Mothers Betrayed

An exhausted young woman tells me that she must be a bad mother. In her mind, good mothers feel joy, not despair. I assure her that she is not to blame; she has been betrayed. Capitalism celebrates mothers in theory and deprives them in practice.

Across the globe, malnutrition and lack of medical care cause more than three million babies to die at birth every year. Every year, more than half a million women die in pregnancy or childbirth, and millions more are crippled.

Poverty and inequality cause most maternal deaths. In 2000, the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 women was 2 in Sweden, 17 in the United States, 330 in Asia, and 920 in Sub-Saharan Africa. If any nation can lower the maternal death rate to 2 per 100,000 women, then that should be the expected standard everywhere.

In the United States, mothers get little or no support. The arrival of a child turns life upside down. Frequent night feedings exhaust parents who are expected to work the next day. Despite talk about “family values,” Americans are not entitled to paid parental leave.

Financial uncertainty adds to physical and emotional stress. Family expenses rise at the same time that the mother’s pay check is reduced or discontinued. How long can a new mom afford to stay off work? Will she lose her job? Will she find another one? Will there be affordable childcare? Americans are not entitled to childcare support.

Lack of social support causes more women to be hospitalized for psychiatric problems around the time of childbirth than at any other time in their lives.

About 85 percent of new mothers experience “baby blues,” the fatigue, sadness and irritability that commonly follow childbirth or adoption. From 10 to 17 percent of new moms suffer clinical depression due to changing hormones, sleep deprivation, social isolation, financial stress, a difficult or traumatic birth, difficulties breast feeding, low social support, financial problems, inadequate housing and relationship problems.

Approximately one in 800 new mothers develops full-blown psychosis. In Texas, Andrea Yates suffered from hallucinations that compelled her to murder her five children. In Toronto, a family doctor jumped in front of a train, killing herself and her infant son.

Society demands that mothers manage without support. When they cannot cope, they are presumed to be inadequate. Postpartum depression and psychosis are under-recognized and under-treated because most women feel too ashamed to seek help.

Every child is a gift to humanity. Yet, lack of social support makes the child-raising years the most stressful for men and women. Parents of both sexes suffer more depression than non-parents.

This is the heartless reality behind celebrations of Mother’s Day. Talk is cheap. Parents and children have a right to real social support. Cards and flowers are not enough.

Susan Rosenthal is a socialist, retired physician, union member, and the author of Sick and Sicker: Essays on Class, Health and Health Care (2010), and Power and Powerlessness (2006). She recently launched ReMarx Publishing. She can be reached through her web site or by email: susan@susanrosenthal.com. Read other articles by Susan.

58 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Edwin Pell said on May 5th, 2008 at 10:55am #

    We are experiencing the return to normal. The past three hundred years have been the exception. We expect all born children to live to a ripe old age. But in order to have a stable population (number of people) one of the following must happen: we decide to limit reproduction to two children per couple or we return to the four horsemen (war, disease, starvation, and pollution inducted death). Yes there are cases of greed where a better distribution of resources would fix various problem for a while but the root issue is over population.

  2. Edwin Pell said on May 5th, 2008 at 11:03am #

    In response to the second half of the article support of new mothers. The traditional support is husband and grandparents. It would be wise for women to avoid child bearing without first arranging the support of a husband or whatever individual or group of individuals to support her. In an age of overpopulation I see no good reason for society to encourage reproduction with free handouts.

  3. Susan Rosenthal said on May 5th, 2008 at 11:17am #

    You are blaming people for the problems of a social system that they didn’t choose and which doesn’t serve their needs.

    If social resourcrs were shared, instead of being hoarded by the elite, there would be more than enough to go around. There aren’t too many people in the world, there is too much INEQUALITY.

    A wealthy nation with a bottomless purse for war must be held accountable for its shameful neglect of women and children.

    Society benefits from the work that parents do to raise the next generation, and society should support their efforts in every way possible.

  4. Erik Rose said on May 5th, 2008 at 11:38am #

    The world is a cruel place! I must agree with Mr. Pell. The decision to reproduce ought to be looked at more critically. Our species seems to have forgotten that it is only a small part of Nature. We seem to view reproduction as a “right” that is unconnected to Nature. If a woman choses to reproduce in an environment devoid of nutrition, clean water or medical care she has made a very poor moral choice, both for herself and her child.

    Other species have a remedy for over-reproduction . . . they eat their young in order to sustain the viable mother. There is nothing immoral about it, animals are amoral.

    Apparently, a Swedish woman is making a better moral choice when she chooses to reproduce than a woman in Sub-Saharan Africa is. Perhaps African mothers ought to slow down their reproduction to better fit their available resources.

