By David Flemming
George Plumb claimed in a Nov. 9 VTDigger commentary that men should feel obligated to get vasectomies to prevent authoritarians from using booming populations to overthrow democratic governments. Vasectomies are hardly necessary in a golden age of material well-being and democratic freedom.
Here is his argument: “The huge population size in most countries has meant that we are no longer closely connected to each other. As a result, we are witnessing the loss of democracy and the rise of authoritarian/fascist governments based on hatred and violence. Over 50 percent of the countries in the world no longer have democratic governments … it is time for men to own up to their responsibility and get a vasectomy.”
That “over 50% of countries” figure is completely false. Only 21 (13 percent) of the world’s countries had authoritarian governments as of 2016, according to Pew Research Report. Some 26 percent could not be easily categorized, and a whopping 97 out of 167 (58 percent) countries were democracies.
We are witnessing the rapid gains of democracy, at an unprecedented pace. In 1970, 1.7 billion people lived under some form of authoritarian government, approximately the same number that did in 2015. However, the world population has more than doubled between 1970 and 2015. During the past five decades, the people living in democracy has increased from 1.2 billion to 4 billion, nearly a four-fold increase.
It is not a coincidence that during this time of a doubling world population, we have seen a drastic increase in agricultural technologies that allow us to produce food with far less human effort and strain on natural resources. More mouths to feed come equipped with more brains to find better ways of feeding them.
About 2.2 billion individuals were in extreme poverty in 1970, about two-thirds of the world’s population. If that number had increased proportionally to population growth, there would be 4.4 billion individuals in extreme poverty by 2015. Instead, as our population has doubled and discovered new technologies, that number fell to to 705 million in extreme poverty by 2015.
The birth of children, especially in a state with some of the lowest birth rates in the nation, is something to be celebrated, not reviled. Vasectomies are a personal choice, and not something we should guilt fertile men into getting.
David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.