Attention Contraception Zealots of Generation Narcissus!

You are now entering the second phase of history.

First phase: Artificial Contraception! What could it hurt?

Second Phase: Delaying retirement for years and years since the pool of workers to support the social safety net is shrinking even as the pool of Generation Narcissus dependents on the social safety net is growing. And when you are exhausted and are all used up, a grateful culture of death will have you put down like an old horse because you are nothing but a burden.

I said something deliberately provocative on This Week, so I think I’d better clarify what I meant (which I did on the show, but it can’t hurt to say it again.)

So, what I said is that the eventual resolution of the deficit problem both will and should rely on “death panels and sales taxes”. What I meant is that

(a) health care costs will have to be controlled, which will surely require having Medicare and Medicaid decide what they’re willing to pay for — not really death panels, of course, but consideration of medical effectiveness and, at some point, how much we’re willing to spend for extreme care

When Krugman says “not really death panels, of course” he means “Who are you gonna believe: me or your own two eyes?”

Right, Paul. Not *really* death panels. Just panels empowered to order the denial of care to people who will die without that care–and empowered to decide what “extreme” means and what “expensive” means. In short, death panels.

How where we supposed to know?

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  • Laura B.

    So….you think they’ll take well educated American youth who are having trouble finding jobs here? Like, on a short-term basis, anyhow, not to stay?

  • Sagrav

    “Right, Paul. Not *really* death panels. Just panels empowered to order the denial of care to people who will die without that care–and empowered to decide what “extreme” means and what “expensive” means. In short, death panels.”

    So… pretty much what private insurance companies are allowed to do already. Yes, I agree, it’s pretty disturbing.

    …so what does any of this have to do with contraceptives? Are you arguing that if we had more unplanned births, all of those extra people would be able to come up with a solution to our ever increasing healthcare costs and somehow fix the fact that the average American either couldn’t or chose not to invest in their own retirement? If anything, not having to take care of more children gives individuals extra financial breathing room, so I don’t quite see the link you’re trying to make here.

    • Diana

      I think what he means is that

      (1) More babies means

      (2) More workers in 18 years, which means

      (3) More people to tax, which means

      (4) More tax revenue to pay for Medicare/Medicaid/general social safety net stuff.

      Or rather, fewer babies ~20 years ago means fewer workers now, who aren’t paying taxes, who aren’t contributing to the social safety net for their parents, aunts and uncles.

      The structure of the social safety net is essentially a large Ponzi scheme which only works as long as there are more people paying into it than taking out of it. Sadly, this is the upside down of what we have coming down the pike.

      • Benjamin

        Social Security is very fixible with extremely minor adjustments.

        Medicare is trickier but has to do more with rising medical costs in general than anything specific to Medicare. We pay the most for healthcare in the entire world and can’t even get universal coverage.

      • bob

        Diana has it. I don’t think the idea of more people for economic reasons makes much sense, it treats them simply as tax paying beetles. It simply outs off the problem for another generation. In the meantime, what will the zillion more people have? Less clean water, less food. It is possible to overwork the environment. Connecting contraception to poor financial planning doesn’t solve anything.

        • enness

          If you’re worried about less food, how about the tons and tons we waste every year? Ever seen a restaurant dumpster?

    • ivan_the_mad

      “Are you arguing that if we had more unplanned births”

      Births are rarely planned. Even scheduled c-sections are sometimes pre-empted by nature ;)

    • Brian

      Here is the connection: The use of contraception within marriage has led to a breakdown of the family which has historically been the engine producing the productive workers that the social safety net has relied on.

      Social Security has always been somewhat a pyramid scheme, relying on a high number of younger workers to pay for the benefits of recipients. The current Social Security & Medicare debt problem has essentially been caused by the reduction of the ratio of workers to recipients. Both the Democrats and Republicans have offered bills to solve this, but neither comes close to the benefits that would be available if the ratio of workers to recipients was where it was in the 50s.

