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Population Control for the Philippines


It’s Christmas and countless poor and destitute families have descended upon the city in droves in order to make the most of the relatively generous sentiment that grips the general citizenry during this time. Driving down Gilmore Avenue, you see entire makeshift villages spring up by the side of the road like the camps of the Roman legion. What bothers me the most is the sheer number of children that make up these seasonally nomadic communities.

Like most poor countries, the Philippines has a growth rate that far exceeds 2% per year. In some urban areas the figure exceeds 3%. Why is this so? There may be many reasons, but ultimately, I suspect that it is a Tragedy of the Commons as discussed by Garret Hardin.

Two children or fewer policy

People don’t complain about needing a license to drive, or operate machinery. I think having children should require some sort of licensing. And perhaps more importantly, we need to teach people about what it means to raise children. Having children should not equate to free labor.

Your first child is free. Everyone is entitled to continuing their line. All that I ask is that people PLAN for their children. So people should apply for their license prior to their pregnancy. No tests are required, and only minimal fees for processing are to be charged. It’s like filing an income tax return, you owe it to your society to plan your children. Perhaps a more interesting requirement is to require would-be parents to go through parenting workshops. The most important message that we want to present is that children do not exist to take care of their parents. Parents should work not only for the future of their children, but for their own futures as well. This is a tall order considering how screwed up our social security system is. But it has to happen some time.

Unplanned first children aren’t so bad. If you have an unplanned first child (teenage pregnancies, etc), that’s not so bad. You can apply for a license while you’re pregnant. The fine is a slap on the hand. Think of a parking ticket. The most important component of this is that if your name is now in the system. For the parents, it only affects them because they’ve used up their allocation. So a child born out of wedlock is still counted as their first child.

Second children will require a bit of screening, but not much. If a couple want to have a second child then they need to apply for a license for a second child. This is still a relatively cheap process (costs as much as getting a driver’s license), but now with more requirements. We should assess their ability support a second child. We can probably also consider what the population growth rate is for the current period. If it’s too low, then we can allow more couples to have second children.

Unplanned second children are still somewhat ok. Again, an unplanned second child is still not so bad. Depending on your record, you can get the small fine (in case it’s a mere slip up and your first child was properly licensed). If your first child was also unplanned, then you get a slightly bigger fine, and a few more seminars. We can also offer you a voluntary sterilization. Depending on the circumstance, we can recommend that the mother, the father, or both undergo sterilization. The government pays for this sterilization of course. Point is, the moment you have an unplanned child, you are now in the system so we can watch over you.

Children in excess of two are exorbitantly expensive. They are also subject to many qualifying requirements. Income levels, educational levels all come into play. Point is if you can’t afford it, or seem to be making a mess of your first two kids, you’re not going to get a license for another child. If you do qualify, we’ll make you pay a small fortune for your license. Think a one-time fee of about a thousand dollars, and a yearly tax of maybe 2% of your income until your child becomes an adult. Yes, a painful cost, but let’s assume that’s what it’ll cost government to bear the cost of social services for your added child.

Parents who have two unplanned children should be dealt with. They should subject themselves to sterilization. They can have it reversed (at their own expense) should they ever successfully get a license to bear further children. Those who have a third unplanned child, should go to jail, and their children taken to become wards of the state.

The ideal end-point in all this is to achieve a population growth rate that is slightly below zero. Of course, there are very real issues with a negative population growth, but I don’t see any way out of it. Trimming down our population is the only solution that addresses all our problems directly.

Implications

There are actually many problems that arise from having a negative population growth. Even a slightly negative population growth (like Japan at -.02%) results in interesting challenges. It’s these challenges that we must address the moment we decide that we are willing to take on the challenge of managing our own population growth.

Social safety nets and security structures must be very robust to take on the burden of an aging population, a classic hallmark of a negative population growth. Healthcare systems must be able to support the elderly, and our financial sector must be able to cope with the demand for better savings and pension systems.

Perhaps most importantly, we seriously need to fix our educational system here in the Philippines.

The Catholic Church

Any discussion of planned parenthood and contraception will ultimately end up in the arena of the Church. This is a whole different blog post on its own, and I’d like to keep things short:

The Church must realize, and soon, that God’s message to his people change as his chosen people grow and understand more about their place in the order of all creation. It would be stupid to assume that God’s word is unchanging. It’s time that they figure out what “go forth and multiply” really means in today’s overpopulated world.

In the end, we’ll all have to make our own choices. And as I’ve said in a previous post, if you’re going to do one thing to really help the world and the environment, the least you can do is have two or fewer kids.

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