Re: human rights vs. societies rights

(no name) ((no email))
Wed, 14 Dec 1994 10:33:40 EDT

Mike Lieber challenged me last week to make suggestions as to how anthropologists
should try to help alleviate the world population problem. Here are some
suggestions that came to mind after a very hard think over several days:

1. One of the easiest things to do personally is to decide that we will not
have an excess of children to add to the problem. One might perhaps argue
that because the US and other first world nations' populations are not
rising at excessively high rates we don't need to do anything in our own
countries. However, i would argue that if we want to convince 3rd world
countries it is important we had better show that we are making sacrifices
ourselves. To that end, i would beg every thinking human to seriously think
about the consequences of having more children or any. |Personally, i made
a decision about 17 years ago not to have children because i thought the
problem was bad enough then, let alone now. To that end, i had myself
sterilized - and you have no idea how hard it was in 1975 to find a doctor
who would do a tubal ligation on someone only 20 years old.
2. Within our own countries we need to continue to push for several changes
in government policies:
a. fully available fully govt-paid abortions: while this is not the
birth control method of choice, it is often the only one available to the
poor at the moment. we need to fight to change that too, but let's not
throw out an effective stopgap measure.
b. making birth control pills and condoms available free to anyone who
asks, esp teens.
c. making a unit in the highschool curriculum mandatory that includes
discussion of world population problems and birth control in the same unit.
it should also discuss all the alternatives that are available and the joys
of adoption as an alternative to having your own kids.
(i was adopted and know how good it can be when you parents really want
to have you and have to work hard to get you).
d. require that all parents attend parenting seminars: i really feel that
being a parent is a privilege not a right. while licencing parents sounds
very right-wing, it may be the only alternative in the future if we don't
take a proactive stand now. this type of system might also break the abuse
cycle that seems to produce an ever increasing number of forms of abuse.
e. one of the penalties for being convicted of performing a violent act
(i.e. murder, any crime involving weapons, abuse, rape, etc.) should
be immediate sterilization. although this may seem to be a form of corporal
punishment, it really is not because modern sterilization techniques cause
less pain than having a cavity filled and produce relatively few side effects.
f. providing a bonus to welfare recipients who opt for sterilization.
again this may seem to be a form of eugenics, but many welfare recipients
are using the system by becoming baby factories. these children are often
poorly treated and have few opportunities compared to most other kids.
g. providing increase research funding for reversible sterilization methods
that would enable people to plan more effectively wehn they want to have kids.
h. eliminating all baby bonuses and tax benefits for having more kids.
this could be supplemented by having tax bonuses for those who have
1 or 2 kids and for those who have opted for sterilization.

3. As a profession, we need to find ways to encourage birth control.
This is a real problem within in some cultures, esp. the more right-wing
religious groups of many religions. it is also problematic in cultures
where people have kids so that the kids can look after them in the parents'
old age. this sort of work is ideal for anthropologists because they are
better at understanding how other cultures work and figuring out ways
to modify that group behaviour effectively.

4. Finally, we need to encourage birth control wherever we have contact with
people. This needs to be done through our legislators who can put pressure
on other nations' governments, through our educators to get the message
out to the masses, through our classes, to our friends, and especially to
people we work with in our field work.

I am sure that some of these ideas may appear radical at first, and i expect
there will be some flames that erupt. Remember, however, that i am taking
a world view here, and a view with a geological time scale in mind. i want
to reduce human suffering in the next century and find ways to control our
population without having to resort to natural methods like mass starvation,
plagues, war, and geological disasters. These may not be the best methods,
but we have to start somewhere. If you don't like my ideas, I challenge you
to suggest some yourself!