      Now, a lot of people would say, as you seem to do, that contraception keeps this from being worse by preventing “unwanted children”. The problem with that analysis is that while the number of children born in intact marriages drastically decreased in the 20th Century, the number of children born out-of-wedlock has held steady or even increased. Hard evidence shows that those children born-out-wedlock are much more likely to be a burden on the social net than not.

      Throughout the 20th Century, advocates for contraception kept telling us that those “unwanted children” and abortions would be reduced by the free flow of contraception. Of course, this hasn’t happened, and in fact the family situation has gotten worse. While correlation doesn’t prove causation, it also doesn’t preclude it. A real understanding of the Catholic teachings on marriage gives a lot of reasons why acceptance of contraception has brought about the breakdown of the nuclear family and all of its attendant woes. That’s why defenders of Humanae Vitae point to Pope Paul’s predictions as being prophetic.

      Now, all of the above is very consequentialist and doesn’t really fully explain the dynamics involved. Still, it is only from the Church’s understanding can we yell “Stop” to the Krugman’s of the world, who would have us double down on the mistakes of the past.

      Hope this helps.

    • Theodore Seeber

      “Are you arguing that if we had more unplanned births, all of those extra people would be able to come up with a solution to our ever increasing healthcare costs and somehow fix the fact that the average American either couldn’t or chose not to invest in their own retirement?”

      I thought that’s what Social Security was based on- the greater pool of workers taking care of the lesser pool of people who managed to survive to old age.

      Of course, that’s how pensions work too.

  • Benjamin

    Expand Medicare to all and you’ll have people who have had adequate medical treatment all their lives on the system at 70, 80 years old rather than millions who have been uninsured or underinsured leading to people with untreated heart disease and type 2 diabetes bankrupting the system.

    End of life planning is very important both for medical costs and peace of mind, demagouging about “death panels” aside.

    • Theodore Seeber

      Yep, I’ve seen that “End of life planning” here in Oregon: Let us give you enough morphine so that you miss your own death, or let us force you to choke down 9 grams of bitter barbiturate horse pills.

      • Benjamin

        I bring up “demagoguery” that makes it impossible even to have this conversation and, speak of the devil! Here it is!

        • Theodore Seeber

          I wish it was just demagoguery. I’ve had too many friends go in a drugged up haze for it to be so.

      • Benjamin

        You don’t care about the unborn. You just hate women who have sex and want to control their bodies!

        Gee, this kind of dialogue is so helpful and enlightening, isn’t it?

        • Theodore Seeber

          Nobody has control over their bodies. Cancer will strike at any second.

        • enness

          Not comparable. I just spent about three intense months enlightening myself on the Oregon experience with so-called “Death with Dignity.” It is as Theodore describes, and worse. Proponents’ strategy? Deny, deny, deny.

      • Benjamin

        And for believing in eternal life, some Christians sure are scared of their own deaths!

        • Theodore Seeber

          As are all rational beings, which is what makes atheists irrational.

        • enness

          It’s not death I’m scared of, it’s murder…genocide. (Well, to be more accurate, I’m not scared on my own behalf, but for our human family. Yes, I know how the story ends. What I don’t know is just how bad it will get in the middle.)

  • Mike

    On the one hand children are a right for gay couples, who effectively steal them from their real parents, and for infertile couples who do the same thing when they reduce women to carriers and on the other hand children are a burden and we should be having fewer of them.

    Oh what a tangled web we weave!

    • Newp Ort

      I have an adopted child who’s birth mother (not “real” mother) couldn’t care for her and placed her for adoption. Have I stolen my son ? Is adopting a child only stealing if the couple is gay or are you anti-adoption in general?

      • Mike

        I am sorry but your child’s real mother IS his birth mother but I see what you mean.

        Yes, thank you for correcting me, in the extreme circumstances when adoption of foster care is required, the children are not being in any way “stolen”. But when a child is deprived of its right to be raised by a mom and a dady, because 2 men or 2 women insist on it, it is a tragedy and when that child is deliberately deprived of that right it is a crime IMHO.

        • Newp Ort

          I and many others prefer the terms birth parents and adoptive parents, neither party being any more real just having different roles.

