I just don't buy the thesis, as I understand it, that there are too many Filipinos and the Church is to blame. I think there are just as many Filipinos as there should be in the world today, no more and no less. It's not the number of Filipinos in the world that is the problem. No, it's the leaders who don't provide the means of an expanding world for them that is the problem.Dominique Cimafranca (The Village Idiot Savant blog) makes a similar point:
Just because Thailand's population growth rate is lower does not automatically translate into a stronger economy and greater agricultural output. Comparisons of economic and agricultural figures for both countries will show why things are they way they are.I have to concede the point to both of these gentlemen that neither the "absolute number" of Filipinos in the world today (Richard) nor the "relative number" of Filipinos to Thais (Dominique) is by itself capable of explaining either the absolute or relative states of the Philippine economy and society.
Dysfunctional leadership, massive graft and corruption, and backward states of education, industry, agriculture and administration are all equally if not more important than the population number.
As the post title suggests, I wish to make the analogy that OVERPOPULATION (which neither Dominique nor Richard regards as a problem) IS a problem like being overweight or downright obese.
First, let us observe that having a weight problem can also be regarded in absolute or relative terms. To Dom's point, merely being heavier than another person does not enforce the conclusion that one is less healthy than the other, for there are many other factors that determine health. To Richard's point, whatever one's weight may be, given that one does everything else to promote good health, one's actual weight could be regarded as no problem at all.
However, I wish to reason by way of analogy that even if all these other factors were made equal or otherwise dealt with, we would still be substantially better off if Filipino families could attain the smaller number of members that 80 to 85% of them say (in public opinion surveys) that they truly want because they believe they would be better off economically.
Most overweight people have the same sense that they would be better off physically if they could just shed some pounds. The heart's function and cardiovascular health in general are directly affected by being overweight or obese. The heart has to work harder because (somewhere I read that) every pound of extra weight means an extra mile of arteries, veins and capillaries are required to carry blood to those millions of extra bodily cells. Likewise, the economy has to pump out more of the primary social goods like food, shelter, clothing, education and the like for the millions of citizens. Of course, society has to do that anyway no matter what the population is, but who would deny that IF we were 60 million strong instead of 90 million, we would need about a third less rice, oil, food, shelter and clothing, etc. In this sense, I think that reducing the population growth rate is generally a CONSERVATIVE principle, even if "birth control" as such is usually associated with "liberals" because the latter tend to paint the problem as a "women's issue". Of course, all mothers ARE women, but I think that obesity is a gender-neutral problem and treating population as a feminist issue only burdens the matter with emotional and ideological baggage that is material but not central to the main point.
The analogy also suggests that "the other problems" that Dom and Richard point too as the causes of social and economic woes are analogous to bad personal habits deleterious to health. Graft and corruption could be likened to smoking; bad economic or political policies would be like not getting enough rest and exercise or refusing to treat hypertension, diabetes, or cholesterol problems. Yet even if we did all these things and fixed all these other problems, if at the end of the process we still found our selves to be overweight or obese, it would still be benefical to address THAT problem too.
Here we get into the HOW. I am dead set against abortion which I would liken to liposuction or amputation. But EATING LESS would not be a bad idea, and this would be analogous to pills, condoms, IUDs and other forms of "preventative contraception". In this mode, we would lose weight and reduce our waist size like reducing the population size mainly by attrition assuming that the death rate stays more or less constant.
Just as a person who loses weight gains strength and vigor, is more productive, lives longer and can do more and better things, a society that does not breed and feed like rats and rabbits can invest more in health, education, welfare, economic and social activities.
Finally most overweight people I know (like me) are generally less healthy than people who are close to some ideal weight for their height, age, temperament and daily activity. Similarly, if you look at the population growth rates of the wealthier nations, they are much lower than the poorer ones and the population profiles of those that have made the demographic transition have a characteristic shape (rectangular as opposed to triangular). Just so, obese folks have a pear-shape while leaner people are uhmm, sexier.
I don't know of course that HAPPINESS correlates, but we aren't really talking about that at the moment. Anyway looking at this problem like this seems to be less emotional and ideological, though I want to tackle the issue of Papal Infallibility from a Godellian point of view in my next post.