Monday, February 14, 2011

The Right to Choose

The world stands at a crossroads. That, of course, is true about any time in history — and, ironically, the choice is almost always the same one. That is, will humanity conform to its own inherent nature? Or will the desire for transitory and insubstantial goods overcome the ultimate necessity for each individual to acquire and develop virtue, thereby becoming more fully human? This choice faces not only every age, but every individual. The question is whether the choice can be resolved peacefully, in accordance with humanity's political nature, or whether there must be war.

Abortion is possibly the single most divisive issue in society today. There seems to be no common ground on which Pro-Life and Pro-Choice adherents can meet to resolve the issue peacefully and in a way that respects the rights of everyone involved. Practical politics, specifically economics, offers a compromise in which neither side surrenders essential principles, but makes reasonable gains through rational compromises and trade-offs.

By accepting for the sake of argument a "right to choose," the Pro-Life movement gains the basis for halting all government support for abortion. By admitting that the "right to choose" includes the right to choose not to have tax monies used to support abortion, the Pro-Choice movement gains security for the right to choose until an overwhelming consensus is reached that abortion on demand should be abolished — until which time abolition would not be effective in any event. By advocating a rational program of economic restructuring, both sides gain the opportunity for improving the quality of life.

A further problem surfaces when we consider current ideas about economic and social development. Ever since Malthus's discredited theories of scarcity became unquestioned economic orthodoxy (vide Schumpeter, History of Economic Analysis), most economists are absolutely convinced that the only way to finance new capital formation is by cutting consumption, accumulating money savings, then investing.

This is untrue, as U.S. financial history demonstrates (vide Moulton, The Formation of Capital). Unfortunately, in addition to being false, the past savings assumption restricts capital ownership largely to the already wealthy. This suggests that "people are pollution," and that population reduction is an essential precondition to economic development, so that there will be fewer people consuming and thus more savings are possible. The inherent contradiction in the past savings assumption is demonstrated by the reductio ad absurdum in which all production is reinvested in new capital formation, and consumption levels fall to zero.

This, of course, is nonsense, as R. Buckminster Fuller explained (vide Fuller, Utopia or Oblivion). Population growth responds to the level of economic development, not the other way around. As Jane Jacobs pointed out in The Economy of Cities (1970), population pressure provides an incentive both for more production, and innovation to make production more efficient, at which point the rate of population growth decreases naturally. Further, as Moulton demonstrated, the financing of feasible new capital is not achieved by cutting consumption, but by increasing consumption, and creating money for financing by extending credit for new capital goods by backing the credit with the present value of the increased flow of consumption goods and services.

Rather than looking at the situation in this way, however, most debate on the abortion issue focuses on either emotion or faith in a particular religious revelation — with "science" taking the place of religion for some people. While respecting the importance of both sentiment and religious faith, Supporting Life bases its argument for a "Pro-Life economic agenda" on reason, that is, on the natural moral law based on Intellect (lex ratio) rather than Will (lex voluntas). This agrees with what Dr. Charles Rice, professor emeritus of law at the University of Notre Dame said regarding abortion being not a religious issue, but a civil rights issue. By presenting "Capital Homesteading" as a possible "Pro-Life economic agenda" we reach a common ground between two groups dividing society, as well as offering hope for a better life for everyone.

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