Subscribe via RSS Feed

Two observations on today’s Douthat column

[ 152 ] December 2, 2012 |

First: Kudos to the headline writer, who I have to believe was entirely aware of the dark humorous effect of putting the phrase “More Babies, Please” directly above Douthat’s sneering visage.

Second: while there’s generally a hefty amount of dishonesty in Douthat’s columns, one claim from today’s stands out: “with fertility in decline across Mexico and Latin America, it isn’t clear that the United States can continue to rely heavily on immigrant birthrates to help drive population growth.”

The US currently admits a tiny fraction of those who apply for legal resident status, and the number who apply is almost certainly depressed by the extraordinarily long odds of success, especially for those without a plausible asylum claim or family reunification angle. We could change immigration policy to admit substantially more immigrants than we now do, and this will likely to continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. Should demand from Mexico and Latin America decline, the difference could easily be made up elsewhere. Indeed, if migrant supply somehow fails to meet migrant demand at some point in the foreseeable future, one of two things will be true: the standard of living across the developing world has risen by a remarkable degree, or the standard of living in the US has utterly collapsed. The former would be a cause for celebration of such magnitude that the US having to figure out how to deal with a modestly declining population will hardly register as a problem worth noting. In the case of the latter,  the disaster will be of such a magnitude that our immigration worries should be the least of our concerns.

Of course, a steady or slightly growing population generated by high immigration rather than birth rates will lead to a more racially and culturally diverse polity. This would be a welcome development for a host of reasons, one of which would be that it would hasten the coming of the moment in which the Republican party is forced to choose between being a nationally competitive party or a party heavily invested in nativist white identity politics.

Comments (152)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. DrDick says:

    This really is all about more white babies so that we are not overrun with those brown skinned hordes, along with a healthy dose of “OMG! If immigration drops we will have to start paying the help a living wage!”

    • mingo says:

      I have no desire to read Chunky Douche – my guess was that he would be lamenting the lack of white babies – was I right? Not to mention the disgusting lack of attention to duty us white wimmens is demonstrating by using contraceptives and therefore not duggaring out white babies.

    • David Nieporent says:

      No, it isn’t. You didn’t read the column, or weren’t smart enough to understand it, or most likely both. It was exactly the opposite. The column had nothing to with the amount of immigration to the U.S. — djw didn’t bother to read the column either — and Douthout was lamenting the decline in immigrant fertility.

      • Dilan Esper says:

        He’s decrying total fertility, so you have a point.

        But while it isn’t racist (other stuff he has written has been), it is sexist. Because the major reason fertility has declined is women have more money and more control of their lives and now reject Douthat’s belief that they are morally obligated to have children.

        • NBarnes says:

          The offensive thing about it is that there are good, known ways to encourage women to have more children. They involve government support to offset the gigantic opportunity cost and financial impact of parenthood. France does this and it’s had a measurable impact on their fertility rate. Simply put, having kids is very expensive and very much a luxury.

          Douthat doesn’t just bemoan the fact that white women aren’t having more babies; he’s bemoaning the fact that white women won’t have more babies on their own dime. Of course the government shouldn’t put money into solving collective action problems; women should just have more babies, despite the costs involved, because… uh… look, Halley’s Comet!

          • David Nieporent says:

            It’s true that the French fertility rate is higher than in much of Europe, and that it has ticked up somewhat in recent years. (The main policy that has accomplished this is to import more immigrants from North Africa with higher fertility rates, but we’ll set that aside.) The French fertility rate, like that of other European countries with generous “government support,” is still lower than that of the U.S., without such generous “government support.”

            What is offensive, of course, is to suggest that people shouldn’t have children “on their own dime.” The notion that children are a “luxury” because of the “opportunity cost” is a sick attitude. Does having children cost money? Of course. But what sort of parent begrudges that cost, and demands that other people pay it?

            Families (not “women”) should have children, not because of the effect on the economy (so, no, it’s not a “collective action problem”), but because that’s pretty much the purpose of life. Of course, I heartily encourage people who think otherwise, and who look at children as an interruption of their careers and recreation, not to have children.

            (Douthat says nothing about “white women”; this is simply standard left-wing race-baiting whenever you lose an argument.)

