Non-married, No Children

By: Andrew S
December 5, 2012

I love to read stories that take place in an accessible future time. What I mean is, a story that takes place in 2500 is too far off for me to really conceptualize…but a story that takes place 10 to 50 years in the future? That can give me something to hope for within my lifetime.

I recognize that it’s difficult for authors to write so close to their time. We humans have a habit of missing the really worldview-defining inventions that actually develop (there are quite a few scifi novels and movies whose plots would not exist had the author anticipated the advent of the cellphone), but also of predicting worldviews that are truly far off. And so, especially when we look at the predictions made by the people of yesteryear, we can look back in time at parallel universes to our own and realize that our reality is nearly always less ambitious than how people thought things would turn out.

Future Predictions of the Past: Video phone

Eh...I guess this is close enough to Skype or FaceTime

Sometimes, writers can get things wrong without getting them hilariously so…but in the discrepancy between wrong and right, their works truly do raise more What Ifs. Recently, I finished reading the 1968 classic (and 1969 Hugo Award-winning) Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner, and I must say that this novel definitely represents a believable prediction of 2010 (!). As the TVTropes collective described SoZ:

It’s set in the year 2010, when the population of Earth has reached 7 billion. The Soviet Union is defunct as a superpower, but China is rapidly industrializing and increasing in power. Giant corporations have large enough economies to control entire countries. In-vitro fertilization and genetic mapping are becoming a reality. A computer the size of a large book is more powerful than the most massive supercomputers of the Sixties. Personalized digital avatars of yourself feature in everyday entertainment. Religious denominations are rapidly polarizing on moral issues like abortion. And ordinary people suddenly snap and go on killing sprees in schools, workplaces, and malls.

Sound familiar? Did we mention this book was written in 1968?

On the other hand, New York is encased in a giant dome, Puerto Rico and part of the Philippines are U.S. states, eugenics legislation has passed in 48 states, and the West has cured its addiction to oil.

Note that while TVTropes wrote off Puerto Rico being a US state as being one of the novel’s misses, here we are in 2012.

The interesting thing about SoZ is that it describes a parallel world where 7 billion humans on our pale blue dot hurtling in space means that the planet it bursting at the seams. Even though I recognize that we certainly do have news stories of people running amok, I do not see 7 billion as overcapacity. Nevertheless, for plenty of folks raised with neo-Malthusian sentiments, it seems obvious that humans are on a trajectory to overpopulation with the attendant problems of resource shortfall that come with the territory.

Demographic Crisis

Demographers do speak of a demographic crisis threatening many of the world’s nations, but interestingly, the demographic crisis of which they speak is something considerably different: low fertility. Russia’s measures to stave off the crisis, the probable decline (rather than mere decrease in growth) in population for Japan, and pensions crises in Europe and America are all common news topics for this demographic crisis.

The recent Weekly Standard article A Nation of Singles discusses many of the underlying reasons of this demographic shift, connecting it with the disassociation of sex from marriage and childbearing:

…How did we get to an America where half of the adult population isn’t married and somewhere between 10 percent and 15 percent of the population don’t get married for the first time until they’re approaching retirement? It’s a complicated story involving, among other factors, the rise of almost-universal higher education, the delay of marriage, urbanization, the invention of no-fault divorce, the legitimization of cohabitation, the increasing cost of raising children, and the creation of a government entitlement system to do for the elderly childless what grown children did for their parents through the millennia.

But all of these causes are particular. Looming beneath them are two deep shifts. The first is the waning of religion in American life. As Joel Kotkin notes in a recent report titled “The Rise of Post-Familialism,” one of the commonalities between all of the major world religions is that they elevate family and kinship to a central place in human existence. Secularism tends toward agnosticism about the family. This distinction has real-world consequences. Take any cohort of Americans​—​by race, income, education​—​and then sort them by religious belief. The more devout they are, the higher their rates of marriage and the more children they have.

The second shift is the dismantling of the iron triangle of sex, marriage, and childbearing. Beginning in roughly 1970, the mastery of contraception decoupled sex from babymaking. And with that link broken, the connections between sex and marriage​—​and finally between marriage and childrearing​—​were severed, too.

Where is this trend line headed? In a word, higher. There are no indicators to suggest when and where it will level off. Divorce rates have stabilized, but rates of cohabitation have continued to rise, leading many demographers to suspect that living together may be crowding out matrimony as a mode of family formation. And increasing levels of education continue to push the average age at first marriage higher.

