Saturday, December 31, 2011

Barren New World

Who celebrates a birth nowadays, asks Mark Steyn in his article titled "Elisabeth’s Barrenness and Ours":
We now live in Elisabeth’s world — not just because technology has caught up with the Deity and enabled women in their 50s and 60s to become mothers, but in a more basic sense. The problem with the advanced West is not that it’s broke but that it’s old and barren. Which explains why it’s broke. Take Greece, which has now become the most convenient shorthand for sovereign insolvency — “America’s heading for the same fate as Greece if we don’t change course,” etc. So Greece has a spending problem, a revenue problem, something along those lines, right? At a superficial level, yes. But the underlying issue is more primal: It has one of the lowest fertility rates on the planet. In Greece, 100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren — i.e., the family tree is upside down. In a social-democratic state where workers in “hazardous” professions (such as, er, hairdressing) retire at 50, there aren’t enough young people around to pay for your three-decade retirement. And there are unlikely ever to be again.
If the problem with socialism is, as Mrs. Thatcher says, that eventually you run out of other people’s money, much of the West has advanced to the next stage: It’s run out of other people, period. Greece is a land of ever fewer customers and fewer workers but ever more retirees and more government. How do you grow your economy in an ever-shrinking market? The developed world, like Elisabeth, is barren. Collectively barren, I hasten to add. Individually, it’s made up of millions of fertile women, who voluntarily opt for no children at all or one designer kid at 39. In Italy, the home of the Church, the birthrate’s somewhere around 1.2, 1.3 children per couple — or about half “replacement rate.” Japan, Germany, and Russia are already in net population decline. Fifty percent of Japanese women born in the Seventies are childless. Between 1990 and 2000, the percentage of Spanish women childless at the age of 30 almost doubled, from just over 30 percent to just shy of 60 percent. In Sweden, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, 20 percent of 40-year-old women are childless. In a recent poll, invited to state the “ideal” number of children, 16.6 percent of Germans answered “None.” We are living in Zacharias and Elisabeth’s world — by choice.
Craig Carter, the author of The Politics of the Cross Resurrected, sums it up plain and simple:
The fact is that as societies cast off the Christian beliefs of their ancestors and embrace selfish hedonism as the meaning of life, those societies die. This is not an argument for the "usefulness" of Christianity, however. One thing is clear: people cannot believe in Christianity just because it is useful. You either believe it or you don't.

But it is also clear that when a culture or a country or a nation decides to reject Christianity, the only alternative is the culture of death. The truth of Christianity can be seen in the fact that those who reject it do not find life, vigor and joy, but long, slow, economic and demographic decline into extinction.
We see that happening already. The CPP, the alternative-to-children retirement safety net is struggling to make ends meet. With the premiums having hit the psychological barrier of 5% (10% for the self-employed) they now have to change the rules, trying to encourage people to postpone their retirement beyond the age of 65.

But it's even worse in Quebec. There, simply encouraging people to stay in the workforce for a few more years is not enough - they also have to raise premiums. By 2016 (which happens to be the program's 50th anniversary,) QPP premiums are scheduled to reach 5.4% (10.8% for the self-employed) - which is exactly 3 times higher than what they were when CPP and QPP were introduced back in 1966.

No wonder, so many Quebec politicians (including many in the provincial government) are at the forefront of pushing for legal euthanasia. That too is the price to pay for abandoning the nation's Christian values for the hedonistic culture of death.

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