            • The Dark Avenger says:

              But these families are mostly moochers and takers, like the 47% that Romney infamously talked about. Why should they reproduce in the first place?

              • witless chum says:

                What is offensive, of course, is to suggest that people shouldn’t have children “on their own dime.” The notion that children are a “luxury” because of the “opportunity cost” is a sick attitude. Does having children cost money? Of course. But what sort of parent begrudges that cost, and demands that other people pay it?

                Most parents demand that, as taxes to pay for the school system are not assessed on a per child basis and I don’t know as I’ve heard of a lot of parents not taking a child tax credit. Personally, I don’t mind paying for other people’s kids because that’s called society, but I’m the socialist in this conversation.
                And one of the most-often cited reasons women give when choosing to have an abortion is that they can’t afford a (or another) child at this point. So, what kind of parents makes that choice? Ones who are forced to by economic circumstances, chiefly.

                Calling them “sick” might seem like adding insult to injury to decent people, but one shouldn’t blame Nieporent for having the integrity to say stuff like this out loud instead of pretending that conservatism doesn’t mostly consist of kicking people while they’re down.

                Families (not “women”) should have children, not because of the effect on the economy (so, no, it’s not a “collective action problem”), but because that’s pretty much the purpose of life. Of course, I heartily encourage people who think otherwise, and who look at children as an interruption of their careers and recreation, not to have children.

                There isn’t anything magical about “families.” There’s not inherent reason small groups of mostly related individuals couldn’t decide to raise children, that’s just not how society is currently set up in the U.S.

                • David Nieporent says:

                  There’s not inherent reason small groups of mostly related individuals couldn’t decide to raise children,

                  No, but there is an inherent reason small groups of mostly related individuals couldn’t conceive the children in the first place, and it’s not “society.”

            • Malaclypse says:

              But what sort of parent begrudges that cost, and demands that other people pay it?

              The sort that is a Libertarian Straw Parent.

            • DrDick says:

              But what sort of parent begrudges that cost, and demands that other people pay it?

              Ever visit reality, David? Kids are expensive and many people today cannot actually afford to adequately support children. This is, of course, owing to declining wages caused by the economic and social policies that you support. What you are calling for is greater poverty and suffering for the poor and working classes. Of course, you would see that as a positive.

              • Malaclypse says:

                Look, if it were not for liberals meddling with the market, those poor kids could simply get jobs. But people like you act as though that is a bad thing somehow.

              • David Nieporent says:

                Ever visit reality, David? Kids are expensive and many people today cannot actually afford to adequately support children.

                Kids are indeed expensive, but somehow lots of people manage. It’s a question of priorities; I don’t view spending money on my kids rather than on other things as “sacrifice.”

                This is, of course, owing to declining wages caused by the economic and social policies that you support.

                The talking point is “stagnant wages,” not “declining wages,” and this country hasn’t come close to enacting any of the economic or social policies that I support.

            • herr doktor bimler says:

              But what sort of parent begrudges that cost, and demands that other people pay it?

              The kind of rational person beloved of economic theory.

            • Pseudonym says:

              What is really offensive, of course, is to suggest that children shouldn’t pay for their own raising “on their own dime.” What sort of child demands that other people pay it for merely existing? But for some reason David Nieporent doesn’t trust the free market to properly allocate resources to the proper children. After all, the U.S. fertility rate, like that of other countries with generous “parental support,” is still lower than that of Somalia, without such generous “parental support.”

            • spencer says:

              that’s pretty much the purpose of life.

              Speak for yourself.

              As for me, I tend to bristle when conservative assholes try to tell me what the meaning of my own life should be. So do fuck off.

        • David Nieporent says:

          There you go again, Dilan. Biology is sexist. Maybe you should file a CRA suit against Charles Darwin.

          Fortunately, enough women do not agree with you (yet) that homo sapiens isn’t extinct. But when it is, everyone will be alike, and that’s really the important thing.

          • witless chum says:

            There are currently 7 billion people on the planet. I’ll start worrying about this when that number actually stops increasing.

            I notice you don’t deal with the fact that the biggest factor in declining fertility rates the fact that women have more freedom and agency.

