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spot on, i love his writings

Mark is my favorite columnist.Read his articles at www.steynonline.com.
He paints a scary scenario here. What was missing from this piece was an analysis of why many western European countries have such a low birth rate. He touched on the religious aspect of it, which is certainly a piece of the puzzle. I once read an opinion that hypothesized that one of the causes for the low reproduction rate in the highly sozialized countries could be that people there felt secure that the government programs would take care of them in their old age. In countries where there is less reliance on government programs, aging is a greater concern, and having more children provides a additional degree of security.
In the case of Germany, with the high unemployment and pityful economic growth, there might be an added hesitancy to have children, because one simply can not afford them in the style to which oneself has been accustomed.

@nelson
I agree with you except your last observation.
Throughout history whenever things are bleak, the birthrate is higher.
My Grandmother in Germany had 12 children. Other Families had a high number as well, from the middle ages to the 1960.
I guess the wirtschaftswunder didn't come with instructions? :)

That with the defense ministry, or defense spending I should say, really is a bit disturbing. I can't figure out way Germany, for example, insists on keeping the Bundeswehr at all, broke as it's supposed to be - unless, of course, it's the only way they can contiune justifing the big cash-in on their expensive weapons systems. Germany spends proportionaly as much as Luxumburg on defense 1,5 (4 percent in the USA) - this according to Die Zeit 24 November 2005, Macht der Moral, Josef Joffe.

The percentage a country spends on national defense is the chief indicator of its will to survive. The discrepancy seems about right to me.

you got to wonder, what exactly does Belgium get with its military budget given its size, other than a marching band.

@Huan
>>you got to wonder, what exactly does Belgium get with its military budget given its size, other than a marching band.

Yeah, well the Belgium military is unionized. Need I say more?

"The percentage a country spends on national defense is the chief indicator of its will to survive. The discrepancy seems about right to me."

This is clearly not universally true. Nazi Germany spent about 30% of GDP on 'defense' in the late 30's, too high to nurture economic growth. There are other examples of too-high defense spending. The USSR comes to mind, as does the Spanish Empire prior to 1648. Too much can bring you down as easily as too little.

I think a better indicator may be the overall tax rate of a society, or the proportion of national income absorbed by government at all levels. Possibly the level of income transfers, because this may measure how many non-productive people are in the society.

If Germany was spending 1.5% on defense and taxes were low I think it would have strong economic growth and a bright future, assuming that there was no obvious nearby threat.

A couple of decades ago conventional wisdom predicted growth rates leading to 3 to 4 billion people in Western Europe alone. Now, conventional wisdom looks at current birth, death, immigration and emigration and predicts negative growth in the European races and an increasing percentage of the immigrating races; with corresponding changes in culture(s) and society.

A bit too facile.

Mark Steyn's questions are valid: what do the societies of old Europe wish to save of themselves, of their values, of their history, and of their society? If and when there is some determination on these questions, will can be found to make changes. And changes can still be made that will have an effect.

Certainly the future looks bleak for these societies now, but there are many more cards yet to play in this deck. I wish I were smart enough to game this out, but there has to be several stages of recognition of problems, denial as to causes, anger about the situation(s), fragmenting of monolithic structures no longer supportable, differing solutions tried in differing fragments, and a great big social laboratory-in-action as some solutions work while others fail. I'm an optimist I guess, but I believe that many of the values that brought Europe from the Dark Ages through the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, and gave the world the basis for much of liberal (classic liberal) values will survive through some in Europe.


@Huan
>>you got to wonder, what exactly does Belgium get with its military budget given its size, other than a marching band.

Yeah, well the Belgium military is unionized. Need I say more?

---

Didn't they have 3x as many trumpeters as necessary personnel???

---

In the same vein, via Instapundit from the Canada Free Press:

http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/brussels010606.htm

European Report
An Australian in Paris
by Paul Belien, The Brussels Journal
Friday, January 6, 2006

...France has been going down the tubes for years. Finding out why is easy – the French Statist, centralised system simply doesn’t work in the modern, globalised world. Finding out how French people actually feel about this is somewhat more difficult. After all, if one couldn’t believe three contradictory things simultaneously, one wouldn’t be French....

---

And you guys hitched your wagon to them.


@Don -
This is clearly not universally true. Nazi Germany spent about 30% of GDP on 'defense' in the late 30's, too high to nurture economic growth. There are other examples of too-high defense spending.

