Lincoln Day and Alice Day: Too Many Americans, Tomorrow’s Issue

Lincoln and Alice Day’s book, Too Many Americans:  Tomorrow’s Issue is cited as a source for the ideas on the Jaffe Memo table.

Typical of all birth control and family planning advocates who are concerned about over-population, they prefer ‘voluntary’ methods but are not above coercive ones–should they be necessary.

From the dust jacket:

They carefully examine the arguments in favor of rapid growth and expose the fallacies of conservatism and of our religious attitudes on the questions of birth control.  Finally they propose ways in which our unstable growth may be voluntarily stemmed before nature intervenes with a higher death rate, or coercive measures, abhorrent to our cultural and moral values, become inevitable.

Here are examples of ways the Days’ put forward for reducing the number of Americans:

Redistribution of Resources

Redistribution of People

Increasing the Death Rate

We are left, then, with birth and death.  We can alter our rate of growth by either raising the death rate, lowering the birth rate, or effecting some combination of the two.  Certainly raising the death rate, although the one means to stability never actually proposed, would be an easy and efficient way to achieve population balance.  We could simply withhold the means to save life now at our disposal.  Eliminating the use of vaccines and antibiotics would raise the rate somewhat; sending unpurified water through the taps or distributing unpasteurized milk would bring it up a good deal further.  Or we could try more direct approaches–infanticide, suicide, homicide, for instance.

Extreme?  Of course it is.  The whole orientation of our culture has been in the opposite direction. […] What a wrench it would be for us to abandon such efforts and allow nature to “take its course.” If an increase in mortality does eventually halt population growth in the United States, it will not be by our own choice.  It will have been forced upon us–through war, for instance, or through reductions in our levels of living as a consequence of the burden of excessive numbers.

Decreasing the Birth Rate

We cannot rely upon awareness of the facts of population pressure alone to provide the motivation for family limitation sufficient to stabilize our population. [ … If] population stability is to be achieved, the most important factors in that achievement will doubtless be changes leading to the development of a social framework in which couples voluntarily decide to limit the number of their children to replacement levels–not so much because of concern with seemingly remote ends as population stability, as because of concern for more immediate personal needs and aspirations.


Compulsory sterilization

Permitting childbearing to only a limited number of the adult population.

Variants on this theme

Creation of new social roles by the state:

roles that discourage parenthood created for women

“new kinds of relationships that would restrict parenthood while presenting alternatives to our system of monogamous marriage,” such as,

acceptance and encouragement of the institution of companionate marriage

Increased homosexuality [In reference to Arthur C. Clark’s “Standing Room Only” found in Harper’s April, 1958, p. 57]

Extend further the ideal of the small family

Regardless of what individual couples may think they have to offer a child, a large family can no longer in itself be viewed as a social contribution.  In fact, children in excess of the number necessary for replacement will increasingly become a liability to our society.  If the parents of three children decide to have a fourth, it should be with the full awareness that they are choosing to indulge their personal desires at the expense of the welfare of their society.  In short, we must change our ideas about what constitutes parental sacrifice.

Further reduction of Infant and Child Mortality

Improvement of Contraceptive Technique

Education in the Need for Family Limitation

Greater Accessibility of Means [to limit Family size]

Alter the Image of the ‘Ideal American Family’

Alternative Activities for Women

“A state of chronic depression might conceivably lead to greater population stability; but the price seems rather steep (as long as there are alternative means to the same end) and besides, such a program, even if it could be put into effect, would not be likely to work longer than a generation or so. ”

“In short, what we must have–and what our recommendations have been aimed at–is a society in which: (1) no unwanted child is born; (2) the decision to bear or not to bear a child is made solely by the potential parents; and (3), most important of all for the goal of a stable population, this decision is made in a social and cultural context in which a family of three children is considered large.”