California Struggles to See Through Eyes Clamped Shut

Golly, a state obsessed with the promotion of a contraceptive, fornicating, culture of perpetual adolescence and pretend marriage is inexplicably faced with a shortage of children.

If only there was some social institution that we could use to foster the idea that having children is a good and desirable thing.  Some thing that would pair men and women up in a permanent relationship oriented toward having and raising children in a way that is most likely to ensure their social, intellectual and physical health.  - Peter Sean Bradley

  • Elaine S.

    “A state obsessed with the promotion of a contraceptive, fornicating, culture of perpetual adolescence and pretend marriage is inexplicably faced with a shortage of children.”
    So are a lot of other states that don’t quite fit that description. The entire Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are in the same boat (their decline in children is worse), as are Rust Belt states such as Michigan and Ohio and Illinois — in the latter three cases, there are probably fewer children simply because, due to lack of jobs, high taxes, etc., their parents have either moved elsewhere or decided they can’t afford to have kids. Still, it’s worth noting that most if not all of the states that DON’T have a shortage of children are “red” states. I’m guessing that Louisiana and Mississippi might still be in the plus or stable column had it not been for Katrina, but I could be wrong.

    • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

      The article is from the Wall Street Journal. So why the emphasis on California, where the % change is about 4%, and not on New York or the rest of New England, where the change is in the double digits? Trying to avoid looking where the problem is greatest?

  • Melissa

    Is that a real, honest-to-God quote? I guess maybe you really do end up with stupid inanity when you keep redefining marriage to whatever is the current flavour of the moment.

    • North West

      I think the quote is to be read with some sarcasm.

  • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

    I’ve blogged my respectful misgivings about this post here.

  • http://peterseanesq.blogspot.com/ Peter Sean Bradley

    If only….

    Nah, that’s just crazy talk.

    One interesting thing from the Wall Street Journal article is that although it talks about the need to “invest” in “infrastructure”, the word “marriage” is never mentioned.

  • http://peterseanesq.blogspot.com/ Peter Sean Bradley

    Irenist,

    One of my cleverly concealed points is that by disabling marriage as the institution most directly concerned with, you know, making babies and then raising them to be healthy members of society, when we have a fall-off in immigration, or a natural disaster, or a sick culture, or whatever, what then do we turn to in order to address the issue of, you know,making babies and then raising them to be healthy members of society?

    I mean, if we’ve decided that “marriage” is really about tax decuctions or hospital visitation rights , and lard it up with social policy “shiny things” to demonstrate fairness, then instituting social policies to encourage, you know, making babies and then raising them to be healthy members of society would simply be unfair to those “married” people whose very nature precludes them from ever, you know, making babies and then raising them to be healthy members of society.

    It’s almost as if we need a word to describe those people whose relationship is all about making babies and then raising them to be healthy members of society

    Nah, that’s just crazy talk.

    • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

      I agree that marriage is vitally important to civil society for precisely those reasons, and I admire you for saying so. (And of course marriage is even more important as a sacramental vocation.) I just think, as my blog post’s example of the differing Dakotas points to, that the economic problems of the City of Man are often rooted in actions of Caesar, and can be fruitfully addressed within the confines of economic policy, about which, judging from your blog, I happen to disagree with you–not that it’s relevant here.

      The reason to preserve, protect, and defend marriage is that it is a sacramental vocation. Instrumentalizing it to protect it in the civil sphere seems to me unpromising, and perhaps imprudent.

      The way to change the culture is to change ourselves. Unless and until more Christians are modeling norms of premarital chastity and an abhorrence of divorce, the culture will continue to reflect libertine norms. So long as the culture reflects those norms, trying to legally mandate our own norms is a fool’s utopian errand, like the Stalinist attempt to legally mandate socialist economic norms, or King Canute’s sarcastically feigned battle with the sea.

      Where I would welcome help from Caesar in the attempt to build a more Christian marriage culture is not so much in a losing rearguard battle against gay civil “marriage,” but rather in family-friendly policies like those often described by conservative columnist Ross Douthat, to shift incentives at the margin toward family formation rather than promiscuity. Less fiat, more nudge.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lane.core ELC

    In my own lifetime, marriage as an institution, by and large, has been changed fundamentally.

