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Phil Lawler jumps on the bandwagon August 10, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic, Society.

Want to be able to provide for extensive old age social welfare programs?  Have more children.  What is the best insurance for a growing economy?  Have more children.  Want to encourage innovation in every respect?  Have more children.  Unfortunately, our government pursues policies that are hostile to families and discourages having children

I’ve argued in the past that the only way to pay for programs like Medicare and Social Security is to have large families.  That way, the number of young people supporting the older generations (which we should do, out of charity, but I would rather see individual families do more multi-generational cohabitation and care) is kept at a reasonable ratio.  As Lawler concludes:

Policies that discourage child-bearing also discourage saving and investment. Without saving and investment, the economy won’t grow. Without economic growth, tax revenues will falter. Without rising tax revenues, we can’t continue making those entitlement payments to the elderly.

Oddly enough, the best way to ensure security for the elderly is not to expand their entitlements, but to encourage young parents to have more children.

Due to chronically low birth rates in the US over the last 40 years (they have averaged slightly less than 2.0 children per woman, below replacement rate, only unconstrained immigration has made up the difference), we now face a situation where we cannot possibly afford the elder care benefits promised to the baby boomers.  That generation being the one, by the way, that most directly contributed to the collapse in the US fertility rate.  Whereas their parents averaged almost 4 children per woman, the boomers, native born US citizens, averaged about 1.7.  And so, there will not be nearly enough young workers to care for them. 

But, the US government continues to pursue policies that discourage having children.  High confiscatory taxation and very modest tax credits for having children have had a strong effect on many people, discouraging them from having children at all, or one or two at most.  The culture also emphasizes this: we are constantly presented with images of a “normal” family consisting of a mom, a kid or two, and perhaps a dad, doddering old fool that he is.  The present path of the government and culture is one of long term economic decline.  Witness Japan – yes, they had a real estate bubble, but why will their economy simply not grow?  Two main reasons, aside from structural problems – lack of children, and very high (and increasing) expenses for caring for a very rapidly aging population.  This same probem is prevalent in Europe, where real economic growth in many countries is stagnant.  Again, the reason?  Lack of children. 

As Robert Samuelson, the only sensical writer for the Washington Post, says:

In poor societies, people have children to improve their economic well-being by increasing the number of family workers and providing support for parents in their old age. In wealthy societies, the logic often reverses. Government now supports the elderly, diminishing the need for children. By some studies, the safety nets for retirees have reduced fertility rates by 0.5 children in the United States and almost 1.0 in Western Europe, reports economist Robert Stein in the journal National Affairs. Similarly, some couples don’t have children because they don’t want to sacrifice their own lifestyles to the time and expense of a family.

We need to avoid Western Europe’s mix of high taxes, low birth rates and feeble economic growth. Young Americans already face a bleak labor market that cannot instill confidence about having children. Piling on higher taxes won’t help.

Notice that 0.5 children figure.  I have no idea how it was computed, or if it is accurate, but if the US had averaged 2.7 children per woman over the past 40 years, as opposed to slightly less than 2, we would not have any difficulties paying for social security, Medicare, and all the other goodies people want.  It is ironic that the very safety net that is supposed to save the elderly, is driving a situation that makes paying for that care impossible.  As the saying goes, the Lord sure works in mysterious ways.


1. FrDarryl - August 10, 2010

Yet so many people blithely refuse to imagine the inevitability of the next ‘term’ in the moral nihilist sequence:

artificial contraception + abortion on demand + same-sex marriage + euthanasia + …

tantamergo - August 10, 2010

Dude, where are you a priest at? If I’m ever even close, I have to be there to celebrate Mass with you!

Thanks for your comments, I appreciate them.

tantamergo - August 10, 2010

And the ‘dude’ wasn’t meant to be disrespectful, just like ‘wow,’ you keep distilling things down to their essence and note the links in the nihilist chain.

2. Subvet - August 10, 2010

“we now face a situation where we cannot possibly afford the elder care benefits promised to the baby boomers. That generation being the one, by the way, that most directly contributed to the collapse in the US fertility rate.”

Too true. We were sold a bill of goods during the 1960’s by the feminists pushing for “reproductive rights” while those who actually knew better gave relatively feeble responses on the subject. Trusting the louder voices found amongst our elders, we bought it hook, line & sinker.

Since that time the best we boomers could do was to live out the lies told and prove their fallacy. It’s a shame previous generations (who were actually in charge of the country/world at that time) didn’t shoulder some responsibility and speak out more effectively against the tripe being pedaled.

A multigenerational problem that won’t be solved any time soon.

tantamergo - August 10, 2010

Yes, I and I don’t want it to seem I’m putting this all on baby boomers. One thing about the greatest generation – they elected LBJ, and Jimmy Carter, so right there, that’s two huge knocks! Seriously, though, you are correct – a whole lot has had to go wrong to get to where we are today, and while boomers may not have had alot of kids, not everything going wrong started with them, nor end with them. My own generation, X or whatever the current popular nomenclature is, has not done much differently, nor has the next younger generation. It takes centuries to build up a culture, but, apparently, only a few short decades, or years, to tear it down.

3. Subvet - August 10, 2010

Amen to that. I don’t want to appear to be wholeheartedly excusing the boomers, hopefully that isn’t the message coming across. No matter what age, we are ALL born with a sense of right and wrong. Taking the easy way out is a personal choice, no matter how many voices urge us to do it (and in the case of birth control there were a LOT of voices!)

FWIW I’ve attended too many AA meetings where the theme was, “My family/coworkers/peers ennabled me.” That sound of retching is my dinner returning.

Bottom line, we’re all either a part of the problem or a part of the solution.

4. Robert E. Mangieri - August 11, 2010

If you examine the economic cost of abortion in just one field you can get a sense of how recession is the inevitable result. Just look at the teaching profession (teachers unions are strangely in favor of abortion). Take a 12 year school period assuming an average class size of 30. One point four million abortions a year x 30= 560,000 teaching jobs lost. This can be shown for the entire economy.
The late Father Paul Marx used to say have one more child for God.

tantamergo - August 11, 2010

That’s right! There have been huge losses in productivity and innovation because of lack of people. Some say, well, more people means more individuals competing for scarce jobs. That is incorrect – more people create more jobs!

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