Again, I shall deviate from the usual and talk about something else for this post. In fact, I shall be deviating quite far. This is because of some recent news items that I have been reading that I feel need some clarifications because it is veering farther and farther from reality and the truth. This post will focus on the much-confused issue of poverty and of overpopulation.
People normally subject whatever information they receive to their logic or common sense to determine their veracity before accepting the information as truth. However, as people with formal knowledge of the principles of logic and argument will tell you, there are many pitfalls in logic. And, if we are not familiar with them, we can be led to believe in something that is false.
A case in point is the classic from the comic duo William (Bud) Abbot and Lou Costello. In a nutshell, it goes like this…
By answering a series of “yes-or-no” questions and using the answers as premises, I can prove that you are not here. (1) Are you on the moon? – No. (2) Are you under the ocean? – No. (3) Are you on top of Mt Everest? – No. (4) Are you in a volcano? – No. (5) You are not in any of the places I mentioned. If so, you must be somewhere else. – Yes. If you are somewhere else, YOU CANNOT BE HERE!
Obviously, there is a fallacy, but for the untrained mind, everything appears perfectly logical.
What does this have to do with the Poverty-Overpopulation issue?
So-called experts are spreading a rumor that poverty is caused by overpopulation and that by controlling population growth, poverty will be alleviated. This is a promise that will never be fulfilled because they have it the other way around – i.e., overpopulation is not the cause of poverty but that poverty is the cause of overpopulation. (When you interchange the problem and the solution, you inevitably create – for want of a better term and I am open to suggestions – a conundrum.) In fact, overpopulation is not even the cause of poverty, but something else – which I will reveal later.
Looking at societies all over the world, it can be seen that it is (almost always) the poor countries that have large populations; wealthy nations do not have this problem. In fact, several wealthy nations have exactly the opposite problem – a constantly and consistently shrinking population, either the couples decide not to have children or have fertility issues (to date, like the United States of America and Spain). This entices experts to conclude that the culprit behind poverty is a burgeoning population.
But, for argument’s sake, if it were so, why are once-poor countries now (stealthily) experiencing declining populations? In their case, declining population came after once-poor countries became wealthy. If we are to follow the argument presented above, once-poor countries must first have had experienced population decline before they overcame their poverty. But this is not so. More often than not, it is the other way around – increase in wealth before a decline in population.
One theory I would like to posit is that man still retains much of his basal animal instincts, one of which is survival of the species.
In this world. when it comes to the cycle of life and the food chain, there is only the predator and the prey. A predator will bear a comparatively lesser quantity of offsprings than a prey. This is to ensure that the food source will not become extinct from overpredation – which will also result in the demise of the predator species. There should be a much greater quantity of prey offsprings to provide sufficient food for the predator species with enough left over to prevent extinction.
To relate this to man and society, the predator would be represented by the wealthy while the prey would be the poor. In the world of the wealthy (as for the predator), because the survival of their offpsprings are more or less assured, there is no need to have plenty. On the other hand, because the poor (unconsciously and “instinctively” or not) cannot be guaranteed that their offpsrings will all survive therefore there should be more, in order to better the odds that some or at least one will survive to continue the line – e.g., 2 or 3 out of 12 children.
In this sense, it is the state of poverty that drives one to bear as many children as possible. For the wealthy to have many children would be more of an exception, for it is rare that the rich have more than four. (Moreover, unless the wealth is truly vast and the parents are very able and responsible – raising well-bahaved and good-mannered children – a large brood for a wealthy couple may result in problematic heirs when it comes to division of the estate upon the death of the parents.)
In addition to all this, in the “war against poverty”, the objective used to be the elimination or eradication of poverty; now, it has been changed to alleviation. This is a very significant change that have (intentionally or not) gone unnoticed by most everyone. There is a world of difference in the ramification between “elimination or eradication” and “alleviation”. In elimination, it is implied that poverty is not permanent, not a truth, not an essential – that it can disappear. With alleviation, the implication is that poverty is an inescapable and inevitable truth and that it will not disappear. However, logic tells us that only things eternal are essential. Something that has a beginning must have an end. Only those that have no beginning can have no end.
In the case of poverty, since it did not exist before, we should be able to eliminate it. Changing the campaign against poverty from eliminating it to alleviating it means that it is a “necessary evil” and that we must accept it as part of life. The focus has shifted to mere tolerance – that people must be resigned to living with poverty. This is a falsehood; and it is being perpetuated.
In truth, the real (though unsavory to most) solution to not just alleviating but eliminating poverty is to eliminate the rich or wealthy. It is because, in order to say that someone is poor, there necessarily must be a point of comparison – someone who is wealthy, who has more than one who is poor. If everyone has the same amount of wealth, there would be no basis or point of distinguishing or categorizing people according to their wealth. In other words, no one would be poor if no one is rich. As written in the Good Book, there are no slaves where there are no masters.
It is probably this realization that prompted the change in wordings from “eradication of poverty” to “alleviation of poverty”. The wealthy, who are behind this campaign, must have come to this epiphany and quietly but suddenly reworded the objective – to save their kind from annihilation.
Finally, it must be understood and accepted that poverty is but a state of mind and not determined by the quantity and the value of physical or material possession. Even in this modern world, there are still pockets of people who are classified as poor but do not consider themselves so. A case in point is a comparison between some member of a “primitive” tribe (living isolated from the rest of the so-called “civilized” world) and an urban slum dweller or a homeless person.
Ask the former if he is poor and he will say that he has enough for all his needs. He has the jungle canopy as his roof and his clothing and food is all around. He does not need more, despite the fact that he only has the scant coverings on his body as his entire worldly possession. In contrast, ask the same question to the latter (the urban poor) who has a small house and furnished with a television set, some living room furniture, a modest refrigerator, and some clothes (many of them imported), and he would say he is poor.
So, who indeed is really poor.