Saturday, May 31, 2014

Make Babies for America

Personal choice defines our generation and our times. We choose this slice of pizza over that burger. This polo over that t-shirt. This school over that job. And we choose like this in every area of our lives - most importantly, and most controversially, in our choice to reproduce or not.

Before you X out or get excited (whichever your reaction might be), I am not going to talk about abortion. That's not my topic.

My topic is babymaking.

We are all accustomed, I am sure, to the personal exercise of choice in this area. Some never marry and never have children. Some don't marry but still have children. Some marry and live their lives childless through choice, whereas others marry and deliberately reproduce like proverbial rabbits.

Though I am sure we all have preferences in these areas - strong preferences in these areas - there is a general societal agreement not to press one another about these issues. The choice to reproduce, or not, is intensely personal. There are certain times where the preferences boil up and out of the pot - when there is a veritable showdown between the firmly barren and the permanently pregnant - but for the most part, we do what we want and we live as we like.

I had agreed, consciously or not, to not press others about this choice. Who cares if you don't want to have babies? It has absolutely no effect on me, and your decision to live your life with or without children matters little to my interaction with you. I certainly did not think that it was a matter of public interest or that others' decisions to reproduce or not, when examined from a satellite view, was going to matter to the nation as a whole.

But it does.
I was shown a video during the fall semester of my senior year. The video was entitled Demographic Winter, and it was...shocking. Perhaps not frightening, but undeniably worrisome. The video detailed what a writer for the Weekly Standard explains in the course of ten long pages: that as we exercise this personal choice to reproduce less and less often, we create what is called a "reverse population pyramid."

The norm, for most of humanity's time on this earth, is that the family unit has more young people than old. Two grandparents stand on the heads of their 3 or 4 married children's heads, who in turn stand upon the combined might of the 9 to 16 grandchildren. This is the normal "population pyramid." And it has worked for however long we've been on the planet because, inevitably, the the elderly are less able to work and self-sustain themselves than children. A 5-year-old can still scamper about the house and, under the direction of an elder, accomplish things the elder could no longer do. They are more useful. And they can support the elderly, whereas the elder's single contribution is knowledge. Grandparents die much quicker without the aid of their offspring.

But now we are in the middle of a reversal process. How many kids do you know that grew up without siblings? The "Only Child" philosophy is a recent phenomenon (even it's advocates grant that)...but it's a growing one. The only reproductive philosophy that's rising faster than that is the "Childfree" phenom.

Taken individually, you and I probably shouldn't and don't care. You wanna have one kid? Or no kids? What do I care? But when taken collectively...well, it's much scarier.

Because when you look at the nation's reproductive rate, you have to come to the realization that if things continue as they are now, we - this generation, our generation - are going to have it bad. But the next generation will have it worse.

We are going to be supporting a massive amount of retirees. Massive. It won't be nearly as bad as China - which will have 1.6 workers for every retiree, and that's not even the 50-yr scenario - but it will be bad. But if things continue, then the amount of retirees the next generation will support will be monstrous.

Perhaps you are thinking, "Oh! Well, I don't mind helping the elderly. If that's all there is to it, well, we will just have to buckle down and be a somewhat sacrificial generation." Unfortunately, that's not all there is to it.

Call to mind the recent housing bust. You know - builders build, buyers buy. Builders build and build, and buyers buy and buy. Builders build and build and build and build - and then, at just the wrong time, buyers are no longer buying. This is because there aren't as many people to buy the houses. And the way things are going, that's not going to change much. This same principles applies to a ton of different elements of the economy. The bottom line is that there is a correlation between economic production/growth/wellbeing on the one hand, and reproduction on the other (I'm going to again link to the 10-pager which everyone should read).

If things continue the way they are now, we will be seeing economic catastrophes across the globe, as not even 3rd-world countries are holding at the steady 2.1 fertility rate necessary for population maintenance (thank you, combined might of sexual freedom awareness workers and condom and abortion suppliers worldwide). And America will see it's downfall.