Fertility rates play a role, too. Nearly one in five American women now forgo having children altogether, and without babies, marriage is less of a necessity. People’s attitudes have followed the fertility rate. The Pew Research Center frequently surveys Americans about their thoughts on what makes a successful marriage. Between the 1990 survey and the 2007 survey, there were big increases in the percentages of people who said that sharing political or religious beliefs was “important to a good marriage.” In 2007, there was a 21 percent increase in people who said it was important for a marriage that the couple have “good housing.” Thirty-seven percent fewer people said that having children was important. The other indicator to decline in importance from 1990 to 2007? “Faithfulness.”

Most of the people I know who have shared this article on Facebook have done so with a question: how can we reverse these trends? The thing is that we cannot “roll back” certain things — we can’t roll back higher education (although the push for everyone to go to universities has its own problems) — and in particular, greater educational and professional access for women — without considerably more social upheaval than it took us to get to this point. The issue is that most people like the changes that have gotten us to this point.

But, some people raise, perhaps we can change some of the other cultural factors.

While some see in the opposition to gay marriage only religious bigotry (and I do admit there is a lot of that), I cannot shake the sentiments that there are some folks who really just want to preserve a kind of pro-natal culture that doesn’t get spoken up for credibly all that much anymore. James Goldberg’s penultimate and ultimate posts in his series on gay marriage address these concerns. But, to try to summarize what he (and others — I’m going to definitely be bringing in other ideas with this summary) has said:

Marriage at least at some point was the binding of generations vertically. As such, marriage, sex, and childbearing were linked. Over time, due to many causes, this link has diminished to the point that many people — even many religious folks — see marriage as being a binding of a two (or more?) people within one generation.

When folks thinking of marriage in the old way oppose something like, say, gay marriage, they aren’t opposing gay marriage as a cause for the split of these links…rather, they point out that gay marriage is only plausible as a consequence of the split, and if you don’t agree with the split, then you have cause not to agree with gay marriage. (e.g., if marriage is primarily about two adults loving each other, then why should it matter whether that it is a man or a woman or two men or two women? The pro-natal argument would disagree that marriage is primarily about two adults loving each other.)

Thinking of the children?

The Children

A lot of people have issue with conservative/traditionalist religions’ approaches to marriage and childbearing (consider: the LDS church’s views and approaches to single and gay members, evangelical views of abortion, or the Catholic church’s views on contraception generally), but in light of the likely demographic crisis being more a matter of population decline rather than incline, it seems that these traditional values might offer us something here.

We enter a brave new world where humanity might go out with a whimper, not a bang. If we’re afraid of a world where we snuff ourselves out not because of mutually assured nuclear destruction, nor because of exhausting our resources through overpopulation, but rather because we do not reproduce enough to maintain our way of life, then the stickling points of many religions certainly provides good buffers for that:

  • Early marriage and marriage as ideal for all: The delay of marriage leads to many people deciding it’s not worth it at all, but if you have a culture that not only prioritizes the need for marriage, but the need for an early one, you shortcut this.
  • Early childbearing: The delay of childbearing may put many couples who would want to have children in a race against the clock as far as female infertility goes. Early childbearing may strain other pursuits, but the kids will be accounted for.
  • Motherhood prioritized: Expounding upon the “other pursuits” mentioned above, a culture that can properly socialize its members to prioritize motherhood as the most valuable pursuit for women can reduce the sting of deferred or dismissed professional or educational advancement.

Those are just a few items, and they were tough just for me to write. So, that leads to my questions for anyone who’s kept along with me this far:

  1. Have you ever individually felt restricted by these (or other) cultural and religious goals relating to family and childbearing?
  2. Do you recognize the tension between individual wants and needs vs societal  or demographic wants and needs?
  3. Is decreased population growth (or even population decline) really a problem requiring us to change our ways?

Ultimately, though, I wonder what the sociological science fiction novel about the world’s response to population decline would look like. I mean, is it basically just The Handmaid’s Tale?

41 Responses to Non-married, No Children

  1. Hedgehog on December 5, 2012 at 4:18 AM

    Still pondering my individual feelings.
    There are problems in Japan. My husband’s parents were unusual in their generation for having 3 children, as opposed to only 1 or 2. They now have 8 grandchildren, whilst most of their peers have only 1, and many no grandchildren at all.
    I do think the environment in which people find themselves can a big effect though. Tokyo is not particularly family friendly. 2 of those children and 6 of those grandchildren live outside Japan. Women are not prepared to put up those things previous generations dealt with. The ‘salaryman’ culture meant the father was hardly home, and almost never saw the children. The intense competition for good school places, and focused attention of the mother for the children to succeed could only be managed for fewer children. I should think any child emerging from that hothouse would be loathe to jump straight back in.

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  2. Last Lemming on December 5, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    And now we have to worry about the sperm count of French men. Seriously.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20593467

    Once we’re all sterile, old-school marriage be irrelevant.

