Steven Mosher

Demographics as the Grim Reaper: The death knell of low birth rates

Steven Mosher
By Steven Mosher
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August 29, 2012 (pop.org) - More and more countries are hearing the death knell of low birth rates.

We live in an age unique in human history. Per capita incomes have never been higher, lifespans have never been longer, and people are better fed and educated than ever before. At the same time, birth rates have fallen to historically low levels. In fact, they have fallen to levels so low that they will extinguish whole populations unless something is done.

The developed countries are suffering a severe birth dearth and, as a result, an enormous shift in global power will soon be upon us. Europe will recede demographically, while America will be hard-pressed to hold its own against younger and more populous countries. More and more countries are undertaking programs to raise their birth rates, although none of these policies has as yet made much of a difference.

Let’s take a quick tour around the world, thanks to the research of our own Elizabeth Crnkovich:

Asia

In Japan, the headlines are increasingly strident: “The Asian Tiger - Japan - is in Danger of Extinction,” “Number of Children in Japan Falls for 31st Consecutive Year,” “Japan’s Population Marks Sharpest Drop Since 1950,” and “Japan Underpopulation So Bad Families Resort to “Rental Relatives.” Even The Economist, normally staid, has noted that “Japan is ageing faster than any country in history.”

The bare facts are shocking enough: Japan’s fertility rate, at 1.1 children per woman, has never been lower, and it is still falling from year to year. Japan already has the oldest population in the world and, with virtually no immigration, there appears to be no way out of the looming democide. The elderly will die, and there will be fewer people and far fewer workers in the Home Islands in the years to come. The solution is obvious, but the Japanese people have to want more children for there to be more children.

China’s lower birth rates have a different cause. The Chinese people want more children, but the government for the past three decades has said no. The one-child policy has decimated China’s younger generations, and created a society where the young are not replacing the old.

While China currently has the world’s second largest economy, all bets are off if the birth rate remains depressed for another generation. The economy will follow the falling numbers of young workers downward.

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Taiwan’s birthrate is “dropping like a stone…” says an editorial in the Taipei Times. The majority of people realize there is a demographic problem. It could hardly be otherwise, since the total fertility rate—the number of children per woman—is an anemic 0.9. Few are motivated to do anything about it, however. Taiwan is now heavily urbanized, and city folk tend to have very small families. When asked, younger Taiwanese say that they are not interested in having children because they cost too much money, or take too much time. Women are more motivated to get a college degree and seek professional employment than to marry and have children. In this highly secularized society, children are not seen not as a blessing, but as a burden tying down the women who bear them. Goodbye, Taiwan.

Singapore, whose fertility rate stands at an anemic 1.1, is a dying city-state. The average Singaporean is now 39 years of age and climbing. While the city’s economy appears to be doing quite well, and the city itself is replete with new buildings, offers top-notch health care, and enjoys low crime rates, its population is aging fast. In order to keep everything running smoothly, Singapore must rely on immigration, the last resort of a once-reproductive population.

Hong Kong has a birth-rate of 1.09, slightly lower than that of Singapore. As a result, its government has reversed its policy on family planning. Instead of promoting smaller families, as it once did, the government now urges its citizens to have more children to help offset population aging.

It may be a matter of “too little, too late,” however. People already have ingrained in their heads that small families are better, or they just don’t think they have the means to support bigger families. Governments telling people to have more children is not going to change an anti-child mentality at this point. One might call this a voluntary one-child policy.

To illustrate this point, consider that the South Korean government beginning in 2010 has spent billions of dollars in an attempt to raise the country’s birth rate. The jury is still out on this effort, but the latest total fertility rate of 1.15 is still way below the replacement level. Seoul is spending money that it hopes will make it easier for young couples to make ends meet, and to support pregnant women. We at PRI are not sanguine that this belated effort will make much of a difference, since the birth rate was so low to begin with. The economy of this “Asian tiger” is hurting for lack of “cubs.”

