Skinnerian Rewards and Punishment to Decrease Population (MICHIGAN, 1971)

From: the deliberate dumbing down of america, page 100

“REVISED REPORT OF POPULATION SUBCOMMITTEE, GOVERNOR’S ADVISORY COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ” for the State of Michigan, to be used at the April 6, 1971 meeting of the subcommittee,was filed in the Library, Legislative Service Bureau in Lansing, Michigan.

Excerpts from this disturbing report follow:

I. Concept of a Population Goal

In general, the Subcommittee was in agreement with U.S. Senate Resolution No. 214, as follows:

That it is the policy of the United States to develop, encourage, and implement at the earliest possible time, the necessary policies, attitudes, social standards, and actions which will by voluntary means consistent with human rights and individual conscience, stabilize the population of the United States and thereby promote the future well-being of the citizens of this Nation and the entire world.

It was the feeling of the Subcommittee that the intent of the above Resolution should be encouraged by voluntary means and due consideration given to human rights. However, in order to accomplish the above goal, state and federal legislation must accompany this intent to provide disincentives.

II. Optimum Goal

An optimum goal is to be considered in preference to a maximum carrying capacity. As a starting point, zero population growth is the recommended goal for the citizens of Michigan…. That the human population on a finite “space ship” cannot increase indefinitely is obvious. What is not so obvious is what constitutes an “optimum” level of population and the methods by which it is to be limited….

III. How Does Society Obtain Population Control?

Constraints on population size can be divided into two types, biological and social. Biological constraints include the limitation of those energies and chemicals required to drive human society as a biological system…. Societal constraints are more appropriate since the human population explosion is basically a social problem. There are three classes of social institutions which can be utilized to obtain population control. These are the political, economic and education systems. Each of these represent powerful control systems which help to regulate the behavior of our society.

A wide range of public policies are available by which man can affect population size. Some policies can seek to change man’s basic values and attitudes with respect to the issues of population size. Other policies can seek to directly affect man’s behaviors which have consequences for population size. Some suggested policy goals are listed.

General Public Understanding

Having children is a public interest as well as a private interest. Likewise, the use of the environment must be understood to be a collective responsibility rather than a private or individual responsibility, since the costs and the benefits of the use of the environment are indivisible to all members of the collectivity. This idea runs counter to the underlying ethic of individualism and privateness of our society, but is basic if we are to mobilize the collective will which is necessary for social action. To change such a basic set of attitudes and values requires cooperation from the full range of opinion leaders in the society. A program of education for leaders in all sectors of society, such as religious, economic, political, educational,technical, etc., is therefore called for.

Since basic attitudes and values are formed early in life, and since it is the youth of society who are yet capable of determining the size of future families, a program for all levels of formal education can be a powerful way to change society’s attitudes and values on the question of population size as outlined above.

The idea that family size is a collective, social responsibility rather than just an individual responsibility can be fostered both directly by exhortations by opinion leaders and in the schools, and indirectly by the actions that government and other institutions in society take.

For example, the proposal to eliminate the income tax exemption for children in excess of the two-child family limit can be a powerful way for government to symbolize its determination that family size is a collective responsibility.

Public understanding of the interdependent nature of our natural and man-made environment is also important for enlightened public support for population control policies.

A state-wide education program concerning ecology and population biology is needed for both student and adult segments of our society. This will require vigorous action to remove the topic of sex from the closets of obscurity in which conservative elements in our society have placed it….

Cultural Changes

Two types of cultural changes are needed in order to reduce the population increase: reduce the desired size of families, and reduce the social pressure to marry and have a family. Large families can be changed from an economic asset to an economic liability if all members of society can be offered the prospect that through work, saving, and deferred spending they can achieve economic security for themselves and their children.

For the already affluent middle class, larger families can be made an economic liability by increasing the incentives for and the costs of advanced education for their children…. Cultural changes to reduce the social pressure to marry and have a family can be pursued by changing educational materials which glorify married life and family life as the only“normal” life pattern, by granting greater public recognition to non-married and non-family life styles, by facilitating careers for single women….

