tools of light

Using One Social Problem to Resolve Another.

by DR. TIM BALL on APRIL 20, 2018


There are two great moral and ethical issues confronting and dividing Americans, abortion and migration. Life, in its normally perverse way, offers a solution for both with a common theme, that is overlooked or ignored because people have such strong and often emotional opinions about each. It is unlikely they would entertain one being a solution for the other, but ongoing problems demand different thinking.

Some may wonder why a climatologist is conversant with or knowledgeable about such issues. The answer is my interest in historical climate focusses on the impact of climate and climate change on the human condition. The original impetus for the use of global warming for a political agenda involved the claim that the world was overpopulated and while everybody was using resources at an increasing rate, the industrialized nations using fossil fuels were doing it more rapidly than others. For 25 years I also taught a course in political geography that examines country formations, demographics and the movement of people.

One of my favorite stories of using one problem to resolve another involved a strike of garbage workers in Vancouver Canada. One citizen was interviewed by the media on the assumption that he would be angry. He said he had no difficulty getting rid of his garbage. He drove to work and parked downtown in an open parking lot. Every second day he packaged up his garbage in gift wrap and placed in on the back seat of his car and left the door unlocked. Every time he returned to his vehicle after work the garbage was gone. He used one failure of government to deal with the growing crime rate to solve another failure of government, the assurance of continued essential services. That is a trivial example, but the concept can be applied to major failures of government to resolve problems.

Almost all migration is economic as people leave a nation where they cannot get work to go to one where they can. The country they leave is usually glad to get rid of them because they underscore failed leadership. By leaving they also reduce the drain on the poor economy created by failed fiscal policy. The country they enter needs them because natural birthrates decline as a nation develops. In order to sustain their developed economy, they must fill the gap between the declining birth rate and the number of workers needed to maintain it. It is a classic supply and demand situation with too few people being supplied to maintain the status quo. Most developed countries fill the gap through immigration. Japan is a rare exception, and so they face a growing problem that requires you allow immigration or begin to cut social and other programs. Nothing illustrates this problem better than the population pyramids (Figures 1, 2and 3).

Some developed countries or regions, like Italy or Quebec, encourage families to have more children with financial rewards. This is not very effective because it never covers the cost of raising a child. It is like giving school vouchers so that parents can choose the school for their children. The problem is there are many more and often greater costs that the family cannot afford.

Because immigrants are required for a specific purpose, many countries use a merit-based system to attract the skilled and qualified. The US is proposing adoption of this system and pointing to its success in countries like Canada and Australia. When these ideas were discussed in the 1960s, the concept was characterized as creating “a brain drain.” The concern was the developed nations were taking the skilled people a developing nation required to develop.

Figure 1

Figure 2

The population pyramid for the US shows a reasonable balance, although the slight bulge of the baby boomers is visible (Figure 3). They will place big demands on the socioeconomic structure as they age. The birth rate among the native-born population is not at a replacement, so migrants are going to be required if all else is to remain equal. Minor changes can be made, such as increasing the retirement age, but they are limited. If you want to maintain levels close to the existing situation and are not happy with the migrant policies another strategy is required.

Figure 3

There is an interesting trend in the US in the number of people opposing abortions. There is also a trend in the number of people who regret having an abortion. The truth is the numbers are so distorted because it is such an emotional issue that they are not worth considering. Information that is relevant to any policy decision going forward is the reason why women have abortions. The Guttmacher Institute (AGI) lists three top reasons as

• Negative impact on the mother’s life
• Financial instability
• Relationship problems/unwillingness to be a single mother. identify the top three as,

• Birth control failure
• Inability to support or care for a child
• To end an unwanted pregnancy

The theme in both these lists suggests that given different circumstances, either their own or for the child’s future, a different solution is possible. There are many agencies that offer adoption support. The problem is it never covers the costs and time involved.

It is not clear how many abortions occur in the US every year.

“Based on available state-level data, approximately 893,000 abortions took place in the United States in 2016”

Consider that number against this advisory

Primary nationwide abortion statistics for the United States are available from two sources—privately from the Guttmacher Institute (AGI) and publicly from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Guttmacher’s numbers, published every three years, come from direct surveys of all known and suspected abortion providers in the United States. The CDC numbers, published annually, are derived from actual counts of every abortion reported to state health departments. Unfortunately, California, Maryland, and New Hampshire do not publicly report abortion totals. As such, Guttmacher’s abortion numbers are more complete, but they are approximations. Since only 58% of queried providers responded to Guttmacher’s latest survey, abortion totals were estimated for the remaining 42%.

It is reasonable to assume that approximately one million abortions occur in the US every year.

It is almost as difficult to get accurate figures on the number of illegal immigrants entering the US each year. One web page offers a number, 700,000 per year, apparently built around official data. This number will decline as Trump forces Congress to adopt sensible immigration policies and creates a secure border with Mexico. The good news is that immigrants will be a known quantity, especially if a merit system is applied. Unless you increase the natural birth rate, the number of total immigrants needed to maintain the socioeconomic system will have to increase.

I am opposed to more government, but public, private partnerships are valuable devices for effective operations. I am opposed to tax increases because of the misuse of the funds by government and that most are negative. Too many taxes are used for unnecessary purposes but also to punish rather than encourage a behavior.

It is likely that a majority of the women who have abortions would be willing to see their baby have a chance in life, especially if it contributed to a better America. Many studies claim to show that a majority of women have no regrets about having an abortion. The problem is almost all of these are self-serving. Besides, how many women who rationalized the decision would admit rethinking or regretting it. The majority make the abortion decision because of personal hardships and costs. It is reasonable to assume that if those were taken care of they would make a different decision.

What is needed is a policy that with the help of tax incentives provides for the birth and education of children that the parents choose not to abort. Much of this money can come from the savings achieved by drastic reductions in the number of illegal immigrants. Obviously, this transition will take some time as the children need to develop, but it has been all the short-term fixes that created many of today’s problems. Surely, in the long term, a made in America fix to reduce abortions and turn the children into productive citizens to replace the illegals who most people don’t want, is humane and a win-win.