Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization

It's cold and raining here in Podunk County where I live among garlic and onion fields, the cows, the sheep and the horses. In season, we have big red strawberries or cherries you can buy from stands along the road. Not at this time of year, however.

The weather has turned cold and it's beginning to feel like winter, or as winter as it gets in California anyway. It's so cold I may have to put on a sweater before I go outside.

I am currently reading Mark Steyn's new book, "America Alone." It is a fascinating page-turner for sure. He talks a lot about the demographic decline of Western civilization, how birth rates are so low in Europe, Russia and Japan that the populations there are not sustaining themselves and are being cut in half every thirty years or so. Modern, pluralistic and enlightened civilization is dying, effectively committing suicide, while Islamic populations are expanding vigorously. Unless things change, the world will be Islamic and the Jihadis won't have to fire a shot.

Why is this happening? Steyn points out that government entitlements and unsustainable social programs are a major factor. Steyn argues that such programs sap the survival instinct of the people who live under socialistic systems and that they lose their confidence and their will, becoming fearful and dependent.

My theory is that children are a financial luxury that many overtaxed working couples can no longer afford. They are forced to provide more and more support to the aged and the retired and so have less funds to raise a family, so families are smaller than they once were. My mother-in-law had eight children, but her three sons have no children at all, and each of her five daughters has two or less. My wife's current generation is therefore not even at sustaining level.

Because our tax burdens are so much greater than a generation ago, most married couples have to work. It isn't like the 1950's where the father went to work and the mother stayed home to raise kids and maintain the household. Today both the husband and wife work - they have to in order to live at a middle class level. Working women do have children, but no doubt their need to work dampens the birth rate.

There are various cultural trends that are a factor as well. The invention of the Pill around 40 years ago, the widespread acceptability of abortion (with women even bragging about their abortions via T shirt slogans at the Democratic Convention), the foolish and wrong-headed notion of the "Population Bomb." This latter was a theory advanced in the early 70's by some nut root who believed our populations would soon grow to an unsustainable level, devouring all the food and resources, finally resulting in widespread starvation. (The theory was the "global warming" BS of its day.)

And even without a belief in the population bomb, girls today are raised with the belief that if they choose motherhood over career, they are cheating themselves, marginalizing themselves, giving in to the tyranny of a male-dominated society and all that liberal rot.

Marriage is also in decline. Recent news stories indicate that more and more Western couples are choosing not to marry, but just to live together.

As a result of the above cultural trends, many couples think it undesirable if not irresponsible to have children. In any case, Europeans, Russians and Japanese are not having enough babies. These populations are in decline. It takes 2.1 births per couple to just sustain current population levels at a no-growth rate, but rates in England, Spain, Italy, Greece and France are substantially below that. Russia and Japan also have low birth rates (1.5 or lower) and their aging populations are dwindling.

The good news, if there is any, is that the USA is still at the 2.1 births per couple rate. We are sustaining our population but it is not growing. If we continue to follow the Democrats desire to emulate Scandinavia, however, that will change sooner or later. We will then move from a static society to one in numeric decline.

Socialism is a big factor in population decline and European countries are quite socialist. These nanny-governments provide many entitlements to older citizens, paying such things as their rent, medical bills and prescription drugs. The problem with this is that ambitious, unfunded social programs depend on expanding populations to pay for them. Our own Social Security system was set up on that basis. Socialism is a kind of pyramid scheme, depending on an ever expanding number of participants to make it to work.

But the problem is that the number of participants is decreasing, not growing. A declining population spells the ruin and bankruptcy of unfunded social programs. One day, in the middle of winter, with bad chest colds and nothing in the pantry or the bank, ma and pa will find that the government check has ceased to arrive. That's a scary thought for old folks who are dependent on the system.

These facts of life greatly influence European views on immigration. Since Europeans are not replacing themselves, a new source of workers must be found in the form of immigrants to come in and prop up the social systems with their taxes. Surprise, surprise, there are millions of Muslim immigrants who are willing to do that, come to Europe! So the two factors that are the root causes of Islamic immigration into the West are these: (1) declining birthrates and (2) socialism.

But why would anyone want to invite in millions of hostile, unassimilable foreigners just to pay taxes? That's crazy, you say? Maybe it is, but an aging population does not take the long view. Many or most of them don't care what happens in 20, 30, 40 or 50 years, because they'll be dead.

But what about their grandchildren? Don't they care what happens to their grandchildren a few decades down the road? Don't they care that their grandchildren will be raised as Muslims in a new Dark Ages?

Uh, excuse me....What grandchildren?

Beginning to get the picture?

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