Wednesday, April 27, 2011



First of all, what are global population rates? Scary stories abound...usually headlined The Population Bomb. We are overpopulating the planet, apparently. But is that true?

A hidden revolution is going on around the world, and it's down to women being educated and controlling how many children they have. UN statistics say that the average woman today has 2.5 children. In Iran it's about 1.8. In India, it's 2.8. In Brazil it's 2.2. Also, see this:

The global population could very well go into reverse by the middle of the 21st century. That means, a glut of older people and not enough young people.

The UN Population Division in 2002, predicted a population decline, and many countries are not replacing their populations. See:

It remains to be seen if poverty will be reduced along with the global population, as it is currently believed.

What we do know is that there is over consumption by advanced countries.

“The richest 20 percent of humanity consumes 86% of all goods and services, while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3 percent.” (Shah, Global Issues, 2011).

“The population of the U.S. tripled during the 20th century, but the U.S. consumption of raw materials increased 17-fold”.1 (Factoids, 2011).

Today we are in a period called ‘neo-colonialism” which refers to the institutional ways that the rich nations impose unequal economic relations on the former colonies. This is done through loans by rich countries that impose conditions that aren’t healthy for poor populations. These conditions (called STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PROGRAMS or SAPs) often include the privatization of state services such as health and education, which puts them out of the reach of the poor. SAPS introduce cheap goods that undercut local production, or insist on cash crops like coffee for Western markets, rather than food stuffs to feed the population.

Western governments fail to offset over-consumption by Western nations.

Let's look at a case study: Niger.

The current population of Niger is 16,468,886 with a population growth rate of 3.643%. (CIA Fact book) The estimated life expectancy for the total population is 53.4 years with 14.11 deaths/1,000.(CIA Fact book)

Here is my question: Is a growth rate of 3.6 percent so terrible that it justifies the very high mortality rate and the extreme poverty of Niger? It's actually very similar (3.28) to the rate of the population growth of United Arab Emirates, which isn't known for its high poverty levels, and people can expect to live to 76 years of age, in the UAE.

See these statistics about population growth rates globally:®ionCode=eas&rank=215#ja

My personal belief is that a woman and her partner, should both make decisions about reproduction. Clearly, there is a reason to restrict multiple and frequent births, given the impact on women’s health, but this needs to be balanced by a study of resource availability on a global scale. Before Malthusian type policies are enacted, it would be best to that advanced countries start consuming at a more sustainable rate.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


This week, I’ve come across a report that makes these basic points about the global sex trafficking trade: “The culture, particular mass media, is playing a large role in normalizing prostitution by portraying prostitution as glamorous or a way to quickly make a lot of money" (Hughes, Donna M, "The Demand: Where Sex Trafficking Begins",2004.)

My comment: Films like PRETTY WOMAN come to mind. Many US-made films propagate the myth of the ‘happy prostitute’. The Western media in general objectifies women’s sexuality to sell commodities to men, such as cars. Therefore we should not just blame the culture in ‘backward’ countries but also the mass media in Western countries.

The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence in the US ( estimates there are between 100,000 and 150,000 under-aged sex workers in the US who generate billions of dollars in revenue for their pimps. The US is also a destination country to which prostitutes around the world, are sent to work.

Hughes' report focuses on ‘destination countries’: ‘In destination countries, strategies are devised to protect the sex industries that generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year for the state where prostitution is legal, or for organized crime groups and corrupt officials where the sex industry is illegal.” “I believe that only by going to the root causes, which are corruption and the demand in destination countries, will we end the trafficking of women and children.”

The full report is accessed at


The most common destinations for victims of human trafficking are Thailand, Japan, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the US (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “UNODC launches Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking”, 2007).

Note that the majority of these countries are supposedly the ‘advanced’ nations. What does that say about their culture? From WIKIPEDIA (see source): “Of the 45,000 to 50,000 that are brought to the U.S., 30,000 come from Asia, 10,000 from Latin America and 5,000 from other regions e.g., the former Soviet Union. The primary Asian source countries to the U.S. are China, Thailand and Vietnam. Although trafficking into the U.S. and Europe has gained a lot of attention in recent years, anti-trafficking advocates in Asia have been addressing these issues on the continent for decades (FIROZA CHIC DABBY, TRAFFICKING: CONSIDERATIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BATTERED WOMEN’S ADVOCATES, Revised September 2008,

The major sources of trafficked persons include Thailand, China, Nigeria, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine ("The Emancipation Network". Retrieved 2011-03-22.)