          • Pseudonym says:

            By which he means that fortunately enough women do not (yet) have the freedom and opportunity to choose whether and when and how often to give birth, but rather have those decisions made for them by freedom-loving libertarians who decide what the purpose of life is for the rest of us. He must be a Douthat-level hit at parties.

            • David Nieporent says:

              Unlike cowardly people who post under pseudonyms, I mean what I say and I say what I mean. I did not say anything about “opportunity to choose,” and did not mean anything about “opportunity to choose.” I talked about what choice was being made.

              As for the purpose of life, I suggest you put down your Derrida and pick up a biology textbook.

          • Anonymous says:

            At least you’ve been unwittingly honest enough here to admit that the “choice” (the burden, the duty) is largely one foisted on women, not men. That’s unusual for you, Davie.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        This isn’t to his advantage, I would say.

        But deeper forces than the financial crisis may keep American fertility rates depressed. Foreign-born birthrates will probably gradually recover from their current nadir, but with fertility in decline across Mexico and Latin America, it isn’t clear that the United States can continue to rely heavily on immigrant birthrates to help drive population growth.

        This is pretty incoherent, at best. In order for immigrant birthrates to affect US birthrates (in the straightforward way) there needs to be immigrants. One way to increase the population via immigration is to let in small numbers of SUPERDUPER fertile immigrants. Another way is to let in more immigrants. So, if fertility rates decline in source countries AND if that implies that people immigrating to the US from that country also have lower fertility rates (which isn’t clear, after all) THEN we can still maintain population growth by admitting more immigrants (or immigrants from other places).

        Seems on target to me.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          Any which way…talking about immigrant fertility rates without talking about overall rate of immigration in an article about population growth is immensely stupid. Ergo, Douthat’s column is immensely stupid at best.

      • djw says:

        I read and understood the column just fine, David. Douthat is arguing that declining birthrates in the Americas might plausibly produce a circumstance in which total immigration is insufficient to produce a growing population. That is, to put it mildly, not a plausible assertion, given the potential demand for immigration to the United States from Africa, Asia, and Europe.

        • David Nieporent says:

          No, he isn’t. He’s talking about declining birthrates in the U.S., including from immigrants (who have traditionally had higher birthrates). He’s not remotely suggesting that immigration to the U.S. will slack off because there won’t be enough people in foreign countries.

          • Bijan Parsia says:

            But, as I wrote above, this fact is not a good defence of Douthat’s argument.

            It’s simply bizarre, from a population growth perspective, to focus on immigrant fertility rates to the exclusion of immigration itself.

            It would’t be that bizarre if there were a global shortage of young people or if immigration patterns tended toward older rather than younger people (since one of the correct concerns Douthat’s raises is the issues surrounding an aging population). But neither of these things are the case.

          • Malaclypse says:

            He’s not remotely suggesting that immigration to the U.S. will slack off because there won’t be enough people in foreign countries.

            it isn’t clear that the United States can continue to rely heavily on immigrant birthrates to help drive population growth.

            I’m trying to imagine a world where immigration has not slacked off, yet won’t drive our population growth. While there are some strained readings where both might be true, I’m finding it a lot easier to imagine that Davey is just being blustery and wrong, again.

      • DrDick says:

        Which is frankly and even more incoherent position. Declining birthrates are a good thing given global overpopulation. It would be especially good for American workers, as it would drive up their wages. Of course, I am certain you think that is a bad thing.

      • Pseudonym says:

        How dare those decadent modern women not want to fuck Ross Douthat sans protection!

      • Pseudonym says:

        Oh you silly people, all of you. You folks just weren’t smart enough to understand Ross Douthat’s latest anti-birth-control screed. The esteemed David Nieporent, however, will fill in all the missing details for you. Because if anything signifies intelligence in these parts of the internets, it’s the presence of David Nieporent.

  2. Anonymous says:

    And American Leftists continue their embrace of Racial Marxism. The native born proletariat never did give them the Great Worker’s Revolution so they try to import one from abroad.

  3. greylocks says:

    Can’t read the column (paywall) but history suggests that this is yet another Douchehat column arguing against legal birth control, in the guise of arguing for something else.

    See also this classic.

    • djw says:

      Birth control is blessedly absent for this particular version of the lament. The column suggests two minor villains (economic downturn/uncertainty and lack of “a real family policy”; in both cases, fair enough) and one major one (“cultural” failings associated with modernity and prosperity; ‘decadence’, etc).

