Filed under: abortion, Books and Movies, Culture and Catholicism, depopulation, Vatican II | Tags: abortion, Catholic values, demographics, economics, Hungarian Constitution, Hungary, Jonathan Last, Planned Parenthood, secularism, student housing, third party, university cost, Vatican II, Wall Street, What to Expect when No One's Expecting
The Spanish have a saying, Pan para hoy, hambre para mañana, or Bread for today, hunger for tomorrow, and that just about nails down the economic implications of the rush for homosexual marriage. Businesses filed Friend of the Court briefs in huge numbers before the Supreme Court decision, and Marriott summed it up in their celebratory statement as reported by NPR: gays have more disposable income than families with kids, and we want that dough. Mars bars, Apple, Starbucks, Amazon, New York Life and Levi Strauss, 278 in all were eager to throw marriage under the bus for a cut of the action.
That bread dough has a shelf-life, of course. It expires with the next generation–oops, what generation? And then we shall know the hunger.
We aren’t listening to demographers, though, we’re still living in the sixties when we believed the world’s population was exploding. It wasn’t, and it isn’t. Only 3% of people today live in locales that are experiencing population growth, and it is very small, according to demographer Jonathan Last’s citations, when population growth is defined as what you have left when your current crop of elderly decease. The math says a country with a birth rate of 1.5 will see a 25% drop in population as soon as their current cohort of elderly die, and again the next generation, and again the next, and then it’s over. Very quickly an infrastructure becomes unsustainable due to labor shortages, which some countries are already experiencing. Low fertility rates will even tend to worsen, because once fertility rates fall, the populace accepts a new normal, and ups it one, true to form: if one baby is better, no babies is best of all. Singapore has already fallen below one child per every two people, and much of Asia and Europe are close behind, especially Japan. They are bulldozing entire villages in Japan. Jobs aplenty in demolition, not only in Japan, but in Germany, where schools are routinely demolished and the empty land turned into ‘parks,’ as politicians are even now considering for Chicago, with great enthusiasm, as if they’d discovered the notion.
Yes, those sixties were heady days, and we bought the easy lie (because free love is way more fun than parenthood). Even the Church bought the lie. Bishops streamed into Vatican II believing that Humanae vitae was out of touch with natural law, and that people just had to use birth control, and even abortion, or we’d run clean out of space, and those bishops pulled their punches then and now in promoting the ancient Catholic teaching that we were put on earth to multiply and fill it, let alone the exciting corollary, that after we fill it we would head to the stars for an even greater destiny as children of God and heirs of heaven. That dream is dead, too. Even if we manage to get there, we can’t turn a profit on the platinum we already have. Demand is down–down behind Planned Parenthood in the dumpster.
As it turns out, Humanae vitae was right on all fronts, the modernists wrong; Mary Eberstadt’s excellent essay illustrates the several ways the disastrous social consequences of contraception predicted by Paul VI have come to pass, one by one. The encyclical warned of four resulting trends: a lowering of moral standards; a rise in infidelity; a lessening of respect for women; and the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments. Most readers here will forgive me for not tracking down one more time the dismal supporting stats to show how each has come to pass. We all know casualties, personally. Most of us are casualties. Several weeks back liberal NPR was doing a mid-morning BBC special on current conditions for women, and referred to one recent British television investigation in which it was revealed that in a town in northern England, every single young woman was engaged in one form or another in the sex trade. Every single one. Forgive me for not being able to cite the program, forgive me for not knowing how they defined ‘young woman’ or ‘sex trade’; I had to sit down suddenly and cover my eyes.
You can read the demographers for yourselves, try googling ‘demographic problems of Europe’ for starters. One little warning, when viewing population projections, like those I just examined for Chicago, for example, be aware that projections are rose-colored, because they usually take the approach of the UN’s similar projections for global populations which happily assumes the world has awakened and found the magic potion that will ensure tht perfect 2.2 kids per couple, when in fact the glaring reality is, wherever Planned Population for the Hood has sunk its fangs, that rate has fallen through the floor, and nothing, absolutely nothing various nations have tried has induced women to swap shopping for bearing babies for longer than a year or two. The rates inch up for a minute, and then plunge lower than the original rate. After billions spent. Short of a total flaming miracle, birth rates will not rise to the UN’s rosy 2.2 but will continue to fall, as they have everywhere, once the trending down begins (who’d have thunk it was so very easy to dissuade us girls to forego the pleasure of diapers?). There is only one country in the world that was able to reverse a fertility rate lower than 1.5 and sustain it, Georgia, the one in the Caucasus, reports Jonathan Last. But the UN, and less global organizations in its wake, ignores the horrible real numbers and assumes a fantasy, that we’ll get it together and return to parenthood before the crash that demographers predict. Suffice to say, it ain’t happening. So please be aware of this when reading population projections. Keep the current rate in mind.
And although the US has not been worst at the game of Can’t Touch This, our fertility rate is falling for real now since the crisis, and so is the Mexican immigration that bailed us out the last few decases. We’re just lagging a little on the road to ruin. According to the Wall Street Journal, the US fertility rate including those of immigrants has fallen to 1.93, while those of middle class native born Americans is only 1.6, practically as bad as the Chinese rate of 1.54, and both measures, including immigrants and without the rates of immigrants, are still falling.
