The current mainstream propaganda is that more people is always better, and that anyhow excessive population growth is due to poverty so if you just make people rich by giving them all access to cheap labor and empowering women that issue will be solved.
False. Excessive population growth is not caused by poverty, rather poverty is caused by excessive population growth. No nation without an open frontier has ever become rich until AFTER population growth moderated. Excessive population growth is caused by deliberate government policies.
Consider Mexico. Its recent population explosion was engineered by the Mexican oligarchs who waged a massive propaganda campaign to convince Mexicans to have enormous numbers of children at an early age (see “The Mexicans: a personal portrait of a people”, by Patrick Oster). Ostensibly to make Mexico “bigger and better”, the only reason I can think of for this policy is to ensure that wages stay low. It’s working. It’s working so well that grinding poverty now threatens utter collapse, and the same oligarchs that wanted more people are now desperate to dump their surplus population on the United States…. Similar policies have been followed in many other countries, for example Iran, where the ayatollahs encouraged large families so that they could use human wave attacks against Iraq rather than hire competent generals. As usual, after population growth rates picked up the Iranian standard of living began falling, all those unemployed young men started making trouble, and the government is now desperately trying to fight demographic momentum with a new set of population control measures…
It gets little press that the current massive growth of China’s population was due to Mao’s policy of encouraging the Chinese to have enormous families. Economists arguing for restraint were purged: ‘we lost one Ma Yinchu and gained 600 million more Chinese’. The current one-family one-child policy (Official current fertility rate: 2 children/family. Probable real fertility rate: three children/family) slowed but did not stop the demographic momentum of the previous policy of maximizing population, and was only instituted when the communists worried that not even they could keep order in the resultant misery.
When the communists took over China in 1949, production of rice was 48 million tons/year (USDA database). By 1957 they had increased this to 86 million tons. The next few years, due to disastrously bad weather and some poorly-conceived ideas about industrialization, rice production fell, to reach a minimum of 53 million tons in 1961: which is still more than 10% greater than when the communists took over! There would have been enough food if the population had not been increasing so rapidly.
Actually without rapid population growth Chinese food production would probably not have fallen even this much from the peak. By 1959 rice production had fallen by about 19% from the peak in 1957: but this is still 43% higher than when the communists had taken over in 1949! When people start to run out of food bad things happen, and there is another factor beyond weather and poor planning. As Malthus famously said: “the corn is picked before it is ripe”. It cannot be accurately modeled, but it seems likely that chaos due to the initial poor harvest would have created much of the later, deeper reductions in food production – which would never have happened with more moderate population growth.
There will always be weather, and it will always be erratic, and there will always be good harvests and bad harvests. When food production is many times greater than subsistence, poor harvests are a minor nuisance. When the population pushes up to the limits of subsistence, the crunch is more likely to occur during a bad harvest, but you should not blame the weather. If weather were always perfect this would only delay the time at which a rapidly increasing population hits the limits by at most a few years.
The elites will always push for more people, for ever cheaper wages, unless the mass of poverty threatens the very stability of their society. Then without apology they switch to trying to limit population. They may have some success if they can succeed in dumping their surplus population somewhere else, with the added advantage of gaining political and economic control over new lands. But because the rich always wait until the last minute, and because demographic momentum means that even if the fertility rate could be instantly lowered to 2 children/family the population would still double or triple before stabilizing, there is no happy balance here, and the net effect is always to maximize population to levels that threaten the survival of the state itself.
No society in all of recorded history has industrialized faster than Japan. However, even the best that flesh-and-blood human beings have ever achieved was not enough to keep up with rapid exponential population growth, and by the eve of WWII Japan was on the brink of collapse and chaos. The Japanese militarists had no illusions about their chances of defeating the United States. It’s just that they had no alternative: without invading and colonizing other lands their own exploding population would soon have destroyed their society (Read John Toland’s wonderful book “The Rising Sun”). As you might expect, that exploding population was not the “inevitable” consequence of industrialization, it was the result of a deliberate Japanese government policy to maximize population! Odd, though, how buried this rather important fact is: I only found it in the Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics, and only because I already suspected the existence of such a policy before looking for it (Vol.6, pp158-9, 1996).
The current high Japanese standard of living only started after the post-WWII fall in fertility rates. Of course.
And you human sheep keep hearing that Japan is doomed unless the Japanese start breeding like crazy, or import massive numbers of third-world refugees, and turn their nation into another Haiti or Pakistan. There are many problems that the Japanese people face, but too few people is NOT one of them. The country is resource-poor: a modest and gradual decline in the population density would be a plus. Oh but that wouldn’t drive down wages to 50 cents an hour, can’t have that can we? As the neoliberal economists keep saying, prosperity depends on mass poverty. Are any of you human beings paying attention?