    I am a 43 year old white male with ZERO PROGENY. I have decided that bringing even one more person into this world is immoral. More people ought to think before they procreate. We’d all be better for it.

    Erik Rose

  5. Susan Rosenthal said on May 5th, 2008 at 11:57am #

    I can’t imagine any other species displaying the blatent self-hatred expressed by the previous commentators.

    Without reproduction, our species would cease to exist. Some people have no problem with that, but most of us do.

    An African mother has just as much right to bear children as a Swedish mother. And she would have the resources to do so if Africa had not been plundered of its wealth for centuries!

    The people responsible for this travesty are rich beyond imagining, and no one is suggesting that they have fewer children. Only the poor are admonished, as if their poverty were a personal defect. It’s not.

    Poor people are created when rich people hoard the social wealth.

    How easy it is to blame the victim! How totally WRONG.

  6. evie said on May 5th, 2008 at 12:23pm #

    As mother of 5 and grandmother of 7 I have to say I agree with all that expressed by previous commentators which you label as “self-hatred.”

    In our family we call it “planning.” Education, career, 2 parents, home, before bringing children into the picture. I believe it’s also sometimes referred to as responsible.

    Another thing – neither myself nor family members have suffered from “postpartum depression” – another one of those maladies to have struck epidemically in the last 30 years and which Big Pharma has just the cure, Fukitol at 150 mg b.i.d.

    The “left” whines, defends, supports, and encourages pointless breeding just so the “right” can house them in 18 or so years, or create foundations to “save” them. It’s a racket. Heaven forbid we educate people, as educated people tend to have fewer children and not fall victim to the racketeers.

  7. bozhidar balkas said on May 5th, 2008 at 1:56pm #

    one does not flog blind horse for eating some dung along with weeds and a few straws.
    women (mothers) and most of us have been fed dung/weeds/hay for at least 15td yrs.
    the ruling class possibly everywhere, trains children be obedient and faithful to “dear” leader or leaders; aka, patritiotism, religion, greed, competition, meritocracy, etc.
    how can it get worse for children that to be rated A,B, C , etc. it fosters hatred, envy, anger, etc.
    that’s what ruling class wants: us to be forever against one another.
    if that is not bad enough, we have religions, some of the greatest anenmies of woman- and mankind.
    thank u.

  8. Annie said on May 5th, 2008 at 2:22pm #

    Okay, say we learn from our past mistakes, and no one breeds irresponsibly ever again. How do we address the issue at hand today? That is ,that lots of people with children (all over the world) are indeed in a pickle. Women and men in Zambia and the United States and France and have met, fallen in love, and have procreated, they hope that their children will grow up and change the world, make it a better place. I know that’s what I hope for my own children. I agree with Ms. Rosenthal, the greed of a few impacts the lives of many. How can we help those parents today?

  9. Erik Rose said on May 5th, 2008 at 4:08pm #

    I am, by world standards [and probably any standard], rich beyond belief. I have given the idea of procreation considerable thought and have come to a rational decision. I have decided that the world does not need another mouth to feed! Even right here in wealthy San Francisco, CA!

    My heart used to ache when I saw those starving and malnourished African children on TV. I now find solace in the fact that they will not reach a reproductive age in order to beget yet another generation of suffering. No amount of aid can make crops grow in the sand. That is a sad fact, but nonetheless, a fact.

    Here is another sad fact, malnourished children’s brains never fully develop. These children will be incapable of reason and, therefore, will continue to procreate without regard to their surroundings. Vicious circle [cycle?], yes, but like I said, we live in a cruel world!

    When I witness incredibly stupid [mostly] religious people having 8-14 children, I say these very words, sometimes aloud: “What hubris!” These idiots think that they are so fucking special that they feel the need to litter MY world with 14 stupid fucks just like themselves! Stop your littering!

    When I hear that someone I know is having children, I say these very words, sometimes aloud: “Very Bold!” Certainly, they must know something that I don’t because they think it a good idea to bring another human being into this cesspool of a world.

    Perhaps procreation shouldn’t enjoy the universal approval which it now does. If you are rich or poor, intelligent or stupid, perhaps you ought to give this some thought: perhaps the world will be just fine without a bunch more of YOU running around!

    As for the author’s claim that “[w]ithout reproduction, our species would cease to exist,” I can think of literally 50 things that will snuff out our existence well before any shortage due to lack of procreation. You needn’t worry about that one, trust me.

    I take it as axiomatic that they “haves” have too much. That is beyond dispute. But consider what you are asking the rest of us to do. You want those millions of children to reach reproductive age so that they can insure that there will be tens of millions of new hungry mouths to feed. Is this sound thinking? Is this rational?

