Defunding the terror: Population control and the 1996 budget
by David Morrison
Letters to the Editor
The Washington Post
May 2, 1996
Perhaps it is because Herblock’s cartoons so often earn a chuckle that I grieve when he gets an issue so wrong. His sketch of 1 May under the headline "that kind of natural population control saves us several dollars" contains a sort of insane iconography, depicting the Congress and taxpayers of the United States as somehow staving off starvation, disease and war with the money they contribute to contraceptive programming each year. Really, I would expect such an experienced
cartoonist to pursue a deeper understanding of the issue before he puts pen to paper.
Contrary to Herblock’s characterization, population control does not lead to vast decreases in starvation, disease and war. Human failings of greed, poor distribution
of resources and aggression rest at the roots of these problems and those faults do
not necessarily diminish with thwarted fertility. Indeed, the greatest incidents of starvation in the twentieth century have had nothing to do with population but have been purely man-made, created, in some cases, by governments against their own people. Likewise disease does not favor only tightly populated regions but visits the sparsely settled as well, while wars plague wide-open spaces as well as crowded ones.
If Herblock had bothered to look more deeply into the issue of population control he would have drawn the cartoon a little differently. Instead of a crowd of humanity
haunted by death he would have drawn an Asian, Hispanic or African pregnant woman held captive with her husband by two soldiers with guns. A crude surgeon would await them while two plump congressman patted themselves on the back. "Don’t worry," the caption would read, "even with the cut we can still make our targets." Coercion, not humanitarianism, undergirds population control efforts around the world, and the sooner Herblock and other Americans understand this the better off thousands of people in the developing world will be.
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