      • greylocks says:

        That’s all Douche-code for “let’s force women to have more unwanted babies.”

        “Real family policy” is Douche-speak for “women should stay home and pop babies”, and “cultural failings” means “the Pill lets those sluts have sex just for fun.”

        So it’s about birth control, even if he doesn’t say so explicitly.

        • djw says:

          In fairness to Douthat (ugh), he does list a number of sensible, humane social policy innovations (here, and in a linked column from last year), including extending the child tax credit, extended parental leave, more flexible working hours, and the like. All policy innovations his party will never, ever support, of course, and I don’t take his half-hearted advocacy of them particularly seriously, but his columns as written suggest his “family policy” rhetoric isn’t entirely reducible to his larger obsessions. That’s what the “cultural” nonsense is for.

          • Hogan says:

            All policy innovations his party will never, ever support,

            And well short of what’s available in Sweden and France, the countries he cites as exemplars.

          • Anon21 says:

            Honestly, I think he is very much in favor of an extended child tax credit. That’s been a hobbyhorse of his for years, and he frequently laments the fact that Republican candidates don’t seem interested in adopting it or any other economic policy initiatives aimed at the middle class.

          • thebewilderness says:

            Some of them did learn something from the “war on women”, and very nearly everyone else, election. Frame your authoritarian desire to control human resource production with a flag flying and a band playing, and offer cookies. Never forget the cookies.

          • cpinva says:

            his “larger obsession” is that no thinking woman will ever, ever have sex with him, unless tied down and ball-gagged.

            but his columns as written suggest his “family policy” rhetoric isn’t entirely reducible to his larger obsessions.

            i wonder why he hasn’t asked maureen dowd out on a date? of course, she’s a tad old to start having children, but i think the two of them deserve each other.

      • Pseudonym says:

        It’s funny how decadence always seems to take the form of some allegedly chunky Reese Witherspoon wanting a bit of protection before sleeping with the likes of Ross Douthat.

        • cpinva says:

          not to mention the date-rape drugs:

          It’s funny how decadence always seems to take the form of some allegedly chunky Reese Witherspoon wanting a bit of protection before sleeping with the likes of Ross Douthat.

  4. Hogan says:

    What we really need is a new Mongol invasion. That’ll show those decadent gay-loving elites what’s what.

    • Jeremy says:

      Vaguely related — For the first time in my life, I heard about Chinese anchor babies. Granted, it was from some older Japanese folks, but they had the wingnut pattern down: “I’ve heard that Chinese women go to America to have their babies, so they can stay and work. Aren’t you worried?”

      • Anonymous says:

        I have, honest to goodness, heard about Chinese anchor babies from my non-wingnut doctor mother, who has treated some of them in the hospital (normal newborn, not NICU). Anchor babies for Canada, of course, and they ‘anchor’ a family for immigration, not for terrorism. I think it seems like a sensible strategy if you can take the risk of flying pregnant – show up in a country (with birthright citizenship) that you would like to live in when you are ready to pop, pop, and have a citizen baby! Then move to that country and become a contributing member of a free society. Kind of seems like a win all-round, plus everyone likes babies.

        • The Dark Avenger says:

          We have Chinese babies being delivered in this country as well, the LA Times had a story about it a while ago:

          Southern California has become a hub of so-called birthing tourism. It is not illegal for pregnant women to travel to the U.S. to give birth. Birthing centers advertise in wealthier Chinese cities, where some women can afford the thousands necessary to make the trip to America for a few months.

        • Jeremy says:

          That’s pretty wild. After a decade outside the US, and never having been to southern CA, I’m pretty out of touch with some things. So it was rather surprising to me, but not something to upset me. Given the current Sino-Japanese relations, I think they were trying to give me something to get upset so I could share their animosity.

        • ironic irony says:

          “….risk of flying pregnant…” I certainly wouldn’t try and do it after month 8 or so (although I know someone who did). I flew six months pregnant to Germany, but the SOFA agreement prevents my daughter from being a citizen here. Even without the SOFA, some countries are more strict in their citizenship requirements than others.

          And I am surprised no one has brought up Michelle Malkin.

