I can faithfully assume that on a spiritual level all human lives have a definitive, irrefutable value, imbued upon each one of us by God.

Politically and economically, on the other hand, human beings tend to have as much value as any life that God chose not to explicitly and deliberately bless: none inherently.  Human beings gain value through action, purpose, uniqueness, and necessity.

Sometimes I think by that measure I can’t possibly be worth much.  I feel replacable many days and I aspire to be something that ultimately isn’t unique, even if the output of a writer just may be that.  To that end, let’s take up another view.

from Matthew B. Souders


I am disturbed by the number of people who think some/many/any/every social ill is caused by (and I’m going to phrase this bluntly to make a point because this is what they’re really saying) too many stupid or poor people reproducing and failing as parents, and prescribing birth control as the solution.

A few points:

1) Smart people have statistically fewer children (by a lot) than people lower down on the IQ spectrum. In order to change that, you are going to have to apply force (of the state), because there is no evidence at all that people lower down on the IQ spectrum have any interest in having smaller families, and no, that is not just because they lack proper education. Applying force to control who procreates and how often has a name. It’s called eugenics.

2) Even if you want to ignore the force argument or claim that some social education can seriously alter the current birth rate dynamics, and maybe you can make that argument and convince me on that point, history proves the postulate that proper birth control yields better social outcomes utterly false. Europe and Japan are in the midst of population crises caused by decades of low birth rates – the result of that change is not positive. Child-rearing turns out to be morally crucial (building better people, better communities, and stronger citizenship, improving church attendance, and even reducing crime rates and poverty – yes poverty…that thing you claim to be solving by increasing birth control education/access). If you want to succeed in life, get married and have kids (in that order, but still…all of that has to get done).

Children have a way of changing us, making us try harder to be better people, making us work harder, strive better, pray more, and develop empathy. One study even showed that people gave more to charity after they had children than before and that this was true across all economic strata. In his book, The Conservative Heart, Arthur Brooks details the total collapse of Portugal’s youth morality/productivity. The national used to be deeply Catholic, but is now deeply nihilist – church attendance is down to about 10% of the population (regularly), youths do not feel motivated to have children or even to seek employment – they’re living with their aging parents well into their thirties and doing nothing but playing games and hooking up. Some of that is because the welfare state is too aggressive, but I think a lot of that is because they no longer value family life (or desire to have children).

3) I’m going to say this bluntly again…I’m sorry if it offends, but it is what I see when I see these arguments about the need for more birth control. If your solution to a social problem is condoms and meaningless sex unmoored to family life…YOU’RE NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH. The poor, the lower-functioning (on the IQ spectrum), and the unskilled aren’t numbers, they’re not problems for you to solve. They’re HUMAN BEINGS, and they deserve better than to be told not to have families because they won’t do a good job raising them. I expect more from us than a sad shrug, a pack of birth control pills, and a loud and clear message that these people mean less to you than their intellectual or economic betters. They deserve to have good lives filled with dignity and meaning, and that means having families too. We can do better than this…we can offer everyone something worth having, even if some will always do better because they are more skilled/intelligent/adaptive.

I don’t have any easy answers for society’s great problems…but I damned well know birth control is not an answer either. All it is…is an excuse to stop caring. I REFUSE.


The Anarchangel responds:

we need to teach people to do things that have value, economically and socially.

We really don’t do so now. We teach them to pass tests and meet standards of what the late 19th century thought was valuable… but we neither teach them valuable skills (welding, machining, computer programming, even basic life skills such as simple home repaid, cooking, budgeting etc…) nor do we properly or sufficiently teach them either the basic elements of valuable participation in civic society( such as history, economics, the basic sciences, and logic), or those necessary to self educate throughout ones life (largely those same skills).

30% of americans never read ANY book after high school.

Since 48% now attend at least some college, that means that more than half of those who do not attend college, never read a book after high school.

That’s a HUGE problem.