Simple fixes to the fertility gap?
Ten years ago, Candice and I were sitting in a public policy class at Regent University taught by Dr. Hubert Morken. As he addressed a variety of policy challenges, Candice asked a favorite question of hers: "What's the solution?" Dr. Morken's answer caught everyone off guard: "Get married and make babies." His point seemed so crude, but he insisted that regardless of what's going on in the public debate, the people who are having children and raising them consistent with their values tend to have the most impact on future debates. Over the last week, the Wall Street Journal ran two articles reinforcing Dr. Morken's point--specfically the impact of people not having babies.
The first article ("Cash Incentives Aren't Enough to Lift Fertility") covers the impact on the international marketplace. Numerous countries once caught up in concerns about a population boom are now facing the reality of a population bust. Worried they will have a shrinking labor force and consumer base, many are offering cash incentives for their citizens to have more babies. Those incentives, however, haven't created the desired effect and many of those same countries are now looking at the option of loosening their immigration controls--a tactic they know will change the face of their countries.
The second article ("The Fertility Gap") looks at the impact of baby-making on the ballot box. Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University writes, "liberals have a big baby problem" and he isn't talking about infant obesity. He points out a fertility gap of 41% between liberals and conservatives and estimates that by 2020, the current fertility trends alone will push conservatives into the majority in California where liberals currently dominate. He states that all their MTV-esque get-out-the-vote efforts have been in vain because "liberals have been quite successful controlling overpopulation--in the Democratic Party." He ends saying, "Democrat politicians may have no more babies left to kiss."
Articles like these have to be frustrating to both business-centric conservatives and "get out the vote" social liberals. Because while they make it clear that more babies are needed, that reality flies in the face of the anti-natalism that has become ingrained in social liberals as well as many capitalists who have developed a habit of letting what's best for business trump family interests over the years. The reality is that both of these wings of society are now in a position of wanting to have it both ways. The liberals want to maintain their love affair with abortion, homosexuality and other anti-natal positions while also somehow growing their voter base. Many capitalists on the other hand want to keep growing their labor and consumer base while maintaining their worship of the almighty dollar, even when it means promoting anti-family products like pornography, anti-family work environments where only the single and childless can get ahead and consumptive lifestyles where couples are strapped with debt that make starting a family seem like a fantasy.
At the end of the day, neither financial rewards from capitalists or even extreme get -out-the-vote (by getting pregnant) efforts from liberals can have much effect on a decision as important, intimate and life changing as having a baby. After all, how many liberal couples are going to gaze into each other's eyes and say, "let's make a little voter?" or how many capitalists are going to hop in bed motivated by their desire for a little tax deduction? Parenting requires greater vision than that. The latest reports on the fertility gap show that there are no simple solutions for anti-natalists, while there are suprising results for the men and women who--as Sting so poetically put it--"send their love into the future."