Can you guess which future president expressed these views in 1970?
"No one can honestly say how many people this earth of ours, with its finite resources, can accommodate," he said. "But, it seems to me a fair judgement to say that the present rates of population growth and demand for resources have proved too rapid for our technology to improve the quality of life that we in America expect for all our citizens."
"We, in America, have our own population problems and the time for facing up to these problems is now," he said. "Our cities are decaying, too many American lack proper food and nutrition, our transportation facilities are failing to meet the demands of urbanization, and as we crank up our technology to solve these problems we unwittingly despoil our air, water, land, and oceans."
"We do need more public awareness that a national goal to stabilize our population is desirable, that a two-child family is a worthwhile consideration for all American parents offering benefits to both the family and the society as a whole," he said.
"By the end of this decade," he said, "family planning and birth control should be as important to every parent as the family budget."
So said then-Rep. George H.W. Bush (R.-Texas) in a speech delivered on the House floor on July 8, 1970.
Bush had chaired a group called the "Republican Task Force on Human Resources and Population." He published its report in the Congressional Record.
One section dealt specifically with what it perceived as the population problem.
"The paramount question deals with an optimum human population," it said. "How many people is too many people in relation to available resources? No one seems to honestly know but many believe that our current environmental problems indicate that the optimum level has been surpassed. A fair analysis would seem to be that our population and consumption rates have grown more rapidly than our ability to develop and supply the resources being consumed while protecting our environment."
What solution did the task force foresee?
"The Task Force is committed to the development of a national population policy," said its report. "We believe education, family planning services, contraceptive research and development as well as transportation, and community planning and development should be important components of such a policy."
If science was being harnessed to stop people from dying, they argued, why not use it to stop people from being born?
"Death tolls have been reduced in every country to negligible rates from epidemics and disease such as malaria, measles, small-pox, cholera, polio, and tuberculosis; major advances have been made against heart disease and cancer, artificial organs can now prolong life," said the report.
"Since we accept these intrusions into nature's control of population as morally justified, are we not unwise to consider birth control with equal moral justification?" it said.
"If we continue to support government activities to reduce disease and improve health in order to prolong life under the auspices of what is good for society," it said, "then should we not consider birth control as a government activity for similar reasons?"
Four months later, Bush was back on the House floor to promote his bill that created the Title X program to federally fund contraception.
"Congress had, at last, begun to recognize that population is a problem that must be reckoned with," Bush said.
Two other Republicans who served on Bush's task force emphasized this point.
"Estimates have been made by reliable authorities that by the year 2000 our population in the United States will reach 300 million," said Rep. Tim Lee Carter, R.-Ky.
"It is entirely possible," Carter said, "that productivity in a nation even as wealthy as ours may not rise sufficiently to properly feed, clothe, and care for this gigantic increase. The quality of life could well be diminished."
Rep. Frank Horton, R.-N.Y., pointed to what he called the "impending disaster."
"Through our research and the testimony of experts who have appeared at our hearings, the members of the task force have been convinced of the monumental and devastating effects of our current rate of population growth," said Horton.
"In the light of this impending disaster, and the knowledge of many unwanted pregnancies, the need for better family planning services is acutely obvious," he said.
Forty-nine years have passed since Congress enacted Bush's "family planning" law.
In 1970, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10.7 percent of the babies born in the United States were born to unmarried mothers. In 2017, it was 39.8 percent.
Did "family planning" improve?
In the 1970 census, the U.S. population was 203,302,031. Currently, according to the Census Bureau's estimate, it is 329,474,092 — or about 62 percent more than it was when Congress enacted the family planning law.
In the second quarter of 1970, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the gross domestic product was $4.9436 trillion in constant 2012 dollars. By the second quarter of 2019, it had grown to $19.0238 trillion in constant 2012 dollars.
In the second quarter of 1970, that GDP equaled $24,316.53 per capita in constant 2012 dollars. In 2019, it equaled $57,739.89.
An America with more people is creating more wealth per person.
Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of CNSnews.com. To find out more about him, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
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