Shortly after the announcement was made that Ohio went to Obama, a friend tweeted this:
If I had to point to something that worries me most about our current economy and cultural climate, it would be the sentiment expressed in this tweet. I talk about value systems regularly, in every venue of conversation that I have available to me. I believe that the only things that will change the course this country is on are a dedicated effort to move our political and popular culture away from the ideas that spawned entitelment and dependency.
Tim is not alone in his reservation to bring children into the world. His decision is a rational and thoughtful one. But, it is one with devastating effects to our economy and value system. In 2011, the US birth rate hit a record low, and the economy was the most cited probable reason for the drop, according to a recent ABC article. Additionally, our labor force participation recently hit a 31 year low, and our current economy has nothing in place that promises a quick return to significantly higher rates. With the increase in retirees, the continuing easing of means testing to receive entitlement and disability benefits, and the steady decline in birth rates and employment, the number of people working to support these systems has reached levels that make the programs unsustainable by traditional funding.
Economy aside, the value system that made America a prosperous and charitable nation has all but vanished. Today’s children are assaulted from all sides with information and experiences that shape their world views and future parenting decisions. They are no longer taught that hard work means probable success. They are no longer taught that providing for your family is an unyielding responsibility. They are no longer taught thrift and savings to meet goals. Instant gratification and a safety net of epic proportions have all but removed failure and adversity from most children’s lives.
It is no easy suggestion that our entire culture needs to change and no easy task to see that change happen on a grand scale, but I cannot fathom that the US would again be the beacon of light and opportunity that it once was without a move away from instant gratification and entitlement mentalities. Parents, future parents, this falls on you. Make the time to parent, become aware of, and control, the influences in your children’s lives, and accept that the people your children become is largely your responsibility. You know, be the change.
To do these things, we have to have children. I do not suggest that you have children “for the greater good”, but I would hope that you don’t decide to not have them because of the greater bad. Tim is a friend of mine. It wasn’t his tweet that inspired this post, but the way my heart broke when I heard him say the same to me on the phone. He is the kind of friend who I would like to see become a parent, should he want to do so.
Economy relies on families, it should not destroy the potential of creating them.