Recent numbers issued from the National Center for Health Statistics disclose the U.S. birth rate has now dropped for the second consecutive year - and is being pinned on the recession. Evidently, with so many without work, people are figuring out that another mouth to feed (which also has to be educated, clothed, etc.) isn't a very bright idea. (Not to mention, we know that just raising a kid to the age of 18 costs an average of $237,000. That much would definitely help pay all or most of out of pocket medical costs in retirement).
Specifically, the birth rate fell to 13.5 births per 1,000 people, and even lower than the 14.3 per 1,000 registered the year before. Birth fells 2.6% last year even as the population grew. (Which ought to be a wake up call for those who insist we are flirting with a birth "dearth"). The decreases also aren't that parlous when one realizes (from the same NCHS stats) that in 2007 more babies were born in the U.S. than in any other year of the nation's history. Do we really want to go back to this?
According to one Johns Hopkins sociology prof, a Dr. Andrew Cherlin, we do - as he says:
"It could take a few years to turn this around"
Really, doc? Well, personally, I hope it never turns around!
Let's even leave out for the moment the fact that current jobs creation can't even keep up with the existing population increase, which is adding some 100,000 work seekers each month - almost singlehandedly assuring the unemployment rate of 9.5% isn't going down any time soon. And note this is an increase that will continue indefinitely - or until most people stop looking for work, or corporate America produces jobs at the rate of 100,000 new ones per month. Which, of course, will not help the existing population of unemployed workers - numbering nearly 15 million (or 26 million - if you tack on the under-employed!) Most estimates of that come to more than 500,000 jobs per month and it will take years to return to the low 6% rate of 2007 or so.
After that, there's the specter of a mammoth surplus population. Let us pointedly note here that this will exacerbate divisions between haves and have- nots to the flashpoint. Unchecked population creates a vast surplus labor pool, which innately lowers the value of all labor relative to capital in a global economy. A number of historians see the possibility for another world war induced by similar factors to those leading to World Wars I and II. Put too many people in competition for too few resources (including water, which is forecast to plummet in supply by 2020) and only bad things happen.
In the U.S. a vast surplus labor pool holds those who actually do work to a condition not dissimilar to a "sword of Damocles" over their heads. If they don't accept the terms and conditions of their work, including sliced and diced benefits, lowered pay or even having to put in unpaid overtime - there are hundreds waiting to take their place, and probably for half the remuneration- just to have moola. THIS is what a surplus population does, which is to tame the expectations and demands of all existing workers and render them rented slaves. (Why Alan Greenspan, back in 1997, referred to the benefits of the "Unemployment rent")
If Americans are stupid, and they well may be, they will go back to having more kids and create the very conditions they deplore - rendering themselves and their progeny ever poorer, because they have created the ongoing conditions for lowered value of labor.
Obviously, it doesn't end there. Anyone with a half conscious brain who's visited a national park in the past year can witness first hand the horrific environmental impacts of teeming herds of people. Wildlife are affected, waste predominates, noise is everywhere, and it makes for a much less enjoyable experience than it would be if about nine tenths of the mob could be instantly subtracted (at least the noisy, waste hurling, cigarette smoking mob)
Meanwhile, in our towns and cities, ERs must post projected wait times (some up to 12 hours) they are so crowded. Think all this will get better as more people are generated? Think again! Already major university hospitals in Denver have had to shut their doors to any additional people on Medicaid or Medicare. That means merely having insurance is no guarantee you can use it. Essentially, those who insist on having more babies will ensure that in less than fifteen or so years, NO one of ordinary means can get insurance!
The late, noted science writer and biochemist Isaac Asimov- in various essays written over decades- repeatedly warned of severe constraints on humanity's use of resources, particularly in terms of how population growth impinges on finite resources and sets limits to growth. Asimov was probably also the first to use the term "carrying capacity" which he estimated to be 3 billion humans for this limited world.
Most upsetting to me is the justification for added births (such as in the U.S.) "to support the elderly and Social Security". This idiotic meme germinated in Ben Wattenberg's book, 'The Birth Dearth' and is still echoed - as by our illustrious Johns Hopkins prof who asserts:
"We do not need to be worried yet about a birth dearth"
Nor need we ever be, if we act like an intelligent nation, instead of a suicidal one.
Comments like these are so egregious they hardly bear being dignified by a response. But given the extent to which our public discourse (and language) has been debased during the Bush years, one can make no assumptions. Let me just say then that the response of increasing numbers of pundits - "to provide more workers to support Social Security" is insane as well as being a non-sequitur.
Indeed, the 1983 Social Security reforms(by raising the FICA rate to 6.2%) were explicitly implemented to cover the coming boomer onslaught. Thus, the solution to the greater number of retirees was already provided 27 years ago! That the Social Security funds have dwindled is not because there was no solution or no extra money put in, or a dwindling number of workers to support those not working - but because the Social Security monies-funds have been repeatedly RAIDED!
For example, no sooner had the higher FICA provisions gone into effect, than Reagan began raiding them to hide the deficits from his obscene military spending. Bush Jr. carried on the tradition, using those monies to hide the deficits ushered in by the follies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama and his crew continue the methods now, though they do preach long and hard about "protecting Social Security" while warning of the Repukes privatizing it. But last I checked, it wasn't Repukes who initiated or organized this absurd "deficit commission" - which has two out of control deficit hawks (Ernest Bowles and Alan Simpson - see my earlier blog on them) that want to go after Social Security.
Remember this: Every so-called "supplemental" budget for the Afghan adventure, is money taken out of Social Security which means less there for needy seniors. (Never mind the horse manure about "zero inflation for seniors" - why do you think there are no COLAs this year and likely next too?) Until the current "war state" is put into cold storage, this sad state of affairs will continue. Want to provide support for the elderly- then break up the war state and send their many parasites ("defense" contractors) packing. What we don't need is to be spending 58 cents of every budget dollar for defense - more than the next 45 nations combined. This is empire-building, not defense! And it impoverishes us all by bleeding off the resources we need domestically so Empire-builders can fight stupid, misbegotten "wars" we can never win.
More babies only digs our graves deeper and accelerates our path to collective hardship, degraded environment, and utter misery: more crime, pollution, global warming, crowding, road rage, random killings, increasing incidence of riots, protests and general mass mayhem. This will incite increasing police state measures and restrictions to control it- in other words assure us of a fascist state. But hey, maybe that's what the tea partyers want at the end of the day.
I don't - and that's why I will discourage anyone from having kids, period.
 See, e.g. History Recycled in The Baltimore Sun, Jan. 19, 2000. The article looks in depth at the history of cycles theory of Christopher Chase-Dunn, based on his examination of 500 years of events.