Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Garrett's latest outburst: sterilise the poor!

The Standard highlights ACT MP David Garrett's latest outburst: arguing that the state should sterilise the poor:

If – say – $5000 was paid to the likes of both parents of the Kahui twins if they chose to be sterilized, this would address many of ben’s and others’ concerns. Nothing compulsory, just an option. To take Kahui-King as examples, how much is it costing the state now to care for the children Maxyna King has had removed from her? How much will it cost to care for the 6 or 8 more she may have before menopause? How much is it costing for CYF to monitor the well being of Chris Kahui’s latest offspring? $5,000 to each of them is ludicrously cheap by comparison.
Garrett is just the latest in a long line of authoritarians and racists to advocate this idea. It was all the rage back in the C19th, the era when ACT's "classical liberal" ideology was developed, with the Social Darwinists (who overlapped significantly with the classical liberals) pushing for the poor to be sterilised to "improve" the gene pool (oh, and lower their taxes). In the US, welfare-bashing combined with racism and a formal eugenics program to produce the "Mississippi Appendectomy - the involuntary sterilisation of poor black women who had sought medical help for other problems. After the Nazis, eugenics went decidedly out of fashion, but the lust to sterilise the poor didn't - and so we get operations like Project Prevention, which pays poor black women (who its founder compares to dogs who need to be "neutered" to prevent them from having "litters" of kids) money to be sterilised.

Ideas like this are one of the reasons the Bill of Rights Act includes a concrete right to refuse to undergo medical treatment.

Garrett insists that he's not interested in compulsion. But he's quite willing to use coercion by exploiting people's poverty to get them to "voluntarily" surrender their rights. It's a nice example of the paucity of ACT's narrow theory of liberty - and a perfect example of how they think that freedom is only for the rich, rather than for all.