My solutions?

1. ERADICATE POVERTY WORLDWIDE. Only the fair distribution of wealth globally, will fund education, health and other social services for women. I know you've heard this before, but it bears repeating.



MY THEORIES? SOCIALIST FEMINISM explains the underside of poverty, and how women are particularly affected. RADICAL FEMINISM explains the global nature of patriarchy, the rule of male elites over women and subordinated men. COMMENTS WELCOMED.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I better declare my bias. I am a naturalized American, and was raised in the world’s first national health care system, in the United Kingdom. My father was a pioneering doctor in this system which was established right after World War II. Rather than practice as a private doctor, and make pots of money, my father cared for four generations of poor families in one of London’s working class districts, and was paid as a civil servant. Here in the US, I call myself part of the ‘intellectual working class’ because I don’t have job security, employee health insurance or retirement benefits. Recently I broke my arm which meant an out of pocket cost of $5000 because I could only afford the least expensive insurance rate. I can’t afford to replace two missing ‘smile’ teeth (not a good look!) So, this is a topic dear to my heart.
Carolyn wrote “Across the United States, women are forced to forego both preventative and urgent medical and dental care due to economic considerations. “Uninsured women account for 20% of the population of women ages 18 to 64”,(Women's Health2, 2010)
It was good to hear from our military colleagues that they are receiving comprehensive health care.
Sometimes I wonder if we as Americans are being asked to choose between the world’s largest military or universal health care and education.
A student wrote
‘It is more difficult to sustain healthcare coverage in a federal system where states legislation can differ and difference of level of states’ income is so wide
Military taxes are raised federally. It makes sense when you consider that a nation has to pay for its defense, as one entity within physical borders. But, as Carolyn wrote ‘A nation's health underpins its ability to remain competitive in the global sociopolitical arena.’ So, shouldn’t health costs be raised federally too? Medicare is a federal expense.
This raises the issue of how one defines ‘national security’. Should it be about war- preparedness and fighting, or should it also be about ensuring that the population is relatively healthy?

Friday, April 1, 2011


A student wrote “The United States has been a beacon to the world on how economic freedom brings more wealth, prosperity, and opportunity to its people. “
Supporting that contention, the UN Human Index Development report for 2010 indicates that the US is rated fourth highest in development among approx. 190 countries in the ratings when averages are taken. See:
However, when categories are broken down, another picture appears. For example:
U.S. is ranked 30th (out of approx. 190 countries) in global infant mortality (deaths of children under age 5). Infant mortality rates are used to ascertain wellbeing and prosperity of a population. Source:
Given that the US’ GNP is one of the highest in the world, this indicates a pyramid structure of wealth which flattens out when you take averages.
In terms of poverty levels by race, the US Census Bureau in 2008 came up with the following:
Table 714 shows that Hispanics and African Americans have higher poverty levels than Whites, with such estimates staying steady over the last 30 years.
Approximately 43.6 (14.3%) million Americans were living in poverty in 2009, up from 39.8 million (13.2%) in 2008 ( "Poverty rate hits 15-year high",Reuters. September 17, 2010).
In terms of the distribution of income, the US ranks one of the lowest in the advanced industrialized countries. The CIA reports that the US ranks 45th in 2008 (dropping from 40th in 1997). Source: For comparison, income distribution in Rwanda was 46.8 in 2000. Indonesia was 37th in 2009. Denmark was ranked 29th in 2007.
Today, according to one 2007 estimate, the richest 1 percent in the US account for 24 percent of the nation's income (
This indicates an elite in operation. I think you see this best in Congress. There are no less than 261 millionaires in Congress, that’s about half. See this:

Ratings, data compilation and statistics can be tricky. Sometimes, sources contradict one another. According to the CIA Factbook, the US enjoys 99 percent literacy:
United States
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)

But contradicting this, the NAAL (National Assessment of Adult Literacy) administered tests which revealed in 2008 that an estimated 14% of US residents would have extreme difficulty with reading and written comprehension ( It’s not clear whether which of those tested were born in a country other than the US.

To overcome this type of discrepancy, students, academics and statisticians look for a range of estimates.