “reproductive rights” campaigns are driven by population control principles.

Dr. Kasun begins with a global economic appraisal, then examines U.S. foreign aid activities (her book is based on the American situation, and we can pray someone attempts a similar study of the Canadian experience), continues with analyses of the sex education movement and government family planning efforts, provides an excellent history of the entire population control movement and concludes with a look at the future.

Economically, she demonstrates that far from there existing a resource shortage – including the land – the limits are so far beyond the levels of our present use of resources as to be nearly invisible. Among other experts, Roger Revelle, former director of the Harvard Centre for Population Studies, has estimated that presuming average yields only half those of the U.S. Midwest, and utilizing only one quarter of the earth’s ice-free land area, eight times the world’s current population can easily be sustained on an adequate diet. Add in improved yields and new knowledge and this figure balloons. Other economists point out that there is no evidence whatsoever that slower rates of population growth, or lower densities, encourage economic growth. Compare, for example, Hong Kong with over 13,000 people to the square mile and mainland China with 280. Dr. Kasun explains what should be obvious, that it is better organization that makes the difference, not fewer people, and she is persuasive in arguing the superiority of market to planned economics in this regard.

Her exposure of the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) is chilling. Section 104(d) of the relevant Act provides that foreign aid programmes shall be designated to build motivation for smaller families. When the Helms Amendment forbade funding abortion with U.S. aid dollars, AID interpreted this to permit funding abortion clinics, training doctors to perform abortions, and financing abortion research. Through its funding of International Planned Parenthood and the UN Fund for Population Activities it indirectly funded China’s abortion programme (one-child-per-family abortion programme). The New York Times reported that Chinese women were “locked in detention cells or hauled before mass rallies and harangued into abortions.” It described “aborted babies which were… crying when they were born.” The Wall Street Journal reported open discussion of the “butchering, drowning and leaving to die of female infants.” In India and AID-supported programme sterilized more than three million people in 1976 over the protests of numerous killed or wounded. Robert McNamara (of Vietnam notoriety) executive director of the World Bank, congratulated the Indian government on the campaign.

Domestically, sex education with its eugenic underpinnings has thoroughly infiltrated the schools. Abortion is an integral part of the message, as is the denigration of traditional values (“Values clarification” questions in school exercise: “How many of you would be upset if organized religion disappeared?” and the vilification of the family. Some of their examples are almost beyond belief – field trips in which children examine each other’s genitals, for example, or the famous Kinsey Report research which included 24 hour sexual stimulation of children, who, in some instances, “struggled, wept, and went into convulsions.”

Invaluable, too, is the diligence with which she has tracked down pseudo-scientific information that has been enshrined in urban folklore, much of it promulgated by Planned Parenthood and its research arm, the Alan Guttmacher Institute. The epidemic of teenage pregnancies turns out to be that the number of births to young women is increasing as a percentage of total births only because older women are not having third and fourth children. The absolute number is steady, possibly in decline. The alleged higher rate of suicides in teenage mothers is traced to a single study in which no suicides at all occurred. Perhaps most ironically, it is in areas where sex education is most endemic that sexual activity and teenage pregnancy escalate.

The War Against Population deserves to become a basic reference source on the population issue, taking its place beside the studies of Julian Simon and others. It is a rigorous, comprehensive analysis, immune to any suggestion of religious polemic. Politicians, journalists, educators, health and social workers, indeed anyone concerned with the issue should pick up a copy while it is available.

T.R. Brunette is a free-lance writer living in Toronto.