Readers Write: The advantages of a decreasing Western birth rate
Letters to the Editor for the March 4 weekly print issue: A growing birthrate adds to the problems of global warming, hunger, disease, and warfare; Human population should be managed; Since technology is replacing people, why do we need more kids who will grow up to face fewer jobs?
Big Sur, Calif., Astoria, Ore., and Salt Spring Island, British Columbia
Pluses of a declining birthrate
I was very surprised and dismayed that in the Feb. 4 article "Behind a looming baby bust" there was no mention of the problem of overpopulation worldwide. The burgeoning birthrate adds to the problems of global warming, pollution, hunger, disease, and warfare. Perhaps in the United States it is desirable to have more babies from the standpoint of the economy, but if a broader global view is taken, a decreased birthrate seems like a good thing.
Reducing the population in Europe, North America, Japan, and Russia could help improve the imbalance between Earth's natural resources and population. The true measure of overpopulation is the ability of ecological processes to break down human waste such as CO2.
Human population should be managed, rather than societies having to react to the consequences of too many or too few people. That management of numbers need not be as desperate as the Chinese effort, but could be as simple as removing the US dependent tax deduction that rewards having more children than the planet can support. As populations shrink, the gross national product could actually shrink without negatively affecting the standard of living.
The article asserts that with a decreased US birthrate there won't be enough workers to maintain product output or to be able to support "unproductive" seniors, which make up a higher proportion of the population. But didn't John Yemma's UpFront column in this same issue ("Machines versus people") point out that fewer people are needed to maintain productivity each year as machines replace them? So why do we need more kids who will grow up facing fewer jobs?
Germany's economy is the envy of the necktie set, and that nation's birthrate is way below replacement. It's the same with Sweden, which consistently ranks among the best places in the world to live. A world where a person has only three functions – to work enough to consume enough and to raise enough babies so our numbers can increase – isn't a very satisfying one, at least to me.