    As for my hatred of our species . . . what is it that you are so proud of, Ms. Rosenthal? What is it that makes our species so special that nature need take no heed? What makes me better than a bear, or a lion. In the real world, the one where nature is at work, if you are the runt in the litter and your Lion mom needs a meal, well, I rest my case.

    Erik Rose
    Proud Parent to zero offspring!

  10. Annie said on May 5th, 2008 at 4:28pm #

    A little piece of my soul just died.

  11. Erik Rose said on May 5th, 2008 at 4:36pm #

    Oh Annie, don’t hide behind your “soul!” If you disagree, do so! It’s healthy[dare I say it] for the soul!

    Here is a question for you: “Why is it so difficult to adopt a child, and yet so easy to have one that you have no chance of providing for?”

    Wouldn’t that be putting the proverbial horse before the cart? All of the questions that a pertinent during the adoption “inquisition” are equally pertinent before the child is born, aren’t they?

    Erik Rose

  12. Annie said on May 5th, 2008 at 5:07pm #

    I already disagreed a few comments ago. But your “soul” comment did make me giggle. I thought you were going to insist that souls are make-believe. My family is actually in the process of adopting one of those “starving African children.” And I’m not really sure what you mean about undeveloped brains. She is 8 years old, as poor as poor can be and she speaks 3 languages. How about you?

  13. Raven said on May 5th, 2008 at 7:21pm #

    If parents are working long and hard hours, every single day, throughout their children’s lives to make ends meet, then they don’t have the time to monitor their children. Who does this happen to? Uh, poor people. When the children aren’t given adequate attention or educated in their teenage years, then they go looking for that attention somewhere else. Then what happens? They create a baby to fill that void of the love that wasn’t present by the parents that had to work long hours to keep a roof over their heads and food in their mouths. Now, those children have their own children to feed, and give up an education to work and take care of more children that will grow up to be unintentionally neglected- thus, the vicious cycle continues.

    This is the plight of the poverty-stricken society. “Rich” people can admonish the poor all they want and say, “well, the world is overpopulated” and all that nonsense, because they were educated on such choices, and didn’t have to think about having a baby. Live a day in these kids’ lives, take a look at how lonely they grow up without parents there to talk to, and consider how a baby will look to a 16-year-old girl that wants someone to love her unconditionally. Look at the “fast” girls in high school that sleep with a whole bunch of guys because Daddy wasn’t home enough to give her the love she needed. Think of all the17-year-old boy that sneaks girls into his house since no one is home, and doesn’t use protection because no one told him that he should.

    If you choose to not have children, then hey, good for you. With the attitudes that are expressed here, it’s better for you not to have children- you’re far too selfish to think beyond yourself anyway. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a family- it becomes wrong when you realize that the system has made it impossible for people that aren’t “rich” to do so.

    I suppose some of you are for forcing birth control on the poor then, right?

  14. Annie said on May 5th, 2008 at 8:12pm #

    Go Raven!

  15. Lloyd Rowsey said on May 5th, 2008 at 9:16pm #

    Thanks for this, SR. And I hope I’m not changing the subject from the political to the personal when I recommend Arthur Silber’s original and insightful essays on Alice Miller, which can be found at:

    http://thesacredmoment.blogspot.com/2006/02/essays-based-on-work-of-alice-miller.html

  16. Deadbeat said on May 5th, 2008 at 9:40pm #

    Ms. Rosenthal is correct. Notice that when the discussion is about the poor they tend to be brown and black. Thus this talk about “overpopulation” has a RACIST tinge to it and blames — negro — for procreating.

    The richer nations are more wasteful of resource thus the child in a rich nation will consume more of the world resources than a poor child. Which mean that the rich nation procreation is more “irresponsible”.

    The real problem is capitalism and the mal-distribution of wealth and resources. However I don’t think that the rich nations are ready to share their ill-gotten gains.

  17. evie said on May 5th, 2008 at 9:55pm #

    Oh stop the silly drama. What 17 y/o doesn’t know what “protection” is? Sex ed and health classes begin long before that age, and commercials for condoms and birth control and Girls Gone Wild. Teens today know more about sex and reproduction than any previous generation.

    Money is not the driving factor behind being a good parent – there are poor people raising good children and there are “rich” people raising cruel village idiots, case in point GWB.

    Poorly parented, lonely girls and bored boys with teen angst is no excuse for careless procreation, especially more than once.

    Responsible childbearing is caring for everyone – yourself, the child, and society.

  18. evie said on May 5th, 2008 at 10:11pm #

    Deadbeat
    I also don’t believe the world is overpopulated and I will agree there is a poor distribution of income worldwide.

