Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Staving Off Extinction

Humans are becoming an endangered species in the northern hemisphere. I don’t care much about polar bears or ivory-billed woodpeckers but I am worried about us. Our young people are not reproducing as they should. Something’s wrong.

In Japan, for instance, grandparents outnumber grandchildren because the birthrate has fallen to 1.3 babies per woman - well below minimum replacement rate of 2.1. Four grandparents compete for the attention of a lone grandchild. There are so few little girls that doll manufacturers were going out of business. Instead of making dolls that look like babies for little girls to pretend they’re mothers, they now make dolls that look like grandchildren for old folks to pretend they’re grandparents. “Grandchild” dolls are programmed with recordings like: “Why are bunnies’ eyes red?” or “I wonder why the stars don’t fall to the ground,” or “Where does the wind come from and where does it go?” - the kinds of things senior citizens would love to discuss lovingly with the flesh-and-blood grandchildren they don’t have. Sad. Very sad.

Look around the rest of the hemisphere and remember that every woman must produce 2.1 children just to sustain a population at current levels: Canada is at 1.5. Cross the Atlantic and Ireland is at 1.87. Germany is 1.3, Spain is 1.1 and Italy is 1.2. Italy. Imagine. Russia is also at 1.2 and China is 1.7. Back in 1979, China’s government ruled that families could have only one child. Women who got pregnant a second time were often forced to have abortions and/or sterilizations.

South Korea didn’t get that drastic, but in 1961 they began pressuring families to have no more than two children. According to an article by Joseph A. D'Agostino of The Population Research Institute:

“Government employees with more than two children were denied promotions. Third and younger children were denied many benefits, and small families received preference in housing allotments. The birthrate plummeted to 1.7 by the ’90s, and South Korea finally abandoned her population control program in 1996. But it was too late. Cultural attitudes and economic realities had changed.”

Now South Korean women have only 1.08 children each and their government has reversed course. Facing the specter of its population shrinking by half every generation, it’s providing incentives for more children, but it fears it won’t be able to change cultural attitudes back to what they were a half-century ago.

It’s not that bad in the United States - yet. American women have 2.07 children each - a teensy bit below replacement level, but the trend is downward. The more America’s secular/progressive blue states emulate shrinking socialist countries of Europe in their politics and mores, the more their birth rates go down. By contrast, religious/conservative red states have much higher birth rates. A recent book by Mark Steyn entitled “America Alone” makes a convincing case that western civilization as we know it is self-destructing and the chief culprit is declining demographics. In a recent companion “Wall Street Journal” piece, Steyn writes: “In America, demographic trends suggest that the blue states ought to apply for honorary membership of the EU: In the 2004 election, John Kerry won the 16 with the lowest birthrates; George W. Bush took 25 of the 26 states with the highest.”

Warnings against those most cherished secular/progressive policy issues of abortion and gay rights - which seek to separate sex from reproduction - are not theoretical. Resulting cultural attitude changes work against the traditional family - the basic unit of society - and have lethal effects on population levels. The biggest enemy of secular/progressive policies in Europe, Canada and the United States is the Roman Catholic Church, which works tirelessly against non-marital sex, abortion and gay “marriage,” and in favor of the traditional family unit all around the world.

Consider the Catholic Nuptual Mass ceremony. The priest asks the couple: “Have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage? Will you love and honor each other as husband and wife for the rest of your lives? Will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the Law of Love and Compassion?” Assuming the answers are all yes, the ceremony continues: “Since it is your intention to enter into marriage, with your hands joined declare your consent before God and his Church, this community of your family and friends.” From there, they do the “for richer or for poorer” and “forsaking all others” parts.

At the reception, kids run around underfoot. Grandparents look on sagely. Toaster ovens and envelopes with money are given and accepted because everyone has a stake in the marriage. It’s harder to divorce after such public ceremonies and couples are pressured to keep traditional religion and culture alive by producing children and staying together to raise them. That’s the whole point of marriage - staving off extinction. It’s not stifling. It’s not repressive. It’s how we survive. That’s why society has a stake in it. How could we have forgotten something so elementary?


tomax7 said...

Hi Tom.

Interestingly, I wonder what Middle East population growth is pegged at? We won't bother throwing in African or South America nations.

North America, Europe, and Japan have been duped into thinking freedom means toys. Toys for adults that is, not kids.

No kids, more money for toys.

Reap what we sow.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Good to hear from you Tom. I'll quote again from Mark Steyn's Wall Street Journal piece:

"'Replacement' fertility rate--i.e., the number you need for merely a stable population, not getting any bigger, not getting any smaller--is 2.1 babies per woman. Some countries are well above that: the global fertility leader, Somalia, is 6.91, Niger 6.83, Afghanistan 6.78, Yemen 6.75. Notice what those nations have in common?"

The theme of his book "America Alone" is just what you're suspecting - that Muslims outbreed westerners by a wide margin and Europe will soon become "Eurabia" as its growing immigrant population will take over demographically sometime in the next few decades. I recommend it highly.

Reap what we sow, indeed.

wormstooth said...

Now and then we agree. The exploding population of a culture trapped in the twelfth century that is devoutly anti-American is cause for grave concern. All I can say is I did my best, four college grads who call me dad.sbmjr

Tom McLaughlin said...

Congratulations Wormstooth. Any grandchildren yet?

tomax7 said...

wormstooth: "culture trapped in the twelfth century"

Well put, sadly, but well put.

Congrats on the family.

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as Eurabia except in the mind of conspiracy theorists and Europe-haters.

Tom McLaughlin said...

If present trends continue, Nicolas, it's your future. I understand that must be hard for devout believers in multiculturalism to face.

I googled your name and I could see that you are better at playing the guitar than analyzing trends in the world around you. I wish I were wrong. I really do.

But I'm not.

Anonymous said...

"If present trends continue, Nicolas, it's your future." (Tom McLaughlin)

There is currently 3% Muslims in European Union's population. In your opinion, how many centuries are needed to a grow up to 50% with present trends? Is this sane to claim that "Europe will soon become 'Eurabia' [...] sometime in the next few decades"?

"I wish I were wrong."

You dont't look.

"I'm not."

Evidence? (Please notice that a reply like "Europeans are Untermenschen" would prove my point)

Tom McLaughlin said...

I'm not limiting my prediction to the EU. Here's one piece of evidence from the San Francisco Chronicle

"Russia's overall population is dropping at a rate of 700,000 people a year, largely due to the short life spans and low birth rates of ethnic Russians. The country's 2002 census shows that the national fertility rate is 1.5 children per woman, far below the 2.1 children per woman needed to maintain the country's population of about 143 million. The rate in Moscow is even lower, at 1.1 children per woman.

But Russia's Muslims are bucking that trend. The fertility rate for Tatars living in Moscow, for example, is six children per woman, Goble said, while the Chechen and Ingush communities are averaging 10 children per woman. And hundreds of thousands of Muslims from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have been flocking to Russia in search of work. Since 1989, Russia's Muslim population has increased by 40 percent to about 25 million. By 2015, Muslims will make up a majority of Russia's conscript army, and by 2020 a fifth of the population. "If nothing changes, in 30 years people of Muslim descent will definitely outnumber ethnic Russians," Goble said."

France and the Netherlands are not too far behind.

I can give you more if you'd like.

Anonymous said...

Tom McLaughlin: According to there is no demographic or muslim issue in Russia. And you have not answered to my questions.