          If you insist on one party being more “real” perhaps we can discuss it sometime when i’m not picking my son up from school or making his meals or comforting him after a bad dream at 3am or playing legos with him or any of the other shit that “real” parents do for their kids. His biological heritage is a real thing that should be meaningful in his life (and we are trying to keep his birth mother in his life, though she isn’t making it easy) but it isn’t any more real than, well, raising him for the rest of his entire life.

          And then if you still insist on one set of parents being more “real” then you may be a “real” asshole.

          It is a statistical fact that adopted kids on average (yes even with gay parents) have better outcomes (we can discuss the validity of these outcomes elsewhere) than kids raised with their biological parents.

          So in our society which respects no establishment of religion I don’t see why adoption is a problem, at least legally, even to gay couples. Especially when the birth parents are ok with it and even select those parents. Whether you believe a child having same sex parents is ay crime, that is your opinion not Bourne by fact, and not in my opinion significant in what should determine our laws.

          • Beccolina

            “It is a statistical fact that adopted kids on average (yes even with gay parents) have better outcomes (we can discuss the validity of these outcomes elsewhere) than kids raised with their biological parents.”
            Can I assume you mean that the children who were adopted do better with adoptive parents than they would have done with their biological parents? It sort of sounds like it means all adopted children do better than all children who are raised by biological parents, which wouldn’t make sense. (Adoptive parents are screened, though, which isn’t the case for all biological parents). Children do better in stable environments than in unstable ones, and an adoptive family is going to be more stable than many biological situations.

        • Mike

          Newp Ort, I am sorry I offended you, it was not my intention. I guess in a comment it’s hard to get across the full meaning. So I apologize if what I said got you. At the same time calling me names makes things worse.

          I understand you position and think it is wrong. All children deserve to be reared by at least 1 person who is male and 1 who is female. And children do best by every measure when raised by their moms and dads.

          The human race is comprised to 2 parts: one male and one female. To deprive a child of that equal opportunity is to do him/her harm.

          Please don’t reply if you intend to call me rude names.

          • Newp Ort

            Aw, come on Mike, don’t take it so hard. If you get that upset at being called an a-hole, you’ll never go very far on the internet!

            But srsly, I shouldn’t have said it, you were right to call me rude and I apologize. Got my hackles up a bit over the adoption comments. No excuse though, apologies again.

            The need of two opposite sex parents I pretty much don’t agree with, but it is an interesting point. Children can have positive male and female role models in their lives without necessarily having opposite sex parents, though I’m sure you wouldn’t find this sufficient.

            What then about adoption by single people? (Provided, you know, that they’re not like GAY or anything.)

            • Mike

              Ok, no worries I just think that calling people aholes because you disagree about something the entire world agreed on up until like last tuesday is a bit, well, weird. :) but don’t worry I’ve been called worse!

  • victor

    I prefer to think of them more as “Friendly Ghost Factories” than death panels.

  • Paul Stilwell

    Answer to above comments: It’s not hard to see the connection between contraception and death panels, when you realize that the “philosophy” behind the very idea of contraception views human life solely as a burden and a problem, to be dealt with by prevention, and, failing that, elimination.

    • Newp Ort

      The philosophy behind contraceptive mentality is giving people greater control of their own lives and bodies. You may disagree with such, and it is totally legit to detail the consequences of this philosophy, but it’s dishonest to redefine other’s motives based on your beliefs. They can be sincerely wrong.

      The death panels were a myth made up and propagated by right wing idiots. End of life planning is not about rationing care, it’s meant to be a benefit to the dying person and all involved with them by helping them plan. Having a plan of what to do before the end is in sight saves the patient and family and all involved a lot of unnecessary stress and confusion at a time when high emotions will make it difficult to make such decisions. Such plans are not written in stone either, but it’s just good to have a plan and it saves money.

      • Mike

        Contraception is in the mind’s of young men reducing women to objects devoid of procreative capacity. If you don’t believe it, turn on the news, there are plently of recent examples of young women being rape and killing themselves because young men have not been taught the connection between sex, women, men and babies.