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  3. Hedgehog on December 5, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    It occurs to me that the current population size, combined with the availability of contraception could give rise to self-limiting population. When a couple have control of their fertility, when housing costs are high, when people feel crowded, when places at a school are in short supply, when food and energy costs are rising, why would they choose to have more children?

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  4. hawkgrrrl on December 5, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    Lots of thoughts. Contraception (and abortion in particular) is supposed to reduce births in poverty disproportionately which elevates the standard of living throughout society. People who can’t afford children theoretically can afford contraception now that it’s a cheap, reliable alternative. In essence, it is a form of voluntary sterilization.

    But interestingly, the more you can afford children, the less you may want them. The poor still have plenty of them. This is why many Asian governments imposed penalties (e.g. China) for more than one child or incentives to have fewer children (e.g. Singapore). Now Singapore can’t convince people to have more children, even creating advertising campaigns to get people to do their civic duty and procreate (google the Singaporean National Day rap encouraging citizens to have babies, co-written by Mentos).

    One other issue with children, especially among the poor, is that children used to be an asset when we lived in agrarian communities. Working in office jobs, kids are a drain on family finances; they don’t ease the burden. They used to more than earn their keep when they were milking cows and barely attending grammar school. We’ve not only evolved the economic model for marriage (women breed, men work to support their brood at home), but we’ve evolved the economic model for children in all countries (they don’t or can’t work in any meaningful way, and significant money goes toward their education and upkeep).

    For myself, I made my own life choices based on what I wanted. It’s the only way I know how to live. My mistakes were my own. I’m floored when people express regrets that they married young or had kids young because church leaders encouraged it. I just never felt compelled to hang huge personal life choices on advice from people who don’t have to live with the consequences like I do, including parents and church leaders. I have to wonder if people are being sincere and truly honest with themselves about why they did those things. It’s got to be a terrible feeling to regret your choices or to feel trapped by them. I question the wisdom of giving advice on these matters, either church leaders OR governments. It’s kind of the same thing, though. They both have their own agendas. They have a stake in the outcome that requires my life altering sacrifice. But in the case of the church, unlike governments, they don’t really have the ability to compel you if you choose otherwise.

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  5. Andrew S. on December 5, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Thanks for commenting, everyone.

    1,

    Howard,

    There are a few things I want to mention about your comment…One, I agree that environment can have a lot of say about whether people are more likely to have larger families or smaller…but I would say that the attributes that contribute to small or big seem to be a bit different.

    For example, the salaryman husband who is away from the kids for most of the time is not really a factor — since a high fertility rates have been associated with countries when they have had a strong male breadwinner culture.

    You note that the women are not prepared to put up those things previous generations dealt with. I think the research does show that much of the change is due to women…but I don’t think it’s because women are not prepared — it’s more that they have more options and don’t have to put up with it.

    (Although I do think that the increased investment needed per child in a modern society — Japanese or otherwise — whether it is getting to good elementary/junior/high/cram schools or getting them into a university that will cost $$$$ — means that people are going to be more conservative about their plans for children.)

    re 2

    Last Lemming,

    Spooky. Maybe I read too much scifi, but I am currently reading a book where as a result of (insert cataclysmic events here), the entire population becomes sterile. So, even though the main characters for the first section of the book *want* to continue the species, they can’t (except through cloning, which is what the book is “about”, I guess.)

    Funny thing about that…there is some sort of religious consternation when some of the characters find out about the cloning endeavor…but it only happens for like 2 paragraphs. I would have liked the author to go into that conflict more.

    re 3,

    Hedgehog

    All of these things are certainly factors for people choosing to have fewer children (if any).

    But consider this: many of the things you speak of belie our modern creature comforts. If things were like in the past, when people built their own homes (and moreover, had the skillset to do that), didn’t worry about getting into the “best schools”, and raised their own food, then these wouldn’t be as much of concerns.

    So, a question would be: should we be trying to get people to move back to that kind of lifestyle? The church basically already does a lot of this in spirit — I mean, food storage, canning, etc., is a derivation in spirit of being about to grow your own food…

    Many religious groups that value children highly don’t really say, “Well, if children are too expensive, then it’s ok to put them off/not have them.” No, they generally say — have kids, and learn to live on less.

    re 4

    Hawkgrrrl,

    Great thoughts all over. In some ways, the issue is that raising the educational stakes (for women and for children) makes children a less attractive proposition — children are more expensive to raise (since as you mention, they aren’t helping with the family income and actively bring lots of costs.)

