The WSJ.com asked me to respond to Bryan Caplan’s piece, “Twin Lessons: Have More Kids. Pay Less Attention to Them.” He has a new book out, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. Even the title gets me going!
Now, he does discuss some interesting research about parenting, but takes it too far which I lay out my response piece , “With Kids, Easier Doesn’t Mean It’s Right.”
It’s the WSJ, so as you might imagine, they “steered” me a bit, and requested I not rant about the environmental impacts of promoting the idea “parenting can be easier than you think so have as many kids as you want!”
No problem…lots more to say to counter his ideas. Check it out. Thanks to all who have commented so far, and I encourage others to do so as well at wsj.com. It’s a great chance to inform and educate!
Urgh. Can I admit that my eyes completely glazed over as I was trying to read his article? I have no attention span for parenting related issues. I’d rather read a dictionary.
How frustrating that the WSJ wouldn’t let you go into the environmental implications of having more children without considering future sustainability. It’s still that much of a taboo connection to make, huh?
Jennifer, Thanks for writing. The wsj is a more conservative paper (print and online) but I also think they had a response theme in mind and I was happy to do it! How about you commenting and make that connection 😉 The piece is a great chance to speak out in a productive way~L
I made a comment on the WSJ article along those lines.
Jennifer, I don’t think it is taboo so much as ignorance.
There are several facts that should be common sense, but are largely unknown. Experts, are generally no better at knowing these things.
I asked a professor of population economics what the general consensus among his peers was with respect to whether the planet can handle more people. In the question I effectively gave him the answer, by stating that we are consuming resources that are essential for providing for the current numbers faster than those resources are consumed. He said that economists like him were not concerned about a rising population and felt that the planet can handle a lot more.
How any expert can totally overlook the fact that we cannot feed seven billion without burning oil/coal/gas/uranium and that those resources will run out, is mind boggling. I suppose that he just assumes we can continue to invent ways to generate the same quantity of food and distribute it without using the nonrenewables, and never puts those two thoughts together such that he realizes that if the assumption is wrong, then we are going to suffer a horrible population crash.
Similarly, there are several organizations dedicated to informing the public that we must stop population growth. But if you look at their goals, they all state that the number of kids you produce must be a free choice. How can these experts simply overlook the fact that if that free choice happens to result in a birth rate above two, then the world will become overpopulated?
A similar fact that is simply overlooked is that it must be your descendants that have to have fewer than two to balance your extras above two. Many understand that if we all have more than two, we will overpopulate, but they assume that others are having fewer than two, so that allows them to have more. They don’t allow themselves to recognize two things. The others are not having fewer than two by the same amount. The birth rate is above two. Regardless this cannot go on forever anyway. If your descendants maintain a birth rate above two they will overpopulate the planet even if all others produce no babies. So expecting others to make up for your extras doesn’t work, unless those “others” are your children and grandchildren.
The ignorance is depressing, and frustrating. You can’t say “these are the facts”, because so many people use that expression for stuff that is nowhere near as simple.
If we all have more than two, people will suffer starvation, therefore we can’t have more than two. Therefore you can’t have more than two. How complicated is that?
John, Thanks for commenting here and at the wsj! I am with you. It seems that until policy reinforces the stop at two (e.g., tax credits go to those who have two or less), people will pretty much continue to do what they want. In this country we are at about two per woman but it is certainly not like that in many other countries. Educating about stopping at two also means better education and access to family planning and contraception in the world. We have a ways to go there too… ps–is that your site, stopattwo.org? Excellent!
Yes, I started stopattwo.org.
We can’t be satisfied with a birth rate of two or less while being ignorance about these facts. We must make these facts common knowledge regardless of the birth rate here. Once these facts are common knowledge, then we will be able to make the right policy decisions about the best ways to spread that knowledge and also help provide the access to contraception in the world.
Plus, USA policy will not change without this being common knowledge. Indeed none of the democracies will have population related policies that reflect the realities of this world, while most people are ignorant of these birth rate facts. The three main concepts on stopattwo.org are the core of it and can be taught and comprehended by in one typical school day class to say 10 year olds.