A Conversation for Ask h2g2

Sabisky, poor people and contraception

Post 21

Otto Fisch ("Stop analysing Strava.... and cut your hedge")

"On debate style: if I haven't quoted something you've said, I'm tacitly agreeing. I only quote the bits I disagree with."

I do the opposite - I like to find things to agree with and say so. Finding and acknowledging common ground helps move discussions forward, it's better for clarity, and it shows respect for other people. If the purpose is to be persuasive and constructive it's a much better approach.

----

"dangerously close to arguing that it's better not to exist than being born with poor economic prospects"

I say "dangerous" because... Discussions around what (a) kinds of lives are worth living and which are not; and (b) what policy actions follow from this are extremely difficult and extremely controversial. These are fascinating issues - and I'm happy to have good faith discussions about them. However, these issues are a can of worms that not only does not need to be opened, but which - if opened - is a distraction.

"You, on the other hand, seem to be arguing that nature should be allowed to take its course and the devil take the hindmost. The people paying for your policy are the under-resourced children who result. "

I'm not sure where you get this from, given you tacitly agree with what I said in post 9. I'm deeply concerned about the fate of the least well off - a philosophy of "devil take the hindmost" is the exact opposite of what I'm arguing for. I just don't think - for all of the reasons outlined previously - that compulsory contraception is the best approach to dealing with the problem.

Because the problem isn't caused by the (consistently declining) teenage pregnancy rate - it's deep-seated social, economic, political, and regional inequalities. So why argue for compulsory contraception - a ruinously expensive, controversial, unpopular, and invasive measure.
Rather than, say, a series of social and economic measures to make life better for the least fortunate in our society.

I guess it depends what problem we're trying to address... is it that too many people have very limited life chances and opportunities to live a happy and fulfilling life because of the circumstances into which they're born? I think that's the problem we're talking about, and I still can't work out why anyone sensible would propose compulsory contraception as a response.

I said previously that I thought that the characterization of Sabisky as a eugenicist was probably unfair. But the shadow of suspicion will rightly fall on anyone reaching for 'solutions' which sound like 'stop poor people breeding'. And my worry is that for some, that *is* the hidden agenda, behind a fig leaf of a concern for the least well off. Maybe that's unfair. I hope that's unfair.

"Most civilised people demonstrate that they are on my side of this argument by the way they live their lives: they take steps to avoid having children when they don't want or feel ready for them, yet when they DO feel ready, they do in the main have them. Civilised people with education and resources *overwhelmingly* delay childbirth and limit family size. The correlation between the level of education and wealth of a populace and the size of families is well known. It's been shown over and over again that a hugely successful way to reduce teenage pregnancy is with increased resources and education."

Well, unless I misunderstand, what you're calling for is compulsory contraception. The fact that a lot of people sensible choose this for themselves does not mean that they would agree to it being forced on others. I'm a tedious middle-age convert to running, and I'll drone on about the physical and mental and social benefits to anyone who'll listen, but I'm not in favour of making Parkrun compulsory.

Where I do agree is that education/resources reduces family size - though I think child mortality rates play a key role too - if there's a good chance that they'll all survive, there will be smaller families. But this is an argument for increasing the education and resources at each family's disposal, no? Why not just do that?


---

On a separate note, re lives worth living....

"The following two propositions I would say are uncontroversial:
1. it's better to exist as the planned, healthy, loved and nurtured child of a billionaire than it is to not exist at all.
2. it's better not to exist in the first place than to exist as the unplanned, neglected and abused, unhealthy child of a poor, abusive single parent."

1 is uncontroversial. 2 is.... well, it depends. I don't know what the answer to 2 is, because not only am I fortunate enough not to be in that category, I don't really know anyone who is. And I suspect that we might get different answers from different people, and certainly at different times of their lives. Of course, you're talking about prevention of existing - not killing - but nevertheless the viewpoint of those who lived these lives are worth hearing. But just as we don't get consensus from the terminally ill, I wouldn't expect consensus here.

I do agree that we could together come up with a set of social circumstances sufficiently horrific that we might agree that yes, better not to be born. (Let's leave aside the issue of profound life-limiting disabilities, though I think there too we would agree). But again, my question would be how many people would fall into that worst-of-the-worst category... and why the answer isn't to instead improve their chances in life, along with everyone else who's dealt a bad starting hand in life.


-----

On another issue...

"Taking steps to, at the very least, ensure every child who is born was planned and wanted at least by the mother would increase the proportion of human happiness, both for the mother and for those children.

(Here's a thought: it would also mean I would not have been conceived, and I still hold this opinion.)"

