John P. Holdren, whose list of titles in the Obama administration is so long that he’s only known informally as the “Science czar,” has some interesting ideas about the future of America’s economy. Or as critics may say, about how he wants to control America’s economy. Specifically, a 1973 book that Holdren coauthored with famed environmentalists Anne and Paul Ehrlich is coming back to haunt him with some of its more bizarre ideas about everything from abortion to advertising in the automotive industry.
A little context: Holdren’s coauthors, Paul and Anne Ehrlich, are both responsible for the alarmist 1968 tome The Population Bomb, which argued that overpopulation would become such a pressing concern that huge numbers of people would starve to death in the 1970’s alone. In the years since, the book has been roundly panned for being too alarmist. However, that did not stop Holdren from coauthoring two follow-up books, one entitled Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions from 1973, and the other entitled Ecoscience: Population, Resources and Environment, in 1977. Though it is impossible to know which parts of the books Holdren himself is responsible for, one is fairly safe in assuming he agreed with most (if not all) of what was in them.
And what was in them? Here are some representative quotes from Ecoscience:
Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society.
One way to carry out this disapproval might be to insist that all illegitimate babies be put up for adoption—especially those born to minors, who generally are not capable of caring properly for a child alone. If a single mother really wished to keep her baby, she might be obliged to go through adoption proceedings and demonstrate her ability to support and care for it. Adoption proceedings probably should remain more difficult for single people than for married couples, in recognition of the relative difficulty of raising children alone. It would even be possible to require pregnant single women to marry or have abortions, perhaps as an alternative to placement for adoption, depending on the society.
And this, from Human Ecology (emphasis added):
Advertising now functions in large part to keep the economy growing by creating demand for a wide variety of often useless, dangerous or environmentally destructive products. Its most dangerous abuses might be halted immediately by legislative action. For instance, it could be made illegal for any utility to advertise in such a way as to promote greater demand for power. Also, references to size, power or sexual potency (direct or implied) could be banned from automobile advertising.
In many readers’ minds, this may raise an interesting question: Could the Chevy Volt have survived in an economy where references to size, power or sexual potency were banned from automobile advertising? This, however, is not all the book says. CNS News has more:
“Worldwide population limitation must be accompanied by other major changes if present trends are to be reversed and the already awesome burden of human misery is to be kept from increasing,” they wrote. “The most urgent of the needed changes is a series of moves to close rapidly the widening gap between the rich and the poor nations.” […]
In their chapter entitled, “Changing Human Behavior: Toward the Environment and Toward Our Fellow Man,” Holdren and the Ehrlichs pointed to economist Kenneth Boulding as the founding father of the “spaceman economy” idea. Boulding had published an essay in 1966 entitled, “The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth.”
“Boulding has described a rational alternative to the GNP-oriented economy, calling this alternative the ‘spaceman economy’ in harmony with the emerging concept of ‘Spaceship Earth,’” wrote Holdren and the Ehrlichs in Human Ecology.