Europe

The situation in Europe is no better. In Italy the dawn of the sexual revolution has meant the death of the family. Young people are now not as eager to start families, and the TFR is hovering at 1.4. Young people are happy living the single life and only marry, if at all, after they have reached their thirties and forties. Adult children see no shame in living in their parents’ homes well into middle age.

Venice, famous as a destination for honeymooners, is a dying city. It is losing inhabitants and becoming more and more just a tourist attraction. The city even held a mock funeral for itself when its population dropped below 60,000. Will holding a mock funeral boost the birth rate? It seems unlikely.

Another Catholic country with an anemic birth rate is Spain, whose TFR is 1.48. The Spanish parliament reacted to the problem by promoting births and instituting pro-natal policies. But the relatively small bonuses and benefits offered seem insufficient to resurrect population growth. The problem is exacerbated by that fact that many Spaniards, unable to find employment at home, seek it abroad in countries such as Germany. When the young flee, this hardly helps Spain’s declining birth rate and decreasing population.

We’ve told you before about Russia, whose women average 1.2 children. The nation is hemorrhaging people, a bleeding wound which a huge baby bonus has failed to staunch. The countryside is full of ghost villages as the remaining Russians move to a few large cities.

Germany’s fix for falling fertility, now standing at 1.4 children per woman, is to rely on immigrants, immigrants drawn in by the strong German economy. Spaniards and other Europeans help to bolster the German economy, to be sure, but that is not going to help their native countries.

Other countries with very, very low birth rates include, but are not limited to, England, Greece, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, and France. As the Telegraph put it: “We are not so much living in an age of crisis as facing a crisis of age.”

Where is the population bomb when you need it?

This article was originally published as the August 28 Population Research Institute Weekly Briefing.

Red alert! Last call.

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Lisa Bourne

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Opposing gay ‘marriage’ may demand civil disobedience: Louisiana bishop

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

LAFAYETTE, LA, June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The bishop of the Catholic diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, is one of the nation’s Church leaders to come out strongly against the Supreme Court decision forcing all 50 states to recognize homosexual “marriage”.

Bishop Michael Jarrell reminded Catholics in a statement that the judiciary does not have the power to redefine marriage, and he opened the door to civil disobedience as a possible response to the June 26 Supreme Court ruling.

“Let me state very plainly that no human court has the authority to change what God has written into the law of creation,” Bishop Jarrell wrote in his statement. “This ruling is irreconcilable with the nature and definition of marriage as established by Divine Law.”

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“The marital covenant was established by God with its own proper nature and laws,” he continued.

Recognizing the tide of religious persecution across the country against those who hold the Biblical view of marriage, Bishop Jarrell addressed the issue of living one’s Catholic faith in light of the Supreme Court decision, and gave the green light to refuse to comply, even if it means breaking the law.

“I realize that this ruling will create conscience problems for many Catholics, especially those in public office,” Bishop Jarrell said. “In some cases civil disobedience may be a proper response.”

In an exercise of episcopal authority, the Lafayette prelate also issued a mandate that no representative of the diocese would enable homosexual “marriage” in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

“No priest or deacon of this Diocese may participate in the civil solemnization or celebration of same-sex marriage,” he declared. “No Catholic facility or property, including but not limited to parishes, missions, chapels, meeting halls, Catholic educational, health or charitable institutions, or facilities belonging to benevolent orders may be used for the solemnization of same-sex marriage.”

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The bishop also cautioned against Catholics showing support for homosexual “marriage” by their presence at same-sex “wedding”.

“All Catholics are urged not to attend same-sex ceremonies,” he said.

The bishop said he hoped this October’s Ordinary Synod on the Family at the Vatican would address issues brought about by “the alteration of the traditional law about marriage.”

Bishop Jarrell also expressed deep sadness at the Supreme Court ruling, and said while Catholics have great respect for everyone as children of God, the justices’ decision had no legal or moral foundation.