    It used to be a more-or-less permanent commitment to raise children in a more-or-less stable environment; now it is a more-or-less temporary convenience to suit the more-or-less fleeting desires of adults.

    Why anybody thought there would be NO negative consequences is beyond me.

  • Paulus Magnus

    I don’t think it can be solely blamed on culture; quite frankly, the recent depression and the tremendously high housing prices (due to population density; about half of California’s population is in LA, Orange, and San Diego Counties) are going to have major impacts on the age of marriage and childbearing, even in a perfectly Catholic society. Toss in the wage slavery that society insists upon and it’s not a recipe for fecundity.

    • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

      Couldn’t agree more.

    • dpt

      I agree Paulus.

      I live in the Bay Area, the bastion of Liberal politics and home to Nancy Pelosi, Mike Honda, Barbara Lee, Barbara Boxer , and Pete Stark (well, not really. He lives in Maryland and lost his house seat in Nov. Goodbye angry man), and see how families, with mom and dads busting their behinds, living on $70K…$80K struggle to make ends meet. The housing costs are demented and other costs, such as energy, are some of the highest in the country. In this liberal paradise there is significant divide between the have’s and have nots, and the have nots include folks who would be comfortably middle class in another part of the nation.

      • Margaret

        Housing prices here are utter madness. DH & I visited Cincinnati several years ago to see family, and it pretty much had me in tears– we could bought a freakin’ MANSION out there, on an acre or two, with a freakin’ ATTIC and BASEMENT (don’t ask me why we don’t have them in California, I don’t know, but it drives me nuts) for what we’d paid for our postage-stamp-sized “starter” home in a mildly scary San Jose neighborhood with an appalling commute to where the actual silicon-making was happening. And my husband’s engineer’s salary by any stretch of the imagination. I have no clue how the janitors and grocery clerks and waitresses get by.

      • Rachel K

        DPT, I know what you mean–I live in the DC area, and we struggle to make ends meet on what would be a perfectly respectable salary in other regions. This is one reason that I strongly favor state welfare programs over federal welfare programs; we qualify for the state CHIP program because it’s clear to anyone who lives here that we’re solidly lower middle class by Maryland standards, but we don’t qualify for WIC because it uses the federal poverty level as a guideline.

  • SoCalMan

    I would echo many of the comments here. The decline in birth rate is due to (some truth, some sarcasm):
    1. It’s stupid expensive. Both Mom and Dad have to work. 60%
    2. Only one child for me, thank you. Only red-staters and religious fanatics have “large families”. 20%
    3. Kids! Ewww. How will I go to pilates? 10%
    4. Decline in illegal immigration due to bad economy. 10% (could be higher)

  • Elaine S.

    Now THIS is news! Slate, hardly a right wing or religiously leaning site, has an article up on its website titled “About That Overpopulation Problem”:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2013/01/world_population_may_actually_start_declining_not_exploding.html
    The article makes several extremely important points:
    1) World population will likely peak at about 9 billion around 2070, then start to fall. With the current momentum toward decline in fertility worldwide, it’s possible that world population could be cut in half, to 4.5 billion or less, by 2200. The author even goes so far as to say that if current trends continue, humanity could concievably (pardon the pun) become extinct within the next 300-400 years!
    2) The most effective means of curbing population growth? Nope, it isn’t abortion, mass sterilization or free contraception — the article never mentions any of these. “Just educate girls” so that they marry and start families later and have higher expectations for their children. Poor countries don’t become rich when they stop having “too many” children; they stop having “too many” children AFTER they become rich.
    3) Finally, the startling conclusion: ” Most of our friends have just one or two kids, too, and like us they regard the prospect of having three or four kids the way most people look at ultramarathoning or transoceanic sailing—admirable pursuits, but only for the very committed. That attitude could do for Homo sapiens what that giant asteroid did for the dinosaurs. If humanity is going to sustain itself, then the number of couples deciding to have three or four kids will consistently have to exceed the number opting to raise one or zero. The 2.0 that my wife and I have settled for is a decent effort, but we’re not quite pulling our weight. Are we being selfish? Or merely rational? Our decision is one that I’m sure future generations will judge us on. Assuming there are any.”