America, with a younger and more robust population, currently possesses a demographic advantage over the rest of the industrial world. What does this advantage look like and how much longer will it last? This was the key question addressed in the Campaign for Life Strategy Summit sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony List in Washington D.C.
The session, entitled “Depopulation, Eugenics, and the American Future,” featured Susan Yoshihara, Senior Vice President at the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), and authors Jonathan Last and Dr. Robert Zubrin.
Susan Yoshihara talked about the population decline that is hollowing out the great powers of the world. China and Russia both aspire to be superpowers, but the Chinese work force is shrinking because of the one-child policy, while Russia is in the middle of a demographic meltdown. It's hard to see how they can compete with America on the world stage over the long term. America’s allies in Asia and Europe also suffer from population decline. As their populations age and shrink, they are retreating from their international commitments, leaving America alone to face the problems of the world. They will turn inward, focusing on maintaining their own faltering economies. They will literally have no money and no one to spare.
America, on the other hand, is poised to reap the benefits of its still robust fertility and its openness to immigration. This relatively rosy demographic picture constitutes a tremendous opportunity. The U.S. must seize the advantage while it still can, since birth rates, even in America are falling. No one, of course, can bring back the 55 million unborn children that have been lost to abortion. But America can value the children that are born and better educate them in order to remain the world’s only superpower.
Jonathan Last, the author of the book “What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster,” had a more negative take on America’s fertility. He believes that the reason that America has, at 1.9 children per couple, the highest fertility in the industrial world is because we have high immigration. When the immigrant births are factored out, the middle class fertility rate stands at a bleak 1.6. This is about the European average and is perilously close to China’s 1.53.
Thanks to America’s immigrants, the U.S. has been able to maintain near-replacement fertility rates. But a nation cannot rely on immigration to artificially boost its fertility forever. Mexico’s fertility rate has dropped below replacement and the flow of young Mexican immigrants to America has dropped precipitously. As far as the immigrants who are already here, their relatively high birth rates last only a generation. Their children, born and raised in the U.S., will have much lower fertility rates.
Jonathan Last amused the audience with his meditation on pets. There are now more pets in the U.S. than children, and in some cases they are better treated. As fewer children are born, more pets are adopted. In Japan, the “dog-mommy” has become a stereotype.
Some of Last’s best lines concerned Japan, where they now sell more adult diapers than baby diapers, and where the number of centenarians--100 year olds--will equal the number of newborns.
At the end of the day, Last believes that America can avoid the demographic dustbin of history. According to Last, “it all starts with groups and people who support and value each human life.”
Robert Zubrin, author of Merchants of Despair, put it a different way. He believes that how a country answers the question, “Are humans creators or destroyers?” will determine whether or not it survives.
Zubrin started with the destroyers, whom he identified as the eugenicists. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were eugenicists par excellence, obsessed with the idea that one race was above all others. This view that there are superior and inferior races poisons the mind and makes the forceful and ruthless downsizing of inferior populations wrongly seem a rational course of action. After all, “they are only useless eaters, a burden to the ideal society.”
Nazi Germany’s defeat in World War Two supposedly marked the end of eugenics. But these same ideas soon resurfaced in America under the guise of population control. Its advocates similarly view human beings as mere commodities whose worth can be judged according to the standards of whoever is in charge. “Ideas have consequences,” spoke Zubrin, “If humans are seen as destroyers, we must succumb to tyranny. If they are seen as creators, however, we must protect liberty at all costs.”