Well…sorta. Somehow I missed this gem from Vox in November:
I did a double take, then read the article. Not surprisingly, rather than propose doing things like promoting families that might create stable conditions for raising children, we instead get more government:
Here’s an idea that’s even more out there. Since traditional agricultural societies enabled parents to “capture” the economic rents of childbearing because families shared income, the economic returns to childbearing were large. This remains true in developing countries where family networks share incomes, including through migrant remittances, but it’s not true in America. We can fix that. We could set a small payroll tax on each person, and allocate it to their parent (with exclusions for cases of abuse or neglect, of course). Such a “parental dividend” would alter the long-run financial calculation of parenting.
This seems extraordinarily complicated instead of promoting that whole family culture thing…but apparently that’s too complicated:
Cultural forces, meanwhile, can be extremely powerful but are difficult to engineer, especially in big, culturally pluralistic societies like the United States. Douthat’s preferred prescription (and my own), that people should be more religious, may have a very limited impact. Even societies with high religiosity, such as in Africa or much of Eastern Europe, have seen falling birth rates.
Maybe birth rates are falling, but they are certainly still high in those areas.
And if you look, when people from those regions migrate, they keep doing what they are doing…which is why Germany’s birth rate is rising.
And let’s not kid ourselves that somehow Islam has nothing to do with this. Islam as a whole promotes large families, and where it sits as a dominant cultural influence, we see spikes in birth rates.
So we’re faced with a dilemma. We need more kids. We could push to build a culture and society where we value families that provide stable environments to have children. But that would require us to acknowledge things like marriage is for a woman and a man, that most families work best where a parent stays home, and things like that.
So instead we talk about integration and immigration, like somehow those things don’t happen. But here in America, we have the advantage in that we don’t define “American” by a specific race. Anybody can be an American, regardless of color or looks. That’s not true in Japan…I have friends that married Japanese women, and they are still not fully accepted by their in-laws. In fact, it isn’t true in a lot of places. We’re sorta lucky that way.
And if we’re talking about integration, let’s integrate everybody and not let certain groups stay outside.
We seem to be rediscovering a lot of things in America now: organic farming practices, self control, careers that don’t require degrees and the like. Now suddenly we’re figuring out that being pro-family is good for everyone. Hopefully we’ve done so in enough time to set things right in the end.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency. Although the comment about self control would help bring up recruiting in those agencies…
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