It's an interesting thought, but I suspect it's more complicated. I wonder what proportion of babies were actively planned... I've never asked, but given what I know of my parents' economic situation at the time of my conception... I doubt I was 'planned'. But by the time I arrived, I'm pretty sure I was 'wanted'.

This must be common... accidental pregnancy... moment of panic... thinking about the options... it wouldn't be a disaster... we could manage... if not now, then when... feel uneasy about abortion ... no-one's ever really ready... what the hell, why not?

I wonder what would happen to the birth rate with a planned-child-only policy? I wouldn't be surprised if it dropped substantially, and with an ageing population that could be very bad.


Sabisky, poor people and contraception

Post 22

Baron Grim

My smiley - 2cents

The "compulsory" part of this is the barb that gets stuck in any reasonable person's throat.

It's not realistic. No electorate would stand for it. Ironically, it would likely unite fundamentalists and even progressive libertarians.

I think we can agree that a combination of education of young girls and women in general, and sex education of the entire populace in particular with wide availability of affordable if not free means of contraception would go very far to mitigating the problem of unplanned pregnancy. Realistically, the fundamentalists would still object smiley - facepalmsmiley - headhurts but hopefully most of their children will access contraception behind their backs if we can keep the fundamentalists from including silly crap like parental consent provisions.

I think I mentioned I'm in a state that restricts sex ed to "abstinence only", we also have notably tried to enact several TRAP laws (Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers) and the currently conservatively packed Supreme Court may indeed allow such laws to stand.

So, yeah... I live in a place that is doing everything to *promote* unwanted pregnancies. smiley - facepalm


Sabisky, poor people and contraception

Post 23

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

"2. it's better not to exist in the first place than to exist as the unplanned, neglected and abused, unhealthy child of a poor, abusive single parent." [Hoovooloo]

This is a conversation-stopper. Why? Because science is powerless to demonstrate a finding one way or the other. Science involved choosing a path and seeing what that path leads to. It may compare the results of that path to the results of another path. But it does not, and cannot, follow a path in which it measures not existing. People who don't exist can't be tested. All that anyone can do is say, "I think such and such."

A less problematic (but also less satisfactory) approach has been tried, namely to take a population of people who were, indeed, unplanned, neglected, abused and unhealthy child of a poor, abusive single parent. I have seen one such study, which was longitudinal: it looked a population of people with unfortunate beginnings, and tried to determine whether, over the long run, some of them had corrected for their bad beginnings sufficiently to have at least a modest quality of life. I was surprised to see that most of them *did* end up with a life that wasn't half bad.

If your lie is going to last, on average, 70 or 80 years, isn't there a chance of meeting the right teacher or mentor, discovering a special talent you didn't know you had, or inspiring someone else with your example?

That said, I acknowledge that survivorship bias is a problem with this kind of study. The people whose lives were so wretched they couldn't contionue did not live long enough to reach 50, the apparent threshold age.

I'm also suspicious of the example of the billionaire's child. The more I think about it, the more unhappy billionaire's children I can think of. Either a pair of billionaire parents give their children so much that the children never learn to develop their own talents, or they keep the kids on such a short leash that they rebel in ruinous ways. There was one wealthy couple that disowned their daughter because she got fat. One of the Du Ponts basically went crazy and killed a wrestler (See the movie "Foxcatcher"). It had something to do with an unsatisfactory relationship with the character's helicopter mother. Let's keep in mind that it takes a special set of traits to lead the kind of life that results in your becoming a billionaire. Are those traits conducive to a normal family life? If so, then why would a billionaire have a mistress? Or a second or third or fourth wife. Nelson Rockefeller remarried. So did Vincent Astor.

Bill and Melissa Gates have three children. Chances are, thsoe children won't inherit much
http://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/the-real-reason-bill-gates-children-wont-inherit-much-of-his-fortune.html/

Warren Buffett sems to have the same approach.

There, I've named at least five billionaires (past and present).

Some seem to have good relations with their children. Some were so dysfunctional that having children at all was too much of a stretch.

I'm going on like this because, in order to test thesis, you need to look for exceptions. That's what scientists do. They may pick poor examples, or go on wild good chases, but it's part of the job.

My take?




Sabisky, poor people and contraception

Post 24

Mr. X ---> I spent a year dead for tax purposes. It worked so well that I'm going to do it again.

"The following two propositions I would say are uncontroversial:"

"1. it's better to exist as the planned, healthy, loved and nurtured child of a billionaire than it is to not exist at all."

"2. it's better not to exist in the first place than to exist as the unplanned, neglected and abused, unhealthy child of a poor, abusive single parent."


For the record and speaking purely for myself --- if my choices were nonexistence or existence as "the unplanned, neglected and abused, unhealthy child of a poor, abusive single parent" then I would choose the latter.

So, no, it's not uncontroversial.

And if you are not yourself the neglected, unhealthy child of a poor, abusive parent, then I don't consider you qualified to make that argument.

I do not advocate that we should promote suffering, but I do ask that you recognize that society needs and has benifited from the perspective and abilities of those who have suffered. To pluck an example off the top of my head which fits your criteria --- though I know he is not alone --- Abraham Lincoln was an unplanned, neglected, unhealthy child of a poor, abusive parent. And that experience, which shaped his life and his view of the world, contributed to his drives and his motives in every decision he ever made.

I'm only going to provide one example, both because I don't have all week, and because I'm reasonably certain you're not going to listen to arguments by example anyway.


smiley - pirate


Sabisky, poor people and contraception

Post 25

Mr. X ---> I spent a year dead for tax purposes. It worked so well that I'm going to do it again.

>>> "I can't speak for Britain, but I can tell you that in America vaccinations are not mandated"

"Ah. You're basing your concept of what's possible or desirable in a civilised healthcare system on your knowledge and experience of the healthcare system of the USA. That's like basing your opinions on justice on the goings on in Saudi Arabia."


No, I was trying to inform you about your apparent misconception that all vaccinations are already compulsory, which is simply not true. Case in point....


"You have a captive audience in every school, an audience you already inject to protect them from things like HPV and measles."


I had --- perhaps wrongly --- assumed that you held this misconception because you didn't know that, in America at least, they aren't.

My own opinion of what's possible or desirable is, again, irrelevant and unrelated to **facts I am trying to explain.**


("** [...] **" is used for emphasis.)




Regardless, even if they WERE all compulsory for EVERYONE --- which they aren't --- the analogy can't be sustained for this argument. Vaccinations prevent potentially lethal consequences.

With modern medical equipment, unplanned pregnancies --- no matter what suffering they might cause --- do not have potentially **lethal** consequences. Not for over a hundred years.

And, again, even if they DID --- which they don't --- I would still oppose forcing vaccinations OR contraceptions on anyone. Because it isn't up to you, or anyone else, to make those decisions for anyone other than yourself.


The reason I hold this position is because I am certain that allowing anyone else to make that decision will result in negative consequences and abuse of power. I'm certain of this because it HAS ALWAYS resulted in such abuse in the past.

From 1900-ish to 1960-ish, forced sterilizations were a government-sanctioned practice throughout America. And during that time, many of those who were sterilized included people who were physically and mentally healthy, people who had non-heritable conditions that they wouldn't have passed on to their children, people who had non-fatal conditions that certainly wouldn't have been unbearable even if they **had** been passed on to their children, people who had ostensibly "loose" sexual morals, and people who were of an "undesirable" race. Mostly without the victims' knowledge or consent.

Had the technology existed in the 1800s, before that, I guarantee that it would have been used indiscriminately against anyone who didn't fit into the white-elite's vision of "rightness" and "virtue". A Hitler wet-dream, if you will.

And were it implemented today, even with reversible contraceptives, I further guarantee that those same aspects of human-nature would result in legislation to **prevent** its reversal in groups that aren't in power. Either with the unabashed aim of maintaining those who are, or --- (at best) --- under the misguided assumption that it's "for their own good."





"If EVERYONE [were] prevented from becoming accidentally pregnant, the only people who will become pregnant are the ones who actively want to."

In a perfect, ideal fantasy-world that doesn't exist.





"Taking steps to, at the very least, ensure every child who is born was planned and wanted at least by the mother would increase the proportion of human happiness, both for the mother and for those children."


Now --- again, I know this is difficult for you --- remember that we agree on this point. The most basic tenets of your argument are, I believe, sound and right. Where we differ is in what degree society should be allowed to dictate that view.

So to fully clarify my position, as best I can: I fully believe that reversable contraceptives should be available to everyone everywhere. I also fully believe that such a thing would be beneficial to everyone everywhere. And I fully believe that --- amongst adults --- NO ONE should be allowed to **impose** contraception on anyone anywhere.


smiley - pirate


Sabisky, poor people and contraception

Post 26

paulh. Antisocial distancing works a well as the Social kind

"I am certain that allowing anyone else to make that decision will result in negative consequences and abuse of power. I'm certain of this because it HAS ALWAYS resulted in such abuse in the past" {Mr. X]

I totally agree. smiley - applause

I'm suspicious of the idea of prescribing anything for "everyone." Even if you could nail the first 95%, getting that last 5% would take vastly more effort than the first 95%, because of diminishing returns.


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