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NE Academic Urges US to Enforce Mandatory One-Child Policy

Image: NE Academic Urges US to Enforce Mandatory One-Child Policy
A print of the painting by Zhang Xiaogang, Bloodline – Big Family: Family No.2,used to advertise the upcoming Sotherby's Hong Kong 2012 (Antony Dickson/AFP/Getty IMages) 

By    |   Tuesday, 03 Nov 2015 06:49 PM

A Bowdoin College professor says Americans have no "moral right" to have more than one child in their families.

In an op-ed published Monday in the Boston Globe, Sarah Conly, an associate professor of philosophy at the Brunswick, Maine, liberal arts college, regrets China's recent decision to do away with its one-child per family law and urges America to adopt the policy, saying, "[g]iven the [environmental] damage we are causing, and the suffering we foresee for all those who live after us, it is clear that having more than one child is just something that none of us — Chinese or American — has a moral right to do."

Conly sees world population figures as a continuing growing problem, and says Americans must be re-conditioned to see having more than one child in a family as a planetary "risk."

"It’s new for us to think of something as immediately joyful as childbearing as harmful, and it’s hard to change our ideas when we are confronted with new circumstances," she writes. "This is natural. Natural, but dangerous. We’re in a different world, a world of 7.3 billion and counting, and we need to recognize that and act accordingly.

"The job of government is not just to give present citizens anything they may want, but to pave the way for a prosperous, stable society for future citizens. Any kind of one-child policy will be unattractive, but the alternative looks to be worse."

Her argument is in stark opposition to published warnings that an aging population in a United States hampered by sub-replacement fertility figures poses serious economic and cultural problems for the immediate future.

"According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, America's total fertility rate today is 1.93 and hasn't been above the replacement rate in a sustained way since the early 1970s," Newsmax reported in 2013.

Conly states in her opinion piece that a one-child policy can be implemented without falling back on the horrific enforcement measures that were pursued in China for decades, such as forced abortions and sterilization of women. If an enforcement protocol needed to be developed, she argues for financial penalties.

"[I]f we ever did discover that we needed sanctions to get people to refrain from having an unsustainable number of children, they wouldn’t be physical in nature. Fines may be the best way to go, and again, there is reason to think suitable fines, fixed on a sliding scale relative to income, can be effective — not 100 percent effective, which no regulation ever is, but effective enough."

Conly wrote a 2013 book published by the prestigious Cambridge University Press titled "Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism." A description of the book on Cambridge's website says, " Sarah Conly rejects the idea of autonomy as inviolable. Drawing on sources from behavioural economics and social psychology, she argues that we are so often irrational in making our decisions that our autonomous choices often undercut the achievement of our own goals. Thus in many cases it would advance our goals more effectively if government were to prevent us from acting in accordance with our decisions."

The book listing notes that "Against Autonomy" was praised by former Obama administration official Cass Sunstein, as "… careful, provocative, and novel, and it is a fundamental challenge to [philosopher John Stuart] Mill and the many people who follow him…."

Sunstein served as President Barack Obama's Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009-2012.

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A Bowdoin College professor says Americans have no moral right to have more than one child in their families. In an op-ed published Monday in the Boston Globe, Sarah Conly, an associate professor of philosophy at the Brunswick, Maine, liberal arts college, regrets China's...
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