Jane — Here’s the plan: there’s an invoice book behind the counter that should tell us who bought my last painting. But, you’ll have to distract Gary while I’m grabbing.
Daria — And just how am I supposed to do that, Mr. Phelps?
Jane — You’ll figure out something. Use your womanly attributes.
Daria — Gotcha, I’ll give birth.
— Daria, “Art Burn”
According to a new study from the CDC, the United States is reaching “record low fertility,” with only 1.78 births per woman. This has led to a massive debate, especially among conservatives, on how we can get this number to increase just slightly. Those who followed my work on The Liberty Hawk (much of which can be found in my book The Establishment Is Dead: Long Live The Establishment) know that I do not care one way or the other about the fertility rate, nor do I feel anyone else should assuming they do not use Adrenochrome nor consume Soylent Green. (Spoilers for those who have not seen Soylent Green, but Soylent Green is people.)
Our recent “fertility drop” isn’t even a new thing, as CNBC points out in its article on the subject:
U.S. birth and fertility rates in 2020 dropped to another record low as births fell for the sixth consecutive year to the lowest levels since 1979, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
For the record, the United States has 120 million more people today than it did in 1979, despite us hitting the exact same fertility rate that we’re now told will lead to the end of humanity. I’m still not sure where this “crisis” I keep hearing about is, but it’s somewhere and if we don’t do something to stop it the world will literally end.
Of course, many of the people claiming this is a “crisis” know it’s not and are simply populists using it in a cynical attempt to convince to gullible to go along with their ideology. Patrick Brown, writing in The American Mind on 5/7/2021, came out against President Biden’s plan for Universal Child Care — which would put less of a finical burden on parents and therefore could incentivize parenthood (at least, that’s what we’re told). The reason is simple, it’s not the populist solution (which is paid family leave, a policy I’m personally mixed on, and which President Biden has also come out in favor of):
No amount of high-flown rhetoric can disguise that “boosting child development” through child care and universal pre-school can hide the fact that funding the creation of full-time slots in child care centers is more about serving the needs of the labor market than what’s best for kids.
So is this a crisis or is it not? If it is a crisis, then we should be doing everything possible to fix the problem within the current system, instead of first waiting until we drastically change the “labor market” and “the economy.”
Josh Hammer used his syndicated column to point to the real culprit to our fertility issue, critical race theory:
Holding aside the fact that [systemic racism] is a noxious lie — America has not been “systemically racist,” with the possible exception of the anti-Asian racism of affirmative action education policies, since Jim Crow — there are tangible effects of this rhetoric for the body politic. Put simply, inculcating America-hatred logically ought to disincentivize young, healthy couples from procreating. After all, who would rationally want to bring forth new life into a country that is irredeemably “systemically racist” to its core?
Mr. Hammer’s argument falls apart rather quickly when you realize people did have kids in the times he admits were systemically racist. As to who would want children in today’s world, the answer appears to still be “literally all women in the United States,” considering, although 1.78 is not a high rate, it is still a higher average than 1 birth per woman. Meaning, on average, a woman is still more likely to have children than she is not to (in fact, she is also more likely than not to have two children, based on this number).
But after the nonsense comes the creepy, and that’s how I would best describe Matthew Walther’s 5/6/2021 article “The Conservative Case For Teen Pregnancy” published in The American Conservative. Of course, advocating for people to have as many kids as possible regardless of if it’s a good idea or not is the logical end goal of worrying about a “fertility crisis,” but its jump from hyperbolic concern to argument is still worth noting.
For the sake of fairness, I should note that his argument is not related to the fertility rate but “nature.” I guess it’s more accurate to say this is the logical endpoint of Catholicism (although what separates Walther’s form of Catholicism from the Gnosticism that Christianity once rejected is a riddle I have yet to fully solve). As he puts it in the article:
It should go without saying that the success sequence as it is actually practiced in the United States is possible only because of artificial contraception. It is not love of chastity that leads the vast majority of Americans who attain it to “delay parenthood,” as the literature puts it, but the apparently successful attempt of pharmaceutical corporations to reduce the marital act to a sterile parody. Whatever virtues the average middle-class American couple exhibit by “delaying,” they are not natural ones. They are really showing us their disordered understanding of prudence, which has become a synonym for convenience.
I would argue the process of between forty and one-hundred million sperm shoot out with only one — at most — becoming a person is rather “disordered” as it is. The author goes on to ignore the fact that an ejaculation is made up of more than one sperm, while also giving us this highlight:
Whose convenience? Certainly not that of the children who will never be born because the self-appointed defenders of traditional virtue in what some of them still refer to quaintly as “the public square” have spent the last three decades concerned with emptying out the welfare rolls and (some of them are quite open about this) keeping the crime statistics low.