      • Murc says:

        I say, anyone who wants to be an American (or wants their children to be American) so badly that they either embark on a long international journey while heavily pregnant or invest significant resources into remaining here for months while they carry to term, is someone who has demonstrated a combination of tenacity, drive, and self-discipline that they are DEFINITELY someone we want here.

  5. hickes01 says:

    Someone is going to have to help understand this mess as I left my Earth-To-GOP codebook at work. What is the point of this column? Judging from this beauty, I think he’s suggesting Gay Marriage will end us all, but I can’t be sure –

    “Finally, there’s been a broader cultural shift away from a child-centric understanding of romance and marriage. In 1990, 65 percent of Americans told Pew that children were “very important” to a successful marriage; in 2007, just before the current baby bust, only 41 percent agreed. (That trend goes a long way toward explaining why gay marriage, which formally severs wedlock from sex differences and procreation, has gone from a nonstarter to a no-brainer for so many people.)”

    Hey Russ, I have kids. I’m pro-kid. I’m for Marriage Equality. Fuck off.

  6. Sly says:

    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 — 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.

    I want to bind this paragraph up in heavy rope, haul it into the town square, and beat it about the head and neck with a shovel – to the cheers of passers-by – until it stops wriggling.

    • djw says:

      Somebody somewhere in the wide world of blogs suggested that David Brooks must have a “Burkebot” program, designed to produce vague, handwavey Burkean prose, loosely connected to whatever the alleged substance of the column was supposed to be.

      That seemed like a direct hit on Brooks at the time, but if anything it applies even more aptly to Douthat.

    • guthrie says:

      Silly me, I thought the ‘retreat from childrearing’, if it really exists, is down to economic forces meaning that the parents have to go out and work in order to be able to afford to have children. Or maybe you could just pay people enough and have a good enough welfare state so that only one parent needs to go out to work?

      • Anon21 says:

        Or maybe you could just pay people enough and have a good enough welfare state so that only one parent needs to go out to work?

        Eh… not sure I like that particular policy goal in a society where there’s such a strong expectation for straight couples that the “one parent” who does not go out to work is the mother. Absolutely it should be possible to support a family on one income, but there should also be policy support for households in which both parents want to work.

      • David Nieporent says:

        Uh, no. If that were the case, then richer countries would have higher birthrates, and poorer countries would have lower rates. But countries with the most generous welfare states have terrible (from the perspective of one cares about that sort of thing) birthrates.

        • Anon21 says:

          There are some enormous confounding variables there, given that prosperity also correlates with wider access to affordable birth control and more liberal abortion laws.

        • DrDick says:

          You are obviously unfamiliar with the Demographic Transition. The decline in birthrates in the US and Western Europe began about 200 years ago, long before the welfare state existed.

        • Pseudonym says:

          Looks like someone forgot to do a cost/benefit analysis on the prospect of having additional children. What’s that? It takes something on the order of half a million dollars to raise a typical child in the US? While in poorer countries additional children might provide comparatively valuable manual labor? Damn you, reality, how dare you once again suggest that David Nieporent is an idiot!

          • David Nieporent says:

            Someone who thinks that it takes “half a million dollars” to raise a child in the U.S. might want to avoid references to “reality.”

            • David Nieporent says:

              Not to mention that your comment misses the point completely. If Americans aren’t having kids because those kids cost too much and the welfare state isn’t good enough, then we’d expect that in places like Western Europe where someone else has to pay for your kids and the welfare state is really generous, then birth rates would be much higher there than in the U.S. In reality, they’re lower than in the U.S.

              Of course economics matters, but it’s also a cultural issue. And taxpayer-funded daycare is not going to change that culture.

              • The Dark Avenger says:

                So, how many children do you have David, or are you also part of the fertility problem in these United States?

                • David Nieporent says:

                  No. But not enough to make up for the people like “TBP” below who aren’t reproducing because of weird religious beliefs.

                • Uncle Kvetch says:

                  To what weird religious beliefs can we attribute the fact that Douthat only has one kid after 5 years of marriage?

      • ironic irony says:

        Perhaps some people of child-bearing age don’t want to add to the overpopulation of the earth? There have to be some out there who think that.

