Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Diane Rehm Show

I heard something funny on The Diane Rehm Show today. Diane and her guest, Jeffrey Sachs (author of the book Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet), were discussing ways in which we can deal with issues that currently trouble and will be troubling our planet in the future. Overpopulation was of course a topic. One lady called in and said something hilarious (to me) about the poor quality of life of so many old people (nursing homes, etc.) - saying that their quality of life was pathetic at best and that they were a drain on the system. She said, "I'm not saying we should kill them. I just wonder why we keep them alive." He he he. Why, indeed? Sachs, by the way, did not think old people were a big enough drain on the system to even consider the possibility - that it was certainly not a choice between our old and our young and that there were a legion of larger problems (like our military spending) that rather needed to be addressed.

It was an interesting interview over all, as usual, though I disagree with Mr Sachs's view on large families, as, perhaps, you might imagine. A one-would-assume-Mormon caller from Utah said he grew up in a family of nine and was concerned about Mr Sachs's views. Sachs replied, "Well, what if every family in the world had nine children? The world could not support that kind of population growth."

Of course, I think the point that Sachs may be missing is that every family doesn't have that many children. Nor do they want to. Most run screaming from the very idea. So perhaps we should not be talking about a "cap" on how many children couples are allowed to have until we see the whole world crazy for kids as if they were Cabbage Patch. (Or until shari'a law is imposed upon us, which might include more pressing problems.) I would also point out to Mr Sachs, if he were listening, that America is one of the few prosperous nations who are even replacing their current populations - and that only barely. Many countries are desperate for their people to have children.

Other than that disagreement (which may be a large disagreement, given the title of his book), it seems as if it might be an interesting read. I would especially like to hear more of his views on widespread water shortages in the future, which I've heard talk of before, and the Church's role: he continued to bring forward that she had one.

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