Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Deducing About Reproducing

Whether you are a believer that understands the command of God for His people to be fruitful and multiply to replenish the Earth or an unbeliever that recognizes the drive to reproduce as one of the strongest in all animals, reproduction is unarguably a major motivator for human beings. Little wonder that it is such a powerful issue that dominates so much of our lives, for good or ill.

Having children has morphed from a blessing and a privilege that couples look forward to after marriage into some sort of onerous rite of passage that comes when you are getting older but is to be avoided until absolutely necessary like a prostate exam and annual mammograms. "Well we are getting pretty old. Time to get an AARP membership and have a kid or two. What time is Murder She Wrote on?"

What this means is that most Americans are delaying or eschewing entirely having kids and it seems to be worse among those who are obsessed with their "career" and trying to fill the void with pets. Often these are the most highly educated and/or intelligent among us. It turns out there was a prophetic movie about this happening....

As a result our birth rate, like that of Western Europe and Japan, is rapidly plunging. But that is OK because there are too many people anyway and that causes global warming um climate change um, something really bad. So no problem, anyway the "experts" tell us that the key to happiness is to put off marriage and put off even later child-bearing as late as humanly possible. You need to be financially stable and kids screw that up, the Detroit Free Press even posted an article yesterday morning after I start working on this post titled Having children can ruin your retirement. Of course it is all about your own personal comfort so it must be true. Don't have kids or if you must wait until you are old enough that chasing a toddler around is hazardous to your health.

Oops, now your birth rate has dropped below replacement!

Of course the same super smart people that convinced you to put off marriage and childbearing also talked you into giant pyramid schemes called Social Security and Medicare that require a steady supply of current tax-payers to fund these programs for future and present retirees. Since you pay into it your whole life, you of course want to keep it around and therefore it can never be tinkered with even a little at the risk of incurring the wrath of the geriatric voting legions.

In the middle of this we cut trade "deals" that end up gutting the middle-class, leaving fewer job options for people without a college degree which has in turn led to generations of adults with meaningless college degrees, no useful skills, few job prospects and of course a load of student loan debt and collecting that debt is one of the few things the government is really serious about. That combined with an anti-fecundity culture helps to ensure even more people put off marriage and child-bearing.

Now we find ourselves in the same looming demographic disaster a lot of other civilized nations have, namely that we don't have much of a bench when it comes to new taxpayers to pay for all of the retirees, a situation made worse by all of the Baby Boomers retiring, people living longer and of course a $20,000,000,000,000 national debt on top of a hundred trillion dollar unfunded liability for Social Security and Medicare.

Don't worry! Our betters, those who have appointed themselves as the intellectual vanguard of America, have a solution. We will follow the example of Europe and import *new* workers to take over for the retiring people. America workers retire, are replaced by new Mexican, Somalian or Burmese workers and the wheels keep turning. I call this the Bill Kristol plan:
“Look, to be totally honest, if things are so bad as you say with the white working class, don’t you want to get new Americans in?” asked Kristol.
There is a serious problem with that plan. It assumes that a "new American" worker is going to make as much money and therefore pay as much in taxes and Social Security withholding as current workers. As the article I linked points out, just a couple of stats jump out at me. First, 51% of immigrant families (both illegal and legal) use welfare programs, more than 1.5 times the rate (30%) of native Americans. They also are almost twice as likely (40% to 22%) to use food stamps. Other reports suggest that illegal immigrants are a net cost to America of $113,000,000,000 per year. In general, "new Americans" make substantially less than native workers and as an added bonus tend to depress the wages of existing native workers. So in essence you are funding an ever-increasing pool of Social Security and Medicare recipients that have for the most part been paying into the systems their entire working life with a pool of workers that are making less money and therefore less in taxes while at the same time those same replacement workers are actually a net drag already on the economy. This is obviously not sustainable, nor is the general move away from decent paying jobs to service industry jobs that also pay far less.