But not all is doom and gloom - because, very thankfully, the population at large has not yet gone the route of self-sterilization. We can still do it! We can still make babies!

The trick, though, is not just to re-convince Americans that children really are desirable. We have to re-convince Americans that marriage is desirable. Children want whole families. No child wants a divorced family, although there are certainly times when it's best (abusive fathers presents one very unfortunate case in point). But many of those in our generation just don't care that much for marriage, mostly because we don't like the way our parents did it and because we all know that Disney is full of shit when it comes to their romances.

We have to remake the standards. No one in our generation is going to "pony up and do it for America," as the title of this post implies. I can't just say, "Listen up, Patriots! I want you all to get together, get hitched, and do your marital duties! Make Babies for America!" It won't work, though it would be a very entertaining slogan to throw all over Metro walls in D.C. and N.Y. We actually have to depict marriage as something desirable (yes, let the marriage jokes commence). Because unless this starts happening, we are all going to be seriously screwed. Not as screwed as Russia. Certainly not as screwed as Thailand. But more screwed than America deserves.

8 comments:

  1. 1.) This is not a future, looming catastrophe. It is happening right now. Our parents are baby boomers and we are the bust from that boom. *Social Security*
    2.) Talk about collective benefit... if we (and by we I mean humanity, not America) continue to reproduce exponentially, which we are despite all the hedonistic novelty condom machines and abortionists out there, the EARTH will not support us. I know it's malthusian of me to say so, but we can't consume like we do and continue to have more babies.
    3.) Marriage has nothing to do with reproduction or family for that matter. It is yet another form of social control imposed upon you Monty without your awareness. It is the vestige of our Patriarchal, property driven culture that serves no purpose other than to further extend the societal taxonomy that we, as actors, operate in, obliviously. "Children want whole families"? That's the kind of essentialism that will box you in my friend. Get outside the binary.

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  2. check your email

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  3. Marriage is doubtlessly a patriarchal (and probably secular) construct. But I disagree that it is simply a way to extend societal taxonomy. Marriage is becoming less of a norm, yet people (even the non-religious) still seek it out. I think we would all be better off if we didn't view it as a necessity, but a completely conscious decision. It really is not for everyone. And it probably shouldn't be.

    If, as you say, children want whole families then people should be encouraged to adopt. As someone who has worked in social services domestically and abroad, we need to take care of the existing children rather than reproduce. There are millions of disenfranchised children (yes, even in America) who are ignored and need to be absorbed back into society.

    Garret is right; we can't keep reproducing like we have been and expect the Earth to withstand our greedy asses. And I agree that our generation is in response to the baby boomers as well. The article mentions China's "scary" one-child policy. However, it was in response to their population boom that led to years of famine. A famine that included people kidnapping children and selling them for meat because they became deranged from starvation. No thanks. I'm vegetarian. Interestingly, China's younger adult population is also turning away from marriage and children. Nature balancing itself?

    If I could personally sterilize some people I would. I say thank God for condoms. True story: when I was in high school, my Catholic friend asked her mother if the rhythm method actually worked. She said, "I don't know, go ask your brother."

    Don't talk shit about Thailand.

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  4. "Vatican Roulette" Catholic for Rhythm

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  5. I didn't know anything about the Chinese famine, but it doesn't seem to have as much to do with overpopulation as it does with the stupidity of the Chinese government and the result of natural disasters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Chinese_Famine

    And I'm just going to write another post to address how the evil parasitic humans are killing the Earth.

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  6. Monty...I feel the same way. I would totally procreate...but there's something missing that I have to find first...lol

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  7. Don't "wiki" an East Asian Studies major. I know what I'm talking about, yo. And yes, a LOT of it had to do with the population overgrowth. Hence, one-child policy.

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  8. Monty, thanks for sharing. This is good and true stuff. No matter what the others say... CHILDREN DO WANT WHOLE FAMILIES, All children, the ones that don't have any as well as the ones who have witness and experience broken families, its hell, and i don't say that lightly

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