    But the “real problem” is morality – not resources. No matter how trendy Brangelina or Kurt and Goldie make it appear, or how many social programs we create to excuse it and fund it.

    And btw I’m black and believe morality has no color. When 70% of black babies and 28% of white babies in the US are born out of wedlock – it’s not capitalism or racism – it is the content of our character, not the contents of our wallet.

  19. Deadbeat said on May 5th, 2008 at 11:14pm #

    And btw I’m black and believe morality has no color. When 70% of black babies and 28% of white babies in the US are born out of wedlock – it’s not capitalism or racism – it is the content of our character, not the contents of our wallet.

    Whites tend to divorce. Is that “out of wedlock”? Many of those children face similar problems that those immoral “out of wedlock” children face. Yet divorce is not consider “immoral” yet you imply that African Americans behavior of “out of wedlock” mothers are.

    The big difference is that divorce is not considered immoral because as I mention more whites divorce and because whites have more money thus they are judged differently than the poor and African Americans. It rather unfortunate they you by into the supremacist rhetoric of blaming the poor and subjugated.

  20. Susan Rosenthal said on May 6th, 2008 at 2:48am #

    Deadbeat is right. The “overpopulation” argument is racist to the core.

    It originated in the 18th century, when the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus developed a pseudo-scientific theory to justify poverty and defend captialism.

    Malthus laid the basis for modern victim-blaming, which promotes fictions like: people starve because there are too many of them; they are poor because they are lazy; they are in prison because they make bad choices; they destroy the environment because they consume too much; they get sick because they don’t take care of themselves; and they are injured because they are accident-prone.

    Malthus’ “scientific racism” (that lacks any shred of real science) was developed by Galton, Spencer, Davenport and others to attack the poor as the source of all social problems. Their efforts bred a racist eugenics movement that culminated in the mass sterilization of the poor in America and the Nazi Genocide in Europe.

    Discredited after the war, this racist defense of capitalism re-invented itself as the Zero Population Growth movement that supported mass sterilization of the poor in India and other nations.

    I recommend Alan Chase’s book, The Legacy of Malthus: The Social Costs of the New Scientific Racism (1977).

    A shorter history of this movement can be found in my own book, POWER and Powerlessness, pp. 95-111. Available at http://www.powerandpowerlessness.com

    I just have to quote Chase,

    “With or without Malthus…people of means would still hate to pay the taxes required to fund effective legislation for social welfare. However, by demeaning the intrinsic worth to society of most newborn children and their families, as well as by denigrating the value to the greater society of any and all human welfare legislation, scientific racism and its propagandists have for two centuries served successions of greedy men and penny-pinching governments.”

  21. evie said on May 6th, 2008 at 4:27am #

    Yea, divorce is high for the instant gratification generation, and their children suffer.

    Nothing immoral about the son of an acquaintance of mine who has 25 children by almost as many women and involved in none of the lives of his children, although not totally his fault as he has spent half his adult life in prison; in prison now for murder.

    Nothing wrong with the single 18 y/o mother with 4 who spends most of her social program funds on fake nails and weaves while her children go hungry and unparented b/c momma is at the club.

    Another problem with the “liberal left” – they expect nothing of their followers, other than blind agreement on every social program that comes down the pike, anything goes b/c someone else can pay for it. And the children pay the highest price.

    I’m eager to see the illegitimacy rate of white America hit 70% since it’s no problem for black America. Get busy white girls and catch up to who’s yo daddy.

    But gee, we wouldn’t want to force morality or family values on anyone, someone might call us rightwing. And besides, we have the man, the “rich white man” to blame it all on.

  22. Susan Rosenthal said on May 6th, 2008 at 4:41am #

    Attacks on the “immorality” of the poor only protect the immorality of captialism and those who profit from it.

    No poor person has ever invaded or bombed another nation, executed an innocent, abandoned people to die (Katrina), deprived sick people of health care, etc., etc.

    Moralistic, blame-the-victim arguments are PR for captialism, plan and simple. They should be exposed as such and soundly rejected.

  23. bozhidar balkas said on May 6th, 2008 at 4:54am #

    a child born and raised in canada is not a child born and raised in nepal. a canadian child uses as much as hundred times of world’s wealth as does any of the half of the children on our planet.
    leaving rationalizing/moralizing aside, there is no way we can know wheter people who have many children are wrong or right.
    it should be noted that european mothers prior to ww1 often bore as many as 15 children.
    rarely was there a family with just one child. however, if one rationalizes this important issue, one will stray.
    it is us who are destroying poor man’s riches: clean water, food, and air and not poor children. thank u

  24. evie said on May 6th, 2008 at 5:00am #

    Oh, yes, I forgot about the “blame the victim” meme.