    I like your last paragraph in particular, but I would say that — for whatever reason — it seems that many folks do not have as much of a sense as their own agency outside of the church institution, if that’s a good way to put it. It’s tough for people to develop that agency when the church as an institution isn’t going to institutionally tell people that they are responsible for their own decisions/morality/etc.,

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  6. Hawkgrrrl on December 5, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Of course if people wait for the institution to tell them they’re allowed to act independently, are they really acting independently?

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  7. Douglas on December 5, 2012 at 10:06 PM

    #4 and #6 – She shoots, she scores!! (Nesmith’s misbegotten creation is the best sports analogy I can use right now).

    It’s not merely the paucity of births overall, it’s what types. I’m referring specifically to socioeconomic and racial factors…in the good ol’ USA, the whites are working and having few, if any white kids. The non-whites are having many and more often, typically at taxpayer expense. Yes, this is a terribly over-simplistic generaliziation, but look at demographics, they are NOT promising!
    At some point the tax producers are going to get tired of subsidizing the breeding of non-productive tax breeders and revolt. Or, even more likely, the gravy train will derail, and the free (stuff) brigade will riot and go “Ape-Doo-Doo”. We had a whiff of this in ’92 in South Central…took the outcome of a trial about the beating of a two-bit hoodlum that until then nobody gave a hoot about. When the EBT cards don’t get reloaded, don’t be near the ghetto…

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  8. FireTag on December 5, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    Fascinating post to me, because I’ve been thinking along somewhat related lines.

    I would point out that the stability of today’s widespread economic model is an assumption that may be as wrong as the illustration in the OP. It may not be a case of “rolling back” educational opportunities, for example, as much as being unable to maintain them as further consequences of our economic development work themselves out. The feedback loops are VERY complicated.

    Will we be able, for example, to support a academic caste or professional caste as more and more of our labor is automated? Will people who can obtain the fruits of automated labor at the “top” of the system really want a large population of underlings that might be more trouble or threatening than helpful?

    After all, I can put them in school, but I don’t really have to educate them. It might be in my selfish material interests NOT to feed them any knowledge and merely indoctrinate them instead — especially if I can use technology to give them the pleasures of sex, and the appearance of intimacy, without child bearing. In fact, if I want to maximize the loyalty of large groups of people to me, I might not want the competition of loyalty to family.

    By the way, was Stand on Zanzibar about a utopia, or a dystopia? :D

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  9. FireTag on December 5, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    Douglas:

    What actually got me thinking along the lines related to Andrew’s post was seeing a new study last week indicating that birth rates were plunging — led by plunges in the birth rates of immigrants.

    I’m putting together a post on this for Saturday now.

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  10. Douglas on December 5, 2012 at 10:53 PM

    #9 – look forward to it.

    I wish that I had a solution. I’m 53, working on my second divorce, and frankly, I’ve done my all for King and Country. Just want to raise my 12 y.o. and be done with it.

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  11. John C. on December 6, 2012 at 1:09 AM

    Douglas,
    I don’t know you from Adam. Nor am I disputing the objective facts of what you are describing (the demographics are indeed shifting), but what you said is just about the most racist thing I’ve read in quite a while. Maybe you aren’t trying to troll and maybe you did it inadvertently, but wow! That’s really racist.

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  12. Natsy on December 6, 2012 at 1:12 AM

    Great post and fascinating thoughts. This is something that I’ve thought a lot about. I’m 27 and single. I grew up in the church and was completely and totally devoted until the past year.

    When I was younger I dreamed of having children. I wanted a BIG family. Then I became a teacher and something interesting happened. I became less and less enamored of children as the years went on and then one day I realized something else – I didn’t want ANY children. I suppose that could sound selfish to some, especially within Church circles, but I can only live in a way that is best for me. I resent being told to have children for the sake of having children. This could change but right now, the idea is completely unappealing.

    I work at a Title 1 school and interact with a full spectrum of people and parents, and let me tell you, there are probably millions of people out there that have no business having children. It honestly disgusts me when I see people, who don’t give a crap, who just keep populating and brining these children into these horrendous situations. I find that completely irresponsible.

    I don’t know enough about economics to have any opinion or idea about what fewer birth rates would do to the economy. I too have read a lot of dystopian/sci-fi/fantasy novels, many of which deal with issues like this. I found “The Handmaid’s Tale” horrifying. Being forced to have children is no laughing matter.

    Honestly, this whole issue of families has become one of my major turn-offs for the Church. I understand why they teach what they do and I do see some value in it, but when they preach and prescribe one exact path so heavily, that leaves those of us that don’t follow it feeling like pariahs. Mid-singles activities still need to be “supervised” by “married adults.” Gag. We’re not little kids.

    Thanks for the post Andrew!

