Deliberate having one kid or none is a form of robbing the commons.
This argument is – I gather – from a Mormon but addressing a secular audience and trying to persuade them that it makes economic sense – for the good of the nation, maybe for the good of the individual – to have large families.
Good luck with that…
I have been investigating fertility for the past five plus years, and have not yet found an example of any non-religious group *choosing* above-replacement sterility. Indeed, among religious groups only those with patriarchal organization and traditional morality have above-replacement fertility.
The examples of non religious high fertility are people too unintelligent or chaotic to control their own fertility, or those in societies where there is no access to fertility control technologies.
There are a number of pro-natal secularists who are seeking a kind of magic formula to persuade – Bryan Caplan comes to mind – but it is not going to work. The secular mind is nihilistic, and getting more so with every passing decade – to try and get people en masse to behave in a more long-termist and altruistic manner when they believe in nothing but their own hedonic distractions is not going to work.
As I keep saying, secularism can’t work, we need to move-on – the only meaningful choice now is a choice between religions. There are several religions that have solved this problem – these constitute the spectrum of choice.
Any ideology, religion or denomination which cannot achieve above replacement fertility (in conditions of surplus!) has something terribly wrong with it and should not be considered.
Para three should read: “have not yet found an example of any non-religious group *choosing* above-replacement fertility.”
(i.e. should read fertility, not sterility)
The uncorrected version seemed like a bon mot to me.
I once went to a lecture with Richard Dawkins. It was quite dull, since rather than lecture on the advertised topic, he just bashed on religion the entire time. I remember him being indignant that someone chided him (or was it atheists?) for not having children.
I laughed to myself, that I would inflict him on no child. But refusing to have kids makes him something of a demographic suicide cult.
Not everyone has the opportunity to marry and having no children is, to me, a better choice than deliberate single parenthood.
I wonder how this will play out for the reduced rising youth. They will be heavily taxed to support the childless and less supported themselves in societies that have turned away from building up following generations. On the other hand, they should be very much in demand when there is one 20-year-old for every two 70-year-olds leaving the workforce. Being useful and in demand doesn’t necessarily improve their lot, though; it makes them more worth enslaving.
“Carousel.” The only detail that needs to be worked out is the age.
We already have the beginnings:
1. “Carbon footprint reduction” is the big one. If human activity creates too much carbon, reducing the carbon output per person is only one-half the solution, the other half is reducing the number of humans. I don’t understand why people (pro and con) haven’t voiced this obvious extrapolation. If carbon output by humans is bad, then not only must carbon output per person be reduced, but the number of persons who output carbon must be reduced, or at the least, kept steady while per person output is reduced.
1a. Reducing the number of humans (in order to reduce carbon output) also has two halves: reducing the number who are born, and increasing the death rate.
1b. Increasing the death rate has two halves: causing early death, and not extending life past an average old age. There is a real link between the proponents of banning freon (CFCs) and the population reduction movement. (I read some shocking quotes by Ted Turner on the subject.) Affordable refrigeration is a major factor of life extension in developing countries. Refrigeration provides healthier food, which reduces the death rate due to food-borne illnesses. There is a direct correlation between life-span and access to refrigeration in 3rd world countries.
2. Death with dignity. Legal assisted suicide, etc. etc.
3. “Quality of life.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terri_Schiavo_case
4. Allocation of medical resources as regards to end of life calculations. IE, do you spend $100,000 to extend an elderly peson’s life by one year, versus spending that money to give a sick infant a full life-span? Think “death panel”, er…, I mean “medical resource allocation committees.”
4a. And if medical resources can be allocated, why not other things necessary for life? Those affinity cards that you have to use at the grocery store in order to get all the deals and sales (otherwise you end up paying 30% more for your groceries) have us well prepped and everything in place to track what we buy and eat.
“Excuse me, citizen. But it’s not really fair of you to eat 1 pound of bacon and a dozen eggs every week when your fellow citizens will have to pay for your coronary bypass operation.”
The over-arching forces that are promoting DINK-ism (and I don’t mean the useful idiots at the grass roots level) know quite well the economic and social consequences that it creates in subsequent generations. They are merely two sides of the same coin. Both sides are desired: reducing the number born, earlier termination of those who live.
Incidentally, one of the things which Huston does not cover in his article is that Mormons have a pattern of fertility in which, on average, it is the wealthiest and most educated men who have the largest families – with much smaller families among the poorer and less educated –
This is, of course, explained by the strong LDS emphasis on self-sufficiency (which seems to date from the Brigham Young era, when it was an explicit and strongly emphasized principle of the Deseret economy).