        • Newp Ort

          Men have been knocking up women seeing them only as objects (and then just hitting the road) forever. Contraception was never meant to change the mentality of objectifying women, just give people more control over their own bodies and lives.

          I can see where you are coming from, because seeing women as sex objects could be (mis?)construed as a natural outcome of the ability to have (supposedly) consequence free sex. But this is assuming that men didn’t have this opinion of women before widely available contraception, a dubious claim. Of course people are aware that sex -> babies, but I don’t think they had any more respect for this as natural law before contraception became freely available, people screwing around just saw it as most do now: a potential consequence, best avoided.

          It could be argued though, that contraception reduces objectification of women by giving to them the ability to choose to be other than baby making machines. (Though personally I find that a little bit of a stretch.)

          • Mike

            That is true but only if you first suppose that women having babies is something not innate to being a women, something imposed on a women. But alas that is why I am a Catholic and you’re not :). All the best. PS Unless you are a Catholic of course, in which case you’re really probably a liberal protestant and not a Christian at all ;).

            PS I think that women objectified as object of pleasure for men is WAY worse than being objectified as the sources of ALL LIFE!

            • Newp Ort

              No I’m catholic, I’m just a pretty conflicted and crappy one. I was out completely, came back, now I’m mostly out again. Many “real” catholics seem to be building a wall around the church and I found myself on the outside. Heck though, its probably always been that way and its my own stubborn ass keepin me out.

              Having babies is not the vocation of all women. Some have other callings. Maybe its being a nun, maybe a dyke. Or both.

              And its probably best to not to objectify them at all and let them make their own choices than argue how they’d be better objectified.

              That last statement was way too holier than thou for a guy that looks at as much porn as I do so I think I better stop internetting for the night. God bless you Mike.

              • Mike

                I am sorry to hear that: I’ve had the exact opposite experience…so I guess just goes to show how big the RCC really is.

                LOL, maybe a dyke? Do you really honestly think this is a calling akin to becoming a nun? or even a calling at all? Come on.

                I am struggling with temptation too, and in care you’re wondering up until very recently was a left-wing nominal catholic who agreed with the secularists that the RCC was at best a weird social club.

        • Benjamin

          Because surely young men never raped women before the pill was invented. Nosiree!

          Sorry, but LOL if you believe that.

          • Andy, Bad Person

            Was the abortion culture so rampant? Was divorce ever so high?

            • Benjamin

              Abortion has existed since the beginning of time, too.

              Divorce? Well, you got me there. People were just stuck in marriages they hated, instead, and women had to sit and suffer domestic violence. That was so much better!

              • Mike

                I don’t think that plastic razor blades slicing babies happened until the late 20th century in America. And I wonder how women killed their babies say 1,000 years ago? Did they kill them after they were born?

                • Benjamin

                  Was there infanticide 1,000 years ago?

                  Yes. SATSQ.

                  • Mike

                    huh? infanticide is NOT abortion!! ;).

                    • Theodore Seeber

                      Except, of course, when Kermit Gosnell does it.

          • Tom R

            So let me get this straight:
            In the view of the Catholic blogosphere…
            (1) If Artificial Contraception had been, or were to become, either banned by law or socially discredited, and replaced by variants of Natural Family Planning, then people would have significantly more babies than they do now?
            (2) Is the reason for this (a) that NFP is less certain than condoms/ the pill/ diaphragms to prevent pregnancy, or (b) that the use of NFP makes the couple involved less insistent that they want fewer children, or some other reason?
            I ask this because the most zealous NFP-Onlyites I know are insistent that condoms are unreliable (they don’t prevent the spread of HIV) and that selectively timed partial abstinence is actually a more fail safe method.
            Now, true, in a 21st-century America where couples who want sex without children can buy condoms for fifty cents each at a chemist, the idea of waiting a week before consummating is unappealing by comparison: as a Mr Jagger wrote in 1965, being told “maybe next week” means he “can’t get no satisfaction”. But imagine if artificial methods of contraception did one day get banned by the FDA or Congress. Suddenly NFP would look more appealing by comparison. Men and women who intensely want sex and intensely don’t want a baby might start stockpiling the works of Christopher West, just as Americans who wouldn’t have touched amateur-made moonshine before the Eighteenth Amendment was enacted, or after the Twenty-First repealed it, might have decided that rigging up a still was worth the effort while Prohibition made cheap, legal drinks unavailable.