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  13. Andrew S on December 6, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    re 6,

    Hawkgrrrl,

    What a paradox… ;)

    re 8

    FireTag,

    Way to think five steps ahead of me, as usual…

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  14. Will Bishop on December 6, 2012 at 1:59 AM

    1. Very much yes. It would be hard to overstate the role this issue has played and is still playing in my personal life, although obviously I don’t want to write a long essay about that here. Let me just say the cultural pressures on those of us raised in secular, highly educated, culturally liberal environments may be equal to those on people raised in religious, culturally conservative environments.
    2. Absolutely. The desire to fix demographic decline must face off against feminism and the equality of the sexes. I do not want to turn women into incubators. Women are right to be concerned about the trade-offs between child-bearing and intellectual/professional advancement, and the foremost economic policy debate should be about how to create a labor market that allows them to do both effectively. As you alluded to, work and reproduction are the two greatest drivers of economic growth.
    3. Yes, for the reasons I just mentioned. The standard of living cannot continue to rise without more people working to produce more/better goods and services.

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  15. Hedgehog on December 6, 2012 at 2:07 AM

    Andrew #5,
    (on my #3)you say: “should we be trying to get people to move back to that kind of lifestyle?”

    But it wouldn’t be the life-style of the past in the cities. For me, space is the real premium. Gone are the days when parents can send their children out for the day with a picnic. Traffic is so much worse for one thing. You can’t go and claim a piece of land, it all belongs to someone, pretty much. And really lots of children crammed in a small space with nowhere to go isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. It isn’t possible for everyone to do that, or even to make a living if they do.

    There are those who try. Some of them succeed, but at least as many fail and have to move back to the city. Many would like to get back to that, it’s become the subject of a tv competition: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00yflv1

    Some are leaving Tokyo, and going back to learning farming, as job security in the cities diminishes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15850243

    So maybe things are changing slowly.

    (on my #1)you say: “high fertility rates have been associated with countries when they have had a strong male breadwinner culture”
    Job security isn’t what it used to be in Japan, so that may also be playing a part in the current problem.

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  16. Douglas on December 6, 2012 at 4:00 AM

    #11 – Just pointing out the unpleasant reality that it’s more than raw generational numbers, it’s a quality even more than quantity issue. All the white guilt and good intentions won’t change that. To be fair, all too many whites are definitely in the non-productive category, you need only spend a day in the welfare offices in Butte, Shasta, Yolo, and Nevada counties, and see the parade of “white trash”. The sad thing is that the ones that suffer the most are the non-whites who could ONLY counted in the “productive” ranks. I’ve seen this even in my decidedly limited sampling (after all, how MANY people in this country can I possibly be acquainted with?) amongst minorities whom I’m either related to and/or have worked with (or been in the same Stake…). For them, these aren’t theoretical issues. Every “Black Friday”, or every time a new fashionable athletic shoe is introduced, watch the “fun” (which, of course, it ain’t for the store staffers). Look at the nature of those rioting and pillaging, and acting like a pack of rabid dogs instead of human beings. You NEVER saw anything like that, ANYWHERE, even thirty years ago, amongst ANY Americans. This is what a few generations of liberalism, public welfare, softness on crime and cowardice in enforcing common decency, hath wrought in this country. What could have been solved with once rounding up a bunch of young hooligans who “flash mobbed” a convenience store and putting them through six months of juvenile boot camp, may soon have to be dealt with by our own troops firing on Americans, employing crew-served weaponry indiscriminately.
    Unfortunately, rather than purely on natural social and economic selection (ergo, the families that are productive breed producers, who win out over non-producers), several generations of welfare entitlements have instead caused the free breeding of the non-productive BY the non-productive, wherein the paycheck of the working husband and father has been replaced by the welfare check (with today’s methodology, the EBT card), which has been subsidized by the productive classes who themselves of necessity delay and or forego their own reproduction. Look at the typical ages of when most women from at least a middle-class background has her first (and often, only) child versus when and how many her mother had. I can’t think of a better formula for national suicide.
    There IS a solution, but the only realistic way is in the free marketplace of ideas…live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and produce large enough families to carry it on. That’s why I express my frustration at getting on in years and being “tired”, and my personal numbers are too few to matter anyway. I have to pass this on and merely hope that I won’t be lamenting the passing of America much as Moroni did the Nephite nation (though if it were the Lord’s intent to have someone bury a record, HE’d likely pick someone else).

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  17. John C. on December 6, 2012 at 4:32 AM

    Yeah, Douglas, you are either a troll or crazy racist. So, that’s good to know.

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  18. Hawkgrrrl on December 6, 2012 at 6:26 AM

    Here’s the link to the Singaporean procreation rap. This really happened. http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=8jxU89x78ac&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D8jxU89x78ac

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  19. Hedgehog on December 6, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    #15 I seem to have lost a sentance somewhere!
    Prior to ‘It isn’t possible..’ it should read something to the effect that there are those leaving the cities and moving out to the countyside.

