Friday, December 7, 2012


There has been a recent discussion of Ross Douthat's column on women in the West not having enough children and how this is a sign of decadence.  I want to outsource one major objection to this column to James Joyner, who is far from a liberal.  Consider:
Or, as some of our fellow conservatives call it, “taking responsibility for their lives and not having more children than they can afford.” Indeed, Douthat seems to acknowledge that on the part of the individual while lamenting the collective outcome.
But this is an argument that we conservatives apply nowhere else that I can think of. Indeed, most American conservatives, myself included, rail against collectivism in much less significant arenas. Let government try to force us to change to a more energy efficient lightbulb or regulate the water capacity of our toilets and the calls for revolution ring out across the land. Encourage us to buy more energy efficient automobiles through tax incentives and corporate subsidies and you’re a tyrant. Suggest that we turn off electronic devices that aren’t in use and you’re at very least a dirty hippy and probably an out-and-out commie. But suggest that women give up the advances they’ve made over the last half century because somebody has to have more kids, why, what could be more reasonable?
I think that this point is completely correct.  Even worse, there are a lot of policy choices that we could implement if we decided (as a society) that we wanted more children.  Just consider programs like "Aid to Families with Dependent Children" that could be reinvented.  Or we could subsidize childcare.  Or add in mandatory long maternity leaves.  Why not use incentives to try and improve collective outcomes?


  1. When Tom Stemburg found out that the ACA included a provision that required businesses to accomodate breastfeeding moms, he said that would ruin the economy. The argument is that women chose to get pregnant, they should bear the consequences.

    And yet when they choose not to have more kids, it's a crisis.

    My feeble female brain can't handle the mixed messages.

  2. Yes, bs king, it is a rather odd contradiction in value statements. It makes one suspect that the underlying position might be different than what people are saying.

  3. Are you implying there's an agenda here that supersedes a desire for logical consistency?

    It's always bizarre to me that the same party that's so sensitive to the every fleeting thought of millionaires (they'll stop making money if their tax bill goes up by even a dollar!) refuses to acknowledge in any serious fashion that policies affect women's choices as well.

    I suppose I'm just echoing Joyner's sentiment, but if we're going to make a national priority out of incentivizing the job creators to keep doing what they do, why do we look at the worker creators and just say "oh come on, pretty pretty please???"