      • Kathleen Lundquist

        But Krugman is not talking about end of life planning; he is talking about _rationing care_, as if human care for others was a zero-sum equation. Feel free to disparage the “death panels” label, but the concept of rationing care on a purely economic basis is what I object to. (I would guess that few of us here would object to the sort of end of life planning you describe above, unless it’s being done solely by bean-counting bureaucrats on the patient’s behalf/without their input).

      • enness

        Control freaks, then. So much better.

        “and it saves money”
        Bingo. A$$i$ted $uicide

    • Newp Ort

      Oh, checked out your website, and while we can agree to disagree on some things, anybody with a Tartovsky Tuesday is OK with me.

      What is best?

      What is best in life?
      Conan: To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

  • Michael Matthew

    I think Mike’s point is that as adults, we often treat children as a commodity, things that can be bought or sold, and not as human beings with dignity and rights. Parenthood is a wonderful and honorable thing, whether it is through natural relations or adoption. But we don’t have a right “to have” a child. I think this is most obvious in the IVF industry. If you want a child and you have enough money, then you can “have” a child. Oh, and just in case, the IVF industry will willingly suspend thousands of children cryogenically just in case you want “to have” another child.

    • Newp Ort

      I’ve been through IVF, and it was an awful experience I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. But I’d prob be singin another tune if I came out of it a father rather than just miserable.

      It’s a tough line to cut though. Your points are well stated but I am wary of the government restricting who can become parents under what circumstances.

      Fortuneately for my wife and I we were able to wrest a child from the loving arms of his “real” mother with the help of the government, under the “shitty mother” clause, because she was a single drug addict and the child had a right to a mother and father.

      Just kidding, we adopted our son and his birth mother chose us as parents. But you see where I’m going with that (i mean aside from being a sarcastic jerk) about government control of parenthood.

      • Mike

        Well I don’t think gov. should decide I just think parenthood is NOT a right in the sense that if you are infertile because you choose to be, say you are with a person of the same sex, or because there is something “wrong” with your plumbing (wife and I fall into this group), it doesn’t mean that you are then owed something, like a human being who no matter what has a mom and dad, but who is being denied access to them because you just want it damn it. But anyway we could go on like this forever. The bottom line is this: we all have a mom and dad or once did and by far the best and least expensive place for a child is with his or her biological mom and dad.

  • Guest

    It’s a double-edged sword. We don’t want “death” panels making financial decisions but we all want enough money to pay for whatever care we decide we should have. We can’t have it both ways in the real world. What we can hope for and pray for and try to come to some consensus on as a society is that we can find an acceptable middle ground.

    As an RN it breaks my heart when I see the uninsured suffer unneccessary morbidity because they couldn’t get adequate care to manage an illness in the early stages because they had no job and therefore no money and no insurance. So the problem had to wait until it had become an emergent crisis in order to get into the medical system (when the ER and hospital couldn’t legally turn them away), and then it’s massively more expensive to treat in terms of dollars and physical cost to the patient.

    It also breaks my heart when I see frail dying elderly people at the end of their life having one expensive but futile hospitalization after another, unable to come to terms with their mortality because Medicare won’t pay for comprehensive assessment and counseling (what some people will even refer to as a death panel) to help guide the patient in making choices about the care they want. No the medical system, usually via the ER, will just keep offering yet another futile hospital stay to buff them up just enough to get them out the door for a few more weeks until the next one crisis and the poor patient keeps going along because no one offers them any alternative.