“As Catholics we have a profound respect for the dignity of all God’s children,” he stated. “Nevertheless there is no basis in law or in nature for altering the traditional definition of marriage, established by God from the beginning.”

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Lisa Bourne

Catholic News Service gives platform to head of union that gave hundreds of millions to pro-abort politicians

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By Lisa Bourne

June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The news service of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has published an article by the head of an organization that has given hundreds of millions of dollars to elect pro-abortion politicians.

Americans should listen to Pope Francis, at least when it comes to his message on poverty and economics, according to Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, an organization that has done arguably more to elect pro-abortion politicians than any other group in the last 50 years.

The union chief made his case in a June 22 guest column for Catholic News Service (CNS).

The AFL-CIO donated $200 million to Democratic politicians in 2008 alone.

LifeSiteNews contacted Catholic News Service about Trumka’s column in light of the AFL-CIO’s support for abortion, contraception, and homosexual “marriage," but CNS declined to comment.

On his way in the piece to pronouncing unity between the Church and big labor, Trumka touts Pope Francis’s recently reported high approval rating and the “newfound vigor” the Roman Catholic Church has added to its “traditional social doctrine” since his election.

“For much of the last century and more, the labor movement and the Catholic Church have stood together in solidarity for people who labor for a living,” he wrote in the CNS column. “Pope Francis lives and breathes this tradition.”

“Together, the Catholic Church and the labor movement stand for a new moral and political order,” he said.

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In his June 22 piece for Catholic News Service he wrote about helping to ease the pain and suffering for others as his reasons for praising Pope Francis.

“We believe in the duty to ease pain and to offer comfort to those who are suffering -- and not just with kind words, but with action,” Trumka opined. “That is why I am so heartened by our Holy Father Pope Francis.

Trumka, raised Catholic, writes his column for CNS with a Catholic voice, but the union he heads up supports contraception and homosexual “marriage”, along with abortion.

While the Church today holds The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers among its themes of Catholic Social Teaching, giving voice in the Bishops’ own news agency to the representative of an organization which has given hundreds of millions of dollars to pro-abortion politicians contradicts the USCCB’s very own document teaching on the need for Catholics to act in support of Catholic principles and policies in public life.

“The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles,” the USCCB’s Catholics in Political Life states. “They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

The nation’s top union also supports the so-called “free” birth control imposed as part of the HHS mandate, something many groups – including the USCCB itself – resisted being forced to provide.

“Women have fought hard for the right to safe, legal reproductive health services and the freedom to exercise that right,” the AFL-CIO Statement on Women's Access to Quality and Affordable Reproductive Health Care says. “The Affordable Care Act provides that women will receive preventative health care benefits, including FDA-approved methods of birth control, without co-pays or deductibles.”

Many of those forms of “birth control” may act as abortifacients.

The AFL-CIO’s support for abortion and birth control isn’t where the union’s advocacy for anti-Catholic initiatives stops. It encompasses homosexual activism as well.

Pride At Work is a nonprofit organization that represents LGBT union members and their “allies,” that “organizes mutual support between the organized Labor Movement and the LGBT Community to further social and economic justice.”

Pride at Work is an officially recognized constituency group of the AFL-CIO

The deeds of the AFL-CIO as an organization are not the sole illustration of how Trumka’s CNS appearance sends a conflicting message with regard to Church principles, but also statements embracing and advocating principles in direct contrast to the faith by the man himself.

“Working people believe in equality and fairness and that’s why we are happy to stand with millions of Americans and with President Obama in supporting marriage equality,” Trumka said in a statement supporting homosexual “marriage”.

When the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 defending marriage were overturned, he said they never should have been adopted in the first place.

“The Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 were radical and divisive laws that never should have been,” Trumka said. “Now, we can begin to fully clear the dark legal cloud that has hung over our nation.”

Trumka employs a childhood anecdote to frame his article complete with violence against his grandfather on the part of the profit-focused mining company that “owned everything,” in his Pennsylvania hometown.

