Our Coming Demographic Winter, Part I
Should nations view children as a blessing or as a burden during economic hard times? What about families?
Within one day of taking office, the president gave his answer to the first question. He would use the anniversary of Roe v. Wade to lift the ban on overseas abortion funding. The message: In tough economic times, it is important for U.S. taxpayer dollars to be spent preventing more life from coming into this world.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was even more creative in her baby-banning agenda. In a national television interview, she made it clear that one important way to stimulate the economy was for people to stop having babies.
Pelosi defended her plan to make tax-payer subsidized child prevention an important part of the $825 billion economic stimulus package, explaining that “contraception will reduce the cost to the states and to the federal government...no apologies. No. We have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.”
Translation: We must control the population because children are a burden on the economy — especially children from lower class families. The less of these children, the less money the government will have to spend on schools and healthcare.
The same day Speaker Pelosi was urging her vision for anti-recession population control measures, a top adviser to the British government made the case that more abortion and contraception is needed to save the environment. Jonathan Porritt, the former advisor on the environment to Tony Blair and the chairman of Britain’s Sustainable Development Commission stated, “I think we will work our way towards a position that says that having more than two children is irresponsible.”
Ironically, the same day that both Speaker Pelosi’s and Chairman Porritt’s comments were circulating, a very different story was breaking on CNN: “Workers Urged: Go Home and Multiply.”
CNN’s Kyung Lah reported, “Japan is in the midst of an unprecedented recession, so corporations are being asked to work toward fixing another major problem: the country’s low birthrate.”
After decades of social pressure to drastically limit family size, the Japanese economy is on the verge of implosion. With a birthrate of 1.34, they are an aging population without the labor force to maintain their own economy.
Lah writes: “Keidanren, Japan’s largest business group, with 1,300 major international corporations as members, has issued a plea to its members to let workers go home early to spend time with their families and help Japan with its pressing social problem.”
What then is the fundamental reason for the difference in rationale between the Japanese response to birthrate decline and the American response?
It would be easy to attribute the entire failure of the American liberal leadership to acknowledge the problem directly to their deeply held religious commitments. Years of worshipping Malthus and Darwin takes a toll. It is hard to recalibrate after decades of zealotry and blind loyalty to the feminist mantras of contraceptive freedom, reproductive rights, and liberation from domesticity. But I still think more is going on.
America has yet to really feel the pain.
Japan is beginning to feel the pain. And there is more pain a-coming from the economic and social infrastructure of this beautiful nation which has been characterized by devotion to capitalism at the expense of family life. (Footnote: They learned it from us and simply applied the principles with a vengeance.)
When Americans begin to feel the pain — when they taste more of the full implications of a childless culture, perhaps some will connect the dots. When armies of American elderly spend their final years alone and unloved because they did not want to burden themselves or the world with children; when the declining population of young workers finally refuses to support a Social Security system that will never serve them; when there are simply not enough new employees to replace the massive population of retirees — perhaps then.
And then again, maybe not. But at that point, it may not matter.
I am reminded of the words of Abraham responding to the rich man crying out from Hell, begging for more evidence to be sent to his living relatives:
“If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rises from the dead” (Luke 19:31).