Population Control: A Cop-out

By Jose Ma. Montelibano
First Posted 01:19:00 05/16/2008

I do not know the scientific basis for the conventional conclusion that population is a cause of poverty. I can accept that a certain level of population can aggravate poverty, but to aggravate is not to cause but rather to make worse what is already there.

What nation had no poverty but engendered poverty because its population grew to objectionable levels? Until the past 50 or so years, population was never imagined to be the cause of poverty. Yet, poverty has been a traditional state of many people throughout recorded history. When there was no population issue connected with poverty, who or what caused poverty?

It is a fact that I have strong Catholic influences working in my life and these are merged in the way I process my decisions. But it is not my being Catholic that upsets me when birth control is offered, or pushed subtly or aggressively, as a solution to poverty. The only solution to poverty is the opposite of what creates it. If the cause of poverty is removed, then poverty will disappear. If the opposite of what causes poverty is interjected into a situation of poverty, then poverty will disappear much faster.

I cannot see for the life of me why so simple an equation can be missed—unless it is being deliberately sidestepped or covered up. Those who would like to push population control as a poverty-solving mechanism must have more important agenda than what they claim. And in all likelihood, the initiative for population control comes from developed nations or from their agents in impoverished countries which are the prime targets of population control...

Poverty is present in many levels, from local to global. In many of these cases, population has obviously nothing to do with it. In some, it is intimately connected to natural conditions like extreme and extended drought; in others, by aridity of the land which denies productivity. In most cases, though, it is entirely man-made. Even people from areas that are adversely affected by climate or land conditions can be easily helped by those who are not. Poverty is born from exploitation and later aggravated by sheer apathy toward the suffering of others. To repeat, poverty is not caused by population but by exploitation. This must be our only understanding of poverty, this must be the mantra of all those who wish to eliminate poverty...

Population control is being diverted to the level of religion because divergent or opposing views justify secular or state actions and policies. Using the dictum of the separation of the church and the state, national or local governments promote their policies on population control and often effectively sideline religious opposition. But when the issue of poverty is predicated on social justice, when the guilty cannot escape accountability by blaming victims for their inherited suffering, even the sanctity of life can be defended in the most secular of ways.

In gist, people who have impoverished Filipinos cannot get away with just giving us condoms to address the poverty they themselves have helped to cause...

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