    • enness

      I’m sure you have a big heart, but please bear in mind that “futile” is somewhat subjective and how you define it is not necessarily how they define it. If you are suggesting that the purpose of counseling is to “help them come to terms with their mortality,” that’s not guidance, it’s steerage.

  • John

    I found this thread quite disturbing until I read Newp Ort. So, because of availability of birth control we don’t have enough bodies in the system to support Social Security? Sorry, don’t buy it. After WW2, servicemen came back to this country and made babies at an unprecedented rate. I guess 4-5 years away from home will do that to you. It was a pace that could not be maintained, being that we just won a war that changed the entire economic dynamics of the world. Money, security, and a lot of horny soldiers come home. Hence, the baby boom. To use your logic, then some could say the church is looking to grow it’s membership by limiting birth control. I think both arguments are straw men, Mark…and, cynical.

    • Newp Ort

      Mark is making the point a bit snarkily (to be a pot calling out the kettle) but I think mostly (if you aren’t gay and you’re a woman ok with government control of your body) the catholic view of family and reproduction is positive and results in more kids. The lack of productive young people supporting the system is a consequence of smaller families, and while I think its valid to point this out its also true that the system could itself be at fault. We need a government and economy that is sustainable with smaller families and slower population growth.
      What I don’t like about the whole lowered population bomb viewpoint is it comes dangerously close to implying that reproducing is an obligation to society so we don’t get too poor or cant retire or whatever.

      If you want to say children are not a right, but a gift from God, and have a right to their own lives then they aren’t an means to your Medicare or social security or whatever either.

      What I really don’t like is that this kind of talk easily slides over into the territory of the sky is falling cuz heteros not having kids and gays are not making more Christian kids and soon the Muslims are gonna out-baby us into oblivion!!! (Yeah I’m looking at you Brigitte Gabriel, and not just cuz you got that hot older lady thing going on.)

      I know Mark isn’t saying that but I’ve seen it numerous times in the catholic mediasphere.

  • Mike

    Is there some spam filter up?

    • Newp Ort

      spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam

      Not any more than usual, looks like.

      • enness

        Bloody Vikings!

    • ivan_the_mad

      My wife won’t let me buy or eat Spam more than twice yearly, so yes. Definitely. There exists an unjust and horrid Spam filter.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Don’t judge me. I like Spam and I’m not sorry. When I was kid, I wanted to grow up to work in the Spam-mobile.

  • Guest

    “What I don’t like about the whole lowered population bomb viewpoint is it comes dangerously close to implying that reproducing is an obligation to society so we don’t get too poor or cant retire or whatever.”

    Society does sort of see it that way, or at least it did not that long ago. Why do you think the government gives you a tax deduction for your kids? It’s an acknowledgment that your kids are important to the future of society and a recognition that it’s expensive to feed, clothe, house and educate them and raise them up to be good little citizens and future productive taxpayers so the gov gives you an incentive/reward. The only reason people have consented for years to pay to educate other people’s kids is because we recognize we are all going to be dependent on them to some degree in the future and it’s in our best interest to educate the generations that follow us.

    Really, this whole relativistic notion is very recent that we (and our families) can just live in our own little isolated and independent bubble that goes bumping along but not interfering with all the other little bubbles that make up society. There is and always has been an interdependence among individuals and families and society and government that we are now, in our intensely selfish culture, sometimes ignoring or even tearing down at our peril.

  • Newp Ort

    I love it. Fry it in a pan til its brown and crispy on the outside and its a superb breakfast meat. We live in a wonderful world where giant machines can chew up lips and assholes, add some (ostensibly) nonharmful chemicals and its so delicious.

    • Newp Ort

      Oh, uh that was meant to be a reply to Ivan. Hopefully you can resolve this borderline spousal abuse problem.

      Maybe we should start a shelter or kitchen for men whose wives disallow spam. I have some time freed up since my halfway house for girls that don’t go all the way went under.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Oh good, ds. I continue to laugh in guilty manner at much that you write.

  • obpoet

    Funny how Ponzi schemes never seem to work out well in the end.

  • Ben h

    They are not death panels, they are life panels – for some! Glass half full!