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In an otherwise inane Ross Douthat column (but I repeat myself), there's two paragraphs worth noting.

Government’s power over fertility rates is limited, but not nonexistent. America has no real family policy to speak of at the moment, and the evidence from countries like Sweden and France suggests that reducing the ever-rising cost of having kids can help fertility rates rebound. Whether this means a more family-friendly tax code, a push for more flexible work hours, or an effort to reduce the cost of college, there’s clearly room for creative policy to make some difference.

More broadly, a more secure economic foundation beneath working-class Americans would presumably help promote childbearing as well. Stable families are crucial to prosperity and mobility, but the reverse is also true, and policies that made it easier to climb the economic ladder would make it easier to raise a family as well.

This is perilously close to heresy -  a conservative columnist hinting that government policies might actually improve social mobility and increase prosperity! Speaking well of Sweden and France too! Why, he might almost be suggesting that cutting Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would be bad things. He'll be signing up with Occupy Wall Street next.

Mind you, this comes in a column in which he notes with concern that Americans aren't making as many babies as they used to, after the economy cratered in 2008. He's worried that without a future supply of taxpayers, workers, and entrepreneurs sufficient to maintain American economic 'dynamism' the country will sink into decadence and decline. Of course he also notes that, politics aside, such trends

can only be reversed by the slow accumulation of individual choices, which is how all social and cultural recoveries are ultimately made.
It remains to be seen how knowing that Ross Douthat wants Americans to "Get busy" will affect birth rates....

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (20+ / 0-)

    For making it all the way through a Douthat column, so you wouldn't have to.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:04:45 PM PST

  •  Must be nice (8+ / 0-)

    To get paid to write nonsensical ramblings like that.

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:19:11 PM PST

  •  Duhhh... (8+ / 0-)

    About the time my son hit 14 I told him, "if the girl gets pregnant, YOU get pregnant. Don't marry until you can
    support 2 people, don't become a parent until you can support 3." Well, he's 32 now, still single, childless and wondering if this is the way it's gonna be. Thankfully he is well employed but I wonder if my growing up with Mom always home (Dad was career Army) colored my perspective...life and the value of the dollar are a lot different now.
    I suppose this will also appear to some to be nonsensical rambling...

    •  Don't beat yourself up. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, xaxnar, starfu, radarlady

      It really does take two working parents now to support a family -- as it didn't when unions were strong and businesses didn't close here so they could open sweatshops elsewhere.

      Well, unless one of those parents is Mitt Romney, in which case he's the exact reason for the decline and fall of the middle class.  Mitt's wife can stay home and raise kids...your son's (not yet) wife, probably not so much.

      THAT is the disconnect.  The billionaires have NO clue what life is like for people who are even relatively wealthy (let's say, making two hundred grand per year) and are totally clueless when it comes to those of us making median or less than median income -- median defined as fifty grand a year.

      (I can only dream of making that much, btw.)

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:26:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Remind me next time not to read Ross Douthat (9+ / 0-)

    right before heading off to bed. I'm going to have nightmares now. He really gets under my skin. Ultimately, he's just as loopy as those people who froth at the mouth. I mean, where do you even start in talking about that article.

    IN the eternally recurring debates about whether some rival great power will knock the United States off its global perch, there has always been one excellent reason to bet on a second American century: We have more babies than the competition.
    Can we go for quality of life instead of quantity for a change? Exactly what does it benefit us to remain on our "global perch"? What a weird metaphor. Even given that desire, which I don't share, are we sure simply having more babies advances that goal?

    Even that one, not crazy paragraph that you highlight is only a set up to adress the "real" problem. Cultural decadence! Ah, I wish. Peel me a grape, Ross.

    Beneath these policy debates, though, lie cultural forces that no legislator can really hope to change. The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion —
    I sure am exhausted... of reading this tripe.
     
    a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.
    So people who don't have babies don't contribute to civilization? I'm sure I could come up with some examples, like, I dunno, DaVinci. . .  I'm sure there's others but I'm too exhausted right now, in a modern decadent way. I think I'm going to take some laudanum and recline on a velvet sofa.
  •  I can't bear reading his BS. (4+ / 0-)

    I see his byline and think "Doubt that."

    It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

    by sboucher on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:37:06 PM PST

  •  Ross who™? n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:50:56 PM PST

  •  Wouldn't it be easier just to (5+ / 0-)

    ...outlaw contraception, Ross?


    A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

    by Pluto on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 10:48:59 PM PST

    •  hahahahahaha (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, xaxnar, starfu

      h/t Bubbanomics, but you really made me LOL, Pluto.

      Luckily my downstairs neighbor is away for the weekend, or the White Coats would be Coming To Take Me Away, HaHaHoHoHeeHee.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:30:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I really liked your comment above (4+ / 0-)

        ...about the middle class disconnect, above.

        The billionaires have NO clue what life is like for people who are even relatively wealthy (let's say, making two hundred grand per year) and are totally clueless when it comes to those of us making median or less than median income -- median defined as fifty grand a year.
        This was so striking during the election. It wasn't discussed much, but it had to have a great psychological impact on the American people.


        A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

        by Pluto on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 01:37:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You really want folks to have more kids, Ross? (5+ / 0-)

    Then adopt a single-payer system.  I know of at least half a dozen couples who put off/decided not to have kids only because they felt they could not afford the medical costs of doing so.

    "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

    by Whimsical on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 01:48:40 AM PST

  •  Tip & Rec for plagiarism: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, UnionMade, radarlady
    but I repeat myself
    Twain: Suppose you were a member of Congress. Suppose you were an idiot. But I repeat myself.

    There's good stealing and bad stealing and I'm quite sure Sam doesn't mind.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:28:05 AM PST

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