The Populationist Case for Obama

September 7, 2008

With the conventions now behind us, the choice between the presidential candidates is clear. For those concerned about the effects of overpopulation, both home-grown and imported through free trade with overpopulated nations, the winner is Obama. I base this on the following analysis of the candidates’ positions:

  1. On the issue of reducing the birth rate to stabilize our population, neither candidate has a position. However, McCain has unwittingly come down on the wrong side of this issue by advocating a doubling of the tax deduction for dependent children. It’s a feature of the tax reduction part of his economic plan, but the effect would surely be to provide an incentive to boost the birth rate. This seems like a very odd approach to reducing taxes. Why not simply reduce the base rate, so that everyone at that income level benefits? Is it possible that a pro-population growth economist had a hand in crafting this policy? It seems quite possible. This policy is exactly the opposite of what I have recommended in Five Short Blasts, and is clearly a step backwards for those fighting overpopulation. Advantage: Obama
  2. See my previous post regarding the size of the candidates’ families. If something precipitates a catapulting of the overpopulation issue to national attention (as if it shouldn’t be a key focus already), which candidate is more likely to be receptive to the concept, and which will be a more credible leader on the issue – the candidate with seven children, or the one with two? Advantage: Obama
  3. Both candidates are on the wrong side of the immigration issue. Both favor what amounts to amnesty and guest worker programs, but supposedly only after the border has been secured. The Democrats have an especially bad record when it comes to favoring immigration to the detriment of American citizens. So Obama makes me nervous on this, but so too does McCain. Advantage: Neither
  4. This leaves the subject of trade. If you haven’t read Five Short Blasts, it may be difficult for you to understand the connection to overpopulation. I strongly encourage you to read it. Otherwise, you’ll just have to believe me when I say that our trade deficit is a direct result of attempting to trade freely with overpopulated nations. On this issue there is a very sharp contrast between the candidates. McCain has been very open and adamant about his belief in free trade and his plans to “open more markets,” as have other Republicans who have spoken on his behalf. Obama, on the other hand, blames our trade deficit for the loss of manufacturing jobs and has even vowed to scrap and renegotiate NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement). Advantage: Obama
  5. On the subject of breaking our dependence on foreign oil, both candidates recognize the need. McCain more strongly advocates drilling offshore and in ANWR (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) as a stop-gap measure while renewable energy is developed. Obama has expressed a willingness to consider more drilling, but not in ANWR. Neither candidate has acknowledge the necessity to even stabilize our population, much less reduce it, as a critical element of achieving energy independence. Advantage: Neither
  6. Both candidates acknowledge the problem of global warming and have promised action. But, for whatever reason, McCain has chosen a running mate who does not share this same belief. Given McCain’s age, it’s not a stretch to think that Palin may have to take over at some point. It would be an environmental disaster to have another administration that doesn’t “get it” on global warming. Biden, on the other hand, if he had to take over from Obama, shares his concern with global warming. Advantage: Obama

In summary, from a policy perspective, Obama has unwittingly made himself the clear choice of those concerned with overpopulation and its effects, both home-grown and imported.


McCain’s Choice of Sarah Palin

August 30, 2008

I’d like to weigh in with some preliminary thoughts about McCain’s VP pick, governor Sarah Palin of Alaska.  But, first of all, I’ve included a link above to a blog written by an Alaskan that contains some good information about Mrs. Palin.  The blogger seems to be biased toward the Democrats but it’s still interesting to hear his/her perspective.  It details an ongoing “scandal” that she’s embroiled in.  When I read the details of the “scandal” I had to laugh.  It pales in comparison to what’s happening here in southeast Michigan.  If that’s the worst someone can come up with on Palin, don’t bother me with it.

With that said, here’s how I see it.  I evaluate McCain’s choice on three issues:

  1. If she had to take over from McCain, what would her position be on population management, especially immigration?  It’s impossible to know at this point.  I doubt that the subject comes up much in Alaska politics.  But, being the governor of the least densely populated state in the nation, she’s probably clueless about the challenges presented by overpopulation and legal and illegal immigration.  A good indication is the fact that she doesn’t believe in global warming, a huge strike against her.  Even McCain has accepted that we need to act on this issue.  Why would he pick someone so out-of-touch on one of the most critical issues of our time, one that is exacerbated every day by further rampant population growth? 
  2. If she had to take over from McCain, what would be her position on trade and the trade deficit?  Again, it seems impossible to know.  I imagine that, for an Alaskan, the subject of the economy boils down to three things:  oil, oil and oil.  In that regard, I give her high marks for raising taxes on the oil companies to generate revenue for her state and to balance her budget, much to their chagrin.  Score one for fiscal responsibility and toughness.  But her husband is an oil company employee.  That will raise serious conflict of interest questions in any energy policy matters.  Also, I don’t like the fact that she favors drilling in ANWR.  I’ve come out in support of offshore drilling, but drilling in ANWR is where I draw the line.  The environmental risks are too great.  But, back to the original question, there’s no evidence yet to suggest what her attitudes are toward our trade deficit. 
  3. In general, is she ready to take over the presidency?  Some are saying that, even though she’s only been a governor for two years, she already has more “executive” experience that either Obama or Biden.  While technically true, I suppose, it’s ludicrous to suggest that such experience would prove more valuable than experience gained in the Senate.  Looking back at recent previous presidents, most had gubernatorial experiences.  Some were highly successful:  Reagan and Clinton (though I think Clinton was simply in the right place at the right time, at the dawn of the explosion in PC, internet and cell phone technology).  Some were abysmal failures:  Carter and George W. Bush.  So what makes a successful president vs. a failure?  I think it comes down primarily to intelligence, judgment, leadership and core values. 

So what does McCain’s choice say about him in this regard?  First of all, Palin was chosen for political reasons first, giving lower priority to what would be the best interest of the nation if something were to happen to McCain.  I don’t see her as ready to take the reins of the presidency and the free world.  This choice was obviously made in a play for disaffected Hillary voters and to shore up McCain’s shaky standing with the right wing of the party, especially pro-lifers and guns rights advocates.  But if McCain really wanted to attract the female vote, especially disaffected Hillary voters, why not choose another woman who’s more qualified, like Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the senator from Texas?  I think this play will backfire, insulting Hillary supporters with the thinking that they’ll vote for anything wearing a skirt (or a pantsuit).  If it’s pro-lifers and gun rights advocates he’s after, there are plenty of choices much more qualified to lead the nation.  And what will happen when Palin is stood up next to Biden in a debate? 

This just seems like a really weird pick and calls into question McCain’s judgment, one of the key character traits that should be factored into our choice for president.  I am reminded of Ross Perot’s choice of admiral what’s-his-name (the name escapes me) as his running mate.  It completely destroyed whatever credibility Perot had.  The admiral’s performance in the VP debate was one of the most embarrassing moments in modern political history.  Perhaps Palin will prove me wrong.  Perhaps she has the makings of an incredible leader.  But that’s not a risk I’d be willing to take.