        Also, what about people who want to have children, but have issues with infertility? Are there any studies out there showing a decline in American fertility (not due to age, but to other factors)?

        • TBP says:

          Yep. My wife and I made exactly that decision. There were many reasons but not wanting to add to the overpopulation problem was definitely one of them. This was a long time ago, and with each passing day I am happier and happier that we made that decision. We’re old enough that I am cautiously optimistic that we won’t be here when the excrement really hits the ventilator, but we have nieces and nephews who are coming of age and starting to get married, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that we’re terrified about the future they face.

    • c u n d gulag says:

      I think it’s a call for more Catholisism – ’cause if there’s one thing that church knows about, it’s child rearing.

      They sure don’t retreat from that!

    • thebewilderness says:

      Ah yes, those basic sacrifices.
      Not to worry, Ross. The maternal mortality rate in the US is going up. I’m confident that the infant mortality rate will increase as well, and everything will be as it once was. Or not.

  7. Murc says:

    I’d like to note that the US is far from the only industrialized nation that has a lot of supposedly smart people who wail and moan about declining birthrates while ignoring the elephant in the room that these are all nations that literally millions of people would be thrilled to come to and live there.

    Japan, for example, is facing an ACTUAL population time bomb, but can’t even begin to discuss implementing an immigration policy to help address that.

  8. This drives me crazy:

    our vast interior and wide-open spaces (and the four-bedroom detached houses they make possible)

    I live in a four-bedroom detached house, on 5400 square feet of land. Our “wide-open spaces” don’t “allow” single family homes. They allow them to sit on two-acre lots instead of quarter- or eight-acre lots.

    And as my neighborhood demonstrates, you get plenty of kids born into houses on small lots.

  9. Anon21 says:

    Honestly, I didn’t think there was anything particularly egregious about the column until the penultimate paragraph, when he snuck in some of his favorite (Catholic-ish?) claptrap about how the declining birthrate is evidence of moral decline and “decadence.” I am somewhat surprised/impressed that he resisted the urge to work an explicit call for forced-birth policies in there.

    • aclarke says:

      I routinely have this experience when reading Douthat – he’ll start off with a rational, coherent argument for something and then throw it all out the window in favor of some weird, twisted idea of morality that has little to no relation to what’s actually happening. It’s like he understands perfectly well how the world works, but wants no part of it.

  10. TBP says:

    I read a fair number of the responses, and was heartened to note that about 99% of them, if not more, were extremely critical of the article, pretty much for all the right reasons.

  11. [...] of pablum. Since I cannot imagine that Douthat wrote the headline himself, I agree with djw at Lawyers, Guns, and Money [...]

  12. DocAmazing says:

    Soylent Green is people yummy!

  13. TBP says:

    One of the recurrent memes among conservatives is that they’rethe grownups, the ones who realize that bills must be paid, that you can’t coast on credit card debt forever, and that liberals just want free stuff, without ever having to pay for it. And yet it’s conservatives who—apparently—think the cheap energy and abundant resources party will last forever, without the bills ever coming due. It’s conaervatives who constantly invoke magical thinking and who simply deniy any “inconvenient truth” they don’t want to accept—evolution, overpopulation, peak oil, peak metals, climate change, desertification, vanishing water tables… Hell, conservatives denied for decade that cigarettes are bad for you (did Rush Limbaugh ever come around on that?). How have they gotten away with that for so lng?

  14. TBP says:

    Aargh, my eyes aren’t good enough to post from my iPad. I should wait till I have access to my laptop. Sorry for the typos.

  15. Bitter Scribe says:

    Of course the fathead never stops to think that America’s higher birthrate than the rest of the industrialized world might be caused by 1) abortion providers under attack across America, legally and otherwise; 2) a schizo culture that relentlessly sexualizes teenagers and just as relentlessly throws obstacles in the way of their access to contraception; 3) dumbshit lawmakers who think raped women can’t get pregnant and who are in charge of ensuring (1) and (2); and 4) our generally fucked up and contradictory attitude toward sexuality and reproductive rights.

    I’ll never understand why not having enough people is ever going to be a problem in this country. The world is teeming with bright, strong young people who would like nothing better than to come to America and work their brains out.

