Saturday, November 28, 2009

In Search for the 'Good Life'

Advertising is a great way to sway public opinion. It works, that is why companies, of all types, spend thousands of dollars to put their products before the eyes of the public. From 1962 the Korean government started convincing the Koreans that there are too many of them in the southern part of the peninsular. The results were spectacular!

After the Korean War in the 1950s the birth rate was 6.5. In 1962 the government with new laws, started pushing to reduce the births. In the old Korea many births were considered a virtuous social act. The government started giving out contraceptive tools and pills at the public health centers, subsidies for vasectomies, permitting abortions even though illegal, benefits for those who participated in the birth control programs with wage benefits, housing privileges and respect from the public. Posters, radio, television electronic signs and every possible public media was in use without much vocal opposition by the general public and churches.

In the '70s it went down to 4.53 per woman. The slogan was: 'irrespective of boy or girl raise two well'. The preferring of son to a daughter began to break down, the birth control mothers group pushed for a 'no birth year' in 1974. In 1978 another drop to 2.83 and in 1980 the slogan was changed: 'two is too many raise one well'. In 1994 the birthrate was 1.59. And the government decides to shift gears and stops giving our free condoms and contraceptive pills but the birthrate continued to drop until Korea has now the lowest birthrate of of 193 countries with 1.2. It was a well organized movement with results that exceeded expectations.

It is sad to see how successful the program was among Catholics, understood to be against artificial birth control.The program to lower the birth rate has over reached its goal and now the government, private groups, churches and even gynecologists are beginning to work together to raise the birthrate.The good life even though it demands the work of two parents has become the goal of many . If this demands fewer children so be it. We have made a society that to raise and educate children demands economic wealth. Will socialism be the answer? Some will not be interested in being taxed to support another person's child. Will the efforts expended increase the numbers? Economics is important and with technology we wont need the numbers and the fewer will make for an easier life it should be an interesting experiment. How much of this thrust will be compatible with Christian thinking remains to be seen but the prospects are not good. The whole movement on the part of the government seems to be motivated by economics, until we start changing the way we understand the meaning of the 'good life' change will not come easy.

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