    All “isms” will become corrupted when the masses take little to no responsibility for their government/leaders. But if the masses take no responsibility for themselves, you don’t really expect them to for their governments.

    So who is better served by supporting ignorance and irresponsibility among the masses – the capitalists, or the poor?

    Sometimes “they” get you to cut your own nose off to spite your face. “They” come complete with talking points, memes, mantras, and arguments – and throw nickels and food stamps from the balcony to keep ya happy.

  25. mary said on May 6th, 2008 at 5:34am #

    Susan Rosenthal, the author of this commendable article, has mentioned Hurricane Katrina and the dreadful way mostly poor black people were abandoned to their watery and preventable fate. I think the hypocrisy in this article below from Ma Bush ‘takes the biscuit’ . Has she no shame or is she an amnesiac? There are now at least 22,000 dead in Burma and the people’s misery is extreme. The amount of aid offered is a paltry$250,000 but that must be a misprint. Compare that to the $3 trillion war her husband has conducted and consider how many Iraqi mothers and children have been killed or maimed and their lives ruined.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/05/06/2236366.htm?section=world

    Laura Bush criticises Burma’s cyclone warning
    Tue May 6, 2008 9:25am AEST

    US First Lady Laura Bush lashes out at Burma’s rulers (AM)
    Related Story: More than 10,000 killed in Burma cyclone
    US First Lady Laura Bush says Burma’s leaders did not provide adequate warning of Cyclone Nagris.

    In a strongly worded attack, Mrs Bush said many Burmese only learned of the approaching cyclone from foreign media outlets.

    “Although they were aware of the threat, Burma’s state-run media failed to issue a timely warning to citizens in the storm’s path,” she said.

    “The response to the cyclone is just the most recent example of the junta’s failure to meet its people’s basic needs.” continues…..

  26. Lloyd Rowsey said on May 6th, 2008 at 6:11am #

    So true Mary. It’s enuf to get you to stop paying taxes in protest, so Ma Bush’s husband could pretend to do something about it, w/o hitting you in the pocketbook.

  27. Faddy said on May 6th, 2008 at 8:02am #

    OK, my turn ya’ll.
    There is no question about two things: first, women bear the brunt of childbirth, childcare, and all that goes with it. That is a social problem and one we probably should address.
    Second: we seem to think that if it has human dna it should live. We keep all sorts of people alive from the time they start out until they croak in spite of our efforts to keep ‘em alive.
    Frankly, without modern medicine I probably wouldn’t have made it into my teen years … and given some injuries that were repaired (mostly) I survived to breed … and do my part for over population.
    So what is the problem? Well, on the one hand there are just too damned many of us, and on the other hand for those who bear the burden of having been bred, there are consequences society turns a blind eye to.
    The solution? First, stop breeding like so many rabbits … second, for those that do reproduce, give then adequate support.
    This isn’t a zero sum game we live … it is life and there is merit to both sides.

    Wars, Famines, Plagues … on both sides!

    Faddy

  28. Linda Webber said on May 6th, 2008 at 9:16am #

    Children in America basically are not of much value ,except, if they are sold to wealthy clients of the over two billion dollar adoption industry.The young fertile will have her choices limited by the wealthy and yet will be praised if they surrender their young to those who indeed have done it all right ,except woops, they forgot to procreate until their fertility was no more.But no problem ,the government with the bill that passed called “The INFANT adoption awareness Act” is now in place.Any pregnant woman who dares to go and seek services may now very well be manned by anyone who went to a ‘”training’ on how wonderful she will be if she agrees to having her child adopted out to a more worthy people. In America there seems to be a call to bring back the good ole days that frankly were mainly good for wealthy white men.
    We often will hear about limiting or stopping the entitlement programs, however,it seems to stop short,when speaking about the sense of entitlement the wealthy have.If they want it, they should be able to buy it and this includes the poor and middle class infants.It is interesting to listen to women who want to adopt an infant belittle the young Mom,stating she can provide more (things) and therefore should be entitled to her baby.We as a country have the disease of perfectionisam and it spills over to young Moms and it can be used to coerce her into surrendering her infant for profit.I am not surprised that the young Mom who came to see you thought she was such a bad Mom. It is no accident she is getting this message..I am glad that she had you to talk with and help her understand she doesn’t have to be perfect to be an excellent Mom.

  29. TS Draegeth said on May 6th, 2008 at 9:17am #

    Thank you for the article, Dr. Rosenthal. I am shocked by the anti-life attitudes of some of my fellow readers. Considering the vast wealth of our planet, it is pitiful to argue that we should be depriving life (people) of growth and development, love and joy, and the advancement of our species.

