Calabamat is proposing some kind of eugenics (I would link, but someone seems to have omitted to do so, and I can't find the blog. UPDATE: thanks to Mr E, here's the original post).
The problem is that stupid people who have children often have stupid children, because intelligence is largely inherited. Then these stupid children often end up being in the 20% of people at the bottom of society who are functionally illiterate. OK, many people who’re illiterate could be literate if the education system was better, but they’re still going to be a bit thick, and so they’re unlikely to be suitable to do work in the high technology sectors of industry that the Britidh economy is going to increasingly rely on.
So it seems to me that it could be very beneficial to society if the state did control, at least to some extent, human reproduction. (And in fact it does already, for example it says that people who are under 16 aren’t allowed to have sex, nor are people who are close kin allowed to marry each other. So if you’re in principle against laws that say who can reproduce and with whom, then to be consistent you would have to oppose all such laws.)
I’m talking about a very “light touch” form of state control here. I propose that the least intelligent 20% of the population be discouraged from breeding. I’m agnostic how we would define who falls in this category — maybe it could be an IQ test, or be determined by educational qualifications, or a simple test of basic literacy. Whatever scheme is used, one must bear in mind that people will try to game the system. (By the way, I’m not claiming that IQ tests are a particularly good way of measuring intelligence — I don’t think they are — but I do think they’d be good enough for our purpose.)
What sort of “discouragement” do I have in mind? For example, we could tell stupid women that getting pregnant will not get them a council house, nor would they get child benefit. Stronger discouragement, such as compulsory sterilisation, would be counter-productive since most people would find it morally repugnant.
As well as discouraging the least intelligent from breeding, the state could intervene at the top end too, by having a pool of sperm and egg donors, who would all be of high intelligence, in good mental and physical health, and not genetically prone to diseases. British people come in a wide variety of races, and we’d want our donors to reflect tihs diversity, so parents can have kids that look like they could be genetically theirs.
People who’re infertile would be able to make use of this pool, without cost, but so would the wider population too and it’s quite likely there would be significant take-up. After all, many parents have told me how clever their children are, but no-one has ever bragged to me about how stupid their kids are, so I conclude that many parents want to have clever kids. Come to think of it, no-one’s ever bragged to me about how ugly their kids are either, so we could put physical beauty on the list of desirable attributes for the sperm/egg donor scheme.
In fact, under this scheme, there’d be no reason to prevent/discourage the least intelligent 20% from having children — merely ones that carry their genes. And any two humans are 99.9% genetically identical anyway, so their children would carry 99.9% of their genes anyway.
Timmy is as outraged as I have ever seen him, and opines thusly...
This idea of egg and sperm donation is missing the whole damn point about evolution. It doesn’t work at the species level (nor even more absurdly the national). Each and every one of us is the result of individuals (over a 3 billion year time span to boot) attempting, and for those of us here of course, succeeding, in passing on their own genes. Not the genes of the species, nor those of closely allied species or even people. But of the genes of those parents.
That’s why eugenics of this sort is repugnant: because it runs counter to the most basic motivation for the having of children there is. To have one’s own children.
Put it another way around. Someone is seriously suggesting that the poor and dim should labour all their lives to rear the children of the rich and bright.
OK, let us lay down a few very simple rules.
First, the human race is outside evolution. Evolution, as we understand it, does not happen spontaneously. Mutations happen spontaneously, yes; evolution does not. Why?
Because (roughly speaking) mutations are disadvantageous; those that have an advantage do so because the environment changes and thus equips the creature in question to survive better than the rest of the population. For the mutation to survive, it has to be brought out through fortunate breeding (provided that breeding is possible).
Evolution happens through the process of natural selection; in order for natural selection to occur, previously fitter members of the population have to be selected against (or the mutation has to have a breeding advantage—which often means a survival advantage) over the others in the society.
For this to happen, there needs to be a change of environment and this is the nub of the problem: we humans create our own environment. Those who would otherwise die without breeding—those with mental illnesses, cystic fibrosis, other genetic diseases, etc. etc.—no longer do so. We take care of the sick; medicine and social awareness keep the genetically "weak" alive and breeding.
Indeed, our Welfare State ensures that those who are stupid and lazy, ill and unfit are not only maintained in life, but also able to breed. Indeed, we encourage them to breed through child benefit payments, housing and other such bribes.
Human beings are, by and large, no longer affected by selection pressure and so are outside evolution.
So, whilst Timmy is right in that our biological urges provide the driving force for procreation, it is not this that, in an entirely rational person, leads to a better society.
The real point here is that the only reason that someone like Calabamat can call for a programme of eugenics and be in any way justified is because people are no longer called upon to look after their own children: we are. And by "we", I mean the rest of society.
Having a child in our society—whilst the urge might be driven by selfish genetics—it is no longer required that you actually care for your child. So, remove all child benefits and we will no longer be able to call for such restrictions.
As I have pointed out before, whilst we are supported (even potentially, e.g. the NHS) by the state, then you must obey the state—you and your life belongs to the state.
But, since the state has no money but what it takes from us, you must also allow that those who pay for your child (whether you want the money or not) can propose that you are not allowed to have a child.
Both sides in this debate are misguided, because both sides are assuming forces that no longer exist. However, repugnant though I find his ideas, Calabamat is actually more right than Timmy: whilst we all pay for the children born into this society, we have a stake in those children's lives.
Remove the forced funding of those children, however, and you remove the right of other people in society to dictate what or who those children should be.
UPDATE: The Elusive Pimpernel weighs in...
I firmly believe that the decision to have a child should lie with the parents. But having a child is not a right - by which I mean its not the job of the state to provide funds for the basic environment - food, clothing and shelter.
If prospective parents can’t afford to provide those things themselves then I for one would hope that they’d think twice before bringing a child into the world. To do otherwise is, in my opinion, irresponsible and, frankly, a failure at the first hurdle. They are putting themselves before the child and it's an indication that they are not yet ready to raise a child responsibly.