Monday, October 27, 2008

Spore and Assortative mating aka Eugenics

“That is the way the world is. I have explained this. I think I lost votes after I explained the awful truth. Nobody believed it, but slowly it's dawned on them – especially the graduates – that yes, you marry a non-graduate, then you are going to worry about whether your son or daughter is going to make it to the university!” - MM Lee, 24 Oct 2008.

I remembered reading in one of my soci readings as an undergraduate about how he espoused the ideas of having graduate mothers pro-create and limiting the number of children by non-graduate mothers in the 1980s. And yes, I still recall the sense of indignation (yes, that would have totally cost him my vote as well, IF I was able to vote) as well as the shiver which went down my spine as my mother, make that both my parents, were non-graduates.

Therefore, his latest revelation did not come as a shock to me, though it still left a bad aftertaste when A brought it up yest at a gathering. In the first place, maybe figures should be produced to support his assertion that this was the "awful truth". This espousal of blatant support for eugenics is a disturbing one, something akin to a Pandora's box. Do graduate parents necessarily produce paper-smart/book-smart kids? And once we start, where do we stop? And with the present situation of foreign wives of local men who might not be graduates contributing to the recent increase in birth rates, does the graduate parents rule apply to them too?

There's a saying which goes along the lines of "being a victim of your own intelligence". My rudimentary observations during interactions with friends, both graduates and non graduates alike, gave me the impression that my graduate friends tend to be more critical of policies in place and having experienced our rigorous education system,do not want their kids to go through the same system as we did and they are the ones who are having second thoughts about having kids, whereas the rest seem to be more pro-family even though they might not be the ideal pool of genes for the targeted offspring which our country aims to obtain.

Irony you say? And even if the idea of having graduate parents - an idea which has gained momentum in S. Korea, one of the countries with the highest suicide rates, stands true, so what? Have we let the idea of getting a skilled workforce, since people are this country's best resource, get to our heads? Today we go along with the idea of graduate parents, what comes after that? Having watched movies such as Gattaca, my thoughts go to dark places: Making non graduates redunctant? Encouraging non-graduate mothers to go for sterilsation or limiting the number of children for perfectly healthy non-graduate mothers, just on the off chance that their kids are unable to cope with the local education system? In the end, is this really a case of nature versus nurture? Have we seriously considered the underlying social implications of espousing such an ideology?