    So easily do we at Dissident Voice apparently find it to critique our economic structures, but when the question of reproduction is posed, why so eagerly lash out at those whose poorer status makes it more difficult for them to live?

    Should they starve themselves, and end their family line, because they are being oppressed by capitalist empire? Should they be loathed because they cry when their children are starved?

    Limiting our reproduction because the oppressed are starved and downtrodden serves only to perpetuate the elite and the religiously insane, who have no problems churning out as many new models a year as they desire. Indeed, that strategy is exactly what they want to drive you to do: it is a war of genetics. We should be favoring life and evolution, by encouraging diverse breeding, rather than limiting ourselves so that the inbred ruling class can continue to hoard resources, and grow madder and madder by the hour, toward our eventual extinction.

  30. Deadbeat said on May 6th, 2008 at 9:36am #

    I highly recommend Ms. Rosenthal book. It’s a great critique on Capitalism and judging from some of the comment herein folks need to educate themselves on Capitalism’s realities.

    Capitalism has reached its limits and people need to contemplate the redistribution of wealth and power.

  31. hp said on May 6th, 2008 at 9:39am #

    “You can’t fool Mother Nature.”

  32. evie said on May 6th, 2008 at 10:08am #

    I believe we may be headed toward that One World Order of Socialism – catch is though, that instead of Anglo-Euro controllers sharing wealth with all the world – the world is going to share it’s poverty with a lot of Anglo-Euro folks – has been happening in white countries the last 3 decades or so.

    People (the have-less, have-nots and have-nothing) and their minions have been critiquing and “contemplating” the redistribution of wealth and power for eons.

    If anyone has any suggestions they best be speaking up NOW.

  33. hp said on May 6th, 2008 at 10:34am #

    If and when the demonic power holders decide to exercise their FULL potential, whether for perceived self-defense, population control and/or elimination, complete acquisition of all natural resources or even sadistic fun and games, the only recourse left for the vast majority will be to, basically, hunker down, stick your head between your legs and kiss your ass good-by.

  34. Edwin Pell said on May 6th, 2008 at 11:09am #

    First my thanks to Susan Rosenthal for having the courage to allow a debate that includes diverse viewpoints. I find most blog owners just delete out posts they disagree with.

    I certainly agree there is a great amount of greed and immoral distribution of resources and all that we can do to improve the situtation is good and will benefit many.

    I disagree that a concern for population going above the carrying capacity of the land is racist. I would say the US is beyond the carrying capacity and we should aim to lower the population say to 150 million from 300 million. This applies to all Americans (across the whole spectrum of race, color, religion, national origin, etc). I have no wish to suffer the effects of pollution regardless of the race of the polluter.

    On the other hand I like humans. I certainly want a continuity of humankind. The 3 billion year ingrained will to reproduce will not go away even if we promote responsible 2 children per couple norms/guidelines/rules/laws/???. It will just mean we can skip the starving people (children, youth, young adults, middle aged, adults, old) part. This is not something any nation should put on another nation this should strictly be an internal issue. Let each nation decide for themselves. But having the responsible nations backrupt themselves trying to fix the impossible choices made by irresponsible nations makes no sense to me. Yes I can understand there is a religious perspective that calls for feeding the poor regardless of the future. It certainly is the right of any America to send as much of their money to feed who ever they choose. Or to travel to any place they choose to do whatever good works they choose. But it is not a right to import the worlds problems into the US. In so doing you impact on my rights (and my children’s right and my grandchildren’s …) to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Great discussion. Thanks.

  35. evie said on May 6th, 2008 at 11:28am #

    It’s time the pendulum swung back – so maybe, call it “hope” we will find middle ground in the coming years. Have to as I’m not limber enough to kiss my own ass goodbye.

  36. hp said on May 6th, 2008 at 1:33pm #

    A non-conformist, eh?

  37. TS Draegeth said on May 6th, 2008 at 2:17pm #

    Edwin, many of the world’s problems are partly or wholly caused by the U.S.’ actions. Your “gated community” attitude is tantamount to stealing something, then declaring an immediate truce and freezing possessions “as they are.” It is not fair, and it will not be accepted by the swindled. Evie, for all her bluster, is right–the poverties that Anglo-Euro blood has inflicted on the better part of the world for generations are slowly going to seep even deeper into America. However, for many of them, they have already been there, and we are ignoring our own poor white population to claim otherwise.

    Incidentally, I am troubled by the desire of so many to see a population crash that they see as “deserved.” Such a wish is the deathlust of the “progressive” community, similar to the Book of Revelations for the religiously sick.

    Offering the solution of death to the troubles of life is evil. Unadulterated.