Note: This is NOT about immigration, how much or whether we should allow it at all. It is simply to point out that people are not interchangeable units of production that you can replace at will, one tax cow for another tax cow. People that for whatever reason will make less and pay less in taxes cannot sustain a system built on wage and tax assumptions. So the net result will be either to sharply reduce retiree benefits for people that paid for those benefits for other people for four decades or sharply reduce discretionary spending in other areas. That leads to all sorts of potentially serious issues.

So here is a solid idea. Maybe we can try something novel like native-born Americans (not to be confused as a term with the misleading "Native Americans", i.e. American Indians) having more children. Crazy, I know. There are a lot of systemic problems that make having children into an economic burden so why not do what we can to encourage, or at least stop discouraging, people to get married and have kids. This is an idea that is catching on in Europe. Denmark ran an ad campaign called "Do It For Denmark" that encourages Danish couples to take a romantic vacation and get pregnant (sorta NSFW):

The Alternative for Deutschland, or AfD, tagged with the risible label of "far right" recently won a bunch of legislative seats in Germany and they had an ad campaign that had a simple message. New Germans? We'll make our own!

That kind of stuff makes some people uncomfortable and strikes others as jingoistic and xenophobic or *gasp* Alt-Rightish but making people uncomfortable and being called names has never really bothered me.

The U.S. cannot maintain our social safety net as it exists in any form and we especially cannot sustain it with a shrinking native population that is being replaced by a population that simply cannot replicate, at least not any time soon, the native population in terms of wages and therefore taxes. The push for mass immigration is a cynical and perverse unspoken partnership between the Left, which understandably sees new immigrants as a guaranteed increase to their voter base, and the Big Business "Right" championed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Wall Street Journal, which rightly sees immigrants as a way to lower wages and benefits and therefore pad their bottom lines. But we can't empty out or even substantially reduce the populations of Africa and South America without fixing the systemic problems that exist, otherwise the demand for immigration will never cease.

Our policy as a nation should be three fold. First, stricter restrictions on immigration and far harsher penalties not simply on the illegal aliens residing in America but especially on those who knowingly or willfully ignorantly hire them. Second, an absolute scorched earth policy toward any rule or law that discourages marriage and child-bearing. I am not talking about bribing people with food stamps or welfare money to have more kids, just finding ways to incentivize responsible child-bearing and rearing within the bounds of a traditional family. Third, our foreign policy should be aimed at not causing conflicts that increase instability (i.e. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syrian, pretty much everywhere we get involved) and instead works to make life sustainable in places people are fleeing from. I don't want the best and brightest from Africa to come to America in search of a better life, I want them to be able to build a better life in Africa. Africa has all the resources it needs to succeed. Zimbabwe used to be known as Rhodesia and once was also known as the breadbasket of Africa but now it is a nightmare thanks to strongman Robert Mugabe, who once ordered farmers, under the threat of imprisonment, to stop farming in the midst of a food crisis. You will never fix someplace if you provide a way and incentives for the most industrious and motivated citizens to escape.

Americans already have the means to face the impending fiscal and demographic disaster facing us, as well as potentially places like Western Europe and Japan, and all we need to do is what comes naturally to us: have children. For a nation that endlessly yammers about children, we seem to really not like them very much but as the Prophetess Whitney Houston crooned, I believe the children are our future. If we teach them well and let them lead the way, they can indeed save us. But in order for the children to truly be our future, we need to start having a lot more of them.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Well said. As long as we worship ease, comfort, and financial security above all else, children will remain far down our list of priorities. I'd highly recommend "What to expect when no one's expecting", by Jonathan V. Last. He touches on many of your points. Sadly, attitudes are little different in our churches. Young people are encouraged to wait until they're "ready" (as defined by having career and financial security taken care of) to have children. Despite describing ourselves as ferociously "pro-life", we take every measure (except abortion, of course) to prevent the birth of children. When I was serving on my church council as a deacon, I had a fellow deacon make a disparaging remark when I announced that we were pregnant with our sixth child. They said, "Just don't come asking the church for money if things get tight." I laughed this off as just good-natured ribbing, but it betrays a very real sentiment held by many in the church. Perhaps it's just within my Reformed denomination. Do you see a more "pro-child" attitude in your church?