n Fair Start: An Open Letter to Pope Francis |

Your Holiness,

We laud your many commitments to social justice and environmental protection. You are bending the arc of the world towards justice in a way few voices can.  And while you have been criticized for your recent comments regarding the need to parent rather than raise pets, we want to offer the Vatican a constructive challenge. 

The Vatican has roughly thirty-three billion dollars in net worth. Would you consider donating just one thousand dollars to fairstartmovement.org to support a fundamental policy reform that would make every child’s right to a Fair Start in life the first and overriding human right.

Nothing would speak out against selfishness more than that and give the majority of people – those who will exist in the future – that which they deserve. It’s not about population. People are not numbers. It’s about the impossibility of separating values like welfare, equity, and nature from their creation.

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The curve represents the opportunity to promote values like child welfare, parental readiness, the restoration of nature, and democracies where each person plays a greater role, or to exploit people as consumers, workers, and taxpayers. We should choose the former, and arc down.

As Nobel Laureate Steven Chu noted, population growth has acted like a Ponzi scheme that has pulled massive wealth to the top of the economic pyramid at cost to women, children and the environment. It’s a fundamentally unjust and exploitative system. And the greatest impact in reversing it, and furthering the Sustainable Development Goals, comes though changing our family policies to promote an ecosocial Fair Start in life as the first and overriding human right

There is nothing else that comes close to having the impact, long term, on the social justice and environmental causes you support. Without an ecosocial Fair Start in life – with guaranteed minimum levels of welfare approaching equity for each child, the restoration of nature, and smaller democracies where voices actually matter – there is no real justice. All forms justice remain downstream – missing the fundamental phase in which we create and most define power relations.

Fair Start changes that. It’s the biggest win-win of all. 

His Holiness speaking out for Fair Start and donating would start a trend, changing the ultimate form of selfishness – the concentration of wealth that could be used to save and improve countless lives – into the ultimate form of impact. Many young people stand ready to support such a trend of giving and planning, putting people and nature before profits and property, and treating Fair Start redistributions as a peremptory norm overriding governmental processes.

Fair Start is not about population. It’s about people, starting from the source, limiting and decentralizing power, and thus becoming the relatively self-determining – or free – people we deserve to be.

Will you speak out for real social justice that most effectively furthers the values you have espoused, by supporting all children getting a Fair Start in life? 

Ashley Berke, Nandita Bajaj, Carter Dillard

FairStartMovement.org 

FAIR START RESEARCH

  • A clear link exists between rapid population growth and poverty. Better family planning and smaller families increase economic prospects by allowing greater investment in each child.  
  • According to the World Bank, in 2015, almost 2 billion people (26% of the world’s population) were living on less than $3.20 per day, and nearly half of the world (46%) was living on less than $5.50 a day. 
  • The costs and benefits of overpopulation under globalization are now distributed by class more than by nation. Labor bears the cost of reduced wage income; capital enjoys the benefit of reduced wage costs. 
  • The United State and much of the capitalist world believed that new bodies were needed to produce more labor. This pro-natal, pro-capital belief has created a world in which huge inequities exist. For example, the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 4.6 billion people, which is more than 60% of the planet’s population. 
  • Family size affects those in developed countries as well as underdeveloped nations: In the U.S., the Kansas City Star reported that of more than 6,000 prisoners in 12 states, 1 in 4 was a product of the foster-care system; there is a foster-care-to-prison pipeline in many states. Foster children are also diagnosed with PTSD at a rate greater than Iraq War veterans, and every year, more than 4,000 former foster care kids end up homeless after leaving the system. Meanwhile, the number of American children in foster care increased 12% between 2012 and 2017. 
  • Our current family planning systems provide no minimum standard of well-being for future children, allowing children to be born into failing state systems because their parents cannot care for them. That exacerbates inequity and ensures rich kids stay rich and poor kids stay poor
  • Current pronatalist policies sow the seeds of nation destabilization by further increasing inequality. 
  • recent study from Stanford has found that efforts to mitigate climate change could yield trillions in economic benefits. And the best wayto mitigate climate change is by choosing smaller families. Yes, it’s more effective than changing diet or forms of transportation. 
  • By the year 2100, the world population could vary by billions of people, depending on whether the average woman in the world today has one child more or one child fewer in her lifetime. If the average woman alive today has between 2 and 3 children, the world population will grow to as many as 16 billion by 2100.
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