Gates’ terms are troubling. Vaccines are the core issue, triggering a profound controversy that has polarized entire nations, yet he staunchly supports and has invested heavily in these experimental therapies. “Health care” is an abstract term that can mean anything one chooses it to mean; indeed, it has been used as a rationale for eugenics in its most criminal forms. And “reproductive health” is quite obviously code for abortion. It is clear why many people consider Gates a dangerous man. He is indescribably wealthy, influential and powerful, and also persuasively glib in furthering his various agendas. Obviously, no one can determine absolutely what his underlying motives might be. Is he philanthropist or exploiter, hero or villain, savior or eugenicist? But there is ample warrant to remain skeptical of his bona fides.
To be sure, his Ted Talk was framed in the context of global warming and the obligation to reduce CO2 emissions, a challenge that could be met by reducing the planetary census. According to his formula, CO2 = P x S x E x C, where P = People, S = Services per person, E = Energy per service, and C = CO2 per energy unit, fewer people in a congested world means less atmospheric carbon and the consequent decline in the rate of (ostensibly) rising global temperature.
Another discrepancy in Gates’ argument involves his claim that population can be reduced by making people healthier. In defending Gates, Maarten Schenk at Lead Stories points to arguments that wealthier and healthier people produce fewer children since they don’t have to adjust for massive child mortality. “So, what about the remarks about ‘new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services’?” Schenk asks rhetorically, and answers:That is just what specialists studying population growth are saying. As people get richer, they get more access to better healthcare so they stop having lots of babies because the risk of their children dying at an early age takes a steep dive. This means the total population stabilizes and stops growing after a while.
On the surface, this looks like a strong argument, especially with respect to underdeveloped countries. The problem is that advantaged people may enjoy having more children—perhaps not in the decadent West at this time in history, but possibly in the future, and certainly as we see now in countries like Hungary and Poland, which are returning to their ancestral traditions, restoring the sanctity of marriage, re-establishing the vitality of the Christian faith and financially incentivizing procreation. The result is rapidly growing families. In such countries, healthy people produce more, not fewer, children. The formula could be: H=V=C. Health equals Vitality equals Children. Gates’ X may conceivably turn out to be non-X.