Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Stroller Full of Toys

When Carol and I lived in New York City the second year of our marriage, we subscribed to the New York Magazine. One cover I will never forget was that of a baby stroller not carrying a baby but brochures for trips to Europe, a Walkman and other consumer electronic devices, tickets to Broadway shows, and the like. The point was, of course, that instead of spending money on raising children, young marrieds were putting their dollars into "stuff". (Back then, we got married. We divorced, but we got married again. We divorced. We remarried. Again and again. We were so moral.)

The still-new birth control pill and, later, outright legal abortion, kept the ankle-biters out of the way. More and more young people left off the marriage rituals (really, what's the point?) and then some of them avoided having to deal with the opposite sex altogether (it can be quite trying) and made their unions with a partner who mirrored themselves. We can condemn these people all we want, I suppose, but without assigning a very high value to having children (through procreation or adoption), does it really make that much difference?

Mark Styne writes in the National Review Online:

For much of the developed world, the "credit crunch", the debt burden, and the rest are not part of a cyclical economic downturn but the first manifestations of an existential crisis.

The existential crisis to which he refers are the aging populations in the developed world that have not reproduced themselves. Michigan, where health care is now the leading economic sector, may well be a straw in the wind. As Michigan goes, so goes the country?

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