[Ed. Note: The above recommendation regarding reducing the social pressure to marry and have a family was successfully carried out over a period of 25 years according to an article entitled “Institution in Transition” by Michelle Boorstein which appeared in The Maine Sunday Telegram’s August 30, 1998 issue, Home and Family Section, G–1. This Associated Press article said in part: They [Pam Hesse and Rob Lemar] share a home and a future but not a formal vow—just one couple caught up in the seismic shifts taking place in American attitudes toward marriage and childbearing. A soon-to-be-released Census Bureau report shows Hesse is far from an exception; in fact, she’s in the majority. The report, the bureau’s first compilation of all its 60 years of data on childbearing and marriage, finds that for the first time, the majority of “first births”—someone’s first child—were either conceived by or born to an unmarried woman. That is up from 18 percent in the 1930s. This is connected to an erosion of the centrality of marriage, said Stephanie Coontz of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, who studies the family and its role in history.]

Returning to the Population Subcommittee’s report:

Direct Behavior Changes

Two general types of public policies are distributive policies and regulative policies. Distributive policies involve the distribution of resources and opportunities to people who choose to modify their behavior to conform with the socially desired patterns. They thus operate as incentives rather than as official constraints. Examples include the elimination of tax incentives for larger families, monetary incentives for sterilization or adopted families, and removing the income tax discrimination against single citizens…. Regulative policies involve direct constraints on behavior and necessarily generate greater political conflict than distributive policies. This is because regulative policies eliminate the element of voluntary choice and apply automatically and categorically to a whole class of people or of behaviors. Examples of such regulative policies designed to control population growth include forced sterilization and restrictive licensing procedures to marry and to have children. However, it does not seem necessary, desirable, or feasible to involve regulative policies for population control at this time. One regulative type policy which is now in effect and which allows population increase is the law forbidding abortion. Restrictions against abortions should be removed to allow individual choice in the use of this back-up method of birth control…. A general acceptance of birth control to obtain population stability will create a more static ethnic, cultural and racial structure in society. Minority groups will continue to stay at a numerical minority. Minority problems are basically social and should be solved in that manner. An equilibrium condition will also alter the structure of our economic relationship both within our society (a shift from an expanding economy to a competitive displacement economy) and between other countries that will still be experiencing increasing …

Immediate consideration must be given to (1) the development of an integrated social control of our population size and growth, and (2) the impact of a steady stable condition on our society. The scope and complexity of this task requires the attention of a highly professional team whose talents and professional training are equal to the challenge. It is the recommendation of the Council that such a team be brought together and charged with the prompt development of the details of this program and reporting back to the Council. Approved by the Population Subcommittee, March 30, 1971. Present: Dr. C.T. Black, Mr. Robert Boatman, Professor William Cooper, Dr. Ralph MacMullan, and M.S. Reisen, M.D., Chairman

Surely it is no coincidence that the above-mentioned Michigan and U.S. Senate recommended policies on population control were being discussed at the same time (1971) that the United States was engaged in “Ping Pong” diplomacy with Communist China, the international leader in mandatory population control. Some excerpts follow from “The Ping Heard Round the World” which appeared in the April 26, 1971 issue of Time magazine: Dressed in an austere gray tunic, Premier Chou En-Lai moved along a line of respectfully silent visitors in Peking’s massive Great Hall of the People…. Finally he stopped to chat with the 15-member U.S. team and three accompanying American reporters, the first group of U.S. citizens and journalists to visit China in nearly a quarter of a century. “We have opened a new page in the relations of the Chinese and American people,” he told the U.S. visitors. …Yet in last week’s gestures to the United States table tennis team, the Chinese were clearly indicating that a new era could begin. They carefully made their approaches through private U.S. citizens, but they were responding to earlier signals that had been sent by the Nixon Administration over the past two years. …Probably never before in history has a sport been used so effectively as a tool of international diplomacy. [Ed. Note: Back to family planning, Michigan-style. Population and Family Planning in the People’s Republic of China, 1971, a book published by the Victor-Bostrom Fund and the PopulationCrisis Committee, has a table of contents that includes: “A Letter from Peking” by Edgar Snow, author of Red Star Over China; “Family Planning in China” by Han Suyin, M.D.; and“Why Not Adopt China’s Population Goals?” In other words, it looks like Ping Pong Diplomacy may have been used to open up the dialogue between Communist China and “private” American groups supporting population control. These would, in turn, lobby in Congress for more liberal family planning policies and for the legalization of abortion as recommended in the U.S. Senate Journal Resolution #214 and the Michigan paper. Here again, as was the case with the 1985 Carnegie Corporation-Soviet Academy of Sciences education agreement, diplomacy is being conducted by private parties: table tennis teams and groups such as the non-profit Victor-Bostrom Fund and the Population Crisis Committee.]

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