Unwillingness to claim us

“Be nice to your kids,” says the old joke. “They’ll pick your nursing home.”

Several quote collections credit this to Abraham Maslow, though none of them bothers to cite an actual source for it. Still, there’s serious truth to it, and Francis W. Porretto expands upon it:

The next generation will determine the value of our retirement funds. Not in the naive fiscal sense, but in this regard: Inasmuch as a dollar is only worth what it will buy in the marketplace, our progeny, which will control the levers of production when we retire, will determine what our retirement funds will be able to buy — by producing the goods and services available for our dollars. If they’re less innovative, less skillful, less knowledgeable, less quality oriented, or less inclined to work than are we, the bounties in our marketplace will descend from their current level to … less. So genuine concern for the next generation isn’t just a reflection of what degree of duty we feel for our children; it’s also a matter of self-interest.

I have long suspected that our self-proclaimed cultural arbiters really don’t like children: the little brats cut into one’s time for self-actualization, after all, and the most important, or at least loudest, issue of the moment is keeping those wombs empty by any means necessary. You’d think the little ones were forbidden by Vaal or something.

On the other hand, at least we’re still managing to reproduce at a respectable rate, cultural arbiters notwithstanding:

While almost all of the developed world, and many other nations, have seen plummeting fertility rates over the last twenty years, the United States’ rates have remained stable and even slightly increased. This is largely due to the high fertility rate among communities such as Hispanics, but it is also because the fertility rate among non-Hispanic whites in the US, after falling to about 1.6 in the 1970s and early 1980s, had increased and is now around 1.9-2.0, or slightly below replacement level, rather than collapsing to the 1.3-1.5 level common in Europe.

New England has a rate similar to most Western European countries, while the South, Midwest, and border states have fertility rates considerably higher than replacement. States where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a strong presence, most notably Utah, also have higher-than-replacement fertility rates, especially among the LDS population.

Replacement level in the developed world is considered to be about 2.1. (Which suggests that around 4.4 grandchildren would be the bare minimum. I am running ahead of that statistic, thank you very much, though I’m far beyond the point where I can claim any credit for it.) Still, I look at the five grand a year with my name on it kicked into the Social Security system, and I have to figure that this might support one retiree for three or four months, max. We’re asking more and more of the youngsters, while doing as little as possible for them; worse, we’re doing as little as possible as expensively as possible. Sooner or later, this, like everything else that can’t go on, won’t.

(Title from the Replacements’ “Bastards of Young.” Because.)

1 comment

  1. Jess »

    19 March 2012 · 2:54 pm

    They’ll learn from the mistakes the last few generations made. Hopefully, they won’t be ruthless in their handling of the huge economic burden the old folks will place on society. If they do, I’m screwed. I’m at the tail end of the baby boomers. The big whoa will come about the time my feeble butt is attached to a wheelchair.

RSS feed for comments on this post