Are fewer people on welfare and low crime rates not something we should be concerned about? Would this author prefer a system of more murders, rapes, and thefts per capita if it also meant more people? Would he prefer more people on welfare, meaning higher taxes for everyone, if it also meant more people? Of course, he likely thinks he won’t have to be the one paying the taxes to support more people on welfare or in prison, instead hoping they’ll be passed off on the unmarried and childless proles.
That is not me speculating, I should note, that is something that many of them admit to. As that is exactly what Kurt Schlicter advocated for in a 5/3/2021 column for Townhall:
We need tax laws that charge the single and/or childless more (Augustus did this in Rome). We need bigger tax credits for kids, and school choice, and to eliminate rules that prevent employers from giving families flexibility on the job.
Remember this every time a conservative advocates for some “pro-natal policy” (a phrase that should creep you out, might I add). Almost none of them think they’re going to have to be paying for it, and it is rather easy to be generous with money you won’t have to dole out.
Here’s a question nobody seems to be asking in this debate: Can public policy actually influence the fertility rate? In order for us to even have a debate on public policy regarding the fertility rate, we have to assume the answer is yes. However, is there any actual reason to believe that?
Recently, Senator Josh Hawley introduced another child tax credit in hopes of, once again, increasing the fertility rate. However, 99% of all species — including all forms of animals — reproduce sexually, and only one needs a tax credit in order to reproduce. Humans did not even have one for most of our history, considering humans have been on Earth for 300,000 while, bearing Schlicter’s example in mind, Augustus ruled Rome roughly 2,000 years ago. (It should also be noted that it was under Augustus’s rule that Christ was born, meaning you can take what Kurt said in all kinds of directions.)
In fact, it seems our need for a tax credit is relatively recent in human history. The United States did not have a child tax credit until 1998, at which point the fertility rate still only managed to go down. Meanwhile, when China had its incredibly draconian one-child policy from 1979 until 2015, people still regularly broke it and had two or more children in outright contempt of the law. When China updated it to a two-child policy in 2015, many families started having three children, knowing full well they were facing legal issues, massive fines, and the possibility of forced abortion. (The Shadow Children book series, beginning with 1998’s Among The Hidden and ending with 2006’s Among The Free is about a fictional world under a strict two-child limit, specifically following third children who must be hidden from society at large. Margaret Haddix specifically developed the concept of the series when she and her husband wanted to have a third child, which led to conversation about issues like overpopulation and China’s one-child policy.)
Here’s another question that nobody seems to be asking: Should everyone have kids? We’re told now that there’s a crisis of “under fertility,” but what exactly is the alternative — over fertility? Going back to Josh Hammer’s recent column, he makes this rather telling point:
According to polling data revealed by American Compass in February, 45% to 50% of Americans who do not report that their families are still growing say they have fewer children than they would ideally desire, whereas 0% to 10% of Americans without growing families say they have more children than they ideally would have had. Put simply, Americans want more babies, but for various, complicated reasons, they are not having them. A drastic incongruence between stated preferences and lived reality is the definitional case for good public policy, and there has been a resurgence of interest of late on the realignment right to rediscover the tools of economic statecraft as it pertains to family policy.
What must wonder what Mr. Hammer’s preferred alternative would be? Would he rather live in a country where half of all Americans feel they have too many children, or that they have more children than they can afford to take care of? I know I wouldn’t, I would much rather a system where people have fewer children than they might want but raise all of them well and care for them as opposed to a system where it's common for couples to have more than they could handle. Eventually, one of those children will end up being neglected or not properly cared for, and that’s the child that could have behavioral issues or various problems later in life.
Should people who only have children for a tax credit or a government check be having children? Should people who simply “want” children and nothing more really be having them? In both cases, I would say the person in question is too selfish to properly raise a child, but Kurt seems more concerned about having the number of people go up slightly as oppose to actually making sure these children have a loving home.
When you hear a phrase like “pro-natal policy,” your first thought should be “more children, regardless of context.” A healthy society does not believe in “more children, regardless of context,” because it understands that such a view does not lead to healthy children, it leads to neglected children who end up with neglected children of their own, or no children for that matter.
Focusing on just “how many people there are and nothing more” turns parenthood into nothing more than an obligation, like paying taxes, and while that might make for more people, it also does not make for better parents.