Humanitarians: please spare us humans

What will emerge from a secret meeting of American billionaires about reducing population in the Third World?
Bill Muehlenberg | 27 May 2009
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I am not a fan of conspiracy theories. I do not believe that there is a monolithic cabal plotting to take over planet earth. But plenty of energetic people are hatching grandiose schemes. And when you put a bunch of these folks in the same room behind closed doors you end up with trouble.

Of course they have the good of humanity at heart. But history shows that there exist plenty of humanity-hating humanitarians. Unfortunately, new examples are not hard to come by. The latest is a gathering reported in the London Sunday Times. Some of America’s leading billionaires met for a private powwow in Manhattan on May 5 at the home of Sir Paul Nurse, a British Nobel prize biochemist and president of the private Rockefeller University. It was so hush-hush that some of their aides were told that they were attending a "security briefing".

Here is how the Sunday Times describes the meeting: "The philanthropists who attended a summit convened on the initiative of Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, discussed joining forces to overcome political and religious obstacles to change. Described as the Good Club by one insider, it included David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of America’s wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey."

The chief issue, at the suggestion of Bill Gates, was "overpopulation". The article ends this way: "Another guest said there was ‘nothing as crude as a vote’ but a consensus emerged that they would back a strategy in which population growth would be tackled as a potentially disastrous environmental, social and industrial threat. ‘This is something so nightmarish that everyone in this group agreed it needs big-brain answers,’ said the guest. ‘They need to be independent of government agencies, which are unable to head off the disaster we all see looming.’ Why all the secrecy? ‘They wanted to speak rich to rich without worrying anything they said would end up in the newspapers, painting them as an alternative world government,’ he said."

Indeed. So how exactly does our alternative world government intend to "overcome political and religious obstacles"? Will Bill Gates apply the ruthless monopolistic business strategies he perfected at Microsoft to reduce the population of developing countries? What pressure will the world’s richest man apply to his opponents to persuade them to follow Netscape into oblivion?

Gates and the others are probably still formulating their tactics. The billionaires each had 15 minutes to present their favourite cause. These included such ideas as supervising aid spending, and setting up rural schools and water systems. Over dinner they tried to settle upon an "umbrella cause" which would includes all of their interests. "Taking their cue from Gates," reports the Sunday Times, "they agreed that overpopulation was a priority." However, this could rattle "some Third World politicians" who are old-fashioned enough to think that "contraception and female education weaken traditional values".

Is it only Third World politicians who think that contraception weakens traditional values? How about the rest of us?

Isn’t fertility a personal decision? As population expert Steven Mosher asks, "What happens when governments, often in response to pressure from abroad, attempt to directly regulate the fertility of their people? Both humans rights and primary health care, it turns out, tend to suffer setbacks. Urging governments to interfere in the intimate decisions of couples concerning childbearing does not encourage limited government and the rule of law, but their opposite, an intrusive bureaucracy and human rights abuses. Nor does concentrating scarce health care resources on fertility reduction programs lead to improvements in the general state of health of a population."

As Mosher argues in his important book, Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits,, "For over half century, the population controllers have perpetrated a gigantic, costly and inhumane fraud upon the human race, defrauding the people of the developing world of their progeny and the people of the developed world of their pocketbooks."

Of course fat cat elites will suffer nothing from such programs, just the poor and voiceless. But never mind, it is for the good of humanity.

Bill Muehlenberg is a lecturer in ethics and philosophy at several Melbourne theological colleges and a PhD candidate at Deakin University.

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