"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The New Eugenics: Incentivize the Poor to Sterilize Themselves

Two stories showed up today that form nightmarish bookends for a subject that most Americans never knew about and the rest thought was long dead: eugenics, the social-darwinist pseudoscience popularized in the early 20th Century that sought to engineer the perfect race by encouraging the procreation of the well-heeled and by forced sterilization of the poor and the different--anyone deemed to have defective "germ plasm." As part of their ongoing acknowledgement of the Lab's role in this movement that helped to inspire the Holocaust, Cold Springs Harbor maintains an excellent website on the subject. Do check it out.

The first story today comes from Louisiana, where a state representative now argues for the revival of eugenics with a 21st Century twist: pay the poor, such as those burdensome dead-enders living in Katrina trailers, to have themselves sterilized. I am not making this up. From Think Progess:
Louisiana State Rep. John LaBruzzo (R) recently stirred controversy by advocating a form of eugenics to decrease the number of poor. “I realized that all these people were in Louisiana’s care and what a massive financial responsibility that is to the state,” he said. “I said, ‘I wonder if it might be a good idea to pay some of these people to get sterilized.’” His plan would also give tax incentives to the rich to encourage procreation. . . .

. . . .But this week, LaBruzzo explicitly ruled out more common sense solutions. “LaBruzzo said other, mainstream strategies for attacking poverty, such as education reforms and programs informing people about family planning issues, have repeatedly failed to solve the problem,” the Times-Picayune reported.

LaBruzzo seems to be dead serious about implementing the plan. He “gathering statistics” now and is planning to introduce legislation “if he finds that the number of people on welfare has increased” over the past decades.
The other story comes from the New York Times, which reports that Harvard econ professor Roland Fry, who gained fame as Bloomberg's chief equality officer (get it?) in charge of devising programs to pay children for higher test scores, is resigning to head up a multi-million dollar research lab funded by Eli Broad, oligarch and mega-social entrepeneur, to study the most cost-effective and "scientifically-based" way to transform learning for the poor into a system of rewards based on the production of test scores. Children whose souls are thus purchased will willingly participate in their own intellectual sterilization, while learning the larger lesson about how the world of work will operate for them.

All in the name of helping the poor, which, of course, was the primary rationalization exactly a hundred years ago during the first flowering of a eugenics craze that everyone was wild about, from the pulpit to main street to the university to the state legislatures. As Faulkner said, history is not dead; it is not even past.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:35 AM

    Don't worry about him. when he realizes that the majority of poor people are white, that the majority of welfare recipients are white and that most of welfare money falls into white hands, he will give it up. Underneath his "concern" of helping financially, he wants to rid the society of a particular kind, if you get my drift. If he reduces anyone or thing it will be the group he probably did not plan to reduce. Notice that he said 'reduce SOME'! With a name like LaBruzzo, I am betting that he ain't a minority, right? He should be escorted from the building and told never to think again. How dumb is that? I say if you are going to do something of that nature, ask that it be nation wide instead of state wide (like China). I don't think it would work here in the USA anyway, but if you are going to be a fool, why not go all out?