If the Wall Street Journal emerges from its hole and sees its shadow, does that mean six more weeks of winter? Give up? It’s a trick question, of course. If the WSJ editorial page staff were to appear in daylight, their skins would burn. Hell, if you can see your reflection in a mirror, you are disqualified from employment there. And, they do have an Undead Exchange Program:
Americans aren’t humping without protection enough. This, says book-pimping Weekly Standardud employee Jonathan Last is real bad:
America’s Baby Bust
Jonathan V. Last / Wall Street Journal
The nation’s falling fertility rate is the root cause of many of our problems. And it’s only getting worse. [...] Forget the debt ceiling. Forget the fiscal cliff, the sequestration cliff and the entitlement cliff. Those are all just symptoms. What America really faces is a demographic cliff: The root cause of most of our problems is our declining fertility rate….
You unsuccessful humpers, you. But it gets weirder …
Taking a Free Market approach, citing think tanks and whipping it all up into a fine, frothy mélange of Ground Hog Day hilarity, Last argues that the evil Commie Chinese have managed to lower their fertility rate to 1.54, while free market restraint from breeding has lowered the US fertility rate to 1.6. Huzzah! Capitalist Beast-With-Two-Backs has triumphed over its commie counterpart! Call out John Birch! Let’s lynch some liberulz! Huzzah! (Replacement rate = 2.1).
But, rather than accept the ridiculous notion that we’re fucking breeding ourselves into oblivion, and that the Chinese didn’t impose the “one child” rule simply because they’d run out of other Evil Communist Repressions to engage in, and were feeling bored, Last makes an impassioned — if brain-dead — plea for more patriotic humping to grow our American Way of Life (I am not making this up). Listen:
Can we keep the U.S. from becoming Japan? We have some advantages that the Japanese lack, beginning with a welcoming attitude toward immigration and robust religious faith, both of which buoy fertility. But in the long run, the answer is, probably not.
Conservatives like to think that if we could just provide the right tax incentives for childbearing, then Americans might go back to having children the way they did 40 years ago. Liberals like to think that if we would just be more like France—offer state-run day care and other programs so women wouldn’t have to choose between working and motherhood—it would solve the problem. But the evidence suggests that neither path offers more than marginal gains. France, for example, hasn’t been able to stay at the replacement rate, even with all its day-care spending…
Ah, those unwelcoming non-religious Japanese don’t know about Real American Fucking. We must reclaim our American fuckitude.
After all, other than those two attitudinal differences (because, as we all know, the Japanese are all irreligious, exclusionist thugs — you know, like Penn Gillette) the US and Japan are like TOTALLY the same.
I will save the “outsourcing our fertility stuff” for later. For now, we need to understand where Mr. Last is coming from: people don’t matter; prosperity matters and if you are prosperous, then, naturally, people will be happy and why are you staring at me like that? What’d I say? What’d I say?
People are the ciphers in Last’s ledger domain. Listen:
We’ll need smart pronatalist policies, too. The government cannot persuade Americans to have children they do not want, but it can help them to have the children they do want. Here are three starting points:
Social Security. In the U.S., the Social Security system has taken on most of the burden for caring for elderly adults, a duty that traditionally fell to grown-up children. A perverse effect of putting government in the business of eldercare has been to reduce the incentives to have children in the first place. One RAND study suggested that Social Security depresses the American fertility rate by as much as 0.5.
Ah, we’re not having children to guarantee our old age because of that EVIL DISINCENTIVIZING SOCIAL SECURITY.
I would guess that either Mr. Last is unaware of the fact that, prior to Social Security, the number one cause of elder death was … hypothermia (they were, er, freezing to death from lack of a warm place to be) or else he wouldn’t care. I guess that having more warm bodies didn’t some how translate to not dying of cold bodies.
The worldview is, franky as monstrous as it is hilarious, and it is a sad commentary on the informatorium of bad knowledge that Murdoch’s Dickensian culture represents that this garbage would be taken seriously enough to print, rather than relegating it to the “review books” closet that every newspaper used to have, including three copies of the privately printed and annotated “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” that cranks in Arizona, Idaho and Mississippi had privately printed and sent with a hand-written note, signature followed by “a true American.”
You couldn’t make this up:
Regardless of the particulars, the underlying theory is the same: To reduce the tax burden for people who take on the costs of creating new taxpayers (otherwise known as children).