  16. herr doktor bimler says:

    1. Is there some reason why the US needs a continually increasing population?

    2. How many children in Douthat’s family? It would be a shame if this were another example of the chickenhawk syndrome where “Something needs to be done” translates into “someone else needs to do it”.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      Is there some reason why the US needs a continually increasing population?

      Population growth can be an asset. The easiest example is to balance out an ageing population cf Japan.

      • herr doktor bimler says:

        Isn’t this the logic of a Ponzi scheme? We need to keep recruiting new investors at an exponential growth-rate to ensure that the earlier investors keep receiving their income? It sucks to be part of the last cohort to invest.

        • Hogan says:

          If your Ponzi scheme is growing exponentially at a rate of 1.5% per year, you’re doing it wrong.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          “Exponential growth rate”…I don’t think this is quite what you wanted to say.

          In any case, I said that a positive growth rate can be an asset. It can be a liability as well.

          It, however, is definitely not a Ponzi scheme or engaged in the logic thereof. A Ponzi scheme is a shell game wherein invested money is used to create the illusion of investment (and unrealistic rates of return) in order to secure more investment money. Nothing is invested.

          Younging your population can be achieved in a number of ways (e.g., increasing the elderly death rate). Not all of these are equally productive in most cases (e.g., killing old people generally sucks for a number of reasons; including diminishing the overall population (which hurts consumption)).

          If what you’re trying to claim is that continual population growth in the long term is eventually unsustainable given resource constraints, that’s an argument to be made, but it’s tricky to estimate the real carrying capacity of the planet given the surprises of technological innovation and other issues. Plus, the problem of ageing societies can be solved without net gain in worldwide population (e.g., migration).

  17. cpinva says:

    so, how many children does ross douthat have? what this column is all about is that ross douthat is irked, because other people aren’t having enough children to support him, ross douthat, in his old age. while he throws out a few, half-hearted, public policy prescriptions that might make it slightly less economically onerous for people to have children, it still boils down to this:

    other people should have more children, on their own dime, so that he, ross douthat, will be assured that there will be sufficient low wage peons available, to support him, ross douthat, in his old age.

    oh, and those

    gay people!

    • herr doktor bimler says:

      To be fair, Ross might have perfectly good reasons to exempt himself from the Reproductive Draft that he would like to impose on everyone else. Perhaps he has a disabling injury; or he feels that his personal talents are better spent propagandising for the Birthrate Crusade than participating in it personally; or he just has “other priorities”.

      • witless chum says:

        Maybe Rush Limbaugh’s Vietnam service-preventing ass boil is catching?

      • KadeKo says:

        +1 for “Reproductive Draft”.

        Hey, if one has evaded the Reproductive Draft, one would have to look away in shame when asked “What did you do in the war?”

        Of course, that question is usually asked, “What did you do in the war, Daddy?”

  18. Belle Waring says:

    I’m personally cool with Ross “I would do anything for love, but I won’t” Douthat reproducing as few times as possible.

  19. Left_Wing_Fox says:

    Hey Economists! Want to prove you’re scientists and not just free-market hacks?

    Find models to decouple quality of life form economic growth. How do we adjust the economy in such a way that population decline is a GOOD thing? Because there’s only so much viable resources available to be exploited before the “natural” means kick in; i.e. ecologic collapse, famine, pandemic and war.

    • spencer says:

      When I was an economist, this is exactly the kind of work I was trying to do. The idea that the benefits of economic growth are evenly distributed is laughable to anyone who thinks about it for more than ten seconds, but is nonetheless a basic assumption of many economists when talking about this shit.

      To say that my colleagues’ lack of interest in my ideas was palpable would be putting it mildly. “Openly hostile” might be better in most cases.

  20. Pseudonym says:

    I used to be amazed at the way George Will’s writing could turn baseball, a normally fun activity, into such a painful and burdensome ordeal. Then I read Ross Douthat writing about sex.

  21. [...] patrician “More Babies Please,” and a Pew investigate that desirous it have already attracted a lot of attention from around a blogosphere. While we found Douthat’s altogether justification to be reasonable [...]

  22. Great work! This is the type of information that are supposed to be shared around the web.
    Shame on the seek engines for no longer positioning
    this put up upper! Come on over and discuss
    with my website . Thanks =)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Switch to our mobile site