"I like seeing people with their children, because they have their special bond, and that's really sweet, but it's not something I look at for myself," says Tiffany Jordan, a lively 30-year-old freelance wardrobe stylist who lives in Queens in a rent-stabilized apartment and dates a man who "practically lives there."What's really surprising is that this article is from the left wing mouthpiece The Daily Beast, of all places. As evinced by the bolded paragraph snuck into the article like an afterthought, the Left full-on recognizes that their tilt toward radical individualism and antipathy for the family is a ticket for economic and demographic doom. They just don't care, or care less about the long-term implications of their equalitarian ideals than they do the short-run benefits that personal autonomy grants. This is well indicated by the laughable correctives suggested in the last paragraph above, solutions which have been tried before but fail to work as desired, namely, tax code tinkering, bonuses for families that have kids, paternity leave, etc. These all have been expensively tried in Europe and none have resulted in fertility rates at orabove replacement level. Moreover, the call to socially re-engineer the domestic preferences of men--effectively doubling down on the problematic equalitarian solution by attempting to reshape innate behaviors--ignores both economic principles (efficiencies gained by division of labor) and the reliably and regularly expressed gender role proclivities of both men and women. And "making children economically viable" to the families that bear the cost of raising them is a difficult task indeed when the bill for matriculating a child through age 18 tops nearly $250,000. As I doubt liberalists want to reverse 100 yo child labor laws (a sop to Big Labor) that bar young people from learning useful skills in higher-wage employment opportunities, children are left to repay their keep through low-skill menial work that falls far short of a "living wage". It would take an awful lot of lawn-mowing, dish-washing, babysitting, etc, to repay $250,000. How, then, do liberalists propose to make children to be economically viable?
Jordan and her friends are part of a rising tide. Postfamilial America is in ascendancy as the fertility rate among women has plummeted, since the 2008 economic crisis and the Great Recession that followed, to its lowest level since reliable numbers were first kept in 1920. That downturn has put the U.S. fertility rate increasingly in line with those in other developed economies-suggesting that even if the economy rebounds, the birthrate may not. For many individual women considering their own lives and careers, children have become a choice, rather than an inevitable milestone-and one that comes with more costs than benefits.
Europe and East Asia, trailblazers in population decline, have spent decades trying to push up their birthrates and revitalize aging populations while confronting the political, economic, and social consequences of them. It's time for us to consider what an aging, increasingly child-free population, growing more slowly, would mean here. As younger Americans individually eschew families of their own, they are contributing to the ever-growing imbalance between older retirees-basically their parents-and working-age Americans, potentially propelling both into a spiral of soaring entitlement costs and diminished economic vigor and creating a culture marked by hyperindividualism and dependence on the state as the family unit erodes.
Crudely put, the lack of productive screwing could further be screwing the screwed generation.
Consider contemporary Japan, which after decades of economic stagnation has become the most aged big country on the planet. Since 1990 the world's third-largest economy has had more people over 65 than under 15; by 2050 it's projected there will be more people over 80 than under 15. More than one in three Japanese women, predicts sociologist Mika Toyota, will never marry or have children (childbearing outside of marriage is still relatively rare in Japan and other wealthy Asian countries).
The results haven't been pretty. In some places in Japan, particularly in the countryside, there are already too few working adults remaining to take care of the elderly, and kodokushi, or "lonely death," among the aged, the unmarried, and the childless, is on the rise. Long a model of frugality, the demographically declining nation now has by far the high-income world's highest rate of public indebtedness as spending on the elderly has shot past what the state can extract from its remaining productive workers. Last month, the nation's new finance minister, Taro Aso, outright said that the elderly should be given grace to "hurry up and die." This situation will not be made better by a desexualized younger Japanese generation: one in three young men ages 16 to 19 express "no interest" in sex-and that may be a good thing, given that 60 percent of young women of the same age share their indifference.
In the coming decades, success will accrue to those cultures that preserve the family's place, not as the exclusive social unit but as one that is truly indispensable. It's a case we need to make as a society, rather than counting on nature to take its course.
[T]he demographics of childlessness mean [singles are] likely to lose out in the long term. Already, retirees have bent government to their will, with people 65 and older receiving $3 in total government spending for every dollar spent on children younger than 18 as of 2004. At the federal level (which excluded most education spending) the gap widens to 7 to 1. With an aging population, that spread will continue to expand, placing an ever-greater burden on the remaining workers and creating a disincentive for the young to have children.
[M]ost damaging would be declining markets and a hobbled economy in which governments are forced to tax the shrinking workforce to pay for the soaring retirement and health expenses of an increasingly doddering population; this is already occurring in Germany and Japan. Almost 14 million Americans are projected to have Alzheimer's disease by 2050, according to the journal Neurology, with a cost of care that experts say could exceed $1 trillion. Less tangible may be the cultural and innovative torpidity of a country dominated by the elderly.
There are several steps our government could take that might mitigate postfamilialism without aspiring to return to some imagined "golden age" of traditional marriage and family. These include such things as reforming the tax code to encourage marriage and children; allowing continued single-family home construction on the urban periphery and renovation of more child-friendly and moderate-density urban neighborhoods; creating extended-leave policies that encourage fathers to take more time with family, as has been modestly successfully in Scandinavia; and other actions to make having children as economically viable, and pleasant, as possible. Men, in particular, will also have to embrace a greater role in sharing child-related chores with women who, increasingly, have careers and interests of their own.
[bolded emphasis mine]
The problem is not that men are intransigent, or that insufficient tax incentives are set aside to convince young couples to get down to messy business of reproducing so that their parents and grandparents can have their transfer payments. The problem lays in the attitudes of the millions of men and women who share Ms. Jordan's attitudes. Attitudes that produce billions of perfectly rational self-interested choices subsequent to those attitudes. Try as they may, liberalists cannot deny the effects of dynamiting the family, erasing gender differences, consecrating individual autonomy as the acme of human values, and making children a fashion accessory (that are permitted to enter into this world unmudered only if they're wanted). As a result, we have a society where "family" and "marriage" are defined so broadly as to be near-meaningless, "men" and "women" are legally interchangeable, sub-replacement fertility, and acting as though "it's all about me" isn't the acme of narcissism but a commonly accepted social norm.
Ideas have consequences, and I'm inclined to say that societies who unwisely implement patently stupid ideas should have the opportunity to get what they want so badly. Even if the signs are clear that natural and economic law are even today re-asserting themselves and rewarding with just desserts those foolish ideologues.