Pro-lifers are not responding to these conditions. We are stuck on another set of numbers. We generally celebrate that abortion numbers are falling, and they are, along with fertility rates. We are presently excited that there is a flurry to ban abortion after twenty weeks (when the numbers show that fewer than 1% of abortions are obtained that late). The difficulty of obtaining any real momentum on abortion has us in blinders to other political possibilities. Most pro-lifers have become, over time, passive natalists, because the general feeling of support for the idea that a growing population is better than a falling one helps the anti-abortion cause. After all, it’s pretty silly to stand outside an abortion clinic saying to women, ‘Please don’t kill this one child, although in general, remember, we have to keep the population down.’ We cling to the Republican party, and derive precious little from it, not even on abortion alone, and glaringly little in the economics of the promotion of family–almost nothing at all, just like we obtain nothing from the Democrats (like Starbucks with its eyes on gay money, for the dems it’s the gay votes for today, forget tomorrow, and screw the unions and civil rights) What we need is an alternative to the Republicrats, a third party, and what else we need is a platform for it that addresses not only abortion but abortion in its multiple causes, which are both economic and moral. Jonathan Last, in his What to Expect when No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster (buy it, but not from Amazon) gives us such a platform. That platform is pro-family and pro-Faith, the only vantage point that gives us bread for tomorrow.
Last gives details to show that efforts to bribe couples to have children haven’t worked all over the world where strictly monetary incentives have been used. But tax incentives are a better motivator, and one suggestion among several is that the tax credit for children be upped. Parents apparently feel more supported when they are allowed to keep more of their money than they are to get extra money for each child. Also, social researchers find that social security has acted as a disincentive to large families as men and women transfer their need for support and help in their senior years to a government, and propose that this distortion be relieved (it’s a distortion and not a reality because all world governments are presently in the position of bailing on the promises they have made to retirees–they simply cannot afford to be the income source in a failing fertility situation, where in many locales the number of workers supporting each senior citizen is approaching a one-to-one ratio), and that can be effected by simply reducing the amount of FICA deductions according to family size, thus incentivizing child-bearing.
Another tax incentive that ought to already have been put into play is the elimination of the preference for cohabitation over marriage–cohabitating couples pay lower taxes, given the same income, than married couples. Our third party would eliminate that particular oversight.
Another factor in the falling fertility rate is the expense of child-bearing, and one of the greatest of these is out-of-control college costs. Last cites the suggestion of social scientists that appropriate government agencies like the Department of Education devise standards-based tests that permit motivated students to skip college altogether and obtain their credentials and certifications by passing rigorous examinations. Because the objective quality of college degrees has declined dramatically in recent years, there might be much to be gained in substituting actual content-based tests to measure achievement, in any case.
Housing size is important in decisions to have children. There is a close association between house size and family size, and the trend in the US, as one would expect in a falling fertility culture, is toward smaller, not larger, housing (data: there’s more profit to be made by Amazon et al when we live totally alone in our little cubicles). Last explores several ideas to reverse this trend, that universities, for example, be constrained to offer a percentage of student housing with multiple bedrooms to married students at reasonable cost, which would also address another fertility factor, that most students are delaying marriage and family until the completion of their college years, to the detriment of total family size, since the most fertile years are precisely those now spent on campus. Researchers also suggest that more funds be spent on improving our highway systems and not on our public transit systems, contrary to present initiatives, because the suburbs offer the optimum family housing but presently also the maximum commuting stress, and families simply cannot use public transit systems as presently designed. They have too many stops to make it workable. By the same token, researchers recommend that telecommuting and other work-from-home employment structures be incentivized.
And the last incentive. Last discusses Georgia, the only nation ever to reverse a birthrate under 1.5 and sustain it. He attributes this amazing achievement to the involvement of their church in encouraging family growth. Their orthodox patriarch promised to personally baptize the third child of every family. That worked. Go figure. Of course, they had to have kept their religion alive, had to have kept their faith, had to be listening. Whereas in our nation, we have been making every effort to kill our own faith. We are a divided nation religiously, we begam that way, divided principally between evangelical ‘Christians’ and Catholics. But our third party could form a coalition of these forces, just as Hungary has recently done. The resulting commitment need not be large, nothing more than a constitutional recognition of our debt to Christianity and our dependence on biblical principles of morality in a general way. Gallup poll found, four years ago, that as many Americans as middle eastern Muslims do not want a secular state, and do want a state reflecting Christian beliefs. FIDESZ, the Hungarian party was–incredibally– able to build such a coalition. It stepped on some toes. It constitutionally forbids abortion and homosexual marriage and adoption. It does not make any other restraints on lifestyles, either heterosexual or homosexual, rather as the Catholic states of old were not notably Puritanical. FIDESZ won by a 2/3 majority of the electorate and that demonstrable democracy in action has kept them from being crucified. (Europe hates it. So does the modernist Vatican.) They also made some economic provisions protecting the poor and eliminating the tendency of the judiciary to ignore the wishes of the people, as has happened here in the US as well as in Europe. This constitution may not be their final stop. If they are wise, they will evangelize the country to their traditional Catholic Faith, and they will gradually introduce a truly Catholic state, one that puts Christ the King at the center, as truly required by justice to God, so that justice to man may prevail. And not the present dictatorship of the almighty profit margin.
So could we. How about ULUC? United for Life, United in Christ? Please step up with a better name, step up and run. Here would be real change, and real hope for the future.
We could win.
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