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  20. Douglas on December 6, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    #17 – Sticks and stones, John C, sticks and stones. A “prophet” is without honor…
    Meantime, continue to take that idyllic journey along that river (De Nile…)

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  21. Katie L. on December 6, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    Women are right to be concerned about the trade-offs between child-bearing and intellectual/professional advancement, and the foremost economic policy debate should be about how to create a labor market that allows them to do both effectively.

    THIS.

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  22. aerin on December 6, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    Or will we have a future like “Brave New World”?

    I’m not worried about it myself.. What matters is the dissemination of culture and values (women’s rights, etc.) As long as the cultural values of individual responsibility, education, literacy are being taught, western societies will be fine.

    I have little sympathy for the anti-immigration movement. Germans were once critized as being “too dark” and the Irish were regarded with fear. Somehow the U.S. survives and thrives despite the influx of immigrants.

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  23. Stephen M (Ethesis) on December 6, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    Sometimes. Words fail.

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  24. SilverRain on December 6, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    I found the pro-natal perception of marriage to be interesting. That is how I perceive the purpose marriage, personally. Always have. On a personal front, this has its downsides, of course.

    Originally, state marriage was about controlling property and securing the environment of future citizens. I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t continue to be that. Frankly, the state has no business legislating my love life. My property and my children, however, it has reason to be concerned about.

    The problem is we now think marriage is and should be so much more than it really is.

    As far as a “fair” labor market where women can raise children and work goes . . . you might as well try to create a labor market where people can hold two full time jobs. Raising children IS a job. You can’t possibly imagine that two full-time jobs aren’t going to conflict at some point. It’s just not possible, and we women would be able to breathe a little easier if we realized that.

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  25. Dan on December 6, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    It’s not merely the paucity of births overall, it’s what types. I’m referring specifically to socioeconomic and racial factors…in the good ol’ USA, the whites are working and having few, if any white kids. The non-whites are having many and more often, typically at taxpayer expense. Yes, this is a terribly over-simplistic generaliziation, but look at demographics, they are NOT promising!
    At some point the tax producers are going to get tired of subsidizing the breeding of non-productive tax breeders and revolt. Or, even more likely, the gravy train will derail, and the free (stuff) brigade will riot and go “Ape-Doo-Doo”. We had a whiff of this in ’92 in South Central…took the outcome of a trial about the beating of a two-bit hoodlum that until then nobody gave a hoot about. When the EBT cards don’t get reloaded, don’t be near the ghetto…

    Utter bullcrap racist garbage.

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  26. Douglas on December 6, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    #26 – Welcome back, Dan, with your stirring contributions to the debate.
    Tell you what – put your money where your (literary) mouth is and dare to select a random resident of the ‘hood’ and offer to match their EBT card allotment. If you do, AND you live to tell, please return and report.
    Or, in the words of the fictional Gen. ‘Buck’ Turgidson: “the truth is not always a pleasant thing.” (prior to his recommendations of following the errant B-52 wing with a full-scale preemptive strike with the prediction of “acceptable” casualties – depending on the “breaks”, of course)

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  27. FireTag on December 6, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Douglas #16:

    We HAVE seen this before, and politics, culture, and race all played their roles, with good intentions and predatory behavior both present.

    http://www.wheatandtares.org/2011/06/25/gangs-of-new-york-again/

    “Families retaining the financial means to do so sold out and moved elsewhere. Those left behind saw their upward mobility blocked by events for which they could not be blamed and probably didn’t understand. Then, in addition to local geography turning against them, great social movements both in the United States and in Europe conspired to magnify their pain. With property values collapsed, the Five Points became a magnet for both the honest poor and for those who saw opportunity to prey upon them. As slavery was ended in New York by 1827, newly liberated African-Americans flocked there. They were joined by a growing number of Irish emigrants in a wave that reached its peak in the 1840′s during the Great Potato Famine that killed a million Irish and led a million more to flee Ireland.
    Even by 1832, population density, poverty, and lack of sanitation had made the Five Points a source of a cholera epidemic. Not understanding the disease’s connection to sanitation, cholera was attributed in the popular mind largely to vice. And the vice certainly became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Violence within the “community” became unimaginably savage as it splintered into anti-Catholic “nativist”, Irish immigrant, and African-American factions of competing agendas and shifting alliances. Gangs formed around strongmen who could offer some protection because of their capacity to organize violence or deliver voting blocs to political machines such as that of Boss Tweed. The machines, in turn, were seeking control of the larger city and even drew power from the state and the national agendas.”