    I dispute that our wonderful planet, with a blazing, healthy sun nearby, cannot support much more life, even luxurious human life, than it does now. Do you think we are drawing on the full power of the solar system? What an arrogant attitude that would be, if that is your claim. We have the potential to be much greater than this. Your grim predictions only apply if we fail to develop any further, and if we continue crippling ourselves for the benefit of parasitic elites with a dead-end evolutionary strategy of inbreeding and ignorance.

    Believe in us! Life finds a way.

  38. Lloyd Rowsey said on May 6th, 2008 at 2:42pm #

    From “Time, Love, Memory: A Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior” by Jonathan Weiner (1999). A book about Seymour Benzer.

    “It is already possible – in fertility clinics it is done every day – to screen the DNA of a set of eight embryos at the eight-cell stage and let the parents pick the one they want to implant in the mother’s womb. The more genes there are to screen and the better these gene complexes are understood, the more wealthy parents will select not only the healthiest but also the best and brightest embryo they can, designing the genes of their children….(O)ver the next few centuries whether governments legislate for or against it(,…t)he rich will pick and choose the genes of their children, the poor will not. The gap between rich and poor may widen so far in the third millennium that before the end of it there will not only be two classes of human beings but two species, or a whole Galapagos of different human species. These human species could be prevented from interbreeding by the genetic engineering of chemical incompatibility, so that the egg of one would reject the sperm of the other.”

  39. evie said on May 6th, 2008 at 3:10pm #

    Oooooo, I’m a blustering non-conformist. Heeheehee.

  40. hp said on May 6th, 2008 at 4:00pm #

    Lloyd, so that would mean those bumper stickers, instead of saying, “my child is an Eagle Scout,” or “my child is an honor student” could cut right to the chase and say, “my child is better than your child.”
    That sounds about right, the future of ‘culture’ in the good ole USA.

  41. TS Draegeth said on May 6th, 2008 at 4:06pm #

    Lloyd, if it got that far it might shatter the illusion of fair potential for growth that sustains the non-elites, and it would be a war of the species. We should then find out how strong the proles are.

  42. TS Draegeth said on May 6th, 2008 at 4:09pm #

    More:

    1) Yes, evie, you bluster. :P However, I would not necessarily call you a non-conformist.

    2) If things become as Lloyd mentions–and in some ways, they already are–the mental sickness of those who would commodify their offspring will lead to either perpetuation of the sickness and a destructive spiral, or the genuine production of superior offspring, who then will see the flaws of their forebears. Either way, it is not a sustainable absolute, any more than other absolutes. Life will find a way; life has already found a way.

  43. Annie said on May 6th, 2008 at 5:03pm #

    Still the point is how do we help overwhelmed parents in the world in May 2008? A point that seems to have been misssed.

  44. Lloyd Rowsey said on May 6th, 2008 at 5:11pm #

    Annie. In my opinion, if we can’t end the occupation of Iraq we’ll just be able to do less and less, for the rest of our lives. So, work to end the war.

  45. evie said on May 6th, 2008 at 5:15pm #

    TS
    Irony, my family, friends, colleagues have all always considered me a “radical”. Although a Russian gentleman once described me as a traditionalist (but that was after I turned down an unsavory proposition).

    I don’t see selective breeding going as far as the ruling class might wish. It’s been tried before and the offspring were neither smarter, wiser, or superior – just whiter. I do see them cloning themselves for body parts to live indefinitely.

    Had George HW and Babs been able to select their smartest genetic embryos – they would still have produced an idiot bunch.

  46. Lloyd Rowsey said on May 6th, 2008 at 5:28pm #

    TS. Your #2 is too logical, in its appeal to the hope in all of us, that we’re not, no we can’t be, at the recognizable beginning of the end of the human species as all history has recorded it.

    But this is a LONG way from Rosenthal’s and Annie’s concerns. I posted the quotation from Weiner’s book as a point of information about the state of genetic manipulation available to the wealthy A DECADE AGO.

  47. evie said on May 6th, 2008 at 5:28pm #

    Annie
    Work locally if you can.

    For the last 3 years we have ran a Sunday “soup kitchen” out of our pocket. It began when we had hungry people coming to the backdoor of our restaurant asking for leftovers, and grew b/c we are fortunate enough to have the funds. In recent months others have stepped up to help who have the means and heart and the “kitchen” grows. And we don’t depend on Big Daddy government funding – but on one another.

  48. Lloyd Rowsey said on May 6th, 2008 at 5:30pm #

    and evie’s.

  49. Annie said on May 6th, 2008 at 5:31pm #

    Well duh… Lloyd, everyone wants the war/occupation to end, even folks who once thought it was a good idea. But I think we can help parents in spite of the fact that we are occupying Iraq. It’s called relationship. If right-wingers, left-wingers and even the wingless would show a little care and concern for those they know to be overwhelmed parents, [I know it sounds corny but…] the world really would be a better place.

  50. Annie said on May 6th, 2008 at 5:32pm #

    Who knows, Erik Rose might realize he really likes kids after all!

  51. Annie said on May 6th, 2008 at 5:48pm #

    Sorry Lloyd, didn’t mean to be rude.

  52. TS Draegeth said on May 6th, 2008 at 7:34pm #

    Lloyd, the human species is always ending and beginning. Things that are good and true and wonderful are not exclusive to the genetic commonality that may or may not exist currently among the majority of people you (or others) would continue human, nor will they ever be. Nor will all humans ever be alike.

    So, I don’t think it will be the end of the world if the rich brats of antilife begin to or continue to cherry-pick their offspring. Their petty attempts to play God will fail, guided as they will be by their own lack of wisdom, which they enthrone exactly because of their inherent sickness.

    If evil self-destructs some people and their offspring, the rest of us may survive, in some form or other–if not, something probably will. Life evolves and changes beyond our control, and the mad path to the void will be contested until the end, if there is an end.

    The sick have always been selectively breeding, and they have always been killing off the children of the poor. That is what antilife drives them to do.

    But back to the subject. Loathing people who reproduce without economic means is rancid behavior. Reproduction is a human right on par with survival. You do the capitalists’ dirty work for them if you discourage the poor and oppressed from breeding simply because of their condition.

  53. evie said on May 6th, 2008 at 8:25pm #

    TS
    “You do the capitalists’ dirty work for them if you discourage the poor and oppressed from breeding simply because of their condition.”

    I feel it just the opposite. Encouraging the poor and oppressed to produce large numbers of children keep the masses weak, unable to unite or agree and often fighting one another for scraps. The capitalists love it – gives them more than enough expendable capital.

    The “ruling class” has power precisely b/c they’re are so few of them. Were there a billion ruling elite they would never accomplish anything due to discord, disagreement – sort of like the masses do.

  54. Sunil Sharma said on May 6th, 2008 at 9:42pm #

    Erik Rose wrote: “As for my hatred of our species . . . what is it that you are so proud of, Ms. Rosenthal? What is it that makes our species so special that nature need take no heed? What makes me better than a bear, or a lion. In the real world, the one where nature is at work, if you are the runt in the litter and your Lion mom needs a meal, well, I rest my case.”

    Speaking as someone with absolutely no desire to have children myself, I must say this analogy is quite silly, Erik. It’s not an argument over whether we are “better” than a bear, lion or whatever animal (though I often think many animals make for better company than most people I encounter). As for the question of what makes us humans special: how about great literature and art, philosophy, incredible music, stunning scientific achievements, self-awareness (including unfathomable heights of love), and some pretty amazing cuisine beyond what you can pick off a tree. All these things and more make life worth living . . . and hold the desire that all people and future generations will enjoy the blessings of existence as well.

    It’s not all bleak . . .

  55. Lloyd Rowsey said on May 6th, 2008 at 9:45pm #

    TS. I didn’t understand that you feel survival of non-human life is satisfactory. I truly wish I shared your resignation.

    And Evie. Thanks for your fire and persistent clarity. I’m one of those persons Ron Jacobs recently described Emma Goldman as, here at DV — “a communist, not a Stalinist.” The ruling class’s power does derive from their small numbers, which had never occurred to me before. But not, I think, primarily from their small numbers.

  56. TS Draegeth said on May 6th, 2008 at 11:48pm #

    The survival of non-human life is not “satisfactory” to me emotionally, but I am trying not to be biased. Clinging to the current order (let’s call it human supremacy, to be ironic and simple) leads to conservatism and evil–the attempt to resist nature and life, which is constant flux. I present the worst-case scenario as one in which life undergoes a more dramatic change away from us (at least, I hope that is the worst-case, though I can imagine the void).

    The point I am making is that you should not believe the only possible good in the universe can come from large numbers of humans.

  57. hp said on May 7th, 2008 at 8:57am #

    ‘Man is the only animal that blushes – or needs to.’
    Twain

  58. Peter said on June 3rd, 2008 at 12:41am #

    The following paragraph from the article doesn’t mention the probabilty that these acts followed psychiatric treatment (usually drugs), a point taken up in the “Mental Illness or Social Sickness?
    by Susan Rosenthal / May 19th, 2008 article.
    “Approximately one in 800 new mothers develops full-blown psychosis. In Texas, Andrea Yates suffered from hallucinations that compelled her to murder her five children. In Toronto, a family doctor jumped in front of a train, killing herself and her infant son.”