Thanos, like Malthus, is wrong about population control

This video from the Foundation For Economic Education explains why proponents of population control continue to incorrectly predict disaster, from 18th-century economist Thomas Malthus to Stanford professors who incorrectly predicted “The Population Bomb” in the 1960s, to Marvel’s villain Avengers: Infinity WarThanos.

In this film, the villain sought to magically destroy half of the life in the universe in order to preserve enough resources for the other half. The video points to a probably tongue-in-cheek Reddit community called “Thanos did nothing wrongwhich has gained 188,000 subscribers in the four months since the film’s release. Killing billions of people is obviously wrong, as the film’s heroes explain, but this line of thinking seems to be popular in real life. anyway: why?

“The universe is finite, its resources finite, if life is not controlled life will cease to exist,” Thanos said in the film, echoing countless villains before him. “He needs to be fixed… I’m the only one who knows that. At least I’m the only one who has the willpower to act on it.”

The video ignores the question of why, if he has infinite power, wouldn’t Thanos just double the resources instead of halving the population, but there are plenty of people who agree with Thanos that there are too many people on Earth. Hopefully none of them will ever have magical powers to act on it, but since the publication in 1798 of Thomas Malthus’ “An Essay on the Principle of Population” religions, corporations and even governments have worked to reduce human populations.

“Malthus believed that human vices, murder, disease, and even war held back the tide of even greater catastrophe,” the video explains.

In the same essay, he predicted that if the population grew at a steady rate, the world would add a billion people every 25 years. If he had been right, there would be about 10 billion people in the world today, although there are only 7.6 billion. Malthus was wrong, but his ideas caught on.

“Always remember that more people doesn’t just mean more mouths to feed, it also means more minds to create and more hands to build,” says the video’s narrator.

As long as people are free to undertake and explore new ideas, in a context where other people are also free to decide for themselves which innovations are valuable to them, wealth will increase. And that’s exactly what happened in real life, whenever there are property rights, low barriers to entrepreneurship and free trade.

The world’s population is now seven times greater than it was when Malthus wrote his essay, yet in the past 30 years alone we have halved extreme poverty. Fewer people are starving today than ever before. Per capita income is higher, child labor is down. It turns out that the main problem was never that the world was “overpopulated”, but that its people were never free enough to create wealth, and when they did create something valuable, they didn’t. were not allowed to keep it.

Reprinted from RealClearPolitics.