The will to survive does not necessarily require that the policies which express it will be successful, or even workable. An animal that chews its leg off to escape a trap has tremendous will to survive, but chewing its leg off may sever an artery which causes death by bloodloss. Likewise, the prevailing ideology might dictate that taxing the living bejeezus out of the populace will help it thrive, so a high tax rate — while objectively detrimental &mdash could be taken as an indicator of the will to survive. Same thing here - enormous spending, although objectively detrimental, is an expression of the wish to thrive. Nazi Germany did not have a death wish.

Really great piece. I live in Europe, and I really thinks its a cool place. But even I can see that Europe, as we know it, will not survive much longer if they continue acting the way they do. It's a pleasure society, having too much fun to bother getting married or having children. Everyday, Germany becomes less German, France less French, Sweden less Swedish. They're killing themselves with abortion, birth control, homosexuality. People stay in school until they're almost thirty years old, and don't get married until afterward. They think that they can add unlimited amounts of foreigners to their population, and it will have no impact on the culture. It's really sad. If only I could get them to worry as much about their own survival as they worry about the survival of the rain forest or the polar ice caps.

I wrote something similar about the France at the time of their riots ("France Stuck on Stupid"):
http://whenyourerightyoureright.blogspot.com/2005/12/france-stuck-on-stupid.html

I wrote this about Holland, and their problems with multiculuralism ("The Dilution of Holland"):
http://www.dailycollegian.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2004/12/03/41afc32427fe3?in_archive=1

"They're killing themselves with abortion, birth control, homosexuality..."

how to get people to not take you seriously...

jwtkac,

Please do nothing.

Actually, jwtkac, Ben is on to something. Homosexuality does not in fact produce children. Societies DO kill themselves with abortion. Think of the 40m alone that are missing from the American population pyramid since 1976... that's an entire European nation of average size. That notwithstanding, allow me to bring up another angle:
IMHO, the Germans have a less-than-replacement birthrate because of a deadly combination of egoism, pessimism, and belief in the all-knowing, all-caring Nanny State. The Germans look at the low birthrate problem and come up will all the wrong solutions. They think that a government programme is needed to attack the problem. They look at things like financial incentives, or the availability of government-provided child care, and completely miss the fact that there are countries out there in the world where there is no such birthrate problem, despite the lack of government "assistance." Quite simply, people are not having children in this country because they can't be bothered. It's too inconvenient. It might put a cramp in the lifestyle (which is not hard to do when you only see half your paycheck to begin with...). Moreover, the Germans are among the world's champion Jammerer. Yes, there are exceptions, who I certainly don't wish to insult; but Germans as a rule always see the glass half-empty... besides saying that the glass was too small to begin with.
I believe that (planned) children are, among other things, an expression of hope, love, faith, and optimism. There is no government programme in the world that is going to convince people to have children when the real problem is that they would rather wallow in a strange combination of self-hate, self-pity, negativism, cynicism, and mind-numbing belief in the State's ability to defy the laws of mathematics.
Of course, I have my theories as well as to why many Germans are the way that they are, but I'll save that for another day.

right, homosexuality does not now nor has it ever "produced children." and yeah kudos to all those great parents with homosexual tendencies who went for it and got married and had kids anyway, and are now depressed with a destroyed marriage and kids in therapy. that also helps society.

and i'm not sure society is exactly missing many of the would-be children who were never born - see "Freakonomics", despite some flaws..

and while the birthrates of many developing countries are higher, the rate of HIV and AIDS is also much higher - these additions to society will hardly be a boon in the coming years. Much of this has been due to birth control.

all I'm saying is that if you want to find a reason Europe's and Japan's birth rates are down and society is graying do not look at abortion, homosexuality, or birth control. That is a fundamentalist (and wrong) answer to the question.

@ joe: do nothing?

jwtkac,

Yes, do nothing. Change nothing. Continue on the present course. Decreasing populations solve lots of modern day problems.

As an aside it does seem from a purely logical view that abortion, homosexuality, or birth control does not add to the population.

Then I could be wrong on this and these do contribute to population growth. Who knows?

is population growth the only goal of a society?

you're missing my point.

@jwtkac: "right, homosexuality does not now nor has it ever "produced children." and yeah kudos to all those great parents with homosexual tendencies who went for it and got married and had kids anyway, and are now depressed with a destroyed marriage and kids in therapy. that also helps society."

-- You assume all of the worst and none of the best. BTW, I know some children of late-out-of-the-closet homosexuals, and they are not in therapy, seem relatively normal, and moreover, they have jobs and are paying into the Rentenkasse.

"and i'm not sure society is exactly missing many of the would-be children who were never born - see "Freakonomics", despite some flaws.."

