Friday, November 30, 2012

J B. Say and India and China's Population Policy

Last night I was reading J B. Say's 'A Treatise on Political Economy' Book II, Ch. XI, OF THE MODE IN WHICH THE QUANTITY OF THE PRODUCT AFFECTS POPULATION, where Say discusses the major principles of population growth. What he has to say is very relevant for both India and China because both country governments have implemented 'population control' measures since last 50 years or so. Chinese government has implemented one child policy and Indian government has its family planning program. Here is what Say has to say about the determinants of population, and I quote the passages:

"...and it may be laid down as a general maxim, that the population of a state is always proportionate to the sum of its production in every kind."
In one line - which he logically builds up in this chapter - he exposes the whole Malthusian population theory that population growth will outstrip food production! He goes on and discusses other implications of that maxim, and I quote again:
"...It appears to me, however, that one very natural consequence, deducible from this maxim, has escaped their observation; which is, that nothing can permanently increase population, except the encouragement and advance of production; and that nothing can occasion its permanent diminution, but such circumstances as attack production in its sources."
So, population growth in India, and China too, is not a problem at all because it has only increased due to increased production of consumer products. And, it will only decline if somehow this production declines, and for that, as Say discusses further, lo and behold, governments are responsible. Here is say again,
"... But though such temporary calamities are more afflicting to humanity than hurtful to the population of nations, far other is the effect of a vicious government, acting upon a bad system of political economy. This latter attacks the very principle of population, by drying up the sources of production; and since the numbers of mankind, as before seen, always approach nearly to the utmost limits the annual revenue of the nation will admit of, if the government reduce that revenue by the pressure of intolerable taxation, forcing the subject to sacrifice part of his capital, and consequently diminishing the aggregate means of subsistence and reproduction possessed by the community, such a government not only imposes a preventive check on further procreation, but may be fairly said to commit downright murder; for nothing so effectually thins the effective ranks of mankind, as privation of the means of subsistence."
And downright 'murder' it is that every government commits. Politicians are criminal murderers. They are killing people since ages.

Say also exposes the uselessness of Indian and Chinese government's family planning programs of controlling population, and gives a better alternative. I quote again:
"...Some parts of India and of China are oppressed with population, and with misery also; but their condition would be nowise improved by thinning its numbers, at least if it were brought about by a diminution of the aggregate product. Instead of reducing the numbers of the population, it were far more desirable to augment the gross product; which may always be effected by superior individual activity, industry, and frugality, and the better administration, that is to say, the less frequent interference of public authority."
So, there you have it. 50 years of family planning program in India and China is nothing but a huge wastage of precious resources. In fact, China is already facing the adverse consequences of their one child policy and is reconsidering easing it. Same kind of consequences India will also face in future when its population starts to age. Instead of instituting these useless policies, it would have been much better if government allowed freedom - less interference or, as we now know, no interference at all - and let the free market increase the production!

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