Re: AltInst: Tradable birth quotas

From: Damien R. Sullivan <>
Date: Wed Aug 05 1998 - 12:52:14 PDT

On Aug 5, 12:25pm, Hal Finney wrote:

> > The fixed annual birth quotas
> > can be initially allocated to families with deaths according
> > to a variable births/deaths conversion ratio. These tradable

> That's a funny idea. "How you feelin', gramps? You know we can't have
> any kids until you're dead. Don't want to rush you or anything..."
Well, the family could buy a quote, and later resell gramps. But how are
'families' defined?

There seem to be several ideas here. One is capping births explicitly, rather
than trying to get the normal incentives just right. Another is allocating
initial permits to families with recent deaths. A third is making the permits
tradeable. The first and third seem the interesting ones to me; allocation
could be random, to avoid the euthanasia problem. When someone dies, pick
someone at random to get a new birth permit. Perhaps check to see if they've
received a permit before, so free wealth doesn't accumulate.

I suspect the paper avoids the practical problem of enforcement, of what you
do with an unpermitted pregnancy, or birth. Heavy fine? "Then you're
punishing the children", people will say. Forced abortion doesn't work for an
unlicensed birth, and I doubt society will go back to infanticide.

> If there were truly a free market, more births would presumably go to
> rich people than to poor, as with other commodities.
But this allows self-regulation! The poor, who tend to disperse whatever
wealth they might get in too many children, are now constrained to have few
kids (or none, and pass your assets to your niece) while the rich can have
lots of kids and dilute their wealth.

Except that most well-off people today don't have that many kids anyway.
Children seem to be an inferior good.

This plan creates a market in births, as opposed to a 'ideal' market where
people can have as many births as they like, but there are no subsidies or
public costs of any kind associated with children.

> All in all this hits so many hot buttons that I can't see it working in


From: "Karl R. Peters" <>
Subject: Re: AltInst: Tradable birth quotas

Am I the only one deeply offended by the notion of people buying
and selling the right/priviledge/whatever to have children???


"The human race can't afford too many births, but we're disgusted by any
scheme which controls the total number yet allows for different family sizes."

-xx- The Low Golden Willow X-)

Death is for animals; immortality for gods. Technology is the means by
which we move from one state to the other.
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Received on Wed Aug 5 19:58:53 1998

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