-- I guess we'll never know, will we? Actually, yours is a very dangerous assuption that you are in the position to judge some life more worthy of life than other. Besides, the statistics speak a different language: The overwhelming majority of abortions in the US are simply "birth control" abortions and have nothing to do with the health of the mother or the condition of the baby. About 30% are even repeat offenders.

"and while the birthrates of many developing countries are higher, the rate of HIV and AIDS is also much higher - these additions to society will hardly be a boon in the coming years. Much of this has been due to birth control."

-- Actually, only a tangentially related issue. Societies need population. Or are you suggesting that we can combat HIV by always strictly practicing birth control and not having children? That may help in the short term, but is suicidal in the long term.

"all I'm saying is that if you want to find a reason Europe's and Japan's birth rates are down and society is graying do not look at abortion, homosexuality, or birth control. That is a fundamentalist (and wrong) answer to the question."

-- and all I'm saying is don't discount it outright just because it sounds "fundemental" to your ears. Moreover, I've offered you another reason for the low birth rates in a previous post. I would be interested in your reaction.

ah so we're doing the quoting-reacting thing here.. ;D

sorry i assumed everyone was familiar with Stephen Levitt's "Freakanomics" .. in it he analyses the effect of legalized abortion on crime rates in the United States, and in Romania. There seems to be a strong correlation between the two - that is, many of those aborted would-be children would also have been criminals later in life. You can like or dislike this theory, but the data is there, and relatively sound. I WAS NOT referring to people who may or may not abort children due to medical reasons or potential defects.

And yes I do as do most other people (although many don't admit it) feel i am in a postition to judge some life as having more worth than others. If you do not feel you are in this position than you are, for example, unable to defend the death penalty - which I agree with in principle, if not in practice - or the sometimes inevitable casualties of war, or of many other difficult circumstances and decisions.

AND I agree with your reason. Kids get in the way of the lifestyle you describe, and I agree that that is precisely the reason some or even many Europeans do not have children.

I would surely say population growth is not the only goal of a society. I am sure I did not implied that. Maybe someone else did. Then it could be your own strawman. Which of course, is fine as it gives you a stronger position on your line of reasoning.

It would however seem logical if a society is going to continue it must in fact replace itself or in time it will die out.

It would seem continued replacement of itself would be one of many goals of a society. One would think this would be near the top of the list of many goals.

Then it might be the current memebers of the society feel individually and thus collectively the society is not worthy of being replaced and is in fact best to die out over a long period of time.

I would not disagree with you if you took this point of view because this becomes a value judgment.

It would appear that those societies which are not replacing themselves have in fact made this decision.

Cicero Magazine recently had an article on their website where the author Karl Otto Hondrich "Die Bevölkerung schrumpft? Wunderbar!" made a point that it is actually 'wunderbar' that women in Germany no longer have enough children and the population ages. It's in German and can be read here.
http://www.cicero.de/97.php?ress_id=6&item=743

Glad I found Mark Steyn's point of view. Makes much more sense to me.

it's no straw-man.

i just think that people who claim that homosexuality, birth control, and abortion are the roots of the problem, or even significant parts of the problem - that is if there even IS a serious problem (forecasts can change quite quickly) are doing so because they have one or more other agendas, or because they simply do not know what they are talking about.

i think steyn makes some good points, and some that i consider silly and ignorant. in the end though a zealot is a zealot is a zealot, and i'd rather have less of them around than more, regardless of cultural heritage. take from that what you will.

Do nothing. Change nothing. Continue on the present course. Decreasing populations solve lots of modern day problems.

Cicero Magazine even supports my position and they are German.

Consider my position on this issue as being that on mulitlateralist.


The author of this presumptuous little self-flagellation hardly can hardly be described as anything else than an anchorless pessimist dancing on the grave of his stillborn child. As if the struggle for civilisation was a breeding contest facing the mortality rates from the time of the fall of Constantinople! And as if the future would require an ever-growing workforce and military, but birth rates could rise without a bright anticipation of the future. Maybe, one day, this man will find what he has lost?

It turns out that Mark Steyn is a Canadian school dropout who as found consolation in a career of polemics against welfare - not against the patriarchism that develops if welfare is offered only under the threat of withholding, but against the mere supply of it. I've seen worse cases of individual catharsis turned political agenda, but normally they don't come with apocalyptic undertones of that depth.

I doubt that this is really a lack of civilisational confidence, it more looks like a lack of inter-generational confidence, like in the tribal patriarchism that values offspring only as an investment. If a generation comes to the belief that it will not be the last one, then there will always be enough heterosexuals who engage in reproduction, but to achieve genuine self-confidence each new generation must be left to reach this conclusion on its own.

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