As we watch the slow, inevitable decline of the welfare state into insolvency, we can see evidence of denial all around.
We should expect it, the death of something people have taken for granted, and for so long have believed to have triumphed over the “benighted ways” of our ancestors, is hard to accept. There are stages to accepting the death of anything we can’t imagine living without, and denial comes first. (We should expect anger, bargaining, and depression to follow before we finally arrive at acceptance.)
In the last week I read a couple of articles that were enlightening because each looked at a country that has denied itself the recourse we have followed in the United States and other western nations to forestall the inevitable. Since we don’t have kids (so darned expensive and inconvenient, after all), we import other people’s kids. We call it immigration.
One article looked at Japan, a nation slipping into insolvency even as it is awash with technology and wealth. According to Business Insider the population is in the early stages of a precipitous decline. And since there is a growing number of elderly people, and shrinking number of young people to care for them, people are beginning to get a little worried. Some believe that technology will once again save the day and the childless elderly will be cared for by robots. But is a growing number of robots and a shrinking population a good thing? And how far will this go? It can’t go on forever. Someday the Japanese will need to have more babies on a regular basis than the number of people who die.
The other article looked at Hungary. Like Japan it isn’t looking to immigration to save it from the consequences of low fertility. Instead it is defying what passes of wisdom in our time by actually encouraging family-formation and child-bearing. This has made Hungary a pariah to the gender-benders in charge in Brussels. But the Hungarians don’t like those folks anyway. And if you’re going to have kids, two mommies won’t do it for you. You need to re-valorize the old fashioned way of getting the job done.
Why don’t these folks take the easy route and just import people?
Rather than go into the cultural reasons for why the Japanese and the Hungarians forego that solution, I’d rather point out that it really isn’t a solution. It just puts off the inevitable.
Apparently we live in a world where some countries produce people and other countries produce everything else.
For some reason we haven’t figured out a way to do both at the same time.
But eventually it will run its course. We already see fertility falling in developing countries. And when the “standard of living” is high enough in those places the incentive to move elsewhere will lessen. And so in the end we will run out of immigrants. Sooner or later we will run out of other people’s kids.
Besides that, I’ve ministered to immigrants from all over the world for more than 30 years and here is what I’ve learned. The immigrants that every country is competing for–you know, hardworking, thrifty, aspirant, and fertile. Well, their kids are just like our kids: spoiled, selfish, short-sighted, and childless.
There is just no getting away from the hard truth. People will only have kids when they believe it is in their best interest to do so. And welfare states by redistributing the benefits of children away from the people who bear the costs of having them to the people who don’t have them dis-incentivize having kids.
If you turn children into expensive hobbies don’t be surprised when people stop having them. When you imply that the choice is amoral and that you can have either a boat or a baby, expect more boats and fewer babies.
You may deny this. If you do, see my point about denial in the first paragraph.