“Pope Francis speaks for the church I grew up in when he calls for an organized moral response to the injustices of modern capitalism,” stated Trumka, whose salary level is around $300,000 per year according to unionfacts.com.

Trumka has been implicated in encouraging intimidation and deception to advance union goals, according to a report from the National Legal and Policy Center.

Trumka has also been accused of legitimizing violence. During a multi-state coal miners’ strike organized by the United Mine Workers in 1993, Trumka, as union president, ordered more than 17,000 miners to walk off the job, and explicitly told strikers to "kick the s--- out of" employees and mine operators defying union demands.

Homes were vandalized, shots were fired at a mine office, and power was cut to one mine, temporarily trapping 93 miners underground.

A non-union contractor, Eddie York, was murdered by a union member, shot in the back of the head as he drove past strikers at a West Virginia work site. Those trying to rescue the victim were attacked by a group of union members. The union member who shot the contractor went to jail, but no one else was disciplined for what took place.

Trumka told Virginian-Pilot in September 1993 regarding the incident, “I’m saying if you strike a match and you put your finger in it, you’re likely to get burned.”

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Supreme Court suspends Texas law that would have closed half of its abortion facilities

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By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – About half of the abortion facilities in Texas got a reprieve from the Supreme Court on its last day in session.

Justices ruled 5-4 that, right now, the state of Texas may not enforce health protection laws that would have put all but nine of the state's abortion offices out of business. The court's conservative bloc – Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito – objected, but Anthony Kennedy cast the decisive vote with the court's liberals.

At issue is whether the state may require abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and require abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety codes as other ambulatory surgical centers.

The temporary stay of Senate Bill 5 lasts until the justices decide whether they will hear an appeal from the abortion industry, which argues the law's provisions would unduly restrict a woman's access to abortion-on-demand.

“The U.S. Supreme Court was swayed, not for the first time in a week, by illogical arguments,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “By actively lobbying against common sense regulations that would make sure women have access to ‘safe, legal and rare’ abortions, Planned Parenthood and their allies are making a mockery of women’s health care.”

“The abortion industry cares only for their bottom line, and women and their prenatal children are merely dollar signs in their business cycle,” Hawkins said.

"Women and babies are being denied protections with the Supreme Court blocking pro-life legislation,” said Lila Rose of Live Action. “Contrary to what big abortion organizations would have us believe, the possible closure of abortion facilities is due to the refusal of these corporations to adhere to sensible and ordinary medical precautions. We look forward to the day that both the legislature and the Courts use their power to protect the most vulnerable among us."

State pro-life leaders regret the loopholes that they say put women's health at risk.

“Unfortunately, women who do not have abortions at any of the nine operating ambulatory surgical centers that perform abortions will continue to be subjected to substandard medical care,” said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life.

The ruling does not permanently enjoin the state. It does not even guarantee justices will hear the case.

Should they decline, the law will go into effect in its entirety.

Last October, the Supreme Court allowed Texas to implement these measures while the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals considered its decision in a 6-3 verdict. However, it added that the state must allow abortion facilities in El Paso and McAllen to operate subpar operations, defying greater protections for women, because closing those facilities would require women to drive a great distance to the next nearest abortion facility.

Earlier this month, a three-panel judge of the appeals court, based in New Orleans, upheld the health regulations. All three judges had been appointed by President George W. Bush.

Had the full requirements gone into effect, half of all the remaining abortion facilities in Texas would have closed.

The left-wing website ThinkProgress worried, if the High Court upheld the decision, it would mean that “Roe v. Wade is almost entirely dead.”

Today, representatives of the abortion lobby felt relief. "Our Constitution rightly protects women from laws that would create barriers to safe and legal abortion care, but Texas politicians have tried to sneak around the Constitution with sham regulations designed to close clinics’ doors," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a pro-life Republican, vowed to “continue to fight for higher-quality health care standards for women while protecting our most vulnerable – the unborn.”

“I’m confident the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold this law,” he added.

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