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  28. Douglas on December 6, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    #27 – thanks fo the repost. I’m not certain your point, save possibility that racial and economic tensions have always been exploited by the Powers-that-be for their selfish interests at the expense of public good. I agree…but who are the “peeps”, what are their objectives, and how can they be defeated?
    Slavery legal in the Empire State until 1827? I didn’t know that.

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  29. Will Bishop on December 6, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    @SilverRain:

    I was referring specifically to the time period right before and after a child is born, when the woman by necessity bears the lion’s share of responsibility for the child. As a child ages the parents can take on more equal roles, so the impact on women’s labor force participation decreases.

    You are of course entitled to your opinion but as a man, I try to be very careful not to sound like I’m telling women they should give up intellectual or professional pursuits for the sake of making babies for America’s future. That’s all.

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  30. Douglas on December 6, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    In 1938, Reichsfuhrer Himmler ordered the men of the SS to impregnate their wives or girlfriends (or both if possible). Fortunately, we’re sixty-seven years and change from worrying about giving the Fuehrer a child.
    I can’t think of how to properly influence the younger generation to do their part without intruding on what is the utmost in personal decisions. The principles outlined in D&C 121 seem ever so applicable.

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  31. hawkgrrrl on December 6, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    #29 – I nearly had a heart attack! I missed “Bishop” at the end of your name. I thought Will said that, and it felt like 1978 when the PH ban was repealed. My eyes were stinging with tears that we had finally softened hearts.

    Great comment, though.

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  32. hawkgrrrl on December 6, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    SilverRain: “As far as a “fair” labor market where women can raise children and work goes . . . you might as well try to create a labor market where people can hold two full time jobs.” That’s only an issue because the model was built around a male-only workforce. If the model had been built around men staying at home and women working, we’d have a system that centered on handling women’s unique needs such as childbirth.
    “Raising children IS a job.” But it has traditionally been an unpaid one that doesn’t contribute to the GDP except in creating a distant future workforce. Now we’re also making it a paid profession (day care). And this means that for working parents, it’s an added cost that reduces their earnings while freeing their time to earn more.
    “You can’t possibly imagine that two full-time jobs aren’t going to conflict at some point. It’s just not possible, and we women would be able to breathe a little easier if we realized that.” Being a little tough on the sisters here, I think. I suspect women know this better than anyone else. As Ursie Burns said (CEO of Xerox and first black female CEO of a fortune 500 company), as women enter new spaces (e.g. the workforce), they are leaving vacancies. Men aren’t always filling those vacancies. Her call was to women to keep an eye on those vacancies. I think that it’s high time that we have equal dialogue within marriages about those vacancies and work together to fill them rather than assuming it’s the woman’s job to fill them.

    As repugnant as polygamy was, it actually freed women up (who were so incline) to have intellectual and professional pursuits by letting the women who wanted to care for the children do that, and the other women could be doctors or lawyers if they chose. Essentially, polygamy was like live in day care plus sex and more babies.

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  33. Andrew S on December 6, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    re 14,

    Will,

    Great point on the pressures from growing up in a liberal/secular environment…I think it’s often easy to assume that liberal secular environments are valueless or moral-less, rather than being a set of different pressures, concerns, etc.,

    Is a constantly rising standard of living something we should be going for or are there other options?

    re 15,

    Hedgehog,

    Good points on space constraints, etc.,

    And also about declining job security in Japan…in some ways, the shift from a “loyalty” system to a more market-based (for lack of a better term) employment system changed a lot of things in the US, and now the data shows that similar things are happening in Japan, but with a distinctly Japanese flavor.

    re 22,

    aerin,

    I think that a Brave New World future is definitely more plausible than, say, a 1984 future…but both are so stark that we’d probably do best to look for some traits from each (and then, that seems to match up well with a lot of things that are happening.)

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  34. Andrew S on December 6, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    re 24

    SilverRain,

    Responding to your comment a bit out of order…I think one thing that’s interesting about the discussion of women raising children and having careers is the implicit understanding that it is the woman who is solely or primarily responsible for raising the children. (it seems that HG has also addressed this.)

    So, we see men who can “have it all,” if only because “having it all” for them doesn’t actually involve having to do the day-to-day work with the children.

    I would agree that we have made marriage into something more (and different) than how it has been…but I would say that it’s not like marriage had a static definition, “It’s just about children and property” and now, we have shifted…rather, it has shifted and shifted and shifted in fits and parts since the beginning of it as an institution — because what property ownership (and everything involved in that) has shifted continually, and also, what it has meant to secure the environment of future citizens also continually shifts.

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  35. Douglas on December 7, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    #34 – speak for thyself, bucko. I had to be quite “hands-on” in the upbringing of my kids, including this last one (she’s 12) which I’m raising as a single Dad. Do that AND have the demands of a professional career. Even w/o the typical strictures of LDS membership, I had the example of mine own Dad who advised that things like “Boys night out” were activities left aside to meet the needs of one’s family. Looking after myself and my sisters WAS (aside from being career Air Force) his “thing”.
    I would say that both father and mother ought to give of their times and talents for the building of the Kingdom of God…starting within the fiefdom that is within the walls of their own home.

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  36. Andrew S on December 7, 2012 at 7:05 AM

    re 35,

    Douglas,

    You do this as a luxury, which you can then raise up in conversations like this as a play for points (which I’m not really inclined to granting you any). But here’s what you’re not doing this as: you’re not doing this because it is a socialized expectation of your gender. You are able to play this card for points precisely because you can rely on the idea that *no one expects this from you* and if you had not done it, you would garner no demerits, because again, *no one expects this from you*.

    On second thought, maybe I will give you points: here’s my applause.

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  37. Stephen M (Ethesis) on December 7, 2012 at 7:48 AM

    Andrew, you have hit it square on the head.

    Though the racist comment stunned me so I had a hard time responding to anything else.

    I got my BA from Cal State LA which was not majority White even then.

    Visibility of a sub group is not always reality. Paris Hilton is not all white people …

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  38. Douglas on December 8, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    #37 – “Paris Hilton is not all white people..” for which I’m ever so grateful.
    There is nothing “racist” about pointing out reality. Of course, there are other ‘realities’ which are more promising, I’m glad to say. But don’t rely on the mainstream media. Take the examples of Herman Cain and Mia Love. Not that they aren’t exceptions, many productive and remarkable folk of the African persuasion have come before, and many more will undoubtedly follow. What’s remarkable is how someone like these two are regarded amongst American blacks, especially the young. “Oreo Cookie” and “Sellout” are but a few of the nicer epithets that I’ve noticed from bloggers in forums not as conforming to LDS sensibilities as this one. It’s sad that all too many have given up on the tried-and-true concepts of work, study, and behave well (and not just limited to blacks, we whiteys seem to practice ‘affirmative action’ in a most perverse fashion, don’t we?). It’s reached the point where the only sensible thing seems to jettison the system that promulgates this underclass culture, let them either shape up or starve away, or kill each other off. Keep the ‘bennies’ for those that EARN them.
    Drawing on my earlier allusion to “Dr. Strangelove”, methinks this country is facing a situation much like what Gen. Turgidson pointed out when he recommended an immediate first strike on the heels of the errant B-52 wing. From Buck Turgidson’s assessment, there was practically no hope in recalling the bombers, as in but a few minutes they would be picked up by the Soviet radar. They would, of course, “go ape”, and see no choice but to launch an all-out attack themselves. Naturally, President Muffley was mortified at the prospect of “being the greatest mass murderer since Adolf Hitler” (actually, Stalin and Mao had well-exceeded Der Fuhrer in body count, but Muffley’s analogy was still apropos). Turgidson, in a manner uncharacteristically insubordinate of American officers, retorted that perhaps the President should not concern himself with how historians would remember him. He further argued that the country was faced with ONLY two outcomes, both distasteful but very distinct: 20 million American (we’d have ‘gotten our hair mussed’) versus 150 million dead (about 85% of the US population in 1964).
    Andrew S, thanks, I’ll accept whatever praise I do get with gratitude. However, the “points” that I’m after is in several years time to have a happy, well-adjusted and productive young lady, and, in time, good-looking and happy grandkids by her. I just do what I have to do to take care of her, same as any loving parent does. In that, I don’t consider myself anything special, but I’m hoping that I’m special to her.

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  39. [...] were a lot of interesting isolate topics this week! Andrew S read a speculative fiction book that got a surprising number of predictions right. Maya has been posting an amazing series of photos from her visit to a WWII holocaust site. Jacob [...]

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  40. John C. on December 9, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Well, Douglas, you are certainly interested in our precious bodily fluids. Especially for being a big, ol’ racist troll.

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  41. Douglas on December 9, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    #40 – LoL LoL LoL LoL. As I’m in the process of getting happily divorced, I’m not supposed to be finding out firsthand if the fictional Gen. Ripper’s concerns about ‘essence’ (which he told Group Captain Mandrake that he denied to women) are valid or not!

    I am not “Big” (5’10″), certainly not OLD (at 53, I object to being called a ‘dirty old man’ rather than a dirty middle-aged man), and racism is in the eye of the beholder. As for “trolling”, I’m here to make you think and defend and/or extol your own positions, not kiss up to you or anyone. Nor would my mug get me characterized as being “troll”-like.

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