College. Higher education dampens fertility in all sorts of ways. It delays marriage, incurs debt, increases the opportunity costs of childbearing and significantly increases the expense of raising a child.
And you LEARN about birth control. Gosh-darned edumacashun!
“Creating new taxpayers (otherwise known as children)“?!??!?!?!
WHY does the opening soup scene in Oliver! spring, unbidden, to mind?
A human being is not defined as “human” here: he/she is reduced to economic function alone: a taxpayer. Or, in the case of the child, a POTENTIAL taxpayer.
No: at the risk of getting heavy here, we just remembered the Holocaust (or weren’t you listening?), and this is EXACTLY what we were supposed to remember: that the true horror was the industrialized, statistically reported (secretly) mass murder of human beings, carried through with assembly-line precision, using railroads and designed killing factories manned by slave labor, that “banality of evil” that Hannah Arendt so memorably used as her subtitle to Eichmann in Israel.
… the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths, but by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.
When you look at the banality of the notion that the policy problem of prosperity must be solved by incentivizing taxpayers to produce MORE taxpayers, you have veered into evil.
Heaviousity concluded. Hilarity begins.
Tasking his protean intellect with divining the core issues of keeping the economy prosperous by demanding an ever-increasing population, Last breathes a heavy sigh of relief — oxymoronically, for, if you will recall, he began with Kapitalist Triumphalism over Evil Chinese Communism, that OUR infertility rate is almost as low as YOUR infertility rate, ‘cuz WE USES FREE MARKETSES! and thence argues against all evidence and his own ‘victory’ lap that a nongrowing population is AWFUL.
Now, I don’t quite get that last bit, since, translated using the transitive property of logical discourse and mathematics, didn’t he just say that OUR failure was almost as GOOD as China’s failure BECAUSE of our ‘free market’ economy?
Anyway, he proceeds to argue that we’re not as bad off as we COULD be, since we’ve been OUTSOURCING our fertility to them Messicans:
If you strip these immigrants—and their relatively high fertility rates—from our population profile, America suddenly looks an awful lot like continental Europe, which has a fertility rate of 1.5., if not quite as demographically terminal as Japan.
Relying on immigration to prop up our fertility rate also presents several problems, the most important of which is that it’s unlikely to last. Historically, countries with fertility rates below replacement level start to face their own labor shortages, and they send fewer people abroad. In Latin America, the rates of fertility decline are even more extreme than in the U.S. Many countries in South America are already below replacement level, and they send very few immigrants our way. And every other country in Central and South America is on a steep dive toward the replacement line.
That is what’s happened in Mexico. In 1970, the Mexican fertility rate was 6.72. Today, it’s just at replacement, a drop of 72% in 40 years. Mexico used to send us several hundred thousand immigrants a year. For the last three years, there has been a net immigration of zero. Some of this decrease is probably related to the recent recession, but much of it is likely the result of a structural shift.
And then comes the kicker:
As for the Hispanic immigrants who are already here, we can’t count on their demographic help forever. They’ve been doing the heavy lifting for a long time…
Oh. Dear. Ghod.
Yep. We been outsourcin’ our baby-makin’ to them Messicans, but THEY AIN’T BREEDIN’ LAHK RABBITS NO MORE!
They used to “send” us …?
Didn’t we just spend last week talking about “illegal immigrants” (who were, invariably, assumed to be “hispanics” i.e. Messicanses.)??!?
I have less complex puzzles to solve, like that Rubik’s Cube gathering dust on the high shelf in the laundry room.
If you know what a Klein Bottle is, then you understand what Last has just done. If you DON’T know what a Klein Bottle is, then you can deduce from Last’s arguments that it basically twists around in another dimension and pours back into itself. A kind of M.C. Escher canteen for field trips to survey surreal estate properties.
I would be remiss if I did not comment on the phrase: “we can’t count on their demographic help forever. They’ve been doing the heavy lifting for a long time”
We can’t count on Messicans unprotected fucking no more; they been doing our consequential fucking for us for far too long …
Uh, thank you for your service?
An approximate 3 dimensional representation of
a 4 dimensional Klein bottle
Oh, this is from a book, “from which this essay is adapted.” Let’s hope it’s not adopted.