I rented Idiocracy, Night at the Museum, and Thank You for Smoking last night. Night at the Museum was really fun, but I expected it to be; I suggest people see Thank You for Smoking, because it's very funny and good. Idiocracy, though, was interesting not because the movie itself was good-- it was kind of moronic most of the time. But it had an interesting idea behind it-- that in the future, people will be less intelligent because natural selection no longer applies and the intelligent people don't breed as much.
The problem was, I watched it with my parents (it wasn't my idea, they sort of decided they were going to watch it with me) and Daddy spent the whole time mocking my taste in movies. Despite the fact that I had no idea what the content was like before I saw it, I mean, I didn't expect it to be riddled with literary references but I didn't realize just how idiotic the future-society was going to be.
Anyway, then afterwards we were discussing the population explosion, and how the way to fix the problem presented by the movie should not be for the educated people to have more children, but for everyone else to have less. Mummy then said that she could be excused for having three children instead of just replacing herself and Daddy on the grounds that my uncle is childless, so I laughed at her (it's okay, she was joking anyway) and tried to explain to Mummy the concept of Quiverfull. Daddy then interrupted and said, "Oh, that sounds like the Catholics."
"No, it's actually the Protestants," I replied, "See, it's--"
"That's not a Protestant idea."
"Well, yeah, it--"
"Nope. Catholics. Protestants aren't the ones overbreeding."
"It's just a group of Pro--"
"That's no Protestant group I've ever heard of."
At this point I was very frustrated, because a) Quiverfull is most DEFINITELY Protestant, Catholics allow natural family planning and Quiverfillers don't; besides, they're Protestant in origin; and also, of course Daddy's not that exposed to Quiverfull philosophy, he's Congregationalist and that's as 2 kids and a dog New Englander as you get (That's not an insult, Congregationalism is one of the Christian groups I like best on the grounds that they've usually read the Bible, or at least the SparkNotes version). Anyway, I was more than a little irritated that Daddy was basically accusing me of lying about something that it would be pointless to lie about. Finally I told him to just LET ME FINISH and I explained the Quiverfull idea to Mummy, and he said, "Oh, that's like southern Baptists, they're not really Protestants."
Anyway, he proceeded to say, "Either way, it's their right, they can do whatever they want as long as they aren't hurting anyone."
So I pointed out that the population is currently 6.6 billion on a planet that can really only sustain about 1 billion, and that we will eventually run out of arable land even if we DON'T increase the population.
"Don't be ridiculous," he scoffed, "There's tons of land lying fallow in the US right now because the crops won't sell."
"Okay, so the US might be okay," I replied. "At least for a while. But what about all the other countries, like on other continents? I mean, Africa's environment wasn't really designed to sustain cash crops."
"Africa's famine problems have nothing to do with the land, it's just that they have government problems. I mean, they used to farm there all the time. It's just that the farmers don't understand crop rotation."
"No, they farmed for a few decades, the land dried up and died or lost the essential nutrients needed to sustain the crops, and the Europeans moved on to new land." (Keep in mind I was stammering through all of this, so it didn't sound very powerful).
"You have no idea what you're talking about. All of Africa's problems stem from the fact that they have poor leadership. With the right techniques they would be fine. I mean, the land had all those rich rain forests, of course they can support crops."
"Totally different set of nutrients and distribution of them though the soil, Daddy. If sub-Saharan Africa was so ideal for farming, why didn't the Africans have large-scale farming before the Europeans came?"
"There was agriculture for centuries in Africa. The problems with the land are recent developments. You just aren't going back far enough."
"I'm talking about BEFORE THE EUROPEANS CAME. I'm going back tens of thousands of years, how far back are YOU going?"
"Look, people have been saying we'll all die out in fifty years for centuries, and it hasn't come true yet. Look at Malthus."
"He had a point, he just didn't take into account other factors, like technology. The fact that he thought the end was coming like a century ago doesn't mean that it's not coming eventually. We can't sustain our current population growth forever. At 10 billion it will become impossible to sustain ourselves unless we get some incredible technological marvels in the meantime."
At this point my dad just shook his head. "Where are you getting your information from? It's ludicrous."
I raised my eyebrows and retorted, "The latest biological and ecological studies, as learned about in my classes at school, you?"
I really, really wanted him to say something about the corn industry or something, but he just shook his head and went off about how short-sighted I was and how I was underestimating the human race, and I was just getting madder because every time the human race fixes it's problems it creates three more for it's kids and twenty-five for every other species. So I gave up, said, "You know what, I can't talk to you about this, I'm done" and left the room.
My dad's Libertarian and into personal responsibility. I am too. The difference is, he figures "if it doesn't hurt anyone but yourself immediately it doesn't hurt anyone but yourself," and I think about the long-term effects of things. And not just long-term in one person's lifespan, which he sometimes does consider. Really long-term. He sees no problem in people having 20 kids because that's their right and they aren't breaking any laws, and they're only hurting themselves. I think first of the fact that the kids might be harmed, but I'm willing to admit that the brainwashing most Quiverfull kids get is the same as they would get if they were raised by non-Quiverfull fundies, and a lot of kids from ultra-conservative backgrounds turn out okay. More importantly I think of the fact that they're both contributing to the over-religiousification of America, by outbreeding the people (like my dad, come to think of it) who want separation of church and state, and they're causing the drastic overpopulation of our planet thanks to the fact that Darwin still hasn't produced a sufficiently dangerous predator to slim down our numbers. So yeah, I'd say they're hurting people.
Do I think having kids should be illegal? Of course not. But I'm a firm believer in a two-child limit, which, combined with the fact that many people don't have kids, would slowly decrease the population (but this can't be done just by the US, it would have to be done by everyone, and would be hard to enforce either way-- yeah, I'm not stupid enough to think it would work, don't worry). Me? I will give birth to ONE child, if all goes according to plan. That way I get to experience the miracle of childbirth and pass on my genes and blah blah blah. Then, because I am also a firm believer in sibling-less children being a VERY BAD IDEA, I will adopt one or two extra kids who need homes.
Do my part to decrease the population AND take care of the abandoned loinspawn of people who aren't doing their parts? That ought to make up for the fact that I fought with my dad on Father's Day.