Some people oppose the state because of the evil intentions of the people with power. I’m worried about something far worse and far more common. I’m worried about the unintended consequences of those with good intentions.
In the ’70s, pretty much everyone agreed that overpopulation was one of the top problems in the world, especially for fast-growing poor nations such as China. Trendy U.S. environmentalists such as Paul Ehrlich were saying alarming things about the inevitable mass starvation coming just any day now. In his book, “The Population Bomb,” Ehrlich made predictions which were staggeringly wrong, including this:
The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate….
Although Ehrlich and his apologists remain unrepentant about his repeated wrong predictions, one group of people who listened to the same argument and decided to act. The communist government of mainland China enacted a draconian law to slow down population growth — complete with propaganda posters such as the one above, exhorting the people to “implement the basic national policy.” (If you’d like to know more about “experts” such as Ehrlich and why their predictions, I recommend Dan Gardner’s book, “Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail — and Why We Believe Them Anyway.”)