Saturday, June 29, 2013

Things I Have Strong Feelings About - Overpopulation

A discussion has been ongoing regarding ways to pull the U.S. government out of it's present, less than ideal economic state. One suggestion is to tax the wealthy at a higher rate. This inevitably leads to a discussion of what defines "wealthy". Many New York based, well compensated newscasters argue that if you live in Manhattan with 4 children $250,000 per year is not wealthy. As $250,000 is 5 times the median U.S. household income of  $50,000 stating that you are not economically advantaged if you fit into that category is a difficult argument to make.

I have always wanted to point out two things when these statements are made. One, Manhattan is expensive. If you feel financially strained move somewhere cheaper. Some of the boroughs or even New Jersey are just as accessible to Midtown as the Upper West Side and much more affordable. Two, in an already overpopulated world what do you think you are doing having 4 children?

Species are going extinct at an alarming rate. Most due to habitat destruction caused by human encroachment. We have poisoned, redirected, drained and dammed waterways and wetlands. Forests have been felled in order to make more space for people and to produce the food to feed them. It is time, in fact past time, for everyone to understand that we do not own the earth, we share it.

Most articles I have read on population regard the continuing growth of the human race as inevitable. It is time to challenge that assumption. Some countries, notably several in Europe, are seeing declines in their populations generation to generation. China has in place laws, which some suggest are too harsh, to control population growth. These are the exceptions. Some of the highest birth rates are found in developing countries.

This growth is both dangerous and unnecessary. It strains resources and degrades standards of living for all people. The situation, however, is not hopeless. As health care improves in poorer countries a decline in birth rates is seen. People have fewer children as they become assured that those they have will live to adulthood. As Brazil's middle class has grown it's population has slowed. The Brazilians are concerned about the life they can provide for their children. Many couples are choosing to have only two in order to insure their children's financial and physical well being.

Here in the U.S. there are steps we can take to keep our population growth at a level that will make both people and the earth healthier. Presently our tax system allows exceptions based partially on the number of children in a household. Perhaps we could cap exceptions at 3, which I feel would be a reasonable accommodation. Accidents can happen, my brother's third child was unplanned. Bearing 4, 5 or more children, however, becomes, in this day and age, a selfish and thoughtless act. This is regardless of whether you can afford the cost of housing, feeding and educating that many children or not.

For those possessing a strong faith and devotion to their religious beliefs the highest levels of religious organizations need to become involved. Reliable birth control measures should not only be tolerated but embraced, viewed as a moral obligation. If you believe that God gave you dominion over the earth it is your duty as it's overseer to care for it.

Creating and maintaining a stable and sustainable human population will require all people and nations to work together. Governments, religious institutions and individuals must all take responsibility towards this goal. It will take time, perhaps several generations to achieve but it needs to be addressed. We cannot allow ourselves to outgrow the earth, it's all we've got. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ode to a Spiral Bound Notebook

As I have remarked before I write, edit and reedit these posts by hand before sending them on their cyberjourney. To do this I use three hole spiral bound notebooks, the type available in any drugstore or supermarket. After a time I come to the end of a notebook. The last few white pages, scored with blue lines, wait patiently to be filled with my rants, raves and chronicles of my travels to different locales and through the everyday, sometimes ordinary, sometimes confounding, mysteries of life.

These notes are written in a left handed scrawl, most probably indecipherable to anyone but me. Words, phrases, sometime entire sentences are scratched out. Arrows point to words, phrases, sometimes entire sentences I want to insert. Occasionally paragraphs are written on subsequent pages with a note reminding me to add them in at a particular point. Eventually it all comes together, I post it and send it on it's way, disposing of the handwritten manuscript.

As a notebook becomes past history I occasionally think back over what it has held during it's time in my life. Sometimes it has traveled with me. Packed in my suitcase it serves as a companion to me. It becomes a sounding board for my thoughts, as well as a place to chronicle my trips. At times it is almost a friend, albeit a transitory and inanimate one. Although, when it would be to cumbersome to carry with me  while exploring new places I leave it behind for the day, taking notes instead using the memo app on my phone, I always return to it's comfortable, familiar presence. It is a place for me to sort out thoughts and refine ideas. It is the vessel I use to capture my written voice.

As I crumple the sheets I realize I owe the pages a debt. They have served me well. Those that follow them, I trust, will serve me just as well as I bid farewell to an old confidant and welcome a spiral bound new one.