The bad news is that the U.S. is falling short in reproducing itself. Occasional exceptions such as the Baby Boom aside, U.S. fertility rates have dropped over the last two centuries and show no sign of rising to the 2.1 replacement level. We are currently at 1.6.
The baby shortfall has huge consequences beyond potentially filling the nation with immigrants. An aging population brings higher healthcare costs, budgets devoured by pensions, shrinking tax bases, labor shortages, empty schools and universities, and a stagnant economy.
Moreover, Africa aside, depopulation is worldwide and, apparently unfixable. Countries as diverse as Japan and Russia have tried the “obvious” solutions such as free childcare and subsidies, but to no avail. Scandinavian countries offer lavish child-friendly policies but likewise fail to move the needle. Between 2006 and 2021, South Korea spent $200 billion for maternity leave, paid childcare, and similar pro-natal measures, but the fertility rate dropped from 1.1 to .81.
This should be a major political issue regardless of one’s ideology. The Left surely needs a healthy economy to finance its welfare state while businesses depend on factory and service workers. Nobody wants a shrinking workforce whose principal responsibility is to fund a growing geriatric population.
Our fertility problems acknowledged, what is being done to encourage more children? Where are educators in this crisis who might help shape a pro-child culture? Schools and the media are certainly relevant. Recall the popular Dick and Jane elementary school reading books of the 1950s featuring an idyllic family or family-friendly TV-sitcoms from that era.
Amazingly, much of our education establishment is pushing youngsters away from family life and this can start as early as kindergarten and continue into college. In a sense, at least some educators are promoting this national suicide that masquerades as freedom to choose among multiple pleasurable sex options. Millions of today’s youngsters now learn that procreative sex is just one of many, many options and unlike past sage advice of “be careful, use protection,” today’s message is: avoid heterosexual sex altogether, but if you must, choose techniques that will not produce children.
Consider, for example, what is transpiring at the trendy, progressive Waldorf School where mandatory sex education for fifth-graders offers illustrated instruction on masturbation plus oral and anal sex. This curriculum is produced by the Unitarian Church, and claims to be an “Honest, accurate information about sexuality changes lives. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives.” In kindergarten and first grade, it “...offers new and expansive ways of addressing gender identity and roles, sexual orientation, race, ability, and more for children and their families.” Today’s six-year-old Dick and Jane will now explore their myriad sexual orientations.
The Waldorf school is not an outlier. A tsunami of gay-friendly schoolbooks are targeting pre-teens. In one California school, third graders had to complete an assignment that referenced “experimenting with gender presentation” and the “gender spectrum.” The normalization of homosexuality is even being pushed in Congress as it debates H.R. 5, dubbed the Equality Act that, if enacted, would add sexual orientation and gender identify as a protected class to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. To be sure, parents are fighting back, but woke publishers are on a holy mission to keep these books in school by suing school boards under the banner of the First Amendment.
Businesses have similarly enlisted this anti-natal crusade by pushing kids away from the traditional Birds and Bees message. This propaganda may even begin at breakfast. To celebrate Pride month Kellogg released its “Together With Pride” cereal for kids featuring tear-out “Together Band” that enable children to share their pronouns. Kellogg is also donating $3.00 for every cereal box sold to prominent gay organizations. Meanwhile, kids can after school watch the cartoon, “Blue Clues” that offers an episode sung by a drag queen celebrating LGBT+ identities. Target now offers its “LGBT Pride” collection that includes so-called “tuck-friendly” (i.e., extra space to hide genitals) wear and rainbow-colored outfits for infants and children, One Target tee-shirt announces, “Trans People Will Always Exist.” Other examples of marketing homosexuality to children include Care Bears phone cases, Teletubbies Pride Collection, Disney Rainbow Gear, and gay Captain America.
Colleges are, naturally, fully committed to undermining procreative sex via “sex weeks” featuring trendy kinkiness. Harvard College offers entire seminars on talking dirty and anal sex along with handing out free sex toys to undergraduate participants. Tulane University offers 20+ sex-related events that include condom kits and sex toys. Undergraduates at the University of Chicago can participate in a gathering called, “Taste of Kink, The Magical World of Porn, Sex & Human Rights, A Consumer’s Guide to Sex Toys, and Dating While Trans.” Notably absent in this extensive list is a “sex seminar” about finding a life partner, getting married, and raising a family. Perhaps conventionality is the final taboo on today’s campuses.
Eliminating this normalization of homosexuality will hardly reignite a new baby boom. Population trends cannot be reversed by stopping Target from selling rainbow-themed infant clothing. Rather, today’s children are growing up in an environment that is uniformly anti-family, and the obstacles to upping the birth rate are sufficiently formidable without yet more piling it on. Those who design school curricula or market merchandise to children might be wise to adopt the venerable adage, Primum non nocere -- first, do no harm. You may be unable to bribe women to have children, but at least resist trying to crush the biological urge to have them.
It’s hard to find any push for the child-friendly traditional family. There is no contemporary equivalent of the successful and upbeat TV series “The Brady Bunch” that sympathetically portrayed a blended family of six children. Big screen romantic comedies where boy courts girl, proposes and she accepts, they get married, raise a family, and live happily ever after are now, apparently, unthinkable. Who would believe this fairy tale?
The absence of pro-family messages is especially consequential since young people thinking about marriage and having children already face the obstacles of troubled public schools, lack of affordable housing, dangerous neighborhoods, a government seemingly indifferent to an epidemic of deadly drugs, sky-high college tuition, and a mass media awash with gratuitous sex and violence. No wonder many people conclude that raising children is just too expensive and too risky. Tucker Carlson viewers may recall his frequent endorsement of family life, a message apparently uninteresting to his weekly replacements.
Snuffing out of the urge to raise children has political implications. This anti-natal inclination is not universal and some groups, notably ultra-Orthodox Jews, Mormons, Mennonites, Muslims, evangelical Protestants, and traditional Catholics, among others, embrace the Biblical admonition to be fruitful and multiply. A similar pattern holds for political ideology. According to the social scientist Arthur Brooks’ analysis of survey data, 100 conservative adults will raise 208 children, while 100 liberal adults will raise a mere 147 kids.
Similarly, according to a recent Pew Study, those abandoning a religious faith far outnumber those embracing a faith, but the religious outbreed the nonbelievers, and thanks to the wonders of compound interest, may soon outnumber the godless. Believers may flourish while the millions of elderly childless Americans will eventually reside in old-age homes bereft of family visitors. Not good to defy Mother Nature.
Source: American Thinker.