The warped logic of ‘fewer people = less poverty’

This week, the anti-human, neo-Malthusian think tank, Population Matters (PM), released a report titled More Aid + More People ≠ Less Poverty. The report, which PM paid post-graduate students at the London School of Economics to produce, claims that high fertility rates are the main cause of the large number of people living in absolute poverty in the Third World. This, PM believes, means that the developing world is doomed to spiral ever further into poverty because the aid sent by the West can never keep up with the needs of poor countries’ expanding populations.

At least two fallacies lie at the heart of the PM report. The first is that the best hope for poor countries to end poverty is through receiving Western aid. As has been discussed on spiked many times in the past, not only is Western aid usually ineffective, but it also often stymies Third World development, and therefore the fight against poverty.

The second fallacy is the report’s suggestion that the number of people living in poverty in the world is one of the main causes of poverty. From PM’s warped perspective, poor people are the cause of poverty not the subjects of it. Therefore, fewer poor people would mean less poverty. This line of reasoning only makes sense if one excludes every other factor that causes poverty in the Third World - which, principally, is the lack of proper development.

Not only is Population Matters’ latest publication further proof of its misanthropy, it also highlights its extremely simplistic worldview: one where the world’s problems are solved by treating human beings as passive units on a spreadsheet which must be manipulated to fit a particular model, in this case the arbitrary number of people it has decided a particular country can support. Even Western development aid, as patronising, misguided, and ineffectual as it is, at least acknowledges that development is the best way to end poverty, in principle if not in practice. Population Matters does not recognise the material needs of the poor as valid; instead it sees such demands as a further drain on what it believes are our critically depleted resources.

There are many problems with Western aid to the Third World, but the people who receive it are not one of them.

Rossa